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15 Best Art Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A person holding a brush used for painting

15 Best Art Programs for High School Students

The vast art world offers high school students many chances to grow their skills and prepare for their future in creativity. Among these opportunities, some art programs truly stand out. This blog looks at the best art programs for high school students, focusing on what makes them excellent and the benefits for students.

15 Best Art Programs for High School Students

Exploring art and design at a young age opens up a world of creativity and innovation for high school students. Engaging in one of the best art programs can significantly impact students’ development, offering them a platform to hone their skills, gain exposure, and prepare for a future in the creative industry.

These programs provide practical experience and inspire students by exposing them to various art forms and techniques. Here, we explore the top 15 choices for young artists eager to explore their potential.

Art student with art professor checking students work

1. Walnut Hill School for the Arts: Intensive Arts Program

  • Location: Natick, Massachusetts.
  • Cost: $2,700 (voice, string quartet, and fashion); $4,000 (chamber music for global young musicians); $8,000 (theater)
  • Program Dates: June 24–28, 2024 (voice, and string quartet); June 22–JULY 21, 2024 (theater); July 14–27, 2024 (chamber music for global young musicians); July 15–19, 2024 (fashion)
  • Application Deadline: February 15, 2024 (voice); February 2, 2024 (string quartet and chamber music for global young musicians); March 15, 2024 (theater);  April 1, 2024 (fashion)
  • Eligibility: Students aged 11 to 18 years

Walnut Hill School for the Arts offers specialized summer programs for students interested in voice, string quartet, theater, chamber music, and fashion. This program combines rigorous arts training with academic education, providing students with a well-rounded experience that enhances their artistic abilities and academic knowledge.

2. Asia Art Museum’s Art Speak Internship

  • Location: Asia Art Museum (San Francisco, CA)
  • Cost: Fully funded
  • Program Dates: August – May
  • Eligibility: Bay Area public high school students in good standing in grades 10, 11, and 12

The Art Speak Internship at the Asian Art Museum is one of the best art programs for high school students that combines art, culture, and activism, offering unique career and leadership development for high school students. Interns explore Asian art and traditions, connect with local artists and organizations, and consider careers in the arts. The program also emphasizes leadership through the planning and leading of art activities. Currently on pause, its impact on empowering young voices and cultivating future leaders remains significant.

3. Parsons School of Design: Summer Intensive Studies

  • Location: Parsons’ NYC Greenwich Village Campus.
  • Cost: $5,145
  • Program Dates: Session 1: June 10–28, 2024; Session 2: July 8–26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Session 1: May 15, 2024; Session 2: June 8, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students aged 16 to 18 years

Parsons School of Design offers a three-week, three-credit Summer Intensive Studies program in New York City. It covers various disciplines, such as Animation Studio and Fashion Design, providing a robust preparatory experience for those planning to pursue higher education in art and design.

The program aims to immerse students in art and design through project-based learning, field trips, guest lectures, and portfolio reviews facilitated by world-class faculty. Small class sizes encourage community building and personal skill enhancement. It offers students a chance to understand various art and design fields better, equipping them for their academic and professional futures.

4. UCLA Summer Art Institute

  • Location:  UCLA Department of Art/ Virtual
  • Cost: $4,624
  • Program Dates: Session A (Virtual):  June 24, 2024 – July 6, 2024; Session B (In-person/Mandatory Housing): July 7, 2024 – July 20, 2024; Session C (In-person/Commuter): July 22, 2024 – August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: June 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: 9th-12th grade students

The UCLA Summer Art Institute allows high school students to participate in in-person or virtual sessions, focusing on disciplines such as Drawing, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Video Art, Experimental Animation, and Writing for Artists.

Emphasizing skill development and creative exploration, the institute offers intensive studio work, artist lectures, and personalized feedback to broaden students’ artistic horizons in a stimulating educational atmosphere.

a female painter painting on a canvas

5. MICA Pre-College Art & Design Residency Program

  • Location: MICA Campus, Maryland
  • Cost: $3,600 for each 2-Week Session, $7,200 for 4-Week Combined Sessions
  • Program Dates: 2-Week Session One: June 30 – July 13, 2024; 2-Week Session Two: July 14 – July 27, 2024; 4-Week Combined Sessions: June 30 – July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: Current high school sophomores and juniors may apply, including international students of equivalent grade level with demonstrated proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English through valid TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo scores or have a minimum SAT score of 470 or ACT score of 18 in the English section or official transcripts showing at least two full years of academic success at a high school or college/university where English is the language of instruction.

The MICA Pre-College Art & Design Residency Program is a rich opportunity for rising high school juniors and seniors to engage deeply with art and design. The program combines live instruction, studio time, and community events to foster personal and creative growth. Students live on campus, immersing themselves in a creative community supported by MICA faculty and peers.

The program, which includes tuition, housing, and meals, allows students to earn up to three college credits. It runs in two-week sessions, with options to combine sessions for a four-week experience. Open to both seasoned artists and beginners, including international students meeting English language requirements, it emphasizes early application, especially for those seeking financial aid.

6. Pratt Institute: Summer Pre-College in Brooklyn

  • Location: Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus.
  • Cost: $4,613 ($50 application fee)
  • Program Dates: July 8- August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Priority Application Deadline: March 1, 2024; Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students aged 16 to 18 years

Pratt Institute’s Summer Pre-College program in Brooklyn, New York, is a four-week course that includes two studio courses taught by Pratt faculty using the institute’s state-of-the-art facilities.

Participants can explore various art disciplines, gain insight into Pratt’s majors, and earn elective college credits. The program culminates in a Final Exhibition where students showcase their work. On-campus participants also engage in additional activities, including mentorship studio hours, museum visits, and portfolio development sessions. Commuter students have access to studio hours but may need additional at-home work.

7. Tufts University: SMFA Studio Art Intensive

  • Location: Tufts University Medford / Somerville Campus; Boston Fine Arts Campus
  • Cost: Residential Program: $6,750; Commuter Program: $5,000
  • Program Dates: July 7 – July 26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Entering grades 10-12 or a Spring 2024 high school graduate

Located at Tufts University, this intensive program is specifically designed for students entering grades 10-12 and recent high school graduates. Running from July 7 to July 26, 2024, costs $6,750 for the residential option and $5,000 for commuters. The curriculum encourages an interdisciplinary approach to art, allowing students to experiment with various mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and animation.

Directly linked with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the program includes foundation classes, group critiques, and field trips, enriching students’ understanding of art in historical and contemporary contexts.

Young multiracial students learning about painting on canvas during lesson

8. Cow House Studios: Art On The Farm

  • Location: Cow House Studios, Wexford, Ireland.
  • Cost: €6,700
  • Program Dates: June 27, 2024- July 24, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Early Admission: December 17, 2023; Standard Enrollment: February 25, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students aged 15 to 17 years

Cow House Studios, located in Wexford, Ireland, runs a 28-day “Art on the Farm” summer program focused on drawing, painting, and photography. The program immerses students in Ireland’s inspiring natural beauty. The program offers an inclusive curriculum suitable for various skill levels, allowing participants to enhance their artistic techniques and expand their vision.

The program includes workshops, educational sessions, and group and individual discussions with professional artists. The first half is dedicated to intensive practice in the student’s selected art form, complemented by city visits for further inspiration. The final two weeks focus on individual art projects with guidance from artists, culminating in a portfolio that aids college application preparations.

9. Interlochen Center for the Arts: Summer Arts Camp

  • Location: Interlochen, Michigan.
  • Cost: 1 week (Intensive): $1,830; 3-week session: $6,765; 6-week session: $10,080 ($65 application fee)
  • Program Dates: 1 week (Intensive): June 15 – June 21, 2024; 3-week session: June 23 – July 13, 2024 & July 14 – Aug. 4, 2024; 6-week session: June 23 – Aug. 4, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Priority deadline: January 15, 2024, Rolling Admissions
  • Eligibility: 1 week (Intensive): Grades 9-12; 3-week session: Grades 6-12; 6-week session: Grades 3-12

One of the best art programs for high school students is Interlochen’s Summer Arts Camp in Michigan. It offers diverse artistic disciplines, from music and theatre to dance, visual arts, film, and creative writing.

Interlochen is known for its exceptional facilities and setting, fostering a supportive community that encourages students to explore new artistic avenues and develop their talents in a collaborative environment.

10. Savannah College of Art and Design Summer Seminars

  • Location: Atlanta & Savannah, Georgia.
  • Cost: Residential Program: $1,820; Commuter Program: $1,508 ( $100 application fee)
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Current high school first-year, sophomore, and junior students

SCAD’s Summer Seminars in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, is one of the best art programs for high school students catering to freshmen through juniors. These seminars focus on hands-on projects and creative assignments, providing access to SCAD’s resources and facilities.

Led by SCAD faculty, participants enjoy small class sizes for personalized learning. The program includes workshops, studio work, local field trips, and social and cultural activities, offering a comprehensive introduction to student life at SCAD. Each location offers a distinct experience, with Atlanta blending business, art, and culture and Savannah presenting a historic setting for creative exploration.

11. NYU Summer Art Intensive Program

  • Location: New York City
  • Cost: $7,272
  • Program Dates: July 7 – August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students ages 15 – 18 going into their Sophomore (10th), Junior (11th), or Senior (12th) year. International Students must provide proof of English language proficiency and an F-1 Visa (e.g., TOEFL 100 or higher score)

NYU’s Summer Art Intensive Program, led by NYU Steinhardt’s Art Department faculty, is a four-week immersive digital art, painting, and sculpture course. Tailored for art enthusiasts, it aims to elevate students’ artistic skills and understanding of the contemporary art scene. The program blends studio work with seminars and social events, offering a comprehensive experience of an art major’s life at NYU.

The program targets students in grades 9 to 11 with a keen interest in art, requiring a portfolio submission of 10-15 pieces that showcase their most compelling and innovative work. This emphasis on originality and experimentation is central to the program’s ethos.

A girl painting a guitar

12. Design Immersion Days at SCI-Arc

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Cost: $25 application fee
  • Program Dates: June 17 – July 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: June 7, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students entering or continuing high school

Over four weeks, design Immersion Days at SCI-Arc introduces high school students to architecture and design principles. This program encourages students to explore various scales and mediums of design, from traditional techniques to digital fabrication.

The emphasis is on collaborative learning, connecting students to Los Angeles’s unique cultural and material landscape. Registration is open on a rolling basis, with scholarships available for qualifying students.

13. High School Program at SAIC

  • Location: SAIC campus
  • Cost: Varies
  • Program Dates: June 24 to June 28 and July 8 to July 12
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 14–18

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Early College Program (ECP) is a premier destination for high school students looking to expand their artistic skills and knowledge. Offering various courses from fashion design to animation, the program is designed to immerse students in a comprehensive artistic experience.

The program begins with foundational courses such as “Artist Materials and Techniques,” introducing students to essential tools and mediums. These courses provide a base for more focused studies across various disciplines.

Traditional disciplines like “Figure Drawing,” “Water-Based Painting,” and “Oil Painting” are also a significant part of the curriculum, emphasizing both technical mastery and creative exploration. These courses are available in July and August, catering to various interests and skill levels.

14. Rhode Island School of Design: Summer Pre-College

  • Location: RISD Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Cost: Residential Program: $11,350; Commuter Program: $8,715 ( $60 application fee)
  • Program Dates: June 29–August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 8, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students aged 16 to 18 years

RISD’s Summer Pre-College program is a five-week immersive experience for high school juniors and seniors that mirrors the RISD undergraduate experience with extensive studio classes, critiques, and projects.

The program emphasizes Experimental and Foundation Studies, encouraging students to expand their creative thinking and artistic processes. Participants experience a rigorous curriculum to develop their creative capabilities and strengthen their portfolios.

15. The Met Internship Program for High School Students

  • Location: New York, NY 10028
  • Cost: $1,100 stipend
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Must be students in grade 10 or 11 by the application deadline, reside in or attend a high school or home school in New York City for school-year internships, or in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut for summer internships, have not completed another internship at The Met, be available to attend all sessions of the internship program, and have the consent of a parent/guardian to apply

The Met’s internship program explores the museum industry for high school students, providing paid opportunities that span various departments. Open to students from New York City and the surrounding regions during the school year and summer. The internships aim to develop professional skills and facilitate networking within the museum and arts sectors. Funded by philanthropic support, the program focuses on enhancing diversity and inclusivity in museums.

How do you get students excited about art?

Getting high school students excited about art involves introducing them to creative expressions and providing hands-on experiences for personal expression.

Programs renowned for immersive workshops, engaging field trips, and creative exploration opportunities are key in sparking interest among the best art programs for high school students.

Engaging Students in Art

It’s crucial to expose students to various art forms to captivate them. This includes traditional mediums like painting, sculpture, digital arts, and photography. Such diversity enables students to discover their passion or interest in new art forms.

Practical experiences are central to this exploration; art creation allows students to connect meaningfully with their work. Under the mentorship of seasoned artists, students learn different techniques, experiment with mediums, and convey their unique perspectives.

Immersive Learning Experiences

Visits to galleries, studios, and museums offer students a glimpse into the professional art world, showcasing the potential paths of their artistic pursuits. These trips highlight art’s significance in society and the myriad of career opportunities available in the art sector. Opportunities for creative exploration outside the classroom encourage critical and innovative thinking, valuable across all disciplines.

Nurturing Personal Expression

Art is a personal journey; the best programs encourage students to develop their unique voices. Through critiques, discussions, and one-on-one mentorship, students learn to articulate their ideas and translate their thoughts into visual form.

Programs that prioritize personal expression help students to build confidence in their creative abilities and to see the value in their perspective. This is especially important for high school students at a formative stage in their development as artists and individuals.

Exploring Career Pathways in Art

Choosing the right art program is crucial for high school students aiming for a career in the arts. The best art programs for high school students stand out by offering comprehensive insights into the art industry, professional mentorship, and diverse artistic exposure. These programs focus on developing students’ portfolios and providing real-world experiences, laying a solid foundation for their future endeavors.

Mentorship from Professionals

Access to professionals who are actively engaged in their fields is a significant advantage of these programs. They guide students beyond art creation, offering insights into networking, professional presentation, and industry navigation. This guidance is vital as students map out their art careers.

Exposure to Various Art Forms

Diversity in artistic exposure is key. Students are encouraged to experiment with traditional and digital mediums, broadening their skills and helping them discover their passions. This exploration is essential for identifying potential career paths in the arts.

Art teacher talking to a student about her output.

Portfolio Development

Emphasis on portfolio development is a critical aspect of these programs. Students learn to curate their work effectively, showcasing their best pieces for college applications and job opportunities. The process includes lessons on thematic consistency, effective presentation, and leveraging digital platforms.

Real-World Artistic Exposure

Real-world exposure through field trips, competitions, and internships is invaluable. These experiences offer a glimpse into the art industry, providing inspiration and practical knowledge. Understanding the various career options helps students make informed decisions about their futures.

Conclusion

Choosing the right program for high school students passionate about art can be a pivotal step in their artistic development. The 15 best art programs for high school students offer traditional and contemporary art instruction, professional mentorship, and opportunities for creative exploration, setting the stage for a promising career in the arts.

Whether through intensive summer programs, internships, or college preparatory courses, these programs equip students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue their artistic ambitions.

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