The Theatre School > Conservatory > Summer High School Training Program

Summer High School Training Program

Experience Conservatory. Experience Chicago.

Apply: Three Week Program  Request Information  

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 five concentrations - acting, comedy arts, design, directing, or stage management/theatre technology - 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.

In our three-week residential intensive program (June 24-July 16, 2023), 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 2023 three-week program will open this winter. 

"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 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

Program Information

For summer 2023, the three-week residential program will take place from Saturday, June 24th through Sunday, July 16th.

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. 

Check out highlights from our summer 2020 virtual program.

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.

- 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.

“The staff was really good about helping us adjust to being on our own and to getting ready for college. I felt very welcome and safe here and I loved learning in a super close environment." 

- Stage Management/Theatre Technology Student, Summer 2022

Application Information

The application for summer 2023 will open this winter. Applications and materials should be submitted by March 1, 2023. (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

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 Jason Beck, Assistant Dean, by emailing

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

Summer 2022 students explore Chicago's Lincoln Park, home of The Theatre School campus.