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Theatre Arts – Frequently Asked Questions

“This [was] my favorite show that I have EVER been a part of. Our bond as a cast was so strong that it really helped me to feel comfortable and confident in the rehearsal room and on stage.”


Admission FAQs

There are 3 main steps to completing a Theatre Arts Application:

  1. Submit the online NHSI Application
  2. Pay the $50 application fee & await a confirmation email with instructions for submitting your Supplemental Materials
  3. Submit all required supplemental materials to the NHSI office by the Admissions Deadline

You will receive further information regarding the supplemental materials (resume, essay responses, letter of recommendation, transcript, and optional test scores) via email once you submit the online application and application fee. Students also applying for the 2-week Musical Theatre Extension must additionally submit a singing video. Further directions regarding song choice, cutting, and submission will also be included in your confirmation email after you submit your initial application.

Admission to the Theatre Arts Division is competitive. Decisions are made by the Admission Committee and are based on ability, merit, and interest. Only students currently in 11th grade are eligible to apply; attendance to the Theatre Arts Division occurs during the summer between students’ junior and senior year of high school.
Auditions are not required for admission to the 5-week Theatre Arts Division. A singing video is required for 2-week Musical Theatre Extension candidates. Further directions regarding song choice, cutting, and submission will be included in your confirmation email after you submit your initial application.
The NHSI is an enrichment program, where students are encouraged to explore and take risks in their craft without fear of failure. Neither grades nor credit are awarded for attending the National High School Institute.
Students must commit to only one NHSI Division for summer study. However, you may apply to more than one Division. If you choose to apply to multiple NHSI programs you must complete separate applications for each Division. However, you only need to submit one $50 payment for the application fee. Subsequent application fees will be $20 per application.
If you would like to be considered for financial assistance you should notate your interest in the Financial Aid section of your online NHSI Application. Once your application has been processed you will receive an email with further directions on how to submit and complete the FACTS Financial Aid Application. International students should inquire about aid availability for the 2024 season via email.

Scholarships and Financial Aid awards are determined by the NHSI Financial Aid Committee and are made based on financial need.

We encourage students to look into outside funding options as well. Students should inquire with their school about Activities Funds, talk with the PTA, or local service clubs such as Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, or AAUW. Past students have also run successful crowd funding campaigns on sites such as Kickstarter and Go Fund Me.

We recommend that students in the top third of their class with at least a “B” average apply. Exceptions are made. We look for evidence of high motivation, interest, and scholastic ability. 
Please review the PDF below as it contains Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to International Student Applicants. 

Click to access International-Info.pdf


Standardized test scores are not required to complete an application. If you have taken any standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, PLAN, or ACT) please submit copies of your scores directly to NHSI as CollegeBoard does not have an NHSI option for sending results. Sending results via CollegeBoard to the Northwestern University option will deliver your scores to Undergraduate Admissions NOT the National High School Institute.

If you will not be submitting test scores, please email the NHSI office stating such.

International students whose first language is not English will be required to submit an English Language test score. Please see our International Student FAQ above.

A copy of your most current high school transcript is required to complete an application. Official transcripts sent from your school are preferred, however, unofficial copies submitted by the student will be accepted as long as they are up to date.
Once you accept your spot, we will create a student account for you and send your login information via email. A non-refundable, $1,000 deposit is required within 1 week of receiving your student account information to hold your place at the Institute.

Accepted Student FAQs 

More info will be included with your Information Packet

Students should schedule their travel plans to arrive on campus before 2 pm on the program’s start date. This will give you sufficient time to reach campus and get settled in before dinner and the Theatre Arts orientation. The administrative office must be notified if you need to arrive later than 2 pm.

Students are responsible for arranging all travel to and from the Institute. The NHSI does NOT provide shuttle service. However, many cab companies offer advance scheduling and flat rates to and from the airports.

The taking of the ACT or SAT, as well as any AP or college credit courses during the program is highly discouraged, as the rigor of the schedule does not allow for proper study time or engagement in these tests or classes. 
Attendance at ALL Institute activities and classes is absolutely mandatory. The Theatre Arts Division is not a typical summer camp. We offer a serious, in depth theatrical educational program modeled after Northwestern’s Undergraduate Theatre Program. Classes and productions are ensemble based and therefore, it is necessary for all students to participate in all activities, unless there is prior notice or an emergency situation. 
Students may not have cars, bicycles or scooters on campus. All Theatre Arts students live in University housing; there is no commuter option. The safety of our students is of the upmost importance. Students are forbidden to drive vehicles during the program. Furthermore, no student will be allowed to ride in any motor vehicle or via any CTA transit system, under any circumstance, unless with written parental permission and NHSI approval, or while on an official NHSI field trip.
Bicycles, roller blades, skateboards and the like are prohibited.
If you bring a personal computer, the NHSI and Northwestern University will not be responsible for it. Computers are available for student access in the University Library.
For 2022, the NHSI reviewed the vaccination status of each student upon enrollment. Students were required to provide a negative PCR test result upon check in, taken 48-72 hours prior to arrival, or proof of recovery within 90 days. Students who received positive results delayed their arrival by at least 5 days from the test date, until they tested negative and were symptom-free for 24+ hours. Students who tested positive while on campus were placed in an individual room and withdrawn from the Institute by their parent/guardians. Students removed from the institute due to a Covid-19 diagnosis were not eligible for a full refund. Protocols for 2023 are subject to change based on Northwestern and CDC guidelines.
Students must abide by a daily 11:00 pm curfew; unless otherwise determined by the Division Director.
Northwestern has a dietitian on staff for its summer programs to address any specific dietary needs that applicants may have, and the dining hall is free of the top 9 allergens. There are dining options for vegan and vegetarian students as well. However, Dining Services at NU is limited in what they can offer during the summer, and accommodations for dietary needs vary from year to year in availability. If you keep kosher or consider yourself to have significant dietary restrictions, please connect with our office to discuss dining options.
Costs associated with field trips (theatre tickets, transportation, boxed lunch) are included in the tuition cost for the NHSI. Theatre Arts students usually attend multiple professional theatre performances in and around Chicago.
All performances take place in Northwestern’s The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. Each Cherubs production will perform twice; one afternoon and one evening performance. Admission is free and open to friends and family. Videography and photography is strictly prohibited. 

Each student performs in one of the final productions and will serve on crew for two additional productions during the last week of the 5-week Theatre Arts program. Each Design/Tech student will stage-manage one of the productions.

Musical Theatre students will also perform in a musical theatre showcase on the last two days of the 2-week extension.

A standard health form MUST be completed and returned prior to the first day of the Institute. The health form is emailed to students in the general information packet along with other required forms.  Students will not be able to begin participation in the program until the health form is completed.

Any hospitalization or emergency room visits must be covered by students’ own insurance and is not covered by the NHSI or Northwestern University. Students must carry a health insurance card with them and/or a method of payment.

If, while attending the NHSI, a student is experiencing a medical, psychological or other health-related concern that exceeds the NHSI’s ability to ensure their safety – or the safety of other NHSI students or staff – the student’s caregiver(s) will be notified and will need to arrange for an adult to check the student out of the program within 24 hours.

A packet of information about attending the NHSI will be emailed to all accepted students. This will be your guide to the summer. The information packet covers arrival to and departure from the Institute, items to pack, curriculum overview, and so much other pertinent information. With that packet, you will receive a number of forms which you will need to fill out, sign, and return before June.
Please review the PDF below as it contains Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to International Student Applicants. 

Click to access International-Info.pdf


Tuition for the Theatre Arts, Design/Tech, and Musical Theatre Extension covers: all programming, room & board in University housing, three meals daily in the dining hall, field trips, theatre performance tickets, and group events. Students may choose to bring additional spending money for the occasional meal off campus, souvenirs, etc. 
Students must assume all responsibility for personal property. For the safety of students and faculty, residence halls are locked at all hours. Students are strongly advised to lock their rooms at all times.
All students must live on campus. Students should expect to have a roommate. Rooming requests will not be accepted except in the case of requests regarding medical conditions. Students will be separated by floors or by common areas based on gender identity. All residences are air-conditioned. All meals are eaten in University dining halls.
We will attempt to work with students and their families on a case-by-case basis to best accommodate any special needs that an applicant may have. Please alert us early so that we can have sufficient time to help make the Theatre Arts program accessible to all students. Visit the AccessibleNU website for more information on campus accessibility.
Faculty-student ratio varies from 1:5 to 1:10. Faculty and staff live in the residence halls as Resident Hall Directors and Resident Hall Assistants. Our Faculty consists of professional theatre artists and experienced educators. Faculty Associates are current college students, from Northwestern and other Universities across the nation. Many Cherub alumni have returned as Faculty Associates and Faculty.


Theatre Arts Division  –  Application Information and Deadlines  –  Tuition and Fees  –  Scholarships and Financial Aid
Typical Day  –  Stage Management/Design-Tech Concentration  –  Musical Theatre Extension  –  Photo Gallery – Faculty Bios – FAQ’s