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25 Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students in 2024

What’s Covered:


Summer programs are 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 college 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 1 – August 2

Location: Boston Architecture College and online 

Application Deadline: June 3

Cost: $1,800 – $2,000


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. Drexel Discovering Architecture 


Dates: July 7 – 20

Location: Drexel University  

Application Deadline: March 30th for priority deadline

Cost: $3,475 – $3,675


This two-week residential summer program is open to high school students over the age of 16. 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. 


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



  • Session 1: June 16 – 18
  • Session 2: July 7 – 19

Location: Georgia Tech University  

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $2,300


This two-week residential summer program for rising 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.  


4. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) Early College Program Summer Institute



  • Session 1: June 17 – 28 (two weeks)
  • Session 2: July 1 – 12 (two weeks)
  • Session 3: July 15 – 26 (two weeks)
  • Session 4: July 1 – 26 (four weeks) 
  • Session 5: July 29 – August 2 (one week)

Location: School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Application Deadline: N/A


  • One-week program: $1,785 (tuition) + 600 (room and board) 
  • Two-week program: $3,570 (tuition) + $1,200 (room and board) 
  • Four-week program: $7,140 (tuition) + $2,000 (room and board) 


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 two hours of college credit.  


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


Dates: June 9 – 14

Location: University of Nebraska – Lincoln 

Application Deadline: April 19 

Cost: $650 


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. 


6. Columbia University Introduction to Architecture 


Dates: July 9 – August 19

Location: Columbia University and online   

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: ~ $4,248


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.  


7. Norwich University Summer Design Academy  


Dates: July 7 – 13

Location: Norwich University 

Application Deadline: March 31 

Cost: $1,500 


A one-week, in-person architecture academy for high schoolers provides skill-building instruction, portfolio materials, and information on the college application process. Activities include seminars, sketching, drafting, and model building.  


8. UCLA Jumpstart Summer Institute: Introduction to Architecture


Dates: June 24 – July 19 

Location: UCLA 

Application Deadline: June 15 

Cost: $3,592  


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. 


9. Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program 


Dates: June 29 – August 3

Location: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) 

Application Deadline: February 8 

Cost: $8,715 – $11,350  


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. 


10. Carnegie Mellon University Pre-College Architecture 


Dates: June 22 – July 27

Location: Carnegie Mellon University  

Application Deadline: March 1

Cost: $7,704 – $10,030   


This intensive, residential college experience for current high school sophomores and juniors exposes them to college life, explores design, and introduces them to a network of similarly interested peers. Over the course of the program’s four weeks, students build foundational architectural skills through coursework, projects seminars, workshops, and field trips. 


11. New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Introduction to Architecture



  • Session 1: July 7 – 12 (one week)
  • Session 2: July 14 – 19 (one week)
  • Session 3: July 7 – 19 (two weeks) 

Location: New Jersey Institute of Technology   

Application Deadline: April 30 

Cost: $1,890 – $3,240


This program is offered in both week-long and two-week-long formats. The summer program introduces rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to the techniques and vocabulary used in the field of architecture. Throughout 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. 


12. ArcStart


Dates: July 8 – 26

Location: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor    

Application Deadline: February 29  

Cost: $3,600


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. 


13. embARC Summer Design Academy


Dates: July 1 – 26

Location: University of California – Berkeley 

Application Deadline: April 15  

Cost: $4,938


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. 


14. Oklahoma State University Discover Architecture 


Dates: N/A

Location: Oklahoma State University   

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: N/A


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. 


15. Camp ARCH


Dates: July 8 – 13

Location: Texas A&M University   

Application Deadline: April 1 

Cost: $1,500 


Participants in this week-long residential program can choose from three areas of focus: architecture, construction science, and landscape design. This summer program aims to introduce students to what life is like as a Texas A&M undergraduate—providing deeper knowledge of the university’s academic programs, curriculum, resources, and campus—while exploring a field of interest.


16. Architecture + Planning Camp @CAP


Dates: June 24 – 28 

Location: Ball State University   

Application Deadline: June 7 

Cost: $400


This one-week program for students in grades 9 through 12 introduces them to architecture, site evaluation, ecology, sustainability, planning, sketching, and 3D modeling. In the program, students will complete projects they can include in their portfolios and increase their knowledge of the thought process used by professional architects, landscape designers, and urban planners.


17. Virtual Architecture Summer Camp


Dates: August 4 -10

Location: Online    

Application Deadline: N/A 

Cost: $550


Learn about architecture from the comfort of your own home this summer with this excellent virtual opportunity from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The program is open to high schoolers in grades 9 through 12 along with recent graduates with an interest in architecture, design, and 3D design. In the program, students will learn the foundational elements of architecture and how to communicate their design ideas through mediums like models, drawings, and text.


18. Architecture in the City 


Dates: June 17 – 21 

Location: University of Colorado – Denver    

Application Deadline: N/A 

Cost: $700


This unique program for rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and recent high school graduates introduces students to architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning through a design-build project. Participants will gain hands-on experience with building and drawing techniques, visit firms and sites, and meet a network of like-minded students.


Programs Aimed at Increasing Diversity in Architecture 


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


Dates: Varies

Location: Varies  

Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: Varies 


NOMA’s mission is to empower young people to affect change in their community through design. NOMA uses the city as the classroom to introduce minority students (with a focus on Black students) to architecture. The program brings together architects, planners, and young people to foster the next generation of design professionals. As an organization, NOMA advocates for increased inclusiveness, diversity, fellowship, equity, and excellence in design.


2. Girls Garage 


Dates: Varies

Location: Girls Garage Berkeley, CA  

Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: Free – $450 


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 one-week-long workshops, summer programs, and distance learning opportunities—including building-focused summer programs.  


3. Hip Hop Architecture Summer Camps


Dates: Varies

Location: Varies  

Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: 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. 


4. 400 Forward


Dates: Varies

Location: Free 

Application Deadline: Varies

Cost: Free   


400 Forward takes its name from the 400th living African-American woman who became a licensed architect in 2017 and seeks to support the next 400 women architects with a focus on African-American girls. The program provides free summer camps and workshops exposing young women to the field of architecture, provides mentorship, and participates in events highlighting the work of its participants.


5. Women in Construction Management Summer Institute


Dates: June 4 – 8 

Location: Colorado State University

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: N/A


High school girls interested in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) will want to check out this five-day, four-night summer program. Participants will engage with women working in AEC fields and college mentors to gain a deeper understanding of construction management, learn about career pathways, and explore AEC topics.


Professional Architecture Associations 


1. Build SF Summer Design Institute



  • Session 1: June 10 – 28
  • Session 2: July 8 – 26 

Location: Online

Application Deadline: N/A 

Cost: $3,000


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. Fallingwater High School Residencies 



  • Session 1: June 24 – 28
  • Session 2: July 8 – 12 
  • Session 3: July 22- 26
  • Session 4: July 29 – August 2 

Location: High Meadow Educational Complex

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $1,250


This program for high schoolers in grades 9 through 12 provides students with the chance to engage in immersive studio-based learning while exploring careers and creative expression. Four sessions are held, all focused on a unique topic. They are:


  • Drawing and model making 
  • Portfolio prep
  • Design and build
  • Biophilic design 


No previous design experience is required to participate in this awesome architecture summer program. 


How Much Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


Colleges look beyond excellent grades and test scores when evaluating applicants. At the most selective schools, extracurriculars generally play a huge role in determining which students will make the cut. 


There are four tiers of extracurricular activities that colleges think about when reviewing applicants’ activities. Selective, competitive, and prestigious activities are often found in the top tiers, Tier 1 and Tier 2. 


Tier 1 includes things such as being a highly recruited basketball player or an award-winning national science fair competitor. Tier 2 is similar, but is usually reserved for activities that are more common than those in Tier 1. Tiers 3 and 4 are reserved for more common extracurricular achievements, such as holding school leadership positions or being a member of a debate team. 


Summer programs are variable in terms of impressiveness on the four tiers, but generally they will fall between Tiers 2 and 3. Typically, the more selective a program is, the better it will look on your application. Moreover, programs that are free will be more likely to give you an edge than those that are costly. 


To find out how business programs and other aspects of your profile affect your chances of admission at top colleges, check out CollegeVine’s chancing engine. This free tool will also give you tips on how to improve your profile!

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.