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15 Architecture Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A high school student studying architecture at a UPenn summer program.

15 Architecture Programs for High School Students

The demand for architecture programs for high school students has created diverse, enriching educational experiences. It continues to cater to young enthusiasts eager to explore their architectural aspirations.

From immersive summer camps at prestigious universities to intensive design workshops in architectural firms, these programs are designed to introduce students to architectural principles, encourage creative thinking, and develop technical skills necessary for the field.

This article will explore 15 architecture programs specifically tailored for high school students, highlighting their unique offerings, locations, and how they prepare the next generation of architects for their future careers.

1. New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Program

  • Location: New Jersey
  • Cost: $1,890 – $3,240
  • Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Important Dates: Session 2: July 14 – 19; Session 3: July 7 – 19; Application Deadline: April 30​​.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Program is a comprehensive introduction to architecture for high school students, offering a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

A group of nine graphic designers gathered around a rectangular table while working on color charts and sketch pad. Four of them have a cup full with coffee with them while three of them are holding their phones.

Located in New Jersey, this program is designed for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in exploring architecture. With sessions available in one- and two-week formats, the program is structured to accommodate varying levels of interest and availability.

The cost ranges from $1,890 to $3,240, providing options for different budgets. Eligibility for the program is primarily aimed at high school students with a passion for architecture, eager to dive into the discipline before committing at the collegiate level.

The application deadline, set for April 30, is a crucial date for prospective participants to keep in mind. During the program, students engage in individual and group projects, interact with practicing architects, and go on field trips, enriching their understanding of the profession.

2. ArcStart at the University of Michigan

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Cost: $3,600
  • Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and rising college freshmen
  • Important Dates: July 8 – 26; Application Deadline: February 29.

ArcStart at the University of Michigan is a pivotal component among architecture programs for high school students, offering an immersive, hands-on introduction to architecture. Hosted on the vibrant campus of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, this program is tailored for rising high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college freshmen curious about the architectural discipline.

Group of students walking in the campus.

With a program cost of $3,600, ArcStart is an educational initiative and an investment in a student’s future, providing a rich blend of learning experiences from July 8 through July 26. The curriculum is designed to expose students to a broad spectrum of architectural concepts, including specialized drawing, drafting, modeling tools, architectural history, and the creation of design proposals.

Beyond acquiring technical skills, participants also gain insights into the college application process, making it a holistic preparatory experience for those considering a future in architecture. The application deadline of February 29 underscores the importance of timely action for interested students.

ArcStart stands as a testament to the University of Michigan’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects, providing a dynamic environment for exploration and creativity within the realm of architecture programs for high school students.

3. embARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley

  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Cost: $4,938
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors
  • Important Dates: July 1 – 26; Application Deadline: April 15​.

The embARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley distinguishes itself as a premier offering among architecture programs for high school students, aiming to introduce participants to the multifaceted world of architecture, urban design, and city planning.

a group of six student journalist gathered around a table while working

Situated at the University of California – Berkeley, a renowned institution known for its robust architecture and design programs, embARC provides a four-week, immersive pre-college experience from July 1 to July 26.

This program is specifically designed for rising high school juniors and seniors, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of higher education in these fields. With a cost of $4,938, the program is an investment in a student’s academic and professional future, offering an unparalleled opportunity to explore design and planning in a collegiate environment.

The application deadline of April 15 is crucial for prospective students, marking the cutoff for consideration for this intensive program. embARC stands out for its comprehensive curriculum, which includes developing technical skills, engaging in college-level coursework, and participating in hands-on projects that foster creativity and innovation.

4. Introduction to Architecture at The Cooper Union

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Specific dates not provided.

The Introduction to Architecture program at The Cooper Union stands out among architecture programs for high school students, designed to immerse participants in architecture’s foundational concepts and creative practices.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Hosted by The Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, known for its rigorous approach to architectural education, this program offers high school students a unique opportunity to explore architectural thinking, design methodologies, and visual communication.

While specific details about the program’s length, cost, and dates were not directly provided, similar programs at The Cooper Union and other institutions typically feature hands-on studio work, lectures, and critiques that mirror the collegiate architecture studio environment.

This program offers a rigorous introduction to the discipline for students interested in pursuing architecture at the collegiate level, encouraging creative thought, technical skill development, and a deep appreciation for the architectural profession. It represents a critical step for high school students considering a future in architecture, offering them a taste of college-level study in one of the most vibrant architectural settings in the world.

5. Center for Architecture Summer Programs

  • Location: New York
  • Cost: $560 – $700
  • Eligibility: Grades 6–8 (specific programs mentioned)
  • Important Dates: July 10–14​​

The Center for Architecture Summer Programs offers a diverse and enriching set of opportunities for high school students within the landscape of architecture programs. These programs are tailored to spark interest and cultivate skills in the architectural field among young learners.

an unidentified interior designer comparing miniature models of chairs

With “Treehouses” and “Digital Design: Lunar Living,” the Center for Architecture taps into imaginative and innovative design concepts that challenge students to think creatively and practically about architectural solutions.

These week-long sessions, detailed for grades 6–8 but emblematic of the Center’s broader educational outreach, embody a hands-on approach to learning, encouraging participants to explore the structure of trees for building models or to design habitable spaces in zero-gravity environments using 3D design software.

Such programs introduce students to fundamental architectural principles and immerse them in the collaborative and problem-solving process inherent in design and construction. Set against the backdrop of New York City, a global architecture hub, the Center for Architecture provides a stimulating environment for high school students to explore and express their design ideas, offering them a preliminary taste of professional architectural practice.

6. SoA Summer Design Academy at UNC Charlotte

  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: June 9-15, 2024​​

The SoA Summer Design Academy at UNC Charlotte is a dynamic and engaging option among architecture programs for high school students, offering a concentrated glimpse into architectural study and practice.

four students lounging on the steps outside

Hosted by the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, this one-week program is meticulously crafted to introduce high school students to architecture’s fundamental concepts and challenges.

Scheduled from June 9 to June 15, the academy provides vibrant activities, including presentations by SoA faculty, alumni, and local professionals, hands-on design exercises led by current students, and discussions that span historical and contemporary architectural examples from various cultures.

This immersive experience educates and inspires students by exposing them to various architecture and design possibilities. The program aims to nurture creativity, encourage critical thinking, and provide students with a foundational understanding of architectural principles.

7. Experiment in Architecture at IIT

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Specific dates not provided.

The Experiment in Architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) offers a standout experience within the realm of architecture programs for high school students. This engaging and immersive program is designed to introduce participants to the fundamentals of architectural thinking and design practice.

an unidentified interior designers comparing paint swatches

A curriculum that balances theoretical instruction with hands-on design projects encourages students to explore their creative potential while gaining insight into the architectural profession. The program’s setting at IIT, a university renowned for its modern architectural contributions and connection to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, provides a rich educational backdrop that enhances the learning experience.

Participants have the opportunity to work directly with experienced faculty and practicing architects, gaining valuable feedback and insights that can inform their future educational and career choices in architecture.

This program exemplifies a commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects by providing a thorough introduction to the discipline fostering an environment where creativity, innovation, and critical thinking are at the forefront.

8. Cornell Introduction to Architecture Program

  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Specific dates not provided​​

The Cornell Introduction to Architecture Program is a prestigious and comprehensive option among architecture programs for high school students, offering an intensive, six-week summer course designed to immerse participants in the architectural field’s fundamental aspects and broader context.

Group of students walking in the campus.

This program is hosted by Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, which is recognized globally for its excellence in architectural education. It invites students to engage deeply with architectural design principles, theory, and history.

Through a rigorous curriculum that includes studio work, lectures, workshops, and critiques, students are challenged to develop their creative and analytical skills, culminating in a portfolio that reflects their newly acquired knowledge and abilities.

This immersive experience not only introduces participants to the academic and professional world of architecture but also prepares them for future studies in the discipline, offering a glimpse into the life of an architecture student at one of the top universities in the field.

9. Architecture Discovery Program at Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Specific dates not provided.

The Architecture Discovery Program at Washington University in St. Louis is a highly regarded example of an architecture program for high school students, designed to offer an immersive introduction to architecture.

Unidentified people working on a project.

This two-week residential program, hosted by the prestigious Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is aimed at high school students considering architecture as a college career or field of study.

Participants engage in a rigorous schedule that includes studio work, lectures, digital workshops, and field trips, all structured to provide a comprehensive overview of architectural principles, design thinking, and creative problem-solving.

The program also emphasizes the development of drawing and modeling skills, offering students the opportunity to build a portfolio of work under the guidance of Washington University faculty. This setting fosters a deep understanding of architectural concepts and allows students to experience the collegiate environment and the collaborative nature of architectural education.

10. Discover Architecture at the Center for Architecture

  • Location: New York
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Specific dates not provided​​

Discover Architecture at the Center for Architecture stands out as a pivotal program among architecture programs for high school students, aiming to unveil the multifaceted world of architecture and design. This initiative by the Center for Architecture seeks to inspire and educate young minds about architectural practice’s principles, challenges, and societal impacts.

Group of students walking in the campus.

While specific details about the program’s structure, duration, and content were not directly provided, Discover Architecture typically includes hands-on workshops, design studios, and interactive lectures introducing students to architectural design, urban planning, and environmental sustainability.

Field trips to significant architectural sites and meetings with professional architects are often integral components, providing real-world context and inspiration. The program is designed to foster an appreciation for the built environment and equip students with critical thinking skills and a foundational understanding of design processes.

For high school students with a budding interest in architecture, Discover Architecture offers a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the discipline, encouraging exploration, creativity, and a deeper understanding of how architecture influences and is influenced by the world around us.

11. Rice Architecture Summer Immersion Program

  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Cost: Tuition-free
  • Eligibility: 10th and 11th graders in the Greater Houston area
  • Important Dates: June 9 – 21, 2024; Application Deadline: March 17, 2024.

The Rice Architecture Summer Immersion Program is a distinguished offering among architecture programs for high school students, designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to architecture and design.

three interior design students working on a project; comparing paint swatches

Hosted by Rice University, a prestigious institution known for its strong architecture program, this two-week, tuition-free program is specifically tailored for 10th and 11th-grade students residing in the Greater Houston area.

Participants have the unique opportunity to live on campus, fully immersing themselves in the collegiate environment and the architectural community. The program’s curriculum is rich and varied, encompassing hands-on projects that introduce students to the principles of architecture and design and model making, freehand drawing, and digital production techniques.

Furthermore, students benefit from interactions with Rice faculty, students, and practicing architects, enriching their understanding of the profession and its possibilities. Through this immersive experience, participants learn about architecture and build a network of peers and mentors in the field.

12. Fallingwater’s High School Residencies

  • Location: Fallingwater, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $250-$1,200
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Application Deadline: April 30th.

Fallingwater’s High School Residencies emerge as an exceptional and inspiring opportunity within the spectrum of architecture programs for high school students, set against the backdrop of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.

Liberal Arts students talking while walking.

These residences provide a unique, immersive experience that blends the study of architecture with the natural environment, offering students the chance to live and learn in one of the most famous examples of architecture integrated with its surroundings.

The program comprises four one-week summer courses, each focusing on different aspects of architecture and design, such as model-making, portfolio preparation, and biophilic design. This hands-on approach allows students to directly engage with the principles of Wright’s organic architecture, encouraging them to explore their creative potential while gaining a deep appreciation for the relationship between built spaces and the natural world.

The program is structured to be accessible, with costs ranging from $250 to $1,200, and it also offers online course options to accommodate students who cannot attend in person. Limited financial scholarships are available, ensuring that passionate students from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to participate.

13. Exploration of Architecture at USC

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Cost: Information not specified
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: June 16 – July 13, 2024.

Exploration of Architecture at USC is a premier choice among architecture programs for high school students, providing an immersive and comprehensive introduction to the world of architectural design and thinking.

Hosted by the USC School of Architecture, this program invites students into an engaging learning environment to explore architecture fundamentals through dynamic teaching methods and hands-on projects.

The program spans four weeks in the summer, offering a deep dive into architectural concepts, drawing, modeling skills, and the study of influential architecture. Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively about the design of spaces and structures, engaging with leading architects, scholars, and USC faculty to gain insights into the profession and its impact on society and the environment.

This exposure not only enriches students’ understanding of architecture but also aids in developing a compelling portfolio, advantageous for college admissions and future career opportunities. For high school students passionate about architecture or considering it as a career path, USC’s Exploration of Architecture program offers an invaluable foundation in the discipline set within the vibrant architectural culture of Los Angeles.

14. Discovering Architecture at Drexel University

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: Residential Program Tuition: Early bird rate of $3,475 (increases to $3,675 after March 30, 2024). Final payments are due by May 1, 2024. Non-Residential Program Tuition: Early bird rate of $2,750 (increases to $2,950 after March 30, 2024). Final payments are due by May 1, 2024.
  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors at least 16 years old by July 2024. Fifteen-year-olds may apply with a strong teacher recommendation.
  • Important Dates: Application Deadline: Not explicitly mentioned, but it’s advised to apply before March 30, 2024, to avoid being waitlisted. Program Dates: July 7 – July 20, 2024.

Discovering Architecture at Drexel University is a standout program among architecture programs for high school students, offering a deep and comprehensive insight into architectural design and education.

Students walking on the streets.

Scheduled from July 7 to July 20, 2024, this program invites participants to immerse themselves in Philadelphia’s vibrant and historic urban landscape, utilizing Drexel University’s campus as a living classroom.

The curriculum is designed to mirror the college-level experience, with students attending classes taught by Drexel’s esteemed faculty, engaging in studio work, and exploring architectural sites and professional practices throughout the city.

The program emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning, encouraging students to develop their design skills through projects, sketches, and models while providing a theoretical background in architecture, sustainability, and urbanism.

With its blend of studio work, field trips, computer design tutorials, and lectures, Discovering Architecture prepares students for a potential future in the field and enhances their college application portfolios.

15. High School Summer Academy in Architecture at Roger Williams University

  • Location: Bristol, Rhode Island
  • Cost: On-campus, in-person comprehensive fee: $5,800, including tuition, room, board, materials, and all program-related expenses. A non-refundable deposit of $150 is required by June 1, 2024.
  • Eligibility: The program is exclusively offered to high school students who have completed their sophomore or junior year.
  • Important Dates: Application Deadline: June 1, 2024. Program Dates: July 7 – August 3, 2024​.

The High School Summer Academy in Architecture at Roger Williams University represents a comprehensive and enriching opportunity within architecture programs for high school students, aiming to introduce the field thoroughly.

Taking place from July 7 through August 3, 2024, this immersive program offers students the chance to earn three college credits while diving deep into the study and practice of architecture.

Set in the picturesque and historic context of Bristol, Rhode Island, the academy leverages its unique location to enrich the educational experience, incorporating studio work, seminars, fieldwork, and various extracurricular activities into its curriculum.

Participants, who are rising juniors and seniors in high school, are exposed to fundamental architectural principles, digital drawing, and modeling techniques, all while developing projects that can enhance their college application portfolios.

Conclusion

Architecture programs for high school students are vast and varied, offering numerous opportunities for young individuals to delve into design, planning, and construction. Each program listed provides a unique perspective on the discipline, whether through hands-on project work, exposure to cutting-edge digital tools, or interactions with professionals in the field.

These programs offer an introduction to architectural study and a platform for personal and creative development. Participants emerge with a deeper understanding of architecture as both an academic discipline and a professional practice, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and inspiration to pursue their architectural ambitions.

As architecture continues to evolve, so will the opportunities for high school students to explore, learn, and grow within these specialized programs.

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