15 Best Summer Acting/Drama Programs

By: Caroline Koppelman

This list is meant for students broadly interested in pursuing acting, the craft of theater, and in some cases, stage-managing/technical theater. While Musical Theater, Dance, and Vocal Arts are included in many of the curricula listed below, this forum is not for students who are interested solely in one of those domains. Additionally, if a student is perhaps less interested in pursuing acting in university, there are many other esteemed acting programs which have impressive, non-academic pedigrees. Unless otherwise noted, tuition costs all include room, board, and on-campus meals.

NYU Tisch High School Summer Program
Location: NYC
Overview: Students are enrolled in conservatory training in one of five institutions: the Experimental Theatre Wing, the Meisner Studio, the New Studio on Broadway, the Stonestreet Screen Acting Studios, or in the Production and Design Studio. Professional actors, directors, and theater experts also host classes every week. The program culminates in a performance for faculty and students, and an open-class day for family and friends.
Student Age: Rising Juniors and Seniors
Application Deadline: January 11, 2017
Dates: July 9th - August 5th
Tuition: $2,000

Yale Summer Drama Program
Location: New Haven, CT
Overview: Yale offers two programs as part of its Summer Drama Program: The Conservatory for Actors, and Directing. Hosted at one of the country’s most eminent theater departments, students are all taught by Yale’s own drama faculty. Acting Conservatory students are introduced to the Stanislavski method, and taught what is essentially a five-week distillation of their current acting curriculum. Directing students learn the essentials to pertinent directorial practices -- open to anyone interested in any part of the directing craft.
Student Age: Current Juniors, and Seniors Application opens on January 7, 2017
Application Deadline: May 1, 2017; Application opens January 7, 2017
Dates: Acting -- July 3rd - August 4th | Directing -- July 13th - 22nd
Tuition: TBD

"The Cherubs" at Northwestern University
Location: Evanston, IL
Overview: Northwestern offers two programs in drama: Theater Arts and Design/Tech. Students in both departments are also eligible for a two-week Musical Theater program which occurs subsequently. Both programs are highly intensive and immersive, culminating in a public performance during their final week (those in the TA division act, and the D/T students stage manage).
Student Age: Rising Seniors
Application Deadline: Early -- January 13th, 2017 | Regular -- February 17th | Late -- March     24th. Spaces are limited -- apply as early as possible.
Dates: TBD
Tuition: $5,600 (additional $2,000 for Musical Theater Extension) 

University of Michigan Summer Performing Arts Institutes
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Overview: UM offers two separate programs for upperclassmen: The Theater & Drama Academy, and The Musical Theater Workshop. Both are run through the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, alongside many other arts students in domains such as dance, instrumental music, and vocal arts. 
Student Age: Musical Theater -- Rising Seniors | Theater & Drama -- Rising Juniors and Seniors
Application Deadline: Musical Theater -- January 27th, 2017 | Theater & Drama -- February 10th
Dates: Musical Theater -- July 16th - August 5th (3 weeks) | Theater & Drama -- July 9th - 22nd (2 weeks)
Tuition: Musical Theater -- $3,620 | Theater & Drama -- $1,990

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Pre-College
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Overview: In their own words, this is “not a summer camp.” Carnegie Mellon’s program is highly intensive, and is based upon its BFA curriculum, offering three routes for participants to pursue: Acting, Musical Theater, and Design & Production Technology and Management. The program is intended to train students at the college level. Their curriculum concludes with a written evaluation for each student, along with a mock audition and interview at the School of Drama.
Student Age: Rising Juniors and Seniors
Application Deadline: April 25th, 2017 for U.S. citizens, April 1st for international students
Dates: TBD
Tuition: $8,097 (commuters: $5,781)

Boston University Summer Theater Institute
Location: Boston, MA
Overview: BU offers a BFA-level five-week intensive drama course, for credit (4). Students take one of two curriculums: Performance, or Design. Both routes include master classes and experimental theatre laboratories, culminating in the creation of an original piece by students in the program. Note: while this program offers courses in dancing and singing, it is not musical theater-intensive.
Student Age: Rising Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
Application Deadline: March 1st, 2017
Dates: July 2nd - August 5th
Tuition: $6,256 - $6,440

Interlochen Center for the Arts
Location: Interlochen, MI
Overview: The iconic Interlochen Center offers seven theater programs, each ranging from one to six-weeks in length. One-week programs: Musical Theater Audition Intensive, and The Shakespeare Bootcamp Institute. Three-week programs: Musical Theater Workshop, and Acting for the Camera. Six-week programs: Musical Theater Production, Repertory Theater Production, and Theater Design & Production.
Student Age: All current high school students
Application Deadline: February 1, 2017, except for Theater Design & Production, wherein students are admitted on a rolling basis
Dates: One-Week Courses -- June 17th - 23rd | Three-Week Courses -- June 24th - July 15th; July 15th - August 7th | Six-Week Courses -- June 24th - August 7th
Tuition: One-Week -- $1,190 | Three-Weeks -- $5,327 | Six-Weeks -- $8,244

UCLA Acting and Performance Summer Institute
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Overview: This three-week program includes performance training classes, movement-based techniques, a final performance, as well as guest workshops (for credit). Located at one of the premier performing arts colleges in the country, students are graded on their performance in the program, and are trained at a college-level.
Student Age: All current high school students
Application Deadline: TBD; Application opens on February 15th
Dates: June 25th - July 15th | July 16th - August 5th
Tuition: TBD (Available in early January)

USC High School Summer Conservatory
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Overview: This four-week immersion program is designed to train students under university faculty, and introduce them into the world of dramatic arts. Three strains of theater are offered: Acting, Performing Comedy, and Musical Theater (for credit).
Note: There is a separate, similar, program for international students.
Student Age: Rising Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
Application Deadline: April 28, 2017 (international students: March 24, 2017)
Dates: June 18th - July 15th
Tuition: $8,234

Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University
Location: Middletown, CT
Overview: Students in the center will be immersed in a community of talented high-school age students across a range of artistic disciplines including Musical Theater, and Theater & Visual Arts. While participants must choose one major, they are also allowed to take electives in other domains -- each morning students attend to their major, and each afternoon their electives.
Student Age: All current high school students
Application Deadline: March 1, 2017
Dates: June 25th - July 22nd
Tuition: $3,995

Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory
Location: New Brunswick, NJ
Overview: This highly intensive program offers classes in musical theater, theater history, theater appreciation, and stagecraft along with special seminars taught by industry professionals, and the chance to see a show on Broadway during the program. Students can take
Student Age: Rising Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
Application Deadline: June 5, 2017; Rolling admission began on October 15, 2016
Dates: July 2nd - 30th
Tuition: $5,850 (commuters: $4,800)

AMDA Summer Acting Conservatory
Location: NYC and Los Angeles, CA (time-dependent)
Overview: AMDA’s “Acting Experience” program is meant to give students an inside look into the industry and practice of Acting. Offered in either New York City or Los Angeles, AMDA focuses on both theater acting, and acting for the camera. Students conclude their experience with a live performance.
Student Age: All current, or rising, high school students
Application Deadline: TBD -- Rolling
Dates: Session 1 -- July 2nd - 15th (NYC & LA) | Session 2 -- July 16th - 29th (NYC & LA) | Session 3 -- July 20th - August 12th (NYC only)
Tuition: $4,400

Emerson Pre-College Studio Program
Location: Boston, MA
Overview: The Studio Program offers students a distillation of Emerson’s esteemed Acting BFA degree. Emerson’s Acting faculty teach all courses, including voice, movement, improvisation, scene study, auditioning technique, ensemble theater-making, and stage combat.
Student Age: Rising Juniors and Seniors
Application Deadline: March 13, 2017 (international applicants: April 28, 2017)
Dates: July 9th - August 13th
Tuition: For credit: $8,370 | Non-credit: $7,571

Purchase Pre-College Acting Intensive
Location: Purchase, NY
Overview: Purchase offers conservatory-level training to students, along with seminars with industry professionals and theater artists, culminating in a series of scenes, monologues, and improvisatory theater for family and friends. The Acting Intensive can also be paired with their Musical Theater Bootcamp, Acting for the Camera Bootcamp and other extra-disciplinary domains for a well-rounded Summer experience.
Student Age: All current high school students
Application Deadline: Rolling admission begins on January 30, 2017
Dates: June 26th - July 21st
Tuition: $2,100

Berklee Musical Theater Intensive
Location: Boston, MA
Overview: For students interested in musical theater, this five-day intensive is meant as a “bootcamp” of sorts, offering a shorter term commitment than most programs of its kind. Students are put through a rigorous schedule of classes, rehearsals, and seminars with industry professionals. After just five short days, students finish off their week with a public performance.
Student Age: All current high school students
Application Deadline: TBD
Dates: August 13th - 18th
Tuition: $2,275