The Theatre School > Conservatory > Summer High School Training Program

Summer High School Training Program

Experience Conservatory. Experience Chicago.

Applications for 2019 are now closed. The application for Summer 2020 will open in the fall. Please request information and we can remind you when the application is available.

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.

Program Information

Program Dates

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

Arrival & Departure Information

Students should schedule their travel in order to arrive on-campus by 5pm on the Program's start date, Sunday July 7, 2019. This will give you sufficient time to get settled in before dinner and the Summer Program Orientation. The administrative office must be notified if you must arrive later than 5pm.

The last day of the program is Friday July 26, 2019 and that is the last night students will be in the university residence hall. Departures from campus can be scheduled any time on Saturday July 27.

Students and their families are responsible for arranging travel to/from the program. The two airports in Chicago (O'Hare International and Midway) are equidistant from campus. The Summer Program does not offer a shuttle service to/from the airport but many cab companies offer flat rates from the airports and students can also arrange their own Uber or Lyft. Directions to The Theatre School building and parking information can be found here.

Expectations & Accountability

​Students 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. Summer 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.

Students must be able to communicate with the Director and Assistant Director by email and phone if and when necessary, particularly on the student's days off (two Sundays during the program.) Parents/guardians need to be reachable at all times in case of emergencies. Please make sure we have your most current phone number/email on file.

For the two Sundays off during the program, we highly recommend that students are at least in pairs when traveling around the city (if not in larger groups.) A Resident Hall Assistant (RA) will need to know each student's itinerary on those two Sundays off.​

Classes, Activities, & Field Trips

All classes are held at The Theatre School on DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus. While DePaul University has a second campus in the Loop (downtown Chicago), students will not commute for their classes. Students will have a daily lunch break and, depending on coursework, may have a free period during the day. Classes take place between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Saturday.

Most weeknights will have required programming, including panels, shows, and master classes. These activities will provide an opportunity for students to experience the professional production culture of Chicago. The Summer Program will travel as a group to the Loop on designated evenings to attend performances and events. Students will always travel with chaperones and the Director or Assistant Director.

Our faculty-to-student ratio varies from 1:7 to 1:10. Summer Program faculty and staff live alongside the students in the residence halls as Resident Hall Directors and Resident Hall Assistants (RAs) to provide evening supervision.

Attendance at all program activities and classes is absolutely mandatory.


Out faculty-to-student ratio varies from 1:7 to 1:10 and Summer Program faculty and staff live in the residence halls as Resident Hall Directors and Resident Hall Assistants (RAs) during the program. The school is assigning RAs per every 7-10 students. RAs will also be available on Sundays to help students plan their days off and will assist with escorting students to any required off-campus events or performances during the program. Summer Program students must abide by an 11:00pm curfew unless otherwise determined by the Summer Program Director.

Residential Life

​All students will stay in the residence hall (dorm) at DePaul University with no exceptions, as this supports the creation of community and ensemble among students in the program. Students will be paired with roommates and bathrooms are shared. Students can request a roommate and we will do our best to accommodate everyone's needs and preferences. For the safety of those living on-campus, residence halls are locked at all hours; students are responsible for their own personal belongings and so are strongly advised to lock their individual rooms at all times. Loss of their University residency room key will result in a $150 fine to replace it. No guests are allowed in the residence halls. You can learn more about DePaul's housing policies here.

Over the summer, towels and bedding are provided but students will need to bring their own pillows. (See "What should I bring?" below for a more complete suggested packing list.)There is a laundry facility in the basement of the residence hall.

Special Accommodations

​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 - this includes any dietary needs the 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.

Health Information

​Any hospitalization or emergency room visits must be covered by the student's own insurance; it is not covered by the Summer Program or by DePaul University. Students are therefore required to bring their health insurance card with them.

What should I bring?

​- A pillow (other bedding is provided by the residence hall for Summer Program students)
- Laundry pods/detergent and dryer sheets
- Toiletries (towels are provided by the residence hall for Summer Program students)
- Backpack
- Pens, pencils, and a notebook
- Comfy clothes and shoes
- Reuseable water bottle
- Rain jacket
- Laptop (if available)
- A form of I.D.
- Insurance card
- Extra spending money if a student plans to buy off-campus meals or souvenirs during their days off (Sunday July 14 and Sunday July 21)

Application Information

Application Dates

Applications for 2019 are now closed. The application for Summer 2020 will open in the fall. Please request information and we can remind you when the application is available.


The total cost of the summer program for 2019 is $7,600. 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.

The cost for the Summer Program covers all classes, programming, DePaul University housing, three daily meals, field trips, theatre performance tickets, and transportation to/from all required off-campus events. Students will attend multiple professional theatre performances in and around Chicago during the Summer Program and these costs are all included as part of tuition.

Students will have two Sundays off and may choose to bring additional spending money for meals off-campus, souvenirs, museums, etc. on those days.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available to students who demonstrate financial need. The financial aid application can be submitted as part of the application process. If a student is awarded a scholarship, the scholarship ammount will be communicated in their acceptance letter.


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 2020 will open in fall 2019; applications and materials should be submitted by March 1, 2020. (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.​


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 Dr. Biagi'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."