The Theatre School > Conservatory > Summer High School Training Program

Summer High School Training Program

Experience Conservatory. Experience Chicago.

Note: only the "apply for summer 2019" buttons on this page will lead you to the summer program application. All other application links on The Theatre School website are intended for students pursuing entrance to degree programs.

Program Overview

The Theatre School's Summer High School Training Program is designed for rising 11th and 12th grade students who want a taste of intensive conservatory theatre training in the heart of Chicago, one of the world's most vibrant theatre communities.

For three weeks in July, students live in a DePaul University residence hall and study one of four concentrations - acting, design, directing, or playwriting - with Theatre School faculty and some of the most exciting theatre professionals in Chicago. 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, all while experiencing many of the theatrical and cultural events Chicago has to offer and the artists (including Theatre School alumni) that make it all possible.

As a student in the program, the primary coursework will stretch and challenge you to grow in your area of concentration, and master classes and workshops will allow you to explore other interests. At the end of the three weeks you will have a showcase of your work for the other students, families, and guests.



​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.


​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.

Meet Courtney O'Neill, Head of Design for the Summer High School Training Program.


​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.


​The playwriting concentration introduces students to the process of writing stories for the stage. We will explore elements of dramatic structure and theatrical storytelling by reading contemporary plays, writing, and engaging in physical exercises designed to free the imagination and develop characters and scenes. During the program, you will conceive, write, and develop a ten minute play that will be presented as a staged reading at the end of the program.

Daily Schedule & Expectations

  • Classes run Monday through Friday. Students have a daily lunch break and, depending on coursework, may have an additional free period during the day.
  • Evening programming, including panels, shows, and master classes, will end each day and provide an opportunity for students to experience the professional production culture of Chicago.
  • Saturdays include elective workshop intensives.
  • Sundays are off-days, intended for independent work, rest, and exploring the city.
  • Students are expected to attend and participate in their classes; complete all assigned coursework, homework, and projects; and participate in our end-of-program showcase.
  • In service of creating community and ensemble, students in the program will be required to live in DePaul University assigned housing. Learn more about DePaul housing.
  • Summer High School Program students are expected to meet the same level of professionalism and respect for conduct as all DePaul students. View the DePaul Code of Student Responsibility.

Important Information

Program Dates

​The summer 2019 session will run from Sunday July 7 to Saturday July 27, 2019. The showcase day for families and guests will be Friday July 26, 2019.

Application Dates

The application for the summer 2019 session opened October 1, 2018. While we encourage you to apply by March 1, 2019, the application will remain open until the program is filled.


The total cost of the summer program for 2019 is $7,600. This includes tuition, housing, meals, and programming fees. A $3,000 deposit will be due May 1 to secure your place in the program. The remaining balance will be due by June 1.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available to students who demonstrate financial need.


Admission is open to rising high school juniors and seniors. International applicants are welcome; international students who enroll in the summer program must obtain a tourist visa in order to attend. All applicants must demonstrate permission from parents/guardians in order to enroll and attend the program.


The application for summer 2019 is now open; applications and materials should be submitted by March 1, 2019. (After March 1, applications will continue to be reviewed until the program is full.) Applicants can indicate an interest in multiple concentrations, however students can ultimately only enroll in only one concentration: acting, design, directing, or playwriting. All of the following materials are required in order to be considered for admission:

Online Application Form

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 letter of reference and high school transcript will be uploaded separately, after you submit the application form.

500 Word Essay

​The essay is part of the application form will be in response to the following prompt:
How do you plan to impact the world through theatre?


As part of the application form, upload a brief list or description of your theatrical and/or artistic experience highlighting creative and artistic work accomplished, activities, and previous training.


The photograph does not need to be an official headshot.

One Letter of Reference

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.

The letter can also be uploaded by the applicant on the application portal after submitting the application form.

High School Transcript

As part of your application, 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.​
Apply For Summer 2019


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

"Our Chicago location uniquely positions The Theatre School as the cornerstone of the most vibrant professional theatre community in the country."