Theatre Conservatory

Offered in: Chicago

The Theatre Conservatory

The Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts is uniquely positioned to educate and train its students within a professional conservatory setting, offering three BFA degree programs for those who want professional theatre or musical theatre careers based in performance or who intend to pursue graduate studies in these fields.  In addition, through our new Interdisciplinary Conservatory we also offer a BA program for those who seek a liberal arts education built around a theatre-driven core of classes that are shared with the BFA programs.  Lastly, we’re proud to offer an MA program in Theatre Directing through our Fast Track program, where adult learners can attend intensive training over the course of three consecutive summers. 

Curricula are constructed to achieve a solid balance between academic courses and studio/performance work. Introductory level courses offer training in fundamental skills, while advanced courses help equip our students with specific skills needed for success in today’s industry.

Roosevelt University’s Chicago campus is the home of the acclaimed Auditorium Theatre.  Centered within the heart of downtown Chicago, one of America’s greatest theatre cities and home to more than 200 professional theatre companies, the campus is within walking distance of world-class arts institutions such as the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Lyric Opera.

The Theatre Conservatory presents a full season of mainstage and studio productions each year, and all are open to the public. A calendar of events is available upon request. To receive monthly updates about Theatre Conservatory performances, please sign up through the CCPA webpage .


Admission to Roosevelt University does not necessarily include admission to the Theatre Conservatory. Eligibility for admission to a BFA program is determined by audition, interview, and submission of three letters of recommendation.

Eligibility for entry into courses offered by the Theatre Conservatory is limited to admitted and matriculated students only, except for courses identified in the schedule as open to non-theatre majors.

Students who have previously attended other universities of colleges may begin in the Theatre Conservatory as either "Transfer Freshmen" or "Transfer Sophomores" (following successful completion of the admission requirements). No undergraduate student may transfer above the sophomore level. The determination of placement is made at the time of admission to the university by the chair and associate chair of the Theatre Conservatory, as well as the assistant dean for enrollment and student services at CCPA. The offer of admission will indicate the level at which the student has been placed. Transfer Freshmen are required to complete a minimum four-year residency, and Transfer Sophomores must complete a minimum three-year residency. Courses transferred from the previous school(s) will be reviewed for equivalency to Roosevelt's requirements during the student's first advising session at the time of matriculation.

Academic performance

The only acceptable grades for Acting or Musical Theatre majors in courses offered by the Theatre Conservatory are A, A-, B+, B, and B-. Grades of C+ or C will be reviewed by the Theatre Conservatory administration and faculty, to determine if the student is required to repeat the course. Grades of C- or lower in any Theatre Conservatory course are considered unsatisfactory and may not be applied toward the BFA requirements.

Students must earn grades of C- or higher in all general education (non-major area academic) courses. Grades below C- in these courses may not be applied toward the BFA requirements.

Receiving an unsatisfactory grade in a Theatre Conservatory course may be grounds for disciplinary action; receiving an unsatisfactory grade for a second time in the same class may result in dismissal from the Theatre Conservatory.

Auditions and outside performances

Auditioning and networking are vital parts of what it means to be a theatre professional. Beginning in the sophomore year, all BFA Acting, Musical Theatre and Musical Theatre: Dance Concentration majors in good standing are required to audition for all CCPA productions and to complete crew assignments each semester. All students enrolled in programs in The Theatre Conservatory should arrange their schedules to allow ample time for afternoon and evening rehearsals.

Students are eligible to be in the CCPA Casting Pool for six of their eight semesters with us (sophomore through senior year).  They are also allowed to apply to be exempt from the casting pool for two of those semesters.  Students who wish to be removed from the casting pool in a given semester must obtain the permission of the chair of the Theatre Conservatory.  If permission is granted, the student will still be expected to complete any crew assignments for their Rehearsal and Performance grade, as in order to be a truly holistic theatre artist it is essential to have a working familiarity with non-performance areas of theatre production.

Any conflicts with casting assignments that would cause a student to be absent from a rehearsal or performance (e.g. family obligations, work schedules) must be approved in writing by the chair of the Theatre Conservatory and the show’s director at the beginning of the semester.

Students are encouraged to gain appropriate professional experiences during their academic residency. However, permission of the chair of the Theatre Conservatory is necessary before students can audition for outside productions. Juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 may seek such experiences. Sophomores may be considered for outside opportunities with the permission of the faculty. Freshmen and students on probation in the Theatre Conservatory are not eligible to participate in theatrical activity outside the conservatory during the academic year. Permission to pursue or accept professional engagements does not exempt the student from fulfilling other academic requirements and obligations within the conservatory, such as attendance in classes.


Punctual attendance at all classes and rehearsals is an important element of the discipline needed for a career in the performing arts, and is an important sign of respect for instructors, directors, colleagues, and the art form itself.

In the Theatre Conservatory, students are allowed the equivalent of one week’s class meetings in absence (i.e., if a class meets twice a week, students are allowed two absences through the course of the semester).  Further absences must be excused by the chair and are examined on a case-by-case basis.

Beyond these generic guidelines, any instructor may implement additional attendance policies, which will be published in the class syllabi.

Performance Attendance

Performance Attendance is one of the most important requirements in our program. Collaboration and community are vital to our work as artists. Students must register for Performance Attendance (THAR 099) each semester of study. Completion of six semesters of satisfactory Performance Attendance is required for graduation.

To fulfill the requirements for THAR 099, students must attend all Theatre Conservatory performances each semester (both O’Malley Theatre and Miller Studio Theatre productions). Missing any production will result in a failing grade. Students who fail THAR 099 risk loss of scholarship, program probation, ineligibility for graduation, or dismissal from the program.

Professional internships

The Theatre Conservatory encourages advanced students to work with professional theatre companies through specially arranged internships, which can form an important part of their training. Roosevelt University students have interned with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Oak Park Festival Theatre, and many other companies in the Chicago area and throughout the nation.

We partner with many professional organizations to connect our students with performance and production internships and apprenticeships. Qualified students have participated in internships in the areas of acting, directing, stage management, arts administration, and design.  We also offer course credit for internships and apprenticeships, and these courses are customizable to the student’s experience.

Health policy

Training in the Theatre Conservatory makes many demands on students’ physical and psychological health, and CCPA prioritizes supporting our students in various ways so that they can participate safely in our programs and build the stamina needed for enduring careers.

When it is suspected that students are struggling with vocal pathologies, orthopedic injuries or mental health challenges, we may recommend that the student seek testing and support from additional resources.  Students are free to accept or reject these referrals. If, however, their condition becomes debilitating, then when deemed necessary by a faculty member students will be required to consult a specialist of the student’s choice, in order to ensure that participation in coursework or rehearsals will not further compromise the student’s health. In cases where such a recommendation is made, a faculty member has the option of requiring documentation from a medical professional verifying that continued participation in conservatory work is not contraindicated before the student will be allowed to re-enter class or rehearsal.

The Theatre Conservatory faculty and the college administration will work with students to make reasonable accommodations to assignments and schedules in order to allow for necessary vocal, physical, or psychological rehabilitation. If, however, severe pathological conditions prevent satisfactory participation and/or completion of courses or the degree, a student may be required to take a leave of absence until sufficient health is regained. This determination is made by the chair of the Theatre Conservatory and in consultation with appropriate faculty and staff.

In cases where the seriousness of the condition makes a leave of absence inappropriate, a student may be dismissed from the program. This determination will be made by the chair of the Theatre Conservatory and in consultation with appropriate faculty and staff.