20 Best High School Architecture Summer Programs in 2024

Architecture summer programs
May 8, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 3/8/24

Looking for a summer camp where you can explore your interests in architecture? We’ve got you covered! We’ll list the country’s top options for high schoolers. 

Architecture summer programs for high school students offer a gateway to explore the realms of architectural theory, hands-on design, and the latest technological advancements in the field. 

Whether you're envisioning skyscrapers, sustainable structures, or urban planning, these carefully curated programs provide a platform for students to hone their skills, engage with like-minded peers, and work alongside experienced professionals. 

In this article, we’ll outline the top summer programs that will help inspire creativity, foster collaboration, and help you build a portfolio that will help you stand out when it’s time to apply to college. Let’s get started!

20 Best High School Architecture Summer Programs

Here’s our list of the country’s best architecture summer camps. 

1. Introduction to Architecture Summer Program at Cornell University

Location: Online

Program Length: Four weeks

Cost: $1,680

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 20, 2024

Application Deadline: May 29, 2024

The Introduction to Architecture Summer Program is a rigorous and immersive experience designed for motivated high school students interested in architecture. It combines studio design and lecture courses to explore architectural concepts, precedent, and creative design projects. 

Participants gain valuable insights into the fundamentals of architectural design, including the art of making, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design relationships, drawing and model making, introductory digital representation, conceptual clarity, and architectural composition.

Students will also develop a project and portfolio that would make an excellent addition to their future applications to top schools like Cornell University.

2. Build SF Summer Design Institute at the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco

Location: Online

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $3,000

Eligibility: Grade 7-9 students

Start Date: June 10, 2024

Application Deadline: March 2024

The Build SF Summer Design Institute immerses students in a dynamic online learning experience, where they receive comprehensive instruction on various digital design software platforms. The program fosters collaboration through group activities, including collaborative teamwork and project presentations. 

Participants are given the opportunity to work one-on-one with professional architects or engineers to develop essential design skills and proficiency in SketchUp, Autodesk, and other modeling software that will allow them to create an impressive digital portfolio.

3. embARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, CA

Program Length: Four weeks

Cost: $4,938

Eligibility: Grade 11-12 students

Start Date: July 1, 2024

Application Deadline: April 15, 2024

The embARC Summer Design Academy is an immersive experience that allows participants to explore architecture, urban design, and sustainable city planning. While visiting the UC Berkeley campus, students will have their projects personally reviewed by instructors, and take inspiration from enlightening field trips around the Bay Area. 

embARC participants will cultivate their technical and time management skills, collaborate with like-minded peers, and produce a robust design portfolio.

4. RSID Pre-College Summer Residential Program at the Rhode Island School of Design 

Location: Providence, RI

Program Length: Five weeks

Cost: $8,715; $11,350 for the residential program 

Eligibility: Grade 10-11 students

Start Date: June 29, 2024

Application Deadline: April 30, 2024

By participating in this Pre-College Summer Program, students have the opportunity to embrace life as a RISD undergrad—they’ll attend day-long studio classes, work on collaborative projects, and engage in a college-level curriculum.

By interacting with like-minded peers from around the globe, students will also be challenged to push their creative boundaries and produce exceptional work. They’ll have access to renowned resources and instructors, which will allow them to reshape their artistic approach and strengthen their portfolio development.

5. Camp ARCH at Texas A&M University School of Architecture

Location: College Station, TX 

Program Length: One week

Cost: $1,500

Eligibility: Grade 10-12 students

Start Date: July 8, 2024

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

If you’re interested in applying to Texas A&M University, you’ll definitely want to look into Camp ARCH. During this summer program, high-achieving students experience life as full-time students while learning the fundamentals of landscape architecture, construction science, or urban planning. 

Camp ARCH not only provides valuable insights into these fields but also offers a unique opportunity to engage in hands-on projects with experienced faculty and other participants. 

6. Design and Build High School Residency at Fallingwater Institute 

Location: Fallingwater, PA

Program Length: Five days

Cost: $1,250

Eligibility: Grade 11 or 12 students

Start Date: July 29, 2024

Application Deadline: March 15, 2024

Design and Build is an immersive summer experience that’s catered to high schools students aspiring to gain admission to architecture, design, or art schools. Participants focus on building valuable skills while producing original, portfolio-worthy work.  

Guided by a licensed teaching architect, the program explores studio foundations comparable to a typical first-year course in undergraduate architecture, design, and visual art programs. Students will also have opportunities for reflective writing and sketching from observation. 

7. BAC Summer Academy at Boston Architectural College

Location: Boston, MA and Online

Program Length: Five weeks

Cost: $1,500

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: July 1, 2024

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

The BAC Summer Academy provides hands-on design and material exercises, adapting to the evolving landscape by offering on-site and synchronous virtual experiences. On-site participants enjoy live lectures, site visits, and hands-on building, while virtual students engage in video-streamed visits, exercises, and receive kits for remote participation. 

Both formats provide access to cutting-edge design software and computing resources. Participants, armed with sketchbooks and 3D Printing pens, not only record experiences but also develop digital and physical portfolios tailored for design school applications.

8. Terp Young Scholars at the School of Architecture, the University of Maryland

Location: College Park, MD or Online

Program Length: Three weeks

Cost: $2,500

Eligibility: Grade 10-12 students

Start Date: July 8, 2024

Application Deadline: May 1, 2024

If you are passionate about designing buildings, parks, and bridges, the Terp Young Scholars program is for you. As a participant, you’ll learn about human settlements' design and cultural, social, and environmental aspects. 

The program, designed to be rigorous and engaging, grants students the opportunity to earn three university credits by attending daily classes, working on projects, and interacting with peers and UMD undergraduate students. 

9. Architecture & Design Summer School at Oxford Royale Academy 

Location: Oxford, UK

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: £6495

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 30, 2024

Application Deadline: TBA

At the Oxford Royale Academy’s Architecture and Design Summer School, students delve into the core principles of architecture, mastering planning, design, and spatial mapping. This immersive program provides a unique opportunity for aspiring architects to cultivate their skills in a stimulating academic environment.

Through a combination of theoretical exploration and hands-on projects, participants gain a profound understanding of architectural concepts. The curriculum extends beyond the classroom, allowing students to apply their knowledge to real-world challenges. 

Engaging with experienced instructors, they embark on a transformative journey that not only enhances their technical proficiency but also encourages creative thinking and problem-solving. With a focus on both traditional and cutting-edge approaches, this summer school equips students with the tools and insights essential for a successful future in architecture.

10. Arcos Journeys: Art Workshops & Culture of Andalusia

Location: Granada, ES 

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $3,495

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 30, 2024

Application Deadline: TBA

This immersive experience in the heart of Granada goes beyond conventional art education; it offers students the chance to explore the rich tapestry of cultural influences that define this Spanish city. From the intricate designs of the Alhambra palace to the vibrant street art in the Realejo neighborhood, Granada serves as a boundless canvas for creative inspiration. 

During the Arcos Journeys’ Art Workshops and Culture of Andalusia, students learn about the traditions of Moorish artisanry and experiment with techniques like plaster, tile work, and marquetry. They will also participate in dynamic workshops, cultural activities, and guided tours—including to premier art museums in Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, Malaga.

11. ARCSTART at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $3,600

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: July 8, 2024

Application Deadline: May 15, 2024

ArcStart is a pre-architecture residential program that immerses high school students in the essentials of architectural design. The experience includes engaging college-level studio sessions, hands-on workshops, and exposure to a vibrant design community. 

Students explore various aspects of architecture, from specialized tools to architectural history, culminating in the creation of original design proposals and a curated digital portfolio.

12. High School Camp at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Location: Lincoln, NE

Program Length: One week

Cost: $650

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 9, 2024

Application Deadline: April 19, 2024

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a unique opportunity for high school students to experience design, architecture, landscape, and interior design. This program incorporates discussions, video presentations, and design studio explorations. 

You will also learn about practical client/designer scenarios and various career opportunities as you develop the fundamental skills necessary for architectural design.

13. Discovering Architecture Summer Program at Drexel University 

Location: West Philadelphia, PA

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $3,475

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: July 7, 2024

Application Deadline: April 5, 2024 

The Discovering Architecture is one of the oldest architecture summer camps for high school students. Under the direction of Drexel Architecture faculty members, students attend classes, participate in hands-on design in studios and labs, and even visit historical architectural sites across Philidelphia. 

At the end of this program, you will have put together a portfolio showcasing your newly acquired architectural skills, design thinking, and creative projects.

14. Architecture: Design and Drawing Early College Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Location: Online

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $600 (No credit) or $1,785 (For credit)

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: July 1, 2024

Application Deadline: July 29, 2024

The Architecture: Design and Drawing summer program introduces to students to the world of architectural design. Through hands-on projects, participants experiment with form, drawing, drafting, 3D modeling, and verbal/written project discussions. Students will have the opportunity to experiment with materials like chipboard, basswood, and foam core during design challenges.

After successfully completing a final presentation where they will be required to showcase their prints, drawings, 3D models, or digital presentations, students will be able to earn two college credits.

15. Intro to Architecture Program at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Location: Broadway, NY or Online

Program Length: Five weeks

Cost: $1,416 per point

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: July 8, 2024

Application Deadline: June 2024

If you’ve always dreamed of studying at Columbia University, then participating in the Intro to Architecture program can just the program you’re looking for. Students actively explore visualization, technology, history/theory, and practical aspects of architecture through hands-on workshops, lectures, and studio reviews.

16. JumpStart Summer Institute – Introduction to Architecture at UCLA

Location: University of California, LA

Program Length: Four weeks

Cost: ~$450 

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 24, 2024

Application Deadline: June 15, 2024

This Introduction to Architecture program teaches students fundamental architectural design principles while helping them to develop sharp problem-solving skills. Students will delve into controlling point, line, surface, and volume to shape human-centric spaces and incorporate visual analysis to enhance their grasp of organizational concepts.

Students will also be introduced to diverse techniques and case studies that they will use to uncover disciplinary issues within design problems. If you’ve always dreamed of studying at UCLA, then this is the summer program for you.

17. New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Introduction to Architecture at the Hillier College of Architecture and Design

Location: Newark, NJ

Program Length: One or two weeks

Cost: $1,890 for one week, $3,240 for two weeks

Eligibility: Grade 10-12 students

Start Date: July 7, 2024

Application Deadline: April 30, 2024

This summer program is intensive, where students engage in project creation and rigorous analysis. You learn common techniques, terminology, three-dimensional design principles, and architectural fundamentals in the first week. In addition, you will cultivate professional skills in areas including field research, model construction, and schematic drawing.

The second week is a more intensive exploration of the foundational concepts. You will work on one architectural project and focus on producing detailed architectural drawings and models. Ultimately, you will have built a model suitable for inclusion in a professional portfolio.

18. Young Women's Design and Building Institute by Girls Garage 

Location: Berkeley, CA 

Program Length: One week

Cost: Free

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: TBA

Application Deadline: TBA

In the Young Women’s Design and Building Institute, participants engage in hands-on projects benefitting local nonprofits, cultivating a range of creative and vocational STEM skills, including carpentry, welding, applied math, screen printing, and architectural drafting. Led by experienced mentors, it accommodates students of all skill levels and requires no prior building experience. 

With only 12 students being accepted each summer, priority is given to Bay Area residents, those with limited resources, and BIPOC individuals. 

19. Architecture Discovery Program at Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Location: St. Louis, MO

Program Length: Two weeks

Cost: $4,091

Eligibility: Grade 11 and 12 students

Start Date: July 14, 2024

Application Deadline: March 30, 2024

The Architecture Discovery Program offers a dynamic exploration of architecture and design for rising high school juniors and seniors. Participants cultivate creativity, explore sustainable practices in architecture, and undertake a series of design exercises that will culminate in a faculty-reviewed architectural project. 

Through observation and sketching exercises, students develop an understanding of proportion, light/shadow, material and texture, spatial relationships, orthographic projections, and perspective. By successfully completing this architecture summer program, students are able to earn two college credits.

20. Design Immersion Days at the Southern California Institute of Architecture

Location: Los Angeles, CA 

Program Length: Four weeks 

Cost: $3,350

Eligibility: Grade 9-12 students

Start Date: June 17, 2024

Application Deadline: June 7, 2024

Design Immersion Days introduces high school students to design and architecture experimentation. This program aims to cultivate your curiosity about the world of design while imparting fundamental design knowledge and critical thinking skills. 

Through an exploration of Los Angeles' diverse architecture and design culture, you'll gain insights into the various modes of production, spanning analog and digital scales, augmented reality, 3D modeling, 3D printing, and beyond. 


Still have questions about these architecture summer programs for high school students? Take a look at these frequently asked questions for more information.

1. Can International Students Participate in High School Architecture Summer Programs?

Yes, each summer program in this list allows international students to participate. 

2. What Are the Eligibility Criteria?

Eligibility for high school summer programs typically extends to students in grades nine through 12. Criteria may vary depending on the summer program you’re applying to; some consider grade levels, while others take into account factors such as age, academic history, and language proficiency.

3. How Much Does It Cost to Attend Architecture Summer Programs for High School Students?

Architecture summer program costs can range significantly. While some programs are offered at no cost, others may have fees that go up to thousands of dollars. Make sure to verify the specific costs, as well as any additional expenses, directly through your prospective programs.

Final Thoughts

Architecture summer programs for high school students are brimming with opportunities for exploration, learning, and creativity. Whether delving into the fundamentals of design thinking, honing technical skills, or engaging with the rich cultural landscapes of various cities, students can find programs that cater to their interests and aspirations. 

These experiences not only contribute to the development of a strong foundation in architecture but also serve as transformative moments, fostering a passion for the built environment and shaping the architects of tomorrow. 

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