Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if HPI is right for me?

Test #1: Imagine yourself creating edgy, experimental performance work that breaks a lot of rules and invents new ones. Do you feel nauseous? Or excited?

Test #2: When you encounter a completely new type of music, film, technology or art, do you get nervous and run away? Or do you get interested and exhilarated?

How is this different from my school?

You’ll spend all of your time on art. All of the students will be as passionate about art as you are. HPI focuses on original, ensemble-driven work that blends movement and theater. You’ll see a lot of live performance. You’ll live in a city, not in a dorm.

I love performing, but most of the shows I see are predictable and flat. I want something bigger, more real, more alive. Will I fit in at HPI?

Hell, yeah. We feel the same way. And it’s our life mission to make things bigger and more. See you soon.

Is HPI for actors or for dancers?

Yes. Both. And directors, designers, choreographers, performance artists, physical theater creators, and any artist interested in live performance.

I can’t do a plié, can I still come to HPI?

Yes. As long as you are ready to train physically and use your body in new ways. (There won’t be much plié-ing, though.)

I can’t do a monologue, can I still come?

Yes. As long as you are ready to work with your voice, with character, with images. (There won’t be much monologuing, though.)

I’m a multimedia/experimental/performance art/hard-to-say-exactly kind of artist and I’m not sure exactly what category I fit in.

You sound amazing. If you’re looking to expand your skills, PLEASE come to HPI.

What if I’m not sure if I want to be an artist after graduation?

HPI is a chance to test-drive the life of an artist. You’ll be immersed in it all the time. And you’ll see how real live artists live, create, and build community. You might love it, you might not. But you’ll know a lot more about it.

When does the semester begin and end?

HPI follows the Bryn Mawr College semester. There is an orientation period prior to the start of classes, a one-week fall break, and time off for Thanksgiving.

Will there be a final performance at the end of the semester?

Yes. At weekly salons, student artists show works in progress and assignments from the week with members of HPI. Three of these take place on weekday evenings and are open to the public, who are invited to an open discussion afterward. There is an additional, more formal public showing of student work at a Philadelphia space at the end of the semester.

Can I concentrate in one area of performance?

Students will take classes and workshops as a group, sharing training. But independent projects and compositional assignments will give students a chance to focus on the areas and techniques they choose. The faculty hopes that student artists will branch out into new techniques and work boldly in familiar disciplines.

I graduated from college, but I'm really interested. Can I apply?

Sure can. About half our students each year are college graduates. E-mail here for any questions.



College credit is granted as transfer credit from Bryn Mawr College. As in any off-campus study program or semester abroad, it is important to arrange for credit with your college’s off-campus study office. The process is different for each college. HPI staff can help you with this.


L350: Performance Creation
L360: Composition/Creative Process
L370: Performance Techniques
L380: Performance History and Criticism

HPI classes are the equivalent of four upper-level courses, the equivalent of a full semester courseload of study. Each student should talk with the Department Head at their home college to establish how HPI credits will fulfill major requirements. Again, HPI staff members are happy to help. Look here for expanded descriptions of our courses.

Where will I live?

Students will live and work in the heart of Philadelphia, experiencing first-hand what it means to be a member of an urban artistic community. Our Program Manager assists students in finding the short-term housing they need, and can help students find other students to live with, if they desire. Philadelphia is a big city and college town, so there are many short-term rental options, which range from group houses to apartments.

What does HPI cost?

Tuition and fees for HPI total $14,000 for undergraduates and $9,000 for post-bac students (those who have already completed a four year degree program). This does not include housing and meals; however, all HPI performances trips and tickets are included in the tuition fee.

Philadelphia has a low cost of living relative to other large cities, and room and board usually comes to about $4,000 for the semester for students living alone ($700 per month for rent = $2,800, and $300 per month for food and other expenses = $1,200).

Will scholarships and financial aid from my school apply?

Check with your financial aid office to determine whether your loans, grants, and scholarships can be applied to HPI. This is the case for the vast majority of our students because of our partnership with Bryn Mawr College. 

Can I hold down a job during HPI?

Yes. A good percentage of students hold a part-time job while attending HPI.  Work outside of HPI needs to be flexible, and limited as HPI is a full-time intensive semester.

What else can you tell me about Philadelphia?

Philadelphia's dance and theater scene has exploded in the last decade, with groups making original (not script-based) work in movement theater, dance theater, physical theater, clown, and the spaces in between. We call it "hybrid" work, work that mixes dance and theater. These artists collaborate and perform with each other, giving and getting inspiration in an intimate, supportive community. HPI will begin with two weeks at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, with students attending numerous performances and experiencing the Philadelphia arts scene. Throughout the semester, students connect with Philly artists and are able to take advantage of the fantastic cultural offerings of a major American city. You've heard of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but what about the Mütter Museum? Or the Mummers' Museum?

Ask us for even more about what our city has to offer. It's a fantastic place, and we love to talk about it!

Can students from outside Pennsylvania apply? Outside the U.S.?

Outside Pennsylvania: Yes.

Outside the US: Yes. Please contact us ASAP. It takes months of planning to receive the proper visa to attend our program and the sooner we plan, the faster we can get you to Philadelphia.