Great Summer Theater Programs for High School Students

Interested in Drama? Check Out These Programs

Teenagers rehearsing on stage
Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

If theater is your passion, or if you're looking to learn more about theater, a quality summer program is a great way to develop your skills and explore the field. A rigorous summer theater program is also an excellent personal enrichment activity that will look good on your college applications. Below are six top summer theater programs for high school students.

Why a Summer Theater Program?

  • Learn from professionals and develop your acting skills.
  • Strengthen your college applications by showing you are always eager to learn.
  • Build your confidence and public speaking skills.
  • Get a taste of college life by living on campus and meeting students from around the country and world.

Ithaca College Summer College for High School Students: Acting

The Entrance to Ithaca College
The Entrance to Ithaca College. Allen Grove

Ithaca College’s residential Summer College program offers this rigorous three-week session of Acting I for rising high school juniors and seniors. Students explore the fundamentals of acting concepts and techniques through a combination of traditional lectures, reading and discussion, and exercises, improvisations and presentations. The course also offers an overview of various improvisation and audition techniques as well as several traditional acting techniques. Participants earn three college credits upon completion of the course. 

BIMA at Brandeis University

Brandeis University. Robert Gray / Flickr

BIMA is a month-long summer arts program offered by Brandeis University for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. The program emphasizes Jewish life and working in the Jewish art community. Students choose to major in one specific branch of the arts, which include dance, music, visual arts, writing and theater. Participants in all majors receive one-on-one instruction with professionals in the discipline and collaborate with other students on small group projects or performances. Students stay in residence halls on the Brandeis University campus. 

Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory

Cooper Library at Rutgers Camden
Cooper Library at Rutgers Camden. Peter Bond / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

An extension of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts Professional Actor Training Program, the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory is an intensive program for high school students to immerse themselves in the theater arts. Students take daily classes in acting, movement, speech, theater history, theater appreciation and stagecraft as well as participating in master classes with professionals in the field and special seminars and activities. The program also includes visits to Broadway shows and other cultural institutions around the New York City area. Students live on campus in Rutgers University housing for the duration of the four-week program. 

Tisch School of the Arts Summer High School

NYU Tisch School of the Arts 50th Anniversary Gala
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: NYU Student performers at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts 50th Anniversary Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 4, 2016 in New York City. J. Countess / Getty Images

The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University offers summer high school sessions in drama and dramatic writing for rising high school juniors and seniors. The summer drama program includes 28 hours per week of conservatory training in one of four more specified training programs and a seminar on the profession of acting. Students attending the summer program in dramatic writing take courses in the basics of screenwriting and playwriting to establish a foundation in the world of dramatic writing, and each student develops and presents their own script. Both programs run for four weeks and carry six college credits. Participants stay in NYU on-campus housing.

IRT Theater Young Actor’s Laboratory

NYC Times Square Theater District
NYC Times Square Theater District. Stacy / Flickr

The IRT Theater in New York City offers A Westside Experiment: Young Actor’s Laboratory as an affordable immersion experience for young aspiring actors. This non-residential program runs for one week in mid-July and includes five six-hour days of instruction on acting technique, stage combat, voice, and moment-to-moment acting choices, with performances held at the end of the week. Students from grades 6-12 have the opportunity to work and learn alongside a professional theater company in residence at IRT. 

Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University Library
Wesleyan University Library. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Wesleyan University’s Center for Creative Youth (CCY) offers a month-long summer session open to all high school students with major concentrations in both theater and musical theater. Theater students spend a week in an intensive movement program using several different techniques before progressing to studies in monologues, scene work and auditioning. The musical theater program combines actor training with daily voice and dance classes, including solo and ensemble performance techniques. Both programs encourage students to take additional interdisciplinary classes in topics such as playwriting, slam poetry, stage combat, West African musical expression, and more. The CCY also offers summer programs in other areas of the arts, including creative writing, music, visual arts, and dance.

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Cody, Eileen. "Great Summer Theater Programs for High School Students." ThoughtCo, Sep. 30, 2020, Cody, Eileen. (2020, September 30). Great Summer Theater Programs for High School Students. Retrieved from Cody, Eileen. "Great Summer Theater Programs for High School Students." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).