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20 Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students in 2023

What’s Covered:


Opportunities are plentiful for young people interested in architecture. From a summer camp experience at Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Wisconsin, to Parsons School of Design in New York City, there are amazing opportunities across the country. This is a terrific way to explore the field of architecture and design as a profession.


Many colleges and universities with architecture majors offer a summer learning experience that also serves as a recruitment tool. If you have a particular school in mind that offers a summer program, you should seriously consider signing up. They may offer an on-campus experience that allows you the chance to see what it’s like to be a student and determine if this is the place for you. Other perks may include earning credit for the program or earning a scholarship to their school. Even if they don’t offer these benefits, you will still come away with a great experience and projects to begin or build a portfolio. 


Summer Programs Offered by Colleges and Universities 


Some architecture programs live in the fine arts department of their school. Others are at home in engineering and technology. We’ve also included schools of design, liberal arts colleges, and universities from across the county.  


1. Boston Architectural College (BAC) Summer Academy 


Dates: July 5-August 4

Cost: $1,500 (early bird special of $1,200 if students apply by March 1st)

Location: Boston Architecture College and virtual 

Application deadline: June 1


No design experience is required here, just an interest in learning. Students in ninth through twelfth grade who take part in the BAC Summer Academy will gain a deeper understanding of fields like architecture, interior design, and landscape design while participating in hands-on building and design projects. At the completion of the program, students will have developed a digital and physical portfolio suitable for design school applications. 


2. Florida Atlantic University School of Architecture Summer Program



  • Track 1: July 11-15
  • Track 2: July 18-22
  • Track 3: July 25-29


  • 3-Week Package: $1,500

  • 2-Week Package: $1,050
1-Week Package: $550

Location: Florida Atlantic University (FAU)

Application deadline: May 1


FAU’s Architecture Summer Program is open to everyone from rising high school sophomores to undergraduates. The program is offered as three one-week tracks that build on each other; the first two tracks are held at FAU’s Boca Raton campus and the final week moves to its Fort Lauderdale campus. At the end of the program, students will have portfolio projects, a certificate of completion, and an in-depth look into the profession. No design experience is required. 


3. Drexel Discovering Architecture 


Dates: July 9-22

Cost: Residential: $3,450; Non-Residential: $2,750

Location: Drexel University 

Application deadline: April 3


This two-week residential summer program is open to high school students over age 16 who’ve completed their junior year. Participants take courses led by Drexel faculty, work in the studios and labs used by Drexel architecture students, listen to lectures from distinguished speakers, and visit local architectural sites—ultimately gaining firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be an architecture student at a major university and a better understanding of careers in the field. 


4. Pre-College Design Program at Georgia Institute of Technology 



  • Session 1: June 11-23
  • Session 2: July 9-21

Cost: $2,500

Location: Georgia Tech 

Application deadline: N/A


This two-week residential summer program for high school juniors and seniors offers students the opportunity to work with Georgia Tech’s world-class faculty, gain insight into what it’s like to study architecture in college, and develop a better understanding of careers in architecture. Participants will complete a hands-on design project that they can include in their portfolio.  


5. School of the Art Institute of Chicago Early College Program Summer Institute



  • Session 1: June 19-30 (two weeks)
  • Session 2: July 3-14 (two weeks)
  • Session 3: July 17-28 (two weeks)
  • Session 4: July 3-28 (four weeks) 
  • Session 5: July 31-August 4 (one week)


  • 2-Week Sessions: Tuition – $3,570, Housing/Meals – $1,015, Supplies – approx. $300, Incidentals – approx. $200
  • 4-Week Session: Tuition – $7,140, Housing/Meals – $2,030, Supplies – approx. $450, Incidentals –approx. $350
  • 1-Week Session: Tuition – $1,785, Housing/Meals – $510, Supplies – approx. $150, Incidentals –approx. $100

Location: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

Application deadline: April 14


SAIC offers several programs for high school students, such as the Early College Program Summer Institute for students ages 15 through 18. The program offers everything from single-week to four-week college experiences that include choosing courses—such as architecture—and living in residence halls. Successful completion provides a portfolio-worthy project and 2 hours of college credit.  


6. Career Exploration in Architecture, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture Workshop


Dates: June 11-16

Cost: $650

Location: University of Nebraska – Lincoln 

Application deadline: April 21


UNL provides a hands-on workshop experience for high school students with an interest in architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design. During the camp, students learn about the field, work in client/designer scenarios, create their own projects in the design studio, and learn what it’s like to be a college student. 


7. Columbia University Intro to Architecture 


Dates: July 5-August 4

Cost: TBA on website in mid-March (The 2022 program cost was $4,086)

Location: Columbia  University 

Application deadline: Rolling from January to early June 


This residential, five-week program provides an overview of the field and the opportunity to specialize in architecture, urban planning, or historic preservation. Participants will develop their skills in the online design studio with faculty along with taking part in seminars, lectures, and relevant readings on visualization, technology, and the history of architecture.  


8. Norwich University Summer Design Academy  


Dates: July 9-15

Cost: $850

Location: Norwich University 

Application deadline: March 31


A one-week, in-person course for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors that provides skill-building instruction, portfolio materials, and information on the college application process. Activities include seminars, sketching, drafting, and model building.  


9. UCLA Jumpstart Summer Institute: Introduction to Architecture


Dates: July 5-28

Cost: Varies; review website information

Location: University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Application deadline: June 15


This is an intensive, four-week program for individuals with a high school diploma who are interested in pursuing architecture. The program offers six quarters of credit in the University of California system. 


10. Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program 


Dates: June 24-July 29 


  • Residential program: $10,700; Commuter program: $8,100
  • Application Fee: $60
  • Short-Term Health Insurance: $195
  • Art Supplies: approx. $800

Location: Rhode Island School of Design  (RISD)

Application deadline: February 1


RISD is arguably one of the country’s premier schools of art and design. Their Pre-College Program is a six-week, on-campus immersive experience for students with daily studio work, college-level education, and a unique insight into the life of a RISD student. 


11. Carnegie Mellon University Pre-College Architecture 


Dates: July 1-28


  • Residential program: 4-week option – $9,249; Commuter program: 4-week option – $7,200
  • Application fee: $50
  • Enrollment deposit: $800

Location: Carnegie Mellon University 

Application deadline: 

  • Early Decision & International: February 1
  • Regular Decision & Scholarship: March 15


This intensive college experience for high school sophomores and juniors is offered both as a residential program as well as a commuter program. Over the course of the program’s four weeks, students build foundational architectural skills through coursework, projects seminars, workshops, and field trips. 


12. New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Introduction to Architecture


Dates: July 9-14

Cost: $1,650

Location: New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

Application deadline: May 15


This week-long program introduces high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to the techniques and vocabulary used in the field of architecture. Over the course of the program, participants work on individual and group projects, meet with practicing architects, and take field trips. At the completion of the program, students will have a piece of work suitable for portfolio submissions. 


13. ArcStart


Dates: July 10-28

Cost: $3,600

Location: University of Michigan

Application deadline: February 28


Open to rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as rising college freshmen, ArcStart is designed to give students a firsthand introduction to the field of architecture. Participants learn about a variety of aspects of architecture by using specialized drawing, drafting, and modeling tools, exploring architectural history, visiting an architecture firm, creating design proposals, and curating work in a digital portfolio. Students will also learn about, and prepare for, the college application process. 


14. embARC Summer Design Academy


Dates: July 3-28


  • Domestic visitors: $4,885; International students: $7,665
  • Housing fees: $5,190 (includes 2 meals per day); $5,563 (includes 3 meals per day)

Location: University of California – Berkeley 

Application deadline: 

  • Priority deadline: March 1
  • Program deadline: May 1


This four-week immersive pre-college program allows rising high school juniors and seniors to explore the fields of architecture, urban design, and city planning. Participants develop technical skills while taking college-level work and building their design portfolio for college applications. No prior design experience is required to take part in this program. 


15. Oklahoma State University Discover Architecture 


Dates: June 20-24

Cost: $295

Location: Oklahoma State University

Application deadline: March 1


Students are introduced to the fields of architecture and architectural engineering in this week-long residential summer program where they will participate in a variety of hands-on projects under the supervision of faculty to gain a clearer picture of potential careers in the building arts. 


Programs Aimed at Increasing Diversity in Architecture


1. Project Pipeline regional camps at the National Organization of Minority Architects 


Dates: Varies

Cost: Varies depending on particular program

Location: Varies

Application deadline: Varies


NOMA’s mission is to empower young people to affect change in their community through design. NOMA uses the city as the classroom. Their connections bring together architects, planners, and young people to foster the next generation of design professionals. As an organization, they advocate for increased inclusiveness, diversity, fellowship, equity, and excellence in design.


2. Girls Garage 


Dates: Varies

Cost: Varies

Location: Varies

Application deadline: Varies


Girls Garage is a nonprofit building and design group for girls and gender-expansive youth from ages 9-18. For high school youth, there are workshops, summer programs, and distance learning opportunities—including building-focused summer programs.  


3. Hip Hop Architecture Summer Camps


Dates: Varies

Cost: Varies (some camps are free)

Location: Varies

Application deadline: Varies 


These camps use hip-hop culture to introduce young people from underrepresented groups to architecture, urban planning, and design. Cities across the country, such as Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. host summer camps for students.  


Professional Architecture Associations


1. Build SF Summer Design Institute



  • Session 1: June 12- 30
  • Session 2: July 10-28

Cost: $3,000

Location: Virtual 

Application deadline: N/A


This fast-paced three-week summer program offered by the Architectural Foundation San Francisco provides high school students with professional feedback, guidance, and design skills. Students learn multiple digital design platforms and complete portfolio-worthy projects for applying to colleges or for professional opportunities.


2. The American Institute of Architecture Students


Dates: N/A

Cost: Membership is free for high school students

Location: N/A

Application deadline: N/A


AIAS website is loaded with information important to architecture students. They also offer a high school student membership. This is definitely worth checking out. 


How Much Do Internships Impact Your College Chances?


Regardless of where you apply, extracurricular activities are valued as much as 25% in admission decisions. Participation in an eye-catching internship or program demonstrates your interest in the field and shows your commitment. 


If you’re interested in finding out your odds of acceptance at a particular school, CollegeVine can help. Our free admissions calculator considers factors like GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities (like internships) to predict your odds of acceptance at hundreds of colleges and universities. More than just informing you of your chances, our chancing calculator also provides insight into how to improve your profile to better your chances of gaining acceptance to your dream school.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.