50 Best Pre-College Summer Arts Programs for High School Students

For the average student, summer is a time for binging Netflix’s latest original, mindlessly streaming music, and robotically conquering the latest video game, all while doodling on whatever blank space is nearest. But for some ambitious students, summer is an opportunity to learn to draw in an actual studio space, to create their own music or films, and even to design their own video games.

It’s for these ambitious students that we found the 50 best pre-college summer arts programs for high school students. We scoured hundreds of programs organized by colleges and universities across the country, and narrowed it down to these. Our list includes a variety of program types, in a range of budget options. While some summer programs focus on a specific art form, others allow students to explore their creativity over a variety of mediums. Differences aside, each of the summer arts programs on our list practically guarantee a fun, creative, and art-filled summer!

3D Art Studio at Syracuse University

Syracuse
This two-week program is designed for sculpture artists in need of further direction and material as they complete their arts proram application portfolio. Students will spend mornings learning new techniques and practices, while afternoons are spent in the studio working on individual projects and receiving reviews and critiques from peers, teachers, and even professional artists. Especially unique is the opportunity that comes at the end of the program, at which point students will collaborate in curating a group exhibition in the Sarah A. Coyne Gallery of Art. Students interested in ultimately pursuing a BFA at the School of Art at Syracuse University will also receive one credit for completing the summer program.
Where: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Sculpture, 3D Art
How Much: $3,110 for residential students; $2,210 for commuting students
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ACTING AND PERFORMANCE SUMMER INSTITUTE at UCLA

UCLA
Each summer, UCLA hosts an intensive three-week performing arts program on its campus right in the heart of Los Angeles. Students serious about the theater will love all that this program has to offer. Working with various instructors and working actors, students will take classes in everything from performance training, to movement-based techniques, to handling the audition process. The program culminates in a final performance project.
Where: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Performing Arts
How Much: $5,798 (includes tuition and room & board; discount offered for students entering the UC system the following fall)
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Architecture Program at Syracuse University

syracuse
Living the life of a Syracuse architecture student can go a long way in helping one decide if the pursuit of an architecture degree is worth it. This popular four-week residential program is designed and structured to give artistic students a solid understanding of architecture and design, as well as the beginnings of an architecture program application portfolio. Each day, students will develop spatial and formal design skills, learn various drawing techniques, explore the newest industry software, and conduct hands-on model making. They’ll even receive frequent critiques and reviews from actual Syracuse professors. Heads up! This program is one of Syracuse’s most popular, and it fills up fast!
Where: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Architecture
How Much: $6,076 (includes tuition, room & board)
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ArcStart at University of Michigan


Sponsored by the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning at University of Michigan, ArcStart is a three-week pre-college summer arts program open to current 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Participating students receive a solid introduction to architectural design through a college architecture studio, skill-building workshops, and visits to architecturally significant buildings in and around Ann Arbor.
Where: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Architecture
How Much: $3,000 (includes tuition, housing, most meals, excursions, and studio supplies)
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Art as Experience: Drawing and New Media Program at Cornell University

cornell
Students who love contemporary art, but don’t necessarily want to focus on one particular medium, will love Cornell University’s Art as Experience pre-college summer program. Students are guided and mentored by Cornell art instructors and have use of the campus’s spacious studios and state-of-the-art digital equipment as they learn and practice a wide range of mediums that include collage, drawing, digital photography, screen printing, and video installation, to name a few. The program culminates with a group exhibition curated by the program students.
Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Art
How Much: $6,310 (includes tuition, social activities, and room & board)
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BFA Preview at University of Michigan


This one-of-a-kind pre-college summer arts program, sponsored by the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, combines the direction and coursework of a traditional summer program with the freedom of a creative retreat. Participating students spend three weeks working in their own studio with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities — all while under the guidance of Stamps faculty. Excursions to University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, and the Detroit Institute of Art allow students to find inspiration outside of the studio when needed.
Where: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Studio Art, Design
How Much: $3,500 (includes tuition, room & board, supplies, and field trips)
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Boston College Summer Challenge: Creative Writing Seminar


High school students who love to write anything and everything, and who take their craft seriously, will love the Creative Writing Seminar offered by Boston College. Over the course of three intensive weeks, student writers will study a range of writing styles that includes creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in an attempt to explore their own unique voices. Workshops will help students hone their techniques, while discussion groups will allow them to receive valuable feedback from their peers and instructors. At the end of the program, students will work together to edit a class literary journal and present their writing at a public reading.
Where: Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Creative Writing
How Much: $4,500 (residential), $2,500 (commuter)
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Clark Scholars Program at Texas Tech University


The Clark Scholars program at Texas Tech University is an intensive seven-week summer research program. Open to high school juniors and seniors, the program allows students an opportunity for hands-on practical research with leading members of the Texas Tech faculty. This unique opportunity, which also includes weekly seminars and fields trips, also pays students a $750 tax-free stipend and provides room and board.
Where: Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas
How Long: Seven weeks
Specific Subjects: Advertising, Architecture, Art, Dance, Design, Horticulture, Theatre Arts
How Much: Scholars receive a $750 tax-free stipend
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College Audition Preparation Workshop at Indiana University


Any musician can tell you that auditions are one of the most necessary — and intimidating — parts of a career in music. Luckily, entire pre-college summer programs exist on just this topic, one of the best being that at Indiana University. Over the course of one week, participants of the College Audition Preparation Workshop will undergo intense study with real audition panel members, and learn how to walk into an audition and blow any judge away. The program is particularly recommended for musicians and vocalists looking to apply to college music programs.
Where: Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
How Long: One week
Specific Subjects: Music Composition, Voice, Various instruments
How Much: $1,360 (includes room & board). Early bird registrations receive $200 off tuition cost.
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Columbia University Summer Immersion

columbia university
Competitive students looking to pad their college applications while simultaneously exploring an interesting subject should look no further than Columbia University’s Summer Immersion program. Students can choose from a variety of subject areas in which to spend their three weeks, while also participating in extracurricular activities, and exploring New York City. Students leave the program with evaluation letters from their instructors, as well as a statement of completion from Columbia.
Where: Columbia University, New York, New York
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Architecture, Art History, Creative Writing, Drawing, Filmmaking, Photography, Theater Arts, Visual Arts
How Much: $5,600 (commuter), $11,064 (residential)
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Creative Writing Institute at Georgetown University

georgetown university
Over the course of a single week, students participating in Georgetown University’s Creative Writing Institute will not only write (and write a lot!), but also learn about the publishing and professionalization aspects of the literary industry. They will explore various markets in which writers can sell and publish their work, learn about jobs available to writers, have their writing critiqued by Georgetown professors and professional writers, and even take in-depth tours of D.C.’s most famous literary hubs. Writing styles covered include poetry, fiction, personal prose, story structure and technique, separating good ideas, and recognizing great literature.
Where: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
How Long: One week
Specific Subjects: Creative Writing
How Much: $2,895 (includes tuition, room & board)
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Creative Writing Institute at Washington University in St. Louis


Washington University in St. Louis hosts an annual Creative Writing Institute in which high school-aged writers spend two weeks immersing themselves in everything that has to do with creative writing and the current publishing industry. Students spend each morning in writer’s workshops discussing published work, editing, creating, and sharing their work with peers and instructors. Come afternoon, students are given challenging prompts and time to work independently. Topics covered include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Where: Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Creative Writing
How Much: $3,885 (includes tuition, room & board)
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Dance in the City at Barnard College

barnard college science programs
Barnard College’s one-of-a-kind, dance-centered, pre-college summer arts program allows young high school women to learn about dance from four perspectives: as a student, as a dancer, as a choreographer, and as a member of the audience. In the classroom, students will take a course called The World of Dance: From Theory to Practice, while studio time will be spent honing technique with top New York City dance instructors. Lastly, students will attend professional performances to learn to better appreciate their art as a viewer.
Where: Barnard College, New York, New York
How Long: 10 days
Specific Subjects: Dance
How Much: $3,800 (includes tuition, and room & board)
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Design Media Arts Summer Institute at UCLA


UCLA’s Design Media Arts Summer Institute is a rigorous residential program hosted by one of the top design departments in the country. Uniquely, this program is multidisciplinary, giving students the opportunity to gain experience in everything from graphic design to game design. Students will be taught how to use the latest software and technologies by experienced UCLA professors, and by the end of the two-week program, will have an online portfolio that is sure to boost any college application.
Where: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Media Arts, Graphic Design, Web Design, Audio/Video/Gaming
How Much: $3,385 (includes tuition, room & board). Discounts are offered to students entering the UC system in Fall 2018.
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Digital Filmmaking Summer Institute at UCLA


Where better to get a taste of life as a film student than UCLA? Located in the heart of Los Angeles, UCLA’s Digital Filmmaking Summer Institute offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the entire production process, from the first idea to the world premiere. Students will visit working Hollywood studios, take part in various hands-on workshops, work with state-of-the-art production and editing equipment, and hear from notable industry professionals. The program culminates in a film festival attended by professors, students, friends, and family.
Where: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Filmmaking
How Much: $4,225 (includes tuition, materials, room & board). Discounts offered to students entering the UC system in Fall 2018.
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The Fashion Studio: Portfolio Development at Cornell University


This cool pre-college summer program, held at Cornell University in upstate New York, provides fashion-forward students with a rare opportunity to develop their design skills, learn the ins and outs of state-of-the-art fashion tools, catch up on the latest trends, and even build a design portfolio. The program consists of hands-on projects, lectures, discussions, and plenty of critiques.
Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Fashion Design
How Much: $6,310 (includes tuition, social activities, and room & board)
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Game Lab Summer Institute at UCLA


In this one-of-a-kind pre-college summer technology program hosted by UCLA, technology and art are blended in order to show students a unique creative approach to game development and design. Over the course of two weeks, students will foster their creative sides while learning the technology necessary to create and design playable video and mobile games. Topics covered include the fundamentals of game design, building game worlds, creating game characters, and making playable games for mobile platforms.
Where: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Game Design
How Much: $2,361 (includes tuition, room & board). Discounts offered to students entering the UC system in Fall 2018.
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Harvard University Pre-College Program

harvard university
Imagine getting a taste of both college life and a subject you love at one of the best schools in the world: Harvard University. With Harvard’s Pre-College [summer] Program, you can do just that. This two-week residential program offers students the chance to live on the Harvard campus, take daily classes on a wide variety of fascinating topics, and explore Boston with other bright and ambitious students from around the world. Examples of courses include Fiction Workshop: Writing Short Stories, The Power and Politics of Fairy Tales, Reading and Writing Poetry, and dozens more.
Where: Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, English, Expository Writing
How Much: $4,500 (includes tuition and room & board)
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High School Summer Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis

washington university st louis
Washington University in St. Louis’s High School Summer Scholars Program is a prestigious program in which students have the opportunity to study a variety of courses right alongside real undergraduate students. During their chosen session (there are three, ranging from five to eight weeks in length), students live on campus in residence halls, participate in specialized seminars and a variety of social events, and are even made part of an academic support group. Course options are extensive, but arts-themed courses include Photojournalism, Curating the City, Introduction to Music, Principles of Writing, Improvisation, and many more.
Where: Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
How Long: Five to eight weeks per session
Specific Subjects: Drama, Writing, Dance, Journalism, Photography, Music, and more
How Much: $8,085 (five weeks), $10,585 (eight weeks)
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Introduction to Architecture at Cornell University

cornell university
Each summer, Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning hosts an intensive six-week course that introduces high school students to the world of architecture. Mornings are spent in lectures and workshops that explore such architectural concepts like space, form, function, and technology, while afternoons are set aside for practicing things learned, or taking field trips to various upstate New York sites. The program culminates in a final project.
Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Architecture
How Much: $12,825 (includes tuition, room & board, activities, and materials)
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The July Experience at Davidson College

Davidson College science programs
Davidson College, one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, offers high school students the opportunity to spend most of the month of July on the Davidson campus in order to experience life as a college student while padding their college application with courses from a school like Davidson. Arts-themed classes include “The Universal Language of Music…or Not?”, “The American Short Story”, and more.
Where: Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Music, Literature, and more
How Much: $4,000 (includes tuition and room & board)
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Liberal Arts Intensive at Barnard College


Barnard College’s one-week Liberal Arts Intensive gives young women in high school the opportunity to spend a week in New York City while also taking an interesting college-level course. Mornings are spent in classes such as “Seeing Musical Theater as Literature”, “Fashion in Literature”, and “Place and the Personal Essay: Being in New York”, while afternoons are spent exploring the city at baseball games, Broadway shows, walking tours, and more.
Where: Barnard College, New York, New York
How Long: One week
Specific Subjects: The Arts, Fashion, Journalism, Literature, Writing
How Much: $2,700 (residential), $1,850 (Commuter)
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National High School Institute at Northwestern University


Each summer, Northwestern University hosts the National High School Institute (NHSI), a five-week pre-college program that focuses on debate, speech, music, film, video, and theater arts. Students can choose to immerse themselves into one of those topics for an intensive summer of learning and growing as an artist. Examples of classes include Set Design, Acting on Camera, Screenwriting, Policy Debate, and more.
Where: Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
How Long: Varies
Specific Subjects: Film and Video, Music, Speech and Debate, Theater Arts
How Much: $1,400 to $7,600, depending upon choice and length of program
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Parsons Summer Intensive Studies: New York


Arts-minded high school students might recognize Parsons as one of the foremost names in the art school world. In this unique summer program, students spend four weeks at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City taking intensive courses, participating in special events, and attending guest lectures from people successful in the world of art. For those so inclined, Parsons operates a similar program in Paris.
Where: Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Architecture, Design, Studio Art, Photography, Illustration, Game Design, and more
How Much: $3,064 (includes tuition only)
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Pre-College Art Experience at Academy of Art University


Academy of Art University, a top art and design school located in San Francisco, offers artistic high school students a Pre-College Art Experience every summer. Not only does the program introduce students to life at a real school of the arts, it also makes for the perfect opportunity to build a solid portfolio under the guidance of industry professionals. Classes can be done online or at the Academy’s campus in San Francisco, and the extensive list of program choices includes acting, advertising, art history, interior design, graphic design, game development, and much, much more.
Where: Online or at Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
How Long: Four or six weeks
Specific Subjects: More than 22 art-related subjects
How Much: Varies
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Pre-College Experience at Emory University


For those wishing to obtain a little taste of the college experience, there may be no better choice of summer program than the one offered by Emory University. One of the best thing about Emory’s program is the number of choices. Program length, credit or no credit, specific subjects — you can choose all of it. For example, students looking for a pre-college summer arts program have such class options as Dramatic Writing for the Screen and Stage, Media and Politics, Psychology and Fiction, and Writing Workshop, to name but a few.
Where: Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
How Long: Two, four, or six weeks
Specific Subjects: Journalism, Writing
How Much: $2,861—$7,825, depending upon length of course and need for housing
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RISD Pre-College Program

risd arts programs
Rhode Island School of Design bills its pre-college summer arts program as “six weeks that will stay with you for the rest of your life.” This award-winning program is indeed top notch. Students live on campus in dormitories, and spend their days attending intensive classes, gaining valuable insights from faculty and industry professionals, and of course, building their portfolio with plenty of studio time. At the end of the program, students share their work at the Pre-College Exhibitions.
Where: Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: 21 different art disciplines
How Much: $8,385 (residential), $5,625 (commuter)
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San Francisco Art Institute PreCollege


This competitive program, which takes place each summer in the heart of San Francisco, offers artistic upperclassmen the opportunity to experience life at a top-notch California arts school. Students choose between an extensive list of disciplines, then spend five weeks learning from industry professionals, creating a portfolio, and exhibiting their work at galleries and studios.
Where: San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California
How Long: Five weeks
Specific Subjects: 15 art disciplines
How Much: $3,000 (commuters), $4,850 (residential)
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SCAD Rising Star

SCAD
Savannah College of Art and Design is already a top school for those arts-inclined students, so it should come as no surprise that they host one of the most sought-after pre-college summer arts programs as well. SCAD Rising Star is an intensive five-week program during which students enroll in two college-level classes while simultaneously building their personal portfolios. The program includes courses in a variety of disciplines, and students have the option of participating online, or in Savannah, Atlanta, or even Hong Kong.
Where: Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; or Hong Kong
How Long: Five weeks
Specific Subjects: Computer Art, Creative Writing, Studio Arts, Design, Textiles, Filmmaking, Printmaking, and much, much more
How Much: $6,000 (includes tuition, room & board); $4,400 (eLearning program)
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Shakespeare On Stage at Cornell University


Shakespeare on Stage is a unique pre-college summer arts program that aims to deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of The Bard from the perspective of the theater. Students will immerse themselves in Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, and other Shakespeare classics with the goal of analyzing the transformation from script to stage. As part of this immersion, students are exposed to various approaches to these plays, research Shakespeare’s abilities to express human emotions, and participate in myriad discussions on various fascinating Shakespeare-themed topics.
Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Performing Arts
How Much: $6,310 (includes tuition, social activities, and room & board)
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Stanford Summer Session


Stanford University, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, invites high school students to choose from more than 140 courses during its summer quarter. This opportunity, called the Stanford Summer Session, is an intensive and selective eight-week program meant to provide high-achieving students with a realistic taste of college at a top university. Not only do participants take the same courses as Stanford undergrads, they are able to learn from actual Stanford professors, and are even matriculated as Stanford students. What an opportunity!
Where: Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
How Long: Eight weeks
Specific Subjects: Drawing, Photography, Dance, Creative Writing, Film Studies, and more
How Much: Ranges from $14,426 to $17,054 depending upon chosen program (includes tuition for eight units, room & board, and all fees)
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[email protected]

brown science programs
The [email protected] pre-college summer program is a unique opportunity for students to experience life on an Ivy League campus while immersing themselves in subjects they love — all without the stress of grades and credits. Students participating in the program will live on campus, take part in a full calendar of campus events and activities, and choose from more than 200 non-credit courses. Examples of arts-themed courses available include “Creative Disobedience: Spoken Protest as Public Art,” “Ancient Greek Theater Production,” “World Literature,” “Writing Flash Fiction,” and much more.
Where: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
How Long:
One to four weeks
Specific Subjects:
Creative & Performing Arts, Creative Writing, English & World Literature, Music, Studio Art & Art History, Writing
How Much:
$2,709 to $6,764 per course, depending upon length of courses and housing needs
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Summer Art Intensive at NYU


By participating in the Summer Arts Intensive at NYU, students undergo an entire arts experience in just four weeks. Students have access to NYU’s state-of-the-art facilities as they gain firsthand knowledge of printmaking, laser engraving, 3D printing, sculpting, painting, and much more. When they’re not in class, students will make field trips to such classic institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others. The program culminates with the opportunity for students to mount their own exhibition at a gallery in the East Village.
Where: New York University, New York, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Digital & Video, Sculpture, Visual Arts
How Much:$5,900 (includes tuition, activities, and room & board)
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Summer Art Intensive at The Cooper Union

cooper union
High school students ultimately planning to apply to an undergraduate program at a top art school will likely find The Cooper Union’s Summer Art Intensive a worthwhile way to spend a summer. Student artists participating in the program choose a studio concentration in which to spend two days per week. The remaining time is spent preparing a portfolio, visiting major NYC museums, and taking part in discussions with guest artists in residence and industry professionals. The program culminates in a take-home portfolio of work, a student exhibition, and a summer anthology publication.
Where: The Cooper Union, New York, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Animation, Creative Writing, Photography, Drawing, Graphic Design, Stop Animation, and more
How Much: $2,700 (includes tuition, materials, travel, museum fees)
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SUMMER ART INSTITUTE AT UCLA


The Summer Art Institute at UCLA is designed for talented and highly motivated students of the arts to immerse themselves in their work for two weeks. In addition to plenty of focused studio time, each day consists of a field trip, artist lecture, or faculty critique. The program culminates in a final critique by UCLA arts professors, and an exhibition of student projects at the UCLA New Wight Gallery. Students can choose between programs in drawing, painting, photography, or sculpture.
Where: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Drawing, Painting, Photography, and Sculpture
How Much: $1,990 to $3,575, depending upon program and need for housing. Discounts offered to students entering the UC system in Fall 2018.
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Summer Arts Camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts


While most pre-college summer arts programs on our list are located on college campuses, the High School Summer Arts Program at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan is different. Located on 1,200 acres of forest in northern Michigan, this unique program is part of a full-fledged arts school. Students can choose from a variety of program subjects and lengths, including music, theater, dance, and writing, among other things. The unique environment makes this feel more like a summer camp than an academic program, which we suspect might be good news for some.
Where: Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen, Michigan
How Long: One to six weeks
Specific Subjects: Creative Writing, Dance, General Arts, Motion Picture Arts, Music, Theater Arts, Visual Arts
How Much: Varies from program to program
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Summer Arts Institute at Stanford University


Stanford University may be located in the midst of the tech capital of the world, but it is dedicated to fostering the arts. As part of this endeavor, they built three new arts buildings and initiated the Summer Arts Institute, an intensive three-week residential program that draws students from around the world. Participants choose from a list of exciting courses and then are mentored by expert faculty and staff. Courses include “Refining Your Photographic Eye,” “Why Music Matters,” and “Product Design,” to name just a few.
Where: Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Music, Visual Design, Art, Architecture, Photography, and more
How Much: $6,200 (includes tuition, room & board, and all course materials)
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Summer Ballet Intensive at Indiana University


Ballet dancers will leap for this pre-college summer ballet program at Indiana University. Not only will participating ballet students experience life on a college campus, but they’ll also receive individual instruction over the course of an intensive week. Three sessions are available, each of which is devoted to ballet technique and choreography. Students are also invited to talks and discussions on things like music appreciation for ballet given by Jacobs School of Music faculty members. Each session ends with an information presentation to friends and family.
Where: Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
How Long: One week
Specific Subjects: Dance (Ballet)
How Much: $725 per one-week session; $432 per week for housing
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Summer in the City at Barnard College


Barnard College, a women’s liberal arts school, gives female high school students the unique opportunity to spend four weeks taking college-level courses while experiencing what it’s like to live in as vibrant and active a place as New York City. Students choose two four-day-a-week classes from a long list of options that include “Living the Storied Literature of New York,” “Rewriting Our Lives With the Lyric Essay,” “New York in Art and Film,” “Acting: Process and Performance,” and much more.
Where: Barnard College, New York, New York
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Acting, Architecture, Art History, Filmmaking, Journalism, Literature, Studio Art, Theater, Writing
How Much: $7,900 (residential), $4,700 (Commuter)
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Summer Music Programs at Oberlin


Oberlin College and Conservatory is considered one of the best music programs in the country, so it’s no wonder they host one of the most sought-after pre-college summer arts programs. Talented high school students who specialize in music or voice can choose from a variety of one- to two-week institutes to hone their technique and performance skills, work with accomplished instructors, practice audition techniques, and receive valuable critiques from leading industry pros.
Where: Oberlin College and Conservatory, Oberlin, Ohio
How Long: One to two weeks
Specific Subjects: Performing Arts, Sonic Arts, Vocal, Various instruments
How Much: Varies
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Summer Pre-College Art Program at Carnegie Mellon


Carnegie Mellon offers a top-ranked summer academy that motivates emerging artists and helps to prepare them to pursue a college degree in the arts. The program is specifically designed for those students who are coming from underrepresented backgrounds, most notably ethnic minority students, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and first-generation college students. All program students take classes (which includes instruction, work sessions, critiques, and demonstrations) on drawing, sculpture, animation, and concept studio, while six-week students can then choose sessions on painting, digital photography, printmaking, or concept studio.
Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
How Long: Three or six weeks
Specific Subjects: Drawing, Sculpture, Animation, Concept studio art
How Much: No tuition, though students are responsible for their books and supplies, and spend an average of $300 on personal and recreational activities
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Summer Scholars Program at University of Notre Dame


Those looking to experience life at a prestigious university like Notre Dame can look no further than the Summer Scholars Program. Scholars choose from a lengthy list of interesting programs of study, then enjoy two intense weeks of coursework — though plenty of free time is also included so as to experience life on a college campus. Some examples of programs from which participants can choose include “The Art of Being a Filmmaker,” “Photography: Seeing Creatively,” “Acting,” and so much more.
Where: University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana
How Long: Two weeks
Specific Subjects: Film, Photography, Performing Arts
How Much: $3,500 (includes tuition and housing). The photography program also requires a lab fee of $125.
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Summer Studio at Massachusetts College of Art and Design


Rising 11th and 12th graders participating in the Summer Studio at MassArt will experience first-hand what it’s like to attend a rigorous art school. Over the course of four weeks, summer students will take three foundation courses and an elective meant to help them develop their work. A number of special events are held throughout the course of the program, including a culminating closing exhibition of student work. Students may choose to earn credit for their summer work, or complete the program without credit.
Where: MassArt (Massachusetts College of Art and Design), Boston, Massachusetts
How Long: Four weeks
Specific Subjects: Various
How Much: $3,000 (tuition only); $5,610 (includes non-credit tuition and room & board); $6,150 (includes for-credit tuition and room & board)
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Summer Writing Program at Tufts University


Designed for students who may already consider themselves writers, the Tufts Summer Writing Program is an intensive six-week program meant to help students build their critical thinking skills, navigate the relationship between reader and writer, and develop critical literary skills that are key to be successful at writing. Students receive a regular evaluation from professors, and activities include free-writing exercises, learning to revise, and three papers that build on a specific theme.
Where: Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Writing
How Much: $2,900 (tuition only)
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Transmedia: Image, Sound, Motion Program at Cornell


This unique program focuses on Transmedia, a newer art discipline that combines time-based and digital art forms like art video, computer art, cinema, and art photography. Students spend the first of three weeks focusing on macro photography (even building their own macro lenses!), then spend weeks two and three recording a short series of videos based on a given topic.
Where: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Digital Art
How Much: $6,310 (includes tuition, social activities, and room & board)
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UChicago Immersion

University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Chicago has been called one of the top ten universities in the world, so you can be sure their pre-college summer programs are some of the best available. In UChicago Immersion, students dive into life on the Chicago campus. They take an undergraduate level course, receive personalized attention from faculty members, and participate in labs and other hands-on activities. Arts-themed course options include “Collegiate Writing: Awakening Into Consciousness” and “Creative Writing: Fiction.”
Where: University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
How Long: Three weeks per session
Specific Subjects: College Writing, Creative Writing
How Much: $6,500 (includes tuition for one course, room & board, Student Life Fee)
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USC Summer Programs

Every summer, the top-ranked University of Southern California hosts high school students on its campus as part of its summer college immersion program. Students can choose to experience life as a college student in either the four-week credit-earning or the two-week non-credit program. Arts-themed courses include “Exploration of Architecture,” “Guitar Seminar,” “Creative Writing Workshop,” “Comedy Performance,” and much more.
Where: University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
How Long: Two weeks or four weeks
Specific Subjects: Writing, Theater, Performing Arts, Architecture, and more
How Much: $3,270 – $8,534, depending upon program length and housing need
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Vanderbilt Summer Academy


Gifted and high-achieving students (generally those who typically score at the 95th percentile and above) are invited to participate in Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Summer Academy. This unique experience allows students to get a taste of real college life by living on campus, taking accelerated courses with Vanderbilt professors, attending social activities, and of course, completing college-level homework assignments. Arts-themed courses include “Digital Storytelling,” “Writing Fantasy Fiction,” “Math & Music,” “Writing Short Stories,” and more.
Where: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
How Long: Three weeks
Specific Subjects: Varies
How Much: $2,750 — $3,625, depending on grade (includes tuition, room & board, activities, and materials)
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Writing Program at Syracuse University


Writing is an important part of college success, and students wishing to brush up on their writing and communication skills can do so via Syracuse University’s pre-college summer writing program. During this six-week program, students enroll in two classes, one of which is WRT 104: Introduction to College Level Writing. Over the course of the class, students will be introduced to various types of college writing, learn to analyze and reflect as a means of developing a range of writing skills, and have their writing critiqued by actual Syracuse professors.
Where: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
How Long: Six weeks
Specific Subjects: Writing
How Much: $9,455 for residential students; $6,839 for commuting students
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Young Shakespeare Camps at the College of William and Mary


Can one truly understand theater without a basic knowledge of The Bard? Each summer, the Virginia Shakespeare Festival hosts week-long camps for high school students on the campus of The College of William & Mary. Participants learn such exciting and useful skills as the choreography of stage combat, the basics of period costuming, and the meaning of Shakespeare’s unique language. At the end of the camp, students perform an abridged version of a Shakespeare comedy.
Where: The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
How Long: One week
Specific Subjects: Theater
How Much: $275 per week (does not include housing or transportation)
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