Best Architecture Summer Programs – 2023

June 15, 2023

From prehistoric stone circles to modern-day sustainably built structures, architecture has undergone a spectacular number of changes since its Neolithic period origins and will continue evolving in response to societal needs and demands. A unique blend of STEM and art, it’s an excellent career choice for students who are creative, technologically savvy, and design-oriented; undergraduate programs typically include courses in architectural history, design, theory, modeling, studio art, math, and physics. However, a Bachelor of Architecture–the degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board–takes five years rather than the standard four, and students must complete nearly 4,000 internship hours and pass a seven-part examination in order to be eligible for licensure. As such, it’s wise to engage with the profession before declaring a major, and architecture summer programs for high school students not only provide essential industry exposure but also foundational design skills. Below, we’ve highlighted the best options.

1) New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer Architecture & Design Programs

  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $1,650
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: May

At the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), students can choose from four career exploration programs: Introduction to Architecture, Interior Design, Industrial Design, and Game Design & Animation. All programs offer an intensive and collaborative studio environment as well as the opportunity to create pieces that can be used for future portfolios.

Additionally, each of these architecture summer programs incorporates plenty of hands-on learning. For example, Introduction to Architecture students create a variety of drawings and models while engaging with practicing architects. Likewise, Interior Design students use various types of materials in myriad spaces and produce a final design project. Industrial Design students develop software, digital media, and design thinking skills while creating and prototyping functioning products.

The program is residential, and the cost includes housing, meals, field trips, and art supplies. Moreover, students are treated to an incredibly straightforward application process–there are no portfolios, transcripts, or recommendations required.

2) Introduction to Architecture Summer Program at Cornell University

  • Location: Online
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 5 weeks
  • Cost: $10,080
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: May

If you’re seriously considering an undergraduate architecture degree but do not want to (or are unable to) travel to in-person architecture summer programs, Cornell’s rigorous online experience could be the perfect fit. Offered by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, students engage in a combination of studio and lecture-style classes over the course of five weeks.

Topics to be covered include architectural composition, conceptual clarity, and the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. Moreover, students take on a series of design projects that culminate in a larger final project, and all projects are suitable for future portfolios. (To complete these projects at home, students must procure all items on a required supply list.) Cornell faculty members and guest professionals provide formal project critiques. Most importantly, students learn to think and problem-solve like architects.

Students who successfully complete the program earn six college credits as well as an official Cornell transcript. Moreover, the only prerequisite is a “serious interest in architectural design.” Interested in applying to these architecture summer programs for high school students? You’ll want to do so as early as possible, as applications are accepted on a rolling basis and programs fill quickly.

Architecture Summer Programs for High School Students – Continued

3) Boston Architectural College Summer Academy

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Residential?: On-campus and online options available
  • Program Length: 4 weeks
  • Cost: $1,500
  • Eligibility: High school students in grades 9-12
  • Application Deadline: June

Boston Architectural College offers an immersive Summer Academy, which is geared toward aspiring architects, interior designers, and industrial designers, to name a few. As such, any student interested in a design career will receive a solid level of fundamental skill development at these architecture summer programs for high school students.

The Academy is offered on-campus and remotely; students can choose the option that works best for them. That said, the programs are structured slightly differently. On-campus students attend lectures, participate in hands-on projects, collaborate in small teams, and visit notable sites around Boston while virtual students attend remote tours and receive supply kits with which to complete design projects at home. Both on-campus and remote students develop design software and computing skills as well as a comprehensive portfolio. They also receive a sketchbook and 3D printing pen.

If you hope to gain skills in urban planning, BAC offers the Urban Design and Planning Pre-College Fellowship, an add-on program that students can undertake in conjunction with Summer Academy. This is a pre-professional experience where students cover topics like community-based planning, social justice, and climate change while building competency in digital fabrication, model building, and digital mapping. Moreover, there is a civic service-learning component, leadership training, and final presentation to local professionals as well as BAC faculty.

4) Camp ARCH at Texas A&M University

  • Location: College Station, TX
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $1,250
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

At Camp ARCH, students pick a specific area on which to concentrate during the course of the program: Architecture, Construction Science, or Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning. Additionally, they live in dorms and have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a full-time Aggie, so if Texas A&M is on your college list, these architecture summer programs for high school students could be an excellent option.

Each of the three tracks has its own learning objectives and outcomes. For example, Architecture courses focus on the overall design process as well as how students can incorporate different tools and methods into their projects. Alternatively, Construction Science develops safety awareness skills, plan reading, teamwork, and scheduling, among others. It also introduces students to the myriad careers available within the construction sciences sector. Finally, Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning students collaborate extensively while honing their understanding of visualization, data-driven problem-solving, and urban analytics.

The application for these architecture summer programs is extensive, requiring students to submit a transcript, letter of recommendation, and essay.

5) Georgia Tech Pre-College Design Program

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 weeks
  • Cost: $2,500
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: First-come, first-served

At Georgia Tech, the College of Design offers degrees in architecture, construction science & management, industrial design, and music technology. As such, they offer three related pre-college programs: Architecture, Industrial Design, or Building Construction.

During the Architecture course, students’ main objective is to complete a design project that can be used for future portfolios. Along the way, they’ll develop skills in drawing and making. Similarly, Building Construction students engage in a number of hands-on activities that include site visits, modeling, and 3D printing–all meant to expose them to the number of diverse career paths possible within the field. Industrial Design gives students the opportunity to practice drawing and modeling while developing a consumer product.

All students live on campus, and tuition covers meals as well as all materials. Since these architecture summer programs for high school students are first-come, first-served, students should plan to apply as soon as the application opens. Note that a transcript and essay are required.

Final Thoughts –Architecture Summer Programs for High School Students

In today’s changing world, architects have an enormous responsibility to create sustainable structures, consider the effects of climate change, and efficiently utilize local resources. Accordingly, passionate and driven students can begin preparing themselves for the profession and building essential skills by participating in one of the many stellar architecture summer programs, where they’ll build a foundation that will benefit them for years to come.

Looking for architecture summer programs for high school students in your area? Consider checking out the following: