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14 Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students

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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 opportunity 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. 


In 2020, several programs moved online. Some will continue to offer a virtual experience and some are eager to bring prospective students back to campus. Online programs can offer you the opportunity to get to know them without having to worry about travel. If you are really interested in a school in the Northeast and you live hundreds of miles away, it may not be feasible to travel there for two or three weeks. That’s not an issue with a virtual program. 


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. BAC Summer Academy at Boston Architectural College


No design experience required here, just an interest in learning. Students in 11th and 12th grade who complete the BAC Summer Academy earn 1.5 college credits and are eligible for a $2,000 scholarship in one of BAC’s undergraduate programs. 


2. School of Architecture Summer Program at Florida Atlantic University


FAU offers an on-campus, two week seminar for rising sophomores to recent high school grads. Traditional skills of model building, drawing, and space planning are offered with trips to area architecture firms. 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 required. 


3. PACT Program at Tuskegee University


This program is offered by the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction. This two-week session provides a view into these professions with a focus on project management and taking a job from the drafting table to the finished build. PACT also offers students information on being a college student — time management, academics, and social life. 


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


As you might guess, an institute of technology will have a different approach to design than one that is rooted in the fine arts. GT faculty regularly collaborate with engineers, entrepreneurs, and computer scientists. The focus for this summer program is the relationship between design and technology. 


5. School of the Art Institute of Chicago


SAIC offers several programs for high school students, such as the Early College Program Summer Institute for rising high school juniors through recently graduated seniors. This is a two-to-four week college experience that includes choosing courses and living in residence halls. Successful completion provides a portfolio-worthy project and 2 hours of college credit. 


6. College of Architecture Career Exploration Camps at University of Nebraska – Lincoln 


UNL provides a hands-on workshop experience for high school students. 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. Intro to Architecture at Columbia University 


This online, five-week program provides an overview of the field and the opportunity to specialize in architecture or urban planning. Develop your skills in the online design studio with faculty. Participate in seminars, lectures, and relevant readings on visualization, technology, and the history of architecture. 


8. Summer Design Academy at Norwich University


A virtual opportunity 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. Jumpstart Summer Institute: Introduction to Architecture at University of California Los Angeles


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. Pre-College Program at Rhode Island School of Design


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. 


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Programs Aimed at Increasing Diversity in Architecture 


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


The organization’s mission is to empower young people to affect change in their community through design. MOMA 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 


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. 


3. Hip Hop Architecture Summer Camps®


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


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


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

3. The American Institute of Architects 


AIA offers summer camps in cities across the country. They also maintain a great list of summer opportunities offered at colleges, universities, and schools of design. 


How Much Do Internships Impact Your College Chances?


Regardless of where you apply, extracurricular activities are valued as much as 25% in decision making. An eye-catching internship or program such as these 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 over 600 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
An alum of the University of Iowa, Laura majored in political science with a related field of psychology. She's worked in the non-profit sector throughout her career. She writes from her home in Iowa surrounded by cornfields and prairies.