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Applications & Admission
How competitive is admission to The Theatre School?
Each year, we have about 1600 applicants for an incoming class of 106 students - 92 new BFAs and 14 new MFAs. Because of the conservatory nature of our training, we have strict capacities for each program which makes admission highly competitive. The admission rate (those admitted versus the number who apply) varies depending on the major to which you are applying.
Can I apply for more than one program at The Theatre School?
You may apply to only one major in The Theatre School. It is not possible to apply for multiple degrees or majors at the same time.
If you are unsure of which program best matches your interests, please call us or visit us! We would be happy to talk with you about the type of training, coursework, and production practice each major entails.
Can I apply to The Theatre School and another college at DePaul University at the same time?
You cannot have more than one active application to DePaul. If you are considering applying to The Theatre School and another college at DePaul you need to complete the application process with The Theatre School first.
If you do not get accepted into your selected program at The Theatre School you will be given the opportunity to be reconsidered for another college within DePaul University. You will still receive full consideration for admission, scholarships, and housing and will not be penalized for having had to wait for our decision. If you are accepted to The Theatre School, consider adding your second program-of-interest as a minor or second major once you begin with us. (You'll need to get approval from your academic advisor; double majors will need careful planning.)
Reconsideration for majors within the School of Music and theatre-music double majors are not possible; if you are interested in applying to both The Theatre School and School of Music, please contact us to explore your options.
How do I apply for a Theatre School Scholarship?
By auditioning or interviewing you are automatically considered for the Theatre School Scholarship. The information about the scholarship (amount and requirements) will be included in your decision letter.
What if I'm a current DePaul University student? Is the admissions process different for me?
A bit. To start the process, please contact The Theatre School Admissions Office to talk through your options and timing. You do not need to reapply to DePaul University but you will need to provide The Theatre School Admissions Office some additional application materials (i.e. writing samples, portfolio, etc.) and complete an audition or interview. Auditions and interviews are typically held November through February of each year. In mid-March, you will receive a decision letter at the same time as all other applicants. It is important to keep in mind that in almost all situations, you would begin your theatre major in the next Fall Quarter and would be starting a 4-year program (regardless of previous credit hours completed at DePaul.)
What do I need to do to apply for Need-Based Financial Aid?
The only financial aid application that DePaul University requires is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The results of your FAFSA are most important in the determination of your eligibility for financial assistance. FAFSAs may be completed and submitted electronically using fafsa.ed.gov. This is a much faster and more convenient process than filing by mail.
If you complete a paper FAFSA, be sure to write "DePaul University" and our school code, "001671", in the list of schools. FAFSA opens on October 1 and we suggest that you complete the FAFSA by February 15 to ensure that you receive your financial aid information as quickly as possible after you have been admitted.
When will I receive an admissions decision?
All applicants who have completed the application (including the audition or interview) will be electronically notified of their admissions decisions around the middle of March. Admitted students will also have a packet of information mailed to them after they learn of their decision. Admissions decisions cannot be discussed over the phone.
I hear you use a 'waitlist'. How does that work?
Because all of our programs have strict capacities we utilize a waitlist in order to ensure that each incoming class meets our capacity. As admitted students accept or decline our offers of admission, we admit students from the waitlist to fill the slots that have become vacant. We use our waitlist every year to fill our class and students who receive a waitlist offer have an excellent chance of being admitted. Waitlisted applicants will receive a final decision letter - either offering admission or informing them that the class has been filled.
Can I transfer into The Theatre School?
Yes. Due to the conservatory structure of the programs, almost all transfer applicants who are admitted to The Theatre School are admitted to a four-year program, even if the applicant has previous college credit. Previous college credit can be applied to liberal arts (academic) coursework, which may free up a student's schedule around major-requirements and may make it easier to pursue electives, minors, or a second major outside of The Theatre School.
In very rare cases and when space permits, a student who has attended a different BFA conservatory program may be elligible to enter The Theatre School as a second year student and complete our BFA major requirements in three years. This decision is made jointly by the head of the department to which the student is applying and the theatre admissions office after a thorough review of the student's audition/interview and academics; students admitted to a three-year course of study will be notified in their admissions decision letter. Applicants to our MFA programs are never admitted with a shortened completion plan.
(BFA Acting) Do I have to do the video prescreen if...?
In order to keep the process consistent and fair for all BFA Acting applicants, all BFA Acting applicants are required to submit a video prescreen as part of the admissions process. You can submit a video prescreen anytime after you have submitted the online application, paid the audition fee, and uploaded your photograph to your DePaul portal. (Other application materials can be sent in later.)
For video requirements and tips, please visit our BFA audition page
Can I observe a class and/or speak to a faculty member?
Unfortunately we generally cannot allow prospective students to observe classes. The very personal nature of the work and the small class size means that visitors could compromise the experience of current students. Instead we offer individualized appointments with theatre-specific admissions counselors, tours with current students, and special programs like Theatre Debut DePaul and Admitted Students Weekend where students can meet and work with the faculty in workshop-style classes.
Visits with specific faculty are possible and based on availability. These must be requested in advance.
Can I see a show when I visit?
Yes! Just call The Theatre School Admissions Office at (773)325-7999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know when you're coming. We can reserve complimentary tickets (as available) for you and any family or friends that might also be visiting. Check out our current season to see what is playing.
Are there places to stay near campus?
There are many places to stay near campus both in Lincoln Park and in the Loop. Specific hotels in the area and hotels that offer special DePaul rates can be found on the DePaul website.
AuditionS & Interviews
Where and when can I audition/interview for The Theatre School?
The Theatre School generally holds admissions auditions and interviews between November and the end of February. A full list of dates and locations can be found here on our website. Both on-campus (at The Theatre School) and regional auditions/interviews are available. Regional locations have historically included cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. Please check the link above for this year's locations and dates!
Please note: BFA Actors are required to pass a video prescreen prior to attending an in-person audition (callback.)
How do I sign up for my audition/interview?
You will not be able to sign-up for an audition/interview if you have not yet applied to The Theatre School. Once you submit your online application, you will recieve emails that will help you access your DePaul Portal, explain your next steps, and provide you with a link to sign up for your audition or interview. Be sure to check your spam filter settings if DePaul emails are not appearing.
Registration for auditions/interviews is done online. Be aware that some dates fill up more quickly than others and registration is on a first come, first served basis. A confirmation email is sent upon successful registration.
If you have any questions or trouble registering online, you can call The Theatre School Admissions Office at (773) 325-7999.
What should be included in a portfolio?
The main purpose of your portfolio is to spark discussion between you and our faculty about where you want your education to go and what you have achieved in your work so far. Each major has a description of the interview process and portfolio and/or writing samples required. Start by selecting your intended major on our Conservatory page.
What should I wear for my audition/interview?
Those interviewing should feel free to wear what makes you comfortable. For acting auditions we encourage you to wear comfortable clothing appropriate for physical activity throughout the audition. However, if you feel the need to wear different clothing for your monologue and for the class portion of the audition there will be time provided to make the change.
Can I interview over the phone?
If possible, we encourage all students to interview in person at either The Theatre School or one of our regional interview locations. However, if one of these options is not possible, we are happy to schedule a phone, FaceTime, or Skype interview.
Is there a benefit to auditioning/interviewing earlier or later in the season?
The Theatre School does not have an early action admissions program or rolling admissions, meaning that each student is given equal consideration for the program regardless of where and when they audition/interview. In order to allow each applicant the same amount of consideration, decision letters are sent out mid-March each year after all auditions/interviews have been completed.
Students who apply earlier will have a wider range of dates, locations, and times available to them. If a particular date or location is important to you, we encourage you to apply early for the best chance at registering for your preferred audition/interview date.
What is the difference between a BFA and a BA?
Generally speaking, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program is comprised of focused, structured, intensive, hands-on conservatory training. Students must audition or interview for admission and typically receive continual evaluation and review by the faculty. Conservatories typically require that their students spend a majority of their coursework in theatre classes and participate in productions as part of their curriculum, although many conservatories will also have their students fulfill liberal studies requirements in addition to their theatre courses. All programs at The Theatre School are BFA degrees.
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) program is for students who are committed to studying theatre and the performing arts, but may want to build a broader range of theatre skills or are interested in pursuing different academic studies in addition to theatre. The Theatre School does not offer a BA program. Our BFA in Theatre Arts is the most similar program to a BA that we offer, allowing students to study multiple areas of theatre over the course of their four years while still maintaining the intensity, structure, and hands-on approach of conservatory training.
I hear that DePaul University is on a 'quarter system'. What is that?
Rather than a semester schedule, DePaul University uses a quarter system. This means that students have a Fall, Winter, and Spring set of classes that each last 10 weeks, plus a non-academic summer quarter (summer break). The Theatre School also uses time during the winter and spring breaks to rehearse productions for the coming quarter. This means that Theatre School students potentially will not have the same winter and spring breaks as the rest of the university community. (The Theatre School has no required programming or classes during the summer quarter, however.) View the DePaul University Academic Calendar for more information.
As a Theatre School student, can I double major?
Although it's not really possible to double major between two programs within The Theatre School, some programs make a double major between a theatre and a non-theatre program possible. For example, our BFA in Theatre Arts has the flexibility to allow students to double major in programs outside of The Theatre School. Other programs, such as our BFA in Acting, are more rigidly structured and do not offer students as much flexibility. In all cases, double majors require approval of the student's academic advisor and will require careful planning. A full list of undergraduate majors at DePaul can be found here.
It is not possible to double major in both The Theatre School and The School of Music, however. Students interested in both theatre and music should talk with both schools about their options and consider whether a minor in either area might be of interest.
Do you cast freshmen (first year) actors in productions?
Because the focus of the first year of training is on personal discovery and expanding the actors access to her/his imagination we do not cast our actors in a production in their first year. Instead, actors work on an intensive, process-focused exploration of the craft of acting while working on production crews for shows in our season. Acting students then receive guaranteed casting assignments over the final three years of the program.
What theatre spaces would I get to work in?
The Theatre School operates three theatre spaces. The Fullerton Stage is our 250-seat thrust theatre and the Healy Theatre is our 100-seat flexible blackbox, both of which are in The Theatre School on the Lincoln Park Campus. The Merle Reskin Theatre, is our 1,325-seat Broadway-style proscenium theatre that is located in downtown Chicago. Additional Studio productions are performed in our 10 classroom black box spaces in The Theatre School building.
Can I do an internship while at school?
Depending on your major, internship opportunities may be available or required. Internships can be arranged by you and in collaboration with your advisor could be locally in Chicago or in another city or state.
Are there opportunities to study abroad?
The Theatre School has a study abroad program for students in the
Design/Technical department. One student from each Design/Technical
major has the opportunity to spend the fall quarter of their final year
studying at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London, England. Design/Technical students interested in pursuing this option apply during their third year.
University also offers a number of study abroad programs. Students
interested in doing some of their course work as a part of one of these
programs should consult with their academic advisor about coordinating
these studies. In some cases (the BFA Acting program for example) the
decision to study abroad will delay graduation. In other cases it may be
possible to spend the time abroad and still graduate at the end of four
years. Learn more about DePaul's study abroad programs.
What are some other schools with similar programs?
Every program is different. The unique combination of location, faculty, curriculum, and fellow students make one-to-one comparisons challenging. What might be a perfect fit for one student may not be a great choice for another. We always encourage prospective students to ask us lots of questions, visit campus if possible, and discover if The Theatre School feels like a fit for you.
I hear you 'cut' Acting students.
We previously had a program where a specific number of students were invited to continue in the acting program between the first and second years. That policy is no longer in practice. We admit 32 students to the first year of the BFA Acting program with the expectation that all 32 students will continue through the 4-year course sequence. BFA Acting students receive quarterly evaluations from faculty based on discipline, collaboration, professional potential, and progress in the program. If the quarterly evaluation indicates that appropriate progress is not being made a student can be placed on academic probation. If the student fails to address the concerns of the probation they could face dismissal from The Theatre School.
Does The Theatre School have a Musical Theatre program?
We do not offer a program that focuses exclusively in Musical Theatre. Our Acting program includes some coursework in musical theatre in the fourth year and we generally do a musical or two as a part of our production season each year. Many of our Playworks productions (our childrens shows) in the Merle Reskin Theatre include song and dance. Some students who have a specific interest in musical theatre take private voice or dance lessons with The Theatre School faculty, through DePaul's School of Music, or with one of the many teachers or studios in the city.
Students are also welcome to get involved in student-run productions and theatre, danc
e, and singing student organizations
Will I be safe going to school in a big city?
In any city there are precautions to be taken. Being on campus
surrounded by fellow students it is easy to feel safer than one may
actually be. However, as long as students are aware of their
surroundings, Lincoln Park and Chicago in general can be very safe. As
an extra safety precaution, DePaul Public Safety is available to escort
students from one campus building to another between 6pm and 6am and The Theatre School provides free bus
service to and from off-site theatre spaces for rehearsals and
performances that begin or end after dark. Additionally, The Theatre
School operates on a card-swipe security
system during off hours to prevent unauthorized entry. Any crime
reported in the neighborhood around DePaul University is immediately
posted as an Alert in Campus buildings. Learn more about DePaul University's Public Safety initiatives.
How do I get around the city?
Walking is the most common form of transportation. As a full-time student you also receive a Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) U-Pass
that is good for unlimited rides on the "L" (Chicago's elevated train
system) and all CTA buses while classes are in session. The "L" is easy
to navigate and is conveniently located near both the Lincoln
Park and Loop campuses. Chicago has many streets with bike-only lanes,
therefore many students also bike or rollerblade. Very few students keep
cars on campus, however campus parking permits are available for an
Are theatre students housed together?
There is not a theatre-specific or arts-specific residence hall. Being part of the larger DePaul on campus resident community is one way our students get to know other students outside of The Theatre School community. Sometimes theatre students may have another theatre student as a roommate, though not necessarily someone in your major. An actor may be placed with a set designer or a stage manager can be roomed with a theatre arts major, etc. A variety of roommates can provide an opportunity to meet and know the larger DePaul University community.
How much interaction will I get to have with students outside of The Theatre School?
Students can have as much interaction with students outside of The Theatre School as they choose. Of course, many of your classes are with other theatre students, but Liberal Studies classes include students from many other programs. In addition, students can take other elective courses or take part in outside activities that are not a part of The Theatre School.
What are the faculty like?
The Theatre School's faculty is made up of professional artists and
educators from a variety of backgrounds and expertise. Some have spent a
lifetime training the next generation of artists. Others are
professionals teaching a single class in their area of expertise. All
understand the intense nature of the demands of a conservatory training
program and are dedicated to individual and challenging training. The
Theatre School employs 28 full-time tenure-track faculty and around 65
adjunct or part-time faculty. All Theatre School courses are faculty
taught. Learn more about The Theatre School faculty and staff.