The Theatre School > Conservatory > Summer High School Training Program

Summer High School Training Program

​Experience Conservatory. Experience Chicago.

Program Overview

The Summer High School Training Program is designed for rising 11th and 12th grade students who want a taste of intensive conservatory training that supersedes limitations and unlocks the riches inherent within uncharted creative territory. In the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, summer artists experience what it's like to be a student of The Theatre School by living on campus and studying in the five-story, all things theatre, state-of-the-art training facility. While this is a non-college credit program, students dive into the rigor of conservatory training and begin to prepare for the college audition and interview process. Students take classes in one of six concentrations - acting, comedy arts, design, directing, stage management/theatre technology, or theatre studies - with Theatre School faculty and some of the most accomplished theatre/film professionals in the business.

Summer Program students are expected to meet the same level of professionalism and respect for conduct as all DePaul students and are expected to attend and participate in all of their classes; complete all assigned coursework, homework, and projects; and participate in our end-of-program showcase. View the DePaul Code of Student Responsibility.

Since summer 2021, there are two ways to engage: a three-week intensive program and a one-week master class style program!

In our three-week residential intensive program (June 25-July 17, 2022), students' coursework is full-time and focuses on a single concentration. Students create an ensemble with peers hailing from various national and international locations. Master classes and workshops allow students the flexibility to explore other interests outside of their chosen concentration. Eligible rising high school juniors/seniors must apply to enter the three-week program and admissions decisions are sent out in the spring. Applications for summer 2022 three-week program are now closed. 

In the one-week virtual program (July 24-July 30, 2022), students register for classes à la carte and can pick and choose classes from any of the concentrations we offer. Registration for classes (now closed) ​is first come, first served and is open to all students who will be enrolled in high school during fall 2022, as well as 2022 high school graduates; no application is needed.

"Each member of the program was at such different stages in their acting careers and journeys, but we never compared ourselves to one another. We learned from the diversity of experiences that all of us brought. This program not only introduced me to amazing actors I now call close friends, but introduced me to a new, full version of myself."

- Acting Student, Summer 2021


The Acting concentration is designed to mirror the undergraduate conservatory BFA Acting program and give students a sense of what it would be like to attend The Theatre School. You will learn acting techniques that are rooted in the physical, collaborative, expressive, improvisational approach that makes Chicago actors distinct around the world. We will prepare you for stage and screen, with special attention given to the college audition experience and monologue preparation as you prepare for the next steps of your artistic journey. Check out this guide and sample schedule!
The Comedy Arts concentration is designed to prepare students to be performers, directors, and content creators through the academic study of the history and techniques of comedy. As a reflection of the BFA Comedy Arts major at The Theatre School, summer students will test material in front of an audience, digest their response, and then learn to revise and rethink in order to be successful storytellers and communicators. At The Theatre School, we consider Chicago to be our classroom. As one of the nation's best comedy scenes, our classroom is hard to beat. Check out this guide and sample schedule!
The Design concentration introduces scenic, costume, lighting, sound, and media design disciplines and allows students to focus on their particular area(s) of interest. You'll learn the foundations of theatrical design with a particular emphasis on the creative and collaborative process. We'll challenge you to create designs that illuminate the essence of the story by going beyond simply decorating the walls. You'll create several portfolio-worthy projects by the program's conclusion. Check out this guide and sample schedule!
The Directing concentration is designed to introduce and investigate the role and function of the director in theatrical collaboration. What does it mean to direct a play? What does the director actually do? Through play readings, creative exercises, and theatrical compositions you will discover how script analysis, visual storytelling, and dynamic staging are tools the director uses to ignite a script and inspire captivating work from actors and designers alike. Check out this guide and sample schedule!

The Theatre Studies track offers high school students an opportunity to explore the range of majors and concentrations offered in the TTS Theatre Studies department, including playwriting, dramaturgy/literary criticism, theatre arts, and theatre management. Throughout the three weeks, all students will sample the four theatre programs in a series of in-depth classes and master workshops taught by DePaul faculty and Chicago theatre professionals, as well as through creative application. The Theatre Studies track will culminate by bringing together all of the students to collaborate and co-create a multi-disciplinary final showcase presentation, in which students have the opportunity to specialize in one or more of the Theatre Studies areas.

Meet Carlos Murillo, Head of Theatre Studies for the Summer High School Training Program

The Stage Management and Theatre Technology concentration connects students with the foundational knowledge necessary to support, manage, and realize productions. Students gain experience in the production process from stage management and theatre technology perspectives allowing them to study the management of rehearsals, performances, scenic construction, drafting, rigging, and overall production management. Students will build leadership skills and develop an understanding of the other aspects of the theatrical community. The culmination of this three-week program invites students into a collaboration with fellow artists from other concentrations, working together on end-of-program showcase projects. This experience offers SM/TT students a unique moment to explore their own artistry and discipline, offering a deeper engagement in theatre arts.

Meet Christine Freeburg, Head of Stage Management/Theatre Technology for the Summer High School Training Program

"The professionals who taught us were incredibly friendly and went out of their way to give us many extra opportunities to form connections and learn, as well as providing an honest view on how their job functioned."

- Design Student, Summer 2019

The Three-Week Program

Apply: Three Week Program

Check out highlights from our summer 2020 program!

Program Information

For summer 2022, the three-week residential program will take place from Saturday, June 25th through Sunday, July 17th.

Students who are interested in both programs are invited to apply for our three-week virtual intensive, as well as register for classes during our one-week à la carte session! The dates do not conflict.

DePaul’s COVID-19 response plans are based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the University’s medical advisor from AMITA Health. Students may find COVID-19 updates and guidance at Students must abide by all DePaul University COVID-19 protocols and health and safety practices during the duration of the Summer High School Training Program. In the case that we are unable to run the residential program due to COVID-19, we will transition to a virtual three-week experience and refund any deposits as necessary. 

Tuition for the three-week program is $7,900. Tuition includes room & board, daily meals, intensive conservatory training, evening/weekend program-wide events, workshops, and master classes.

The Theatre School offers need-based financial aid (in the form of scholarships) to students who demonstrate financial need. The financial aid application can be submitted as part of the application process for the program. If a student is awarded a scholarship based on the financial aid application, the scholarship amount will be communicated in their acceptance letter.

We also encourage students to apply for additional outside funding. Your local charity groups (Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, National Honors Society, etc.), your school's Arts & Activities Fund, or your school's Parent Teacher Associations will sometimes offer financial support and can be an effective way to help you reach your goal. Another way to gain financial support is through national scholarship foundations that target summer program funding for high school students, including the American Theatre Wing’s Andrew Lloyd Weber Initiative.

Classes will occur Monday through Friday in blocks between 9am and 5pm Central Time. Evenings and weekends will consist of various professional masterclasses, trips to Chicago theatres/cultural events, group projects, panels, and the final showcase presentations on the closing Saturday.

Examples of master classes and panels featured during our past summer programing include: Wellness for Theatre Artists, Radical Inclusivity in Theatre, Contact Improvisation, On-Camera Acting, Photoshop, Stage Combat, Backstage 101, and The Business of Theatre - Managing the Delicate Balance.

Check out highlights from our summer 2020 program!

- Laptop or ipad if possible (additional access to Theatre School computers will be provided)

- Pens, pencils, and a notebook

- Comfortable clothing for movement based classes (Acting and Comedy Arts concentrations)

- Water bottle

We work closely with students and their families on a case-by-case basis to best accommodate any special needs that a student may have. Please alert us as early as possible on the health questionnaire (accessible after the student is admitted) so that we have sufficient time to help make the program accessible to all students.

Application Information

The application for summer 2022 is now open. Applications and materials should be submitted by March 1, 2022. (After March 1, applications will continue to be reviewed until the program is full.Applicants can indicate an interest in multiple concentrations, however students will only be admitted to one concentration.

Admission is open to all rising high school juniors and seniors. International students are welcome; there are no additional documents necessary to apply to the program as an international student, but all application materials must be in English or translated into English. Participating students must be confident in intermediate written and spoken English, as the program is taught entirely in English. All applicants must demonstrate permission from parents/guardians in order to enroll and attend the program.

Apply: Three Week Program  Request Information  

Application Materials

This is the first step in the application process. As part of the application form, you will need to submit your essay, resume, and photograph.

Your essay should be about 500 words in length and be in response to the following prompt: How do you plan to impact the world through theatre?

For your resume, upload a brief list or description of your theatrical and/or artistic experience highlighting creative and artistic work accomplished, activities, and previous training.

Your photograph does not need to be an official headshot.

The remaining parts of your application (your letter of reference and high school transcript) will be uploaded separately after you submit the application form.

The letter should be from someone who is qualified to speak to your ability to participate in this program such as a teacher, a director, etc. On the application form, you will have the opportunity to list the recommender's name and email address (you will be able to change/update this after submitting, if needed.) After you submit the application form, an email will be sent to your recommender prompting them to upload their letter to your application file.
Alternatively, the letter can also be uploaded by the applicant on the application portal after submitting the application form.

After submitting the application form, you will be asked to upload a copy of your student transcript. This can be an unofficial copy. Please use the "upload materials" section on the application portal to upload your copy. The transcript should be as up-to-date as possible.

“That's what connects us all: our love of theatre. At some point, each and every one of us has had an experience in a theatre—seeing a comedy show, seeing a musical, seeing a play—that changed us and drew us in. That's what brought us to DePaul: our collective willingness to improve at something we love." 

- Comedy Arts Student, Summer 2020

One-Week Virtual Program

Register: One-Week Program

Registration Information

Registration is open to any student who will be enrolled in high school in fall of 2022 or who is a 2022 high school graduate interested in taking one or more classes over the course of the one-week virtual program. Registration for each particular class is done on a first come, first served basis. Visit our one-week virtual program site to register today​!

Program Information

For summer 2022, the one-week virtual program courses will take place from Sunday, July 24th through Saturday, July 30th.

Students who are interested in both programs are invited to apply for our three-week residential, as well as register for our one-week virtual session! The dates do not conflict.

Tuition is $250 per class. Each class will take place during a designated 90-minute timeslot Monday-Friday. Tuition discount opportunities are as follows: 

  • 20% automatic discount per class if you currently/previously attended our 3-week Summer High School Training Program 

  • Special promotion: Register for 3 classes, and the 4th class is only $50 (a 20% total package discount)

  • *Note: up to one discount may be applied per person*

All classes are held online/virtually between 10:00am and 5:00pm Central Time during the course of the program. Classes occur Monday-Friday and last for a duration of 90 minutes each. Students participating virtually from a different time zone should note the difference and ensure the class time works with their schedule prior to registering! Sunday, July 24, and Saturday, July 30, consist of various all program events, panels, etc. 

Because the courses offered during the one-week program are held virtually, you must have the following in order to participate:

- A laptop, ipad, or phone with video/sound capability

- An internet connection that can accommodate live video conferencing

- There may be class-specific requirements that will be listed in the description when registering for a class

We also strongly recommend that you have a dedicated, distraction-free space to be in while the class is happening. It might be helpful to have pens and a notebook available to you during class as well!

We strive to make our program accessible to all students. Please contact us if there is something that will help you participate fully.

Interested in joining us? Hear even more from our Summer Program alums!

"I have gotten to see my work on stage and learn to push for my vision. I feel more confident in my work and am ready to fight for my future."

- Playwriting Student, Summer 2019


Questions about the Summer High School Training program can be sent to Kayla Raelle Holder, Director of the Summer High School Program, by emailing More information about Kayla's work and experience can be found here.

Information Sessions Request Information

“This was so inspiring and influential to me because I got to work with people who regarded theatre the same way I did. I got to share my creative input and it really helped me build my communication skills, as well as my creative confidence." 

- Directing Student, Summer 2020

2020 Summer Program students & staff
Students & staff of the Virtual Summer High School Training Program celebrate their final showcase ceremony!