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.”


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.


Admission to the Theatre Arts Division is competitive. Decisions are made by the Admissions Committee and are based on ability, merit, and interest.


Students applying for the Theatre Arts Division should currently be in the 11th grade/junior year. Attendance to the Theatre Arts Division occurs over the summer between students’ junior and senior year of high school.


 There are 3 steps to completing a Theatre Arts Application:

  1. Fill out and submit the initial NHSI Application
  2. Pay the $50 application fee
  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 test scores) via email once you submit the initial application and application fee.

Students also applying for the 2-week Musical Theatre Extension must additionally submit a singing audition video. Further directions regarding song choice, cutting, and submission will also be included in your confirmation email after you submit your initial application. 


 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 must 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 flat rates to and from the airports.


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.


Auditions are not required for admission to the 5-week Theatre Arts Division. A singing audition 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.  


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.


We discourage bringing bicycles to the Institute.


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.


The NHSI is an enrichment program. Neither grades nor credit are awarded for attending the National High School Institute.


Students must abide by a daily 11:00 pm curfew; unless otherwise determined by the Division Director.


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.


Costs associated with field trips (theatre tickets, transportation, boxed lunch) are included in the tuition cost for the NHSI. Theatre Arts students attend multiple professional theatre performances in and around Chicago. There will also be one, all-day field trip to explore the city of 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. You will have the option of purchasing DVD copies of the Cherubs productions following the conclusion of the program.

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 one of two  musical theatre reviews on the last two days of the 2-week extension. 


If you would like to be considered for financial assistance you should notate your interest in the Financial Aid section of your initial 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.

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.


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 upon acceptance to the Institute.  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 bring a health insurance card with them.


A packet of information about attending the NHSI will be emailed to all accepted students. The information packet covers arrival and departure from the Institute, items to pack, program overview, and other pertinent information. As well, you will receive a number of forms (Health Record, Standard Operating Procedures, Resident Hall Card, Photo/Likeness Approval, and Crew Preference Form) which you will need to fill out, sign, and return before arriving on campus.


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. Most students will have a roommate. Rooming requests will not be accepted except in the case of requests regarding medical conditions. Students who identity as males and females will be separated by floors or by common areas. 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. The NHSI has a dietitian on staff for its summer programs to address any specific dietary needs that applicants 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 Cherubs alumni have returned as Faculty Associates and Faculty.


 Standardized test scores are encouraged but not required to complete an application. If you have taken any standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, PLAN, or ACT) you should submit a copy of your scores to be added to your application. If test scores are unavailable, please email the NHSI office stating you do not have any test scores available at this time.

Please mail or email 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.


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 received via email or fax will be accepted.


A non-refundable, $1,000 deposit is required within 10 business days of acceptance to hold your place at the Institute.



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