The Chicago Academy for the Arts is a nationally recognized independent high school for the performing and visual arts.


Designated a National School of Distinction by the John F. Kennedy Center, The Academy offers students the opportunity to engage in a unique co-curricular program: rigorous, college-preparatory academic classes and professional-level arts training in the context of an unparalleled school culture. The Academy’s school day consists of six 45-minute academic periods followed by a three-plus hour immersion in a student's chosen arts department: Dance, Media Arts (filmmaking, animation, creative writing), Music, Musical Theatre, Theatre, and Visual Arts. At The Chicago Academy for the Arts, young artists master the skills necessary for academic success, critical thought, and creative expression.

Quick Facts

  • The Academy is among the top-ranked private schools and is the #1 arts high school in Illinois (Niche, 2019).

  • The 113 students comprising the classes of 2017-2019 collectively earned over $25 million in college scholarships, and are currently attending the best colleges, universities, and conservatories in the world, including Juilliard, Stanford, and Princeton.

  • Students participate in more than 100 productions throughout the course of the school year, including concerts, plays, readings, screenings, recordings, and exhibitions.

  • Academy students routinely outperform their peers in standardized testing. In the 2017-2018 school year, Academy students scored an ACT Composite average of 25.9, 25% higher than the national average. (2018-2019 scores will be available in the fall).

  • Academy students demonstrate high readiness for college (as demonstrated on the ACT exam), eclipsing national “college readiness” averages in every category. In 2017-2018, the percentage of Academy students meeting all four college readiness benchmarks was 104% higher than the national average. Read more about academics at The Academy here.

  • 50% of Academy students commute from outside of the City of Chicago.

  • About 2/3 of Academy graduates go on to careers in the arts, while 1/3 pursue the sciences, the humanities, business, and more.

The Academy is located at  1010 W. Chicago Avenue.  The school provides bus pick-up and drop-off at Ogilvie and Union Station three times a day.

The Academy is located at 1010 W. Chicago Avenue. The school provides bus pick-up and drop-off at Ogilvie and Union Station three times a day.

Mom's Wedding   Cara Fan Visual Arts '19

Mom's Wedding
Cara Fan
Visual Arts '19

2018-19 Student Breakdown

Students come to The Academy from an array of backgrounds: some have had years of training; others are exploring a newly discovered passion. Some come from the city of Chicago, others commute from the suburbs or beyond. Some spend all four high school years at The Academy; others join the community later on in their academic careers. No matter their background, these students are united by a profound passion for the arts. 

During the admissions process, each student selects one arts department where they will focus their arts education while at The Academy.


70% Caucasian, 13% African American/Black, 6% Latino/Hispanic American, 2% Asian American, 8% Multiracial American, 1% International


51% Chicago, 47% Suburbs, 2% International

A significant percentage of Academy students commute from outside the city of Chicago. The Academy provides private bus pick-up and drop-off at Ogilvie and Union Station three times a day to accommodate. Please visit our Directions page for more information.


The Academy enrolls approximately 145 students each year. The average academic class size is 15 students and the student-to-teacher ratio is 4:1. While the curriculum is designed as a four-year program, The Academy accepts a number of transfer students every year. Please contact the Admissions Department for more information.


The Chicago Academy for the Arts is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization accredited and recognized by the following organizations:

  • Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS)

  • Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE)

  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

  • Arts Schools Network (ASN)

  • Illinois High School Association (IHSA)

More About The Academy

About The Academy
2018-2019 College Profile
Course Catalog
Alumni Stories
2018-2019 Performance Calendar

Welcome from the Head

Dear Families and Friends,


Author Neil Gaiman says, “We have an obligation to imagine.”

For nearly four decades, students at The Chicago Academy for the Arts have combined their capacity for imagination with a sense of purpose to create a stunning body of meaningful work, and a community where young people thrive.

Our unique educational model is simple, yet transformational. The Academy’s rigorous academic program and immersive, pre-professional arts training — in the context of a world-class educational culture — prepare our students for an incredible variety of paths beyond high school.

The 39 seniors comprising the Class of 2018 were awarded nearly $10 million in scholarships (that’s not a typo) to the best colleges, universities, and conservatories in the country, and will attend schools like Juilliard, Princeton, and Stanford. And from business to Broadway, from science to Sundance, our alums are making their mark on the world in a breathtaking variety of ways.

Most importantly, however, The Academy is characterized by its community. It is a special privilege to walk through our doors every day and be surrounded by an inspired and deeply invested student body, faculty, and staff.

Thank you for taking a closer look at our school: we are eager to show you what makes The Academy such a special place to be.

Welcome to The Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Jason Patera
Head of School


School Leadership