Summer Pre-College Drama

Pre-College Drama introduces high school students to rigorous, conservatory style challenges. The length and depth of the summer conservatory-style program can lead to a stronger resolve to pursue a career in theater, helping students to understand the work involved and providing a clear picture of what the future holds. Or, students may discover that they value a wider, liberal arts undergraduate experience, where they could explore other options/college careers. 

Pre-College Drama focuses on the audition process rather than a production, which allows students to enter the college application/audition process with a repertoire of monologues and songs, as well as the skills needed to find material appropriate for their age and type. The opportunity for students to hone their pieces with nationally acclaimed faculty and perform a mock audition, for which they receive constructive feedback, gives the students a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to continue the work begun at Carnegie Mellon with focus and specificity. The design/production experience offers the same advantages, giving such a close approximation of the demands of a conservatory program, that students would know by the final interview if their interest and work habits were strong enough for a conservatory experience.


The Experience

Pre-College Drama isn't a summer camp. It's an intensive program modeled after our undergraduate BFA curriculum. Students should arrive on campus expecting to participate in an intense college-level program.

The program provides a strong basis for the student to decide whether or not to pursue further professional theater training. At the end of the program, students receive a written evaluation of their work in each course.

The honing of audition skills or the creation of a design and production portfolio is the primary component of the Drama Pre-College curriculum. At the conclusion of the program, students from all options are required to complete a mock audition or interview for the School of Drama. Because the program is geared toward individual progress rather than product, there is no “final production.”


Students are expected to fulfill all the requirements of the program in which they're enrolled, including, without limitation: attending and participating in all classes; completing all assigned coursework, homework, projects, exams and any other program requirements. 

Classes run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students have a daily lunch break, and depending on course load, may have an additional free period during the day.

Optional workshops and Master’s classes are held in the evenings, Monday through Thursday. Weekends are intended for homework, independent rehearsal and Student Life activities.

Please remember that there's an academic component to Pre-College Drama. Students from all options are required to take Dramatic Literature.


The Acting curriculum includes classes in acting, voice and speech, movement, audition techniques, acting Shakespeare and dramatic literature, with a choice of one course in playwriting, directing, acting for the camera, tap and improvisation available as electives.

The Music Theater curriculum mirrors the Acting curriculum, with courses in singing and dance rather than voice and speech, movement and styles. Music Theater studies will focus on the rudiments of music and singing in large and small group sessions. Dance classes consist of training in ballet and jazz and are tailored for beginning, intermediate and advanced dance students. Music Theater students can also choose from playwriting, directing, acting for the camera, tap and improvisation for their one elective option.

Design and Production Technology and Management students will be exposed to a curriculum of basic design, scene painting, technical production, drafting, stage lighting and dramatic literature.

Private Voice lessons are also available for an additional fee.      


Resident - $8,989
Commuter - $6,504

Tuition Waivers

If you're looking to attend the Pre-College Drama program at no cost, there are limited opportunities for tuition waivers. When applying to this program, you'll be able to indicate you'd like to be considered for this option.


The CMU Drama PreCollege program prepares students for the college audition process, equipping them with a repertoire of monologues and songs (for the MTs). Our rising seniors take their audition material to schools across the country within a few months of finishing the program. Below is a list of all the programs where our PreCollege alumni have gone on to study theater in the last five years alone.


University Degree # of Alumni
American University BA Musical Theater 2
Baldwin State University BFA Acting 4
Ball State University BFA Acting 2
Bard College  BFA Acting  2 
Baylor University  BFA Theater Performance  1 
Belmont University  BFA Theater  1 
Berklee College of Music  Bachelor of Music  2 
Boston College  BA Acting  1 
Boston Conservatory  BFA Musical Theater  16 
Boston University BFA Acting 11
Carnegie Mellon University BFA Design/Production 11
Carnegie Mellon University BFA Dramaturgy/Directing 8
Carnegie Mellon University BFA Theater/Musical Theater 3
California Institute of the Arts BFA/Design Production 1
Catholic University of America BM Musical Theater 2
Connecticut College BA Theater and Dance 1
DePaul University BFA Acting 2
DeSales University BA Acting and Business Major 1
Elon University BFA Musical Theater 6
Emerson College BFA Theater 8
Florida State BFA Musical Theater 1
Fordham University Theater Performance 2
Harvard College BA Theater, Dance and Media 1
Hofstra University BFA Theater Arts 1
Illinois Wesleyan University BFA Musical Theater 1
Indiana University BFA Theater and Drama 1
Ithaca College BFA Acting 7
Julliard School Drama 1
Liberty University BA Theater Education 1
Long Island University BFA Musical Theater 1
Loyola University Chicago BA Music 1
Marymount Manhattan College BFA Musical Theater 5
Millikin University BFA Musical Theater 1
Muhlenberg University BA Theater 4
NYU Tisch School of the Arts BFA Drama 31
Northwestern University BA Theater 8
Oberlin College BA Theater 3
Oklahoma City University BM Musical Theater 2
Pace University BFA Acting 5
Penn State University BFA Musical Theater/Design Tech 9
Performers College (UK) BA Musical Theater 1
Point Park University BA Theater Arts/Acting 7
Rutgers University BFA Acting 1
Seton Hill University BA Theater Design and Technology 1
Skidmore College BA Theater 2
Stanford University Theater and Performance Studies 3
Syracuse University BFA Acting 10
Temple University BFA Musical Theater 1
The Hartt School BFA Musical Theater 6
University of Arizona BFA Musical Theater 1
University of California LA BA Theater 2
University of Cincinnati CCM BFA Musical Theater 2
University of Miami BFA Musical Theater 4
University of Michigan BFA Musical Theater 9
UNC School of the Arts

BFA Acting/Directing/ Lighting/Scenic

University of Oklahoma BFA Acting 4
University of Southern California BA Theater and Drama 8
University of Utah BFA Musical Theater 1
Vassar College BA Acting 1
Wagner College BA Theater Performance 2
Webster University BFA Musical Theater 1
Wright State University BFA Musical Theater 1