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25 Summer Art Programs for High School Students in 2024

What’s Covered:


Summer programs are a great way to enrich your time between academic years, especially if you want to explore subject areas or deepen specific knowledge and skills that you wouldn’t have time for during the regular school year. For students interested in visual arts, there are many summer program options for you to pursue your passion while surrounded by other aspiring artists. While many pre-college programs are on the pricey side, many of the ones listed here are free or offer significant tuition assistance. 


25 Summer Art Programs for High School Students


1. City Art Lab


Dates: February 28 – May 15

Location: City College New York (CCNY)   

Application Deadline: February 7 

Cost: Free 


City Art Lab is a free arts program for teens, based at City College of New York (CCNY). The program joins CCNY’s Art Education graduate students with local youth to collaborate on community-based art projects. High schoolers can explore new materials and methods with practicing artists, develop their artwork for a portfolio, and learn about college life on a Manhattan campus, all while meeting other artistically inclined teens from all over NYC. Each program session concludes with an art exhibition to celebrate each year’s high school artists. 


2. Academy of Art University Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) 



  • In-person: June 22 – July 20
  • Online: June 24 – August 3

Location: Academy of Art University or online   

Application Deadline: N/A 

Cost: Free


Offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters, the Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) at the Academy of Art University is a free education program for high schoolers. San Francisco’s Academy of Art University is a private art school whose courses cover fashion, animation, game design, fine art, and more. The PCAE is available in-person or online and is an opportunity for high schoolers to begin their post-secondary studies in art. For each course a student passes in the PCAE, they earn $1,000 toward undergraduate tuition at the university, should they pursue their higher education there.  


3. UCLA Acting and Performance Institute


Dates: June 23 – July 13 

Location: University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Application Deadline: June 1 

Cost: $6,242 


This UCLA program is designed to immerse students in the world of high-level performing arts. For three weeks, students learn about performance training, movement techniques, and writing, while working on a showcase performance put on at the end of the program. Students get practical experience in the creative process of a theater, including rehearsals, conceptualizing, writing, and performing.


4. UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute



  • In-person Session 1: July 21 – August 3
  • In-person Session 2: August 4 – 17
  • Online: July 8 – 19

Location: University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) or online

Application Deadline: June 1

Cost: $2,192 – $4,920


UCLA frames game-making as an art form in this summer program. Students learn techniques to create both digital and physical games in either a residential or virtual program. Throughout the program, students learn the fundamentals of game design, create 3D game characters with fully formed stories, build game worlds, and program and code their own games. Students leave the program with a portfolio of game assets that can be used for college or job applications.


5. Teen Gallery Guides at The Getty Center Museum


Dates: June – August  

Location: Getty Center Museum    

Application Deadline: NA  

Cost: Free


The Getty Museum Teen Gallery Guide program is a paid summer internship opportunity for teens interested in learning the fundamentals of museum education. Interns are trained to lead guided experiences with the Getty Center’s collection for visiting K-12 summer groups. This is a great opportunity for high schoolers with an interest in art to also develop public speaking and facilitation skills. Interns are provided with transportation to and from the Getty Center, as well as a stipend. 


A similar program is also offered at the Getty Villa.  


6. Cornell’s Art as Experience Summer Program


Dates: Varies 

Location: Online 

Application Deadline: May 5 

Cost: $1,750 per credit 


With over 2,300 high school students attending last year, Cornell’s summer programs are very popular. High school students can choose from four different art classes, each with a different focus: Drawing, Photography, and Digital Media; Image, Sound, and Motion; Sculpture Art in Three Dimensions; and Photography. These courses are only offered virtually and also include a college admissions workshop, college fair, and final exhibit in a Cornell hall. There is financial aid available to help with the cost of the program.  


7. California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA)


Dates: July 6 – August 2

Location: California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA)

Application Deadline: February 29 


  • California residents: $4,600
  • Out-of-state students: $7,000 


The California State Summer School for the Arts, commonly known as CSSSA, is a rigorous four-week, pre-professional visual and performing arts training program for high school students held each summer at the California Institute of the Arts. The Visual Arts Program is dedicated to helping students meet the challenges of contemporary art-making through assigned lessons. Students are assigned studio classes based on the interests they indicate on their application forms. The department offers studio classes in ceramics, digital media, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. 


Scholarships are available and awarded on a need-based basis, though only to California residents. 


8. University of Michigan Stamps Pre-College Program



  • In-person Session 1: July 7 – 14
  • In-person Session 2: July 21 – August 3
  • Online: June 17 – 28

Location: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor or online

Application Deadline: March 15

Cost: $750–$4,950


Stamps Pre-Col­lege Pro­grams at the University of Michigan are offered in the spring and summer to high school stu­dents (grades 9 - 12) inter­ested in build­ing new skills for their cre­ative pur­suits. Stu­dents receive per­son­al­ized train­ing and advice from Stamps fac­ulty and staff on build­ing a com­pet­i­tive art port­fo­lio. Studio classes include 4D animation, drawing, 3D exploration, and portfolio prep. Partial and full scholarships are available based on need.  


9. Oxbow Summer Art Institute


Dates: June 23 – August 4

Location: The Oxbow School 

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $16,000


The Oxbow Summer Art Institute, located in Napa, California, is a six-week immersive summer visual art residency open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as those taking a gap year after high school. Students receive an entire year’s worth of studio art credit with an official high school transcript from Oxbow. The program is grounded in the philosophy that there is no limit to what adolescents can create when provided with an open-minded environment with high-level instruction, personal and collective accountability, and support. There is a limited number of scholarships available to cover the comprehensive tuition of $16,000.  


10. Parsons Summer Intensive Studies NYC



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

Location: The New School 

Application Deadline: 

  • Session 1: May 15
  • Session 2: June 8

Cost: $5,145 plus fees 


The three-credit art and design program at Parsons immerses high schoolers preparing for college, in the environment of one of the most prominent design schools nationwide. Students dive deep into creative practices such as fine arts, illustration, photography, animation, graphic design, fashion design, product design, architecture, interior design, and design management. Students also have the opportunity to attend art and design field trips and meet industry professionals. All studio courses are geared toward developing and enhancing college application portfolios.  


11. Otis College of Art and Design Summer of Art


Dates: July 5 – 31

Location: Otis College of Art and Design 

Application Deadline: April 29 

Cost: $1,650–$7,200


The intensive program at Otis College of Art and Design is aimed at students 15 and older who seek to strengthen and enhance their art and design skills. Students are taught by award-winning practicing artists. The program includes drawing studio courses, as well as specialization courses, which deepen skills in a specific area of artistic studies, such as architecture, concept art, digital media, graphic design, and printmaking. The program also includes lectures and final critiques. There are merit-based scholarships as well as need-based scholarships available. 


12. Ringling College of Art and Design PreCollege


Dates: June 23 – July 20 

Location: Ringling College of Art and Design

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $6,500 


Located in Florida, Ringling College offers an intensive program that teaches students the fundamentals of art and design, allowing them to earn college credit, and meet like-minded artists from around the world. The program revolves around core classes for fundamental skill-building, as well as immersions for deeper investigation in areas of interest. Some unique immersions include computer animation, game art, digital sculpting, and the business of art and design. 


13. The Putney School Summer Arts


Dates: June 30 – July 26 

Location: The Putney School 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: $4,200 – $9,100


Located in Southern Vermont, The Putney School Summer Arts is a four-week technology-free arts program for teens. The Putney School focuses on process over product and stresses its supportive environment. In addition to more conventional mediums like painting and sculpture, students have the opportunity to choose workshops in mediums such as textile arts, fiber arts, metal jewelry, and ceramics.   


14. California College of Arts Pre-College



  • In-person: July 8 – August 2
  • Online: June 24 – July 26 

Location: California College of the Arts or online 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: $3,995 – $6,971  


Set on CCA’s San Francisco campus, this pre-college program is offered to students who have completed at least their sophomore year in high school by the summer they attend the program. Students take studio-focused, college-level courses to help push beyond concepts to portfolio-ready pieces while having the option to earn three college credits. In addition to more traditional programs such as painting and drawing, areas of potential study also include comics, industrial design, and game design. 


15. SCAD Rising Star


Dates: June 16 – July 19

Location: Savannah College of Art and Design (both at its Savannah and Atlanta campus)

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: $6,334


The Savannah College of Art and Design, with campuses in Savannah and Atlanta, offers a Rising Star program in which students take part in two five-credit hour courses taught by faculty at the school. These credits are transferable to other institutions, should a student not attend SCAD for their higher education. Courses can include demonstrations, lectures, studio work, and field trips to various historical sites, museums, parks, and music venues around the area. Students have access to the university’s libraries and studios featuring extensive technology resources.  


16. Summer Art Intensive at the Cooper Union


Dates: July 8 – August 1 

Location: The Cooper Union 

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $4,000 


The Cooper Union Summer Art Intensive program offers rising sophomores to seniors an opportunity to experience the art college environment and learn from professional art instructors while meeting peers who share their interests. Students can choose from concentrations in drawing, animation, digital photography, graphic design, and studio practice. Students are included in special focus workshops, social events, field trips, and an exhibition for program-created work. 


17. Summer Arts Camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts


Dates: Varies 

Location: Interlochen Center for the Arts

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $1,830 – $10,080  


The Interlochen Arts Camp offers many programs, including creative writing, dance, film and new media, interdisciplinary arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. Their classes include students in grades 3-12, offering a diverse experience for participants. Students are included in classes, rehearsals, and performances, with plenty of activities available in their free time like crafts, swimming, basketball, and field trips. Students live on the 1,200-acre campus that includes over 120 cabins, two lakes, three dining halls, and several open-air venues. 


18. Carnegie Mellon Pre-College Art Program



  • Three-week session: June 22 – July 13 
  • Six-week session: June 22 – August 3

Location: Carnegie Mellon University 

Application Deadline: March 1

Cost: $5,773 – $11,392 


At Carnegie Mellon, high school students can develop their artistic skills in a college studio environment. Classes are held mornings and afternoons with a curriculum focusing on the fundamentals of technical skills, the growth of conceptual thinking, and how they can be applied to artistic practice. Each student is signed up for four classes per three-week session with schedules generated upon enrollment. Students receive supplies from the CMU art store, along with the required items they bring with them.


19. MassArt Pre-College Summer Studios


Dates: July 22 – August 16

Location: Massachusetts College of Art and Design or online 

Application Deadline: May 31

Cost: $3,445 – $4,390 


The Massachusetts College of Art and Design offers a four-week program for artistically inclined high schoolers. The Summer Studios program is an intensive experience in which students develop their skills in art and create the beginnings of a portfolio. Students attend three courses- 2D Fundamentals, 3D Fundamentals, and Issues and Images, all of which serve to build their artistic foundations at the college level. They are also able to choose an elective that begins in the third week of the program and extends throughout the rest of the course. 


20. ASU Summer Art Camps


Dates: Varies 

Location: Arizona State University 

Application Deadline: N/A 

Cost: $450 – $550 


The Summer Art Camps hosted by Arizona State University’s School of Art are aimed at students ages 13-18. They are predominantly four-day camps for students at any experience level in which students are exposed to a variety of studio art practices and meet others with similar interests and feedback from specialized instructors. With all materials provided, campers need only bring themselves and their creativity. ASU offers a variety of program mediums including woodworking, comics, stop motion animation, portrait painting, clay sculpting, and screenprinting. 


21. 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


Spend five weeks experiencing what life is like at one of the country’s most prestigious art and design schools in this immersive summer program. Participants push themselves as artists, following a college curriculum and exploring new tools, techniques, and materials. Ultimately, students will get out of their comfort zone, refine their work, and strengthen their portfolios.


22. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Pre-College Program



  • Two-week Session 1: June 30 – 13
  • Two-week Session 2: July 14 – 27
  • Four-week Session: June 30 – July 27

Location: Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Application Deadline: April 30

Cost: $3,600 – $7,200


This residential program for rising high school juniors and seniors offers a college experience with creatively like-minded peers while allowing students to develop their artistic techniques and skills. Participants follow a college-level curriculum which includes classroom instruction, studio time, workshops, and seminars.


23. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Pre-College Program


Dates: Varies

Location: Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD)

Application Deadline: May 1

Cost: $1,730 – $3,510


MIAD offers two pre-college summer programs for high schoolers: Core Studio Concepts and Advanced Studio Concepts. Regardless of which program students take, they’re guaranteed to spend their days making art, experiencing college-level curriculum, and connecting with other creative students from around the country.


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



  • Session 1: June 17 – 28
  • Session 2: July 1 – 12
  • Session 3: July 15 – 26
  • Session 4:  July 1 – 26
  • Session 5: July 29 – August 2

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

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $2,385 – $9,540


ECPSI allows artistic high schoolers to bring their ideas to life while experimenting with a multitude of forms of media and creating portfolio-quality work. Students will experience what it’s like as an undergraduate at a competitive art school—tackling rigorous coursework, participating in workshops, spending time in the studio, and receiving mentorship from renowned faculty—all while living and learning on a college campus.


Participants in the program can earn college credit and, if applying to SAIC’s undergraduate program, can have the portfolio requirement of their college application waived.


25. Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) Pre-College Program



  • Session 1: July 7 – 19
  • Session 2: July 21 – August 2

Location: Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA)

Application Deadline: June 1

Cost: $2,450 – $5,950


CIA’s pre-college program is open to students in grades 9 through 12. The immersive program provides high schoolers the opportunity to experience college life, build a portfolio, and bolster their artistic skills. Courses are available in a variety of mediums, including animation, digital design, illustration, painting, printmaking, and video production.


How Impressive Are Summer Programs in College Admissions? 


Summer programs, as part of your extracurricular activities, show colleges your dedication to and pursuit of your artistic passions. In addition, you will likely come away with a solid portfolio that you can build upon to submit as part of your college application. Different colleges weigh extracurriculars like summer art programs differently. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can tell you how colleges value your extracurricular activities. It uses factors like grades and test scores (and extracurriculars) to estimate your odds of acceptance at hundreds of schools across the country. It can also provide insight into how to improve your profile. 


Other Ways to Spend Your Summer 


Though summer break provides you with the most time to explore your passions, it is not the only time, and participating in summer programs is not the only way to pursue your interest in art. You can spend the summer touching up your foundational art skills on your own, like drawing and painting. Entering art competitions is a great way to have your college application stand out, as well as show your merit as a young artist.  


While we listed some paying programs in this list that operate like internships, there are many more official summer art internship programs. Internships demonstrate initiative and combine your passion for art with a clear career direction.


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.