How many people are accepted into the program each year? 

Each year, we select a class of 24 actors from approximately 250 applicants.

What is the age range of the actors? 

Our only requirement is that you have graduated high school by the start of the summer program. The youngest student we’ve had has been 18, while the oldest has been in their mid 50’s. We generally look to have a range of ages, with the median generally falling with students in their late 20’s or early 30’s.

What kind of experience should I have as an applicant.

We are a professional training program and expect that applicants have a process and a strong understanding of their personal approach to the fundamentals of acting. That being said, we have certainly accepted students with a less traditional background and education, so long as both their talent and maturity indicate that they will do well with the rigorous curriculum.

From where do most of your students come?  Do you take international students? 

We accept applicants from anywhere, though a strong knowledge and use of English is helpful for both receiving instruction and performance. If you can’t travel for the audition, we do accept video submissions, but in person auditions are preferred, if at all possible. Generally, a little over half of our students come from Chicago, while the other half is made up of actors from across the nation, with a primary focus on New York and Los Angeles. Internationally, we have had actors in the program from Canada, The United Kingdom, Australia, and Belgium.

What is the tuition for the program?

Full tuition is $4,500 for the summer. (Approximately $12/ per class hour.) We do offer limited need-based scholarship assistance. The average award is $500. Tuition needs to be paid in full before the first day of classes.

Does Steppenwolf provide housing? 

Housing for the program is not provided and is left to the responsibility of the student. We are able to assist in the finding of sublets and can provide possible resources for out of town students but provide no guarantees. Housing is not included in the tuition.

Who are the instructors for this year’s program?

We prioritize Ensemble members as teachers in the program, but also must negotiate their active and fluid artistic careers that can change at a moment’s notice. We have a core team of trusted teachers, with a strong connection to both the School at Steppenwolf as well as the Chicago theater scene, who we regularly call upon to serve as instructors. A look at our curriculum/past instructors page will provide you with better insight into the makeup of the faculty.

Are you able to complete the program while, at the same time, maintaining outside employment or performance opportunities? 

The program is Monday – Friday, from 8:30am – 6:00pm  (6:30pm for the final 4 weeks of the program.) Some work outside of class – rehearsing, memorizing, or specific homework assignments – is expected. That being said, we have certainly had students who have maintained outside jobs (evenings/weekends) or performance schedules (evenings/weekends) while also fully participating in the program. So long as the obligations do not affect your availability for class hours, how you choose to spend your time outside the required hours, is up to you.

Do students get access to the Steppenwolf casting director, or are they seen for upcoming auditions? 

The focus of the program is process based, with a focus on ensemble training. We try hard to keep the pressure of audition and performance outside of the regular class focus. That being said, our casting director is very involved in, not just the selection of students, but also attends presentation days as well as teaching a masterclass within the program. We feel strongly that the best way for anyone to get to know your work, is through repeated interaction and we try to provide opportunities for interaction throughout the program.

Is there a final showcase?  If so, who attends?

We do a final presentation in the last week of the program, providing three public performances of the group scene study class. These presentations are primarily for family and friends, though we also invite, Steppenwolf staff, casting directors, agents, and directors from the community to attend. We do not present this as a showcase, nor do we hand out headshot packets at the event, in an attempt to keep the focus of the presentations on the work in process. We will provide digital copies of headshots and resumes to agents and casting directors who follow up with a specific request.

If you have further questions regarding The School at Steppenwolf, please contact the School Director: 

Jonathan Berry at (312) 654-5653 or by email at