The best thing a high school student can do for themselves in the process of preparing for life after graduation is to plan ahead and to start taking steps towards those future goals as early as possible.
Summer programs can be an excellent way for students to both learn and practice this skill of future thinking.
Students can take anywhere from a week to a month out of their summer to explore something they love while also getting the experience they need for their post-secondary education.
The summer programs included in this list are for young artists who are looking to explore their artistic talents while building their college portfolios.
Many of these programs give students access to experts who can help them with the college admission process, an understanding of what it takes to have a career as an artist, and people who can train them in artistic techniques they’ve never had exposure to.
The following programs are the best for different reasons, including the institution’s quality, the program’s affordability, or the variety of services provided.
Whether a young artist wants to be a shoe designer, a sculptor, a filmmaker, a sequential art creator, or a painter, there is something for everyone in this list of the best art summer programs for high school students.
UCLA’s Art Summer Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
UCLA is one of those universities that hardly needs an introduction because its reputation as an excellent school proceeds it. Students can depend on this reputation extending to the art department and their annual Art Summer Institute.
Students will have access to some of the best art studios and equipment during two-week sessions covering the foundational art mediums of drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.
By attending one of the sessions (students can attend more than one), a high school student can earn 3 UC college credits to transfer into a higher education program.
Faculty of the program will be guiding students as they create and discover new ways of approaching their artistic talents.
Students may find themselves working with Guggenheim Fellowship recipients and winners of prestigious awards like the William H. Johnson prize or the Julius Shulman Excellence in Photography Award.
Students who require financial aid can apply for merit and need-based scholarship through the university. To apply, students must submit the Summer Scholars Support Online Application. For more details, students should look at the Summer Institute information page.
ASU’s Summer Art Camps (Tempe, AZ)
ASU is known for combining accessibility and affordability with excellence. This can be seen in its US News and World Report ranking as number 1 in innovation, number 9 ranking in global impact by Times Higher Education, and in its ranking as one of the top 10 “Best Buys” in the Fiske Guide to Colleges Best Buys of 2022.
ASU’s summer art camps for high schoolers are no exception to the university’s commitment to excellence and affordability.
Students can pick from a long list of 4-day programs to attend that are spread out from May to July. The university will provide all the camp art supplies to alleviate parents’ need to buy expensive equipment.
Through the summer programs, high school students will be exposed to the innovative cross-disciplinary approach to art that ASU offers through the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Students will see this most clearly in the Art Under the Microscope summer camp, where biology and water coloring come together in a fun and creative way.
Students who need financial aid can apply for support through the university’s need-based scholarship. The scholarship is limited and offered on a first-come-first-serve basis, so students should apply as early as possible.
ST.ART (Austin, TX)
UT’s Department of Art and Art History is one of the biggest in the nation and offers programs that balance creative expression with creative teaching theory. This unique vision includes exposing students to multiple mediums of artistic expression, professional roles, theories, and cultures.
UT extends this expansive range of expertise to high school students by offering several different pre-college seminars through the ST.ART program.
High schoolers have the option of attending the ST.ART Intensive 4-week program or the Zip ST.ART 1-week program. Middle school students are also welcome to participate in Zip ST.ART and are offered an additional 2-week opportunity through Studio Camp.
A unique feature of the ST.ART program is their Artist in Residency program. This allows students who attend the ST.ART program to meet local leaders in the art community so they can learn more about what it takes to work in different fields of art, whether it is creating, curating, or even being a historian of art.
To fund the program, students have the opportunity to apply for the merit-based ST.ART Challenge scholarship.
This challenge calls for art submissions from students on the theme of “how do you see summer.” Past winners of the challenge can be viewed on the scholarships information page.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
US News ranks the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as number 2 in Best Fine Arts Programs, and they have the talent to back that ranking up.
Among the famous alumni of the institute include artists Georgia O’Keefe, Gladys Nilsson, and Grant Wood.
High School students who wish to explore what it is like to be part of the institute that produced such innovative creators can join the Early College Program Summer Institute. Students can pick from 5 different session options that span 1 – 4 week time periods, with the option to stay on-campus.
Chicago is known for having one of the largest concentrations of working artists, and students who choose to stay on campus will have the ability to explore a city that celebrates their innovative role in the art world.
SAIC contributes to this local culture of art in a huge way by being home to the third-largest collection of art in the world with its Art Institute of Chicago museum.
Students who need financial aid have two options available to them through the college. There is a merit-based scholarship that students can apply to by uploading a portfolio to the application process. Students also can apply for need-based aid. When prompted in the general application, students should indicate they would like to be considered for need-based aid. Once this has been selected, the college will provide further instructions.
MICA PreCollege Art & Design Residency Program (Baltimore, MD)
MICA is a school for the contemporary artist; as such, they know that reaching students as they prepare to enter college is vital.
MICA’s pre-college program offers four different options, one of which is online. Students can pick from 2, 3, 4, or 5-week programs that will result in college credit.
Faculty at MICA have a wide range of expertise. Students will be able to work directly with instructors like illustrator Mai Ly Degnan, whose work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles.
Or, if students are more interested in textiles, they can work with Kenya Miles whose expertise in natural dyes has resulted in her own learning studio called Blue Light Junction.
MICA has an internal application form that must be completed for students to be considered for admission.
For students who would like financial aid, they can submit this request through the application. In addition, if students need to waive the $50 application fee, they can submit a request through MICA’s internal request form.
SCAD Summer Seminars (Savannah, GA)
Savannah College of Art and Design is an art school that expands the idea of what it means to create “art.”
Fashion, Architecture, Film, Photography, Furniture, Sequential Art, and Game Development are just a handful of the degree programs that SCAD offers.
As part of their pre-college program, SCAD offers high school students the chance to attend a number of week-long summer seminars in either the Savannah or Atlanta SCAD location.
The seminars are as varied as the college’s degree offerings and include everything from Sneaker Design to Digital Drawing Techniques.
The college is mainly known for its role in preserving the historic buildings of downtown Atlanta and Savannah. Some of the more unique sessions that students can take include the opportunity to learn the art of architectural preservation.
In addition, SCAD plays a significant part in the booming Georgia TV and film industry and is home to the Savannah Film Studios, the largest campus movie studio in the nation. Students will be able to have hands-on experience with all areas of filmmaking in one of the most innovative education environments around.
SCAD offers students an opportunity for financial aid through their internal college scholarship.
To be eligible, students need to submit unofficial transcripts, a portfolio, a list of accomplishments, and a statement of purpose by the April 11th deadline.
RISD Pre-College (Providence, RI)
As unassuming as Rhode Island seems, nicely tucked between Connecticut and Massachusetts, it happens to be home to one of the oldest and most well-known art colleges globally.
When high schoolers attend the pre-college program at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), they are entering a pre-college experience that is a step above the rest.
First of all, RISD’s pre-college program is a 6-week experience during which high school students will attend the college as if they were enrolled students.
This means that students will have to meet all the expectations that come with higher education, including college-level projects and even the selection of a ‘major’.
The curriculum at RISD balances creation with theory. In addition to working in the studio on creative projects, students will receive training in the ideas behind drawing, design, and art.
By the end of the program, students will have the opportunity to display their work in a gallery and a portfolio to use for their college application process.
In addition, students will be able to meet with a reviewer to go over their portfolio and determine how to make it as competitive as possible.
NYU’s High School Summer Art Intensive (New York, NY)
There is no better place than New York City to explore art in its many forms. NYU is home to a group of art faculty who have showcased their work at MOMA, have received prestigious awards like the Guggenheim Fellowship and Nobel Prize, and who have trained students who have gone on to win Tony, Pulitzer, and Emmy awards.
The High School Summer Art Intensive is part of NYU’s pre-college summer arts program. This 4-week program cultivates an intimate cohort of students who get a taste of what it is like to have the NYU and NYC artist experience.
In addition to learning from gifted NYU faculty, students will be able to visit NYC-based artists and learn what it takes to make it in the contemporary art world.
In fact, exploring NYC and all it has to offer is part of the learning experience, and students will get plenty of opportunities to go to Broadway shows, museums, and galleries.
Students who need aid to attend have the chance to apply for and use The Scholastic Awards Summer (SAS) Scholarship program for the Art Intensive program.
In addition, NYU offers an internal scholarship that students can apply for – but they should make sure to do it by the priority deadline to have the best chance at being accepted!
Moore College of Art & Design (Philadelphia, PA)
The first art college for women in the United States, Moore has a long history of training students to adapt their skills to a changing world.
High school students will have access to Moore’s tradition of excellence through the college’s Youth Education programs.
Moore offers two excellent opportunities for students to explore, the Young Artists Workshop (YAW) and the Summer Art & Design Institute (SADI).
Young Artists Workshop (YAW) is a year-round program that includes both high school students and middle and elementary school students. Students can choose from a selection of 1, 4, or 5-week courses on topics that include Design, Fine Arts, Animation, Fashion, Photography, and Film Making.
The Summer Art & Design Institute (SADI) allows women and non-binary high schoolers to attend a four-week credit-bearing course that enables them to work in Moore’s studio, labs, and gallery.
Because Moore is in the middle of Philadelphia, students’ learning experience will include attending museums, galleries, film screenings, historical sights, and much more.
Scholarships are available depending on availability, so students should check the program page early to determine what is available. Students who complete the SADI program and who decide to attend Moore to pursue their post-secondary education will be eligible for an annual $2,500 scholarship.
Champlain’s Art and Design Portfolio Course (Burlington, VT)
A degree in art is often thought of as impractical financially or career-wise, but Champlain College has a mission to prepare students for their futures, and their career-focused curriculum equips students with practical skills for the real world – which includes the art world!
This mission extends to their Summer Programs, which provide high school students opportunities to develop hands-on experience with everything from audio engineering to cybersecurity. Also included is their Art and Design Portfolio Course.
This three-week, credit-bearing course gives students with a passion for art, graphic design, and digital technology the chance to get feedback on their work, grow their portfolio, and gain experience with a wide variety of art techniques.
High school students will work directly with Champlain College professors who are experts in their artistic field.
Professors work closely with students to mentor them and help strengthen their artistic and technical skills so students can develop competitive portfolios for their college admission process.
Tuition includes on-campus housing and dining, transportation, and class and lab materials. Students who would like to apply for financial aid should submit an application by the priority deadline on April 15th. A special financial aid deal for Vermont students includes the opportunity for tuition reduction through the Vermont Dual Enrollment Flexible Pathways program.