Advertiser disclosure

Top 10 Summer Art Programs for High School Students

If you are a high school student interested in participating in a summer arts program, then you came to the right place. It is never too early to start preparing for your future, and at Scholarships360, we did the research for you with this list of the best summer art programs for high school students to apply to. Let’s dive in!

What is a summer arts program?

Summer programs give high schoolers the opportunity to hone in on their craft or maybe even decide what their craft is. These programs sometimes help students decide if a certain career path is right or wrong for them as they are entering college. More than these things, programs like these help high school students develop skills that they can take with them into college and beyond. 

Why we chose the summer programs on our list

The programs on our Scholarships360 list are just a few of the amazing arts programs offered for high school students. Obviously, we cannot list all of the great programs out there. We chose those on our list because they are beneficial to students. We did our best to include programs that offer financial aid options for students who need it. 

Note about application deadlines and camp open and close dates

If available, we included the deadlines for applying and the opening and closing dates for the following summer art programs. If the application deadlines and camp dates are not available right now, make sure to check the website for updates. 

Related: Top photography scholarships

10 best summer art programs for high school students

1. Interlochen Visual Art Program Summer Camp

Interlochen Center for the Arts is well known for its summer camps in every form of art, from music to theater– but their most popular are Visual Arts programs. For the 9th through 12th grade program, Interlochen offers Advanced Drawing, Advanced Painting, Comics and Graphic Narratives Intensive, Drawing and Painting, Fashion, Preparing a Portfolio, and Visual Arts programs for students to choose from. Students will be taught about a variety of different topics particular to the art that they want to hone in on. For each of these programs, students attend camp for three weeks. Students are fully immersed in the arts as they learn alongside faculty and staff who are professional artists themselves. Students will also be offered opportunities to be a part of art galleries and exhibitions throughout the program. Need-based financial aid is available for those who qualify. 

  • Eligibility: 9th-12th grade students
  • Cost: $6,550 (financial aid is available)
  • Application deadline: January 15th, 2023
  • Camp dates: June 24th – July 15th, 2023, and July 16th – August 6th, 2023
  • Location: Interlochen, Michigan

2. Cornell: Art as Experience Summer Programs

The Art as Experience Summer Programs at Cornell University give high school students the opportunity to take college level art classes to enhance their skills. These classes cover drawing, photography, and digital art, as well as transmedia (image, sound, and motion) and sculpture art. The program also offers a college admissions workshop, a college fair for students interested in studying the arts, and a final exhibition. At present, the Art as Experience Summer Programs are not offered in person, so this is a great online opportunity for students who want to stay close to home. Need-based financial aid is available for those who qualify. 

  • Eligibility: High school sophomores, juniors and seniors
  • Cost: Approx. $5,040, but varies depending on the program (financial aid is available)
  • Application deadline: The application deadlines are throughout the month of May, depending on which session you choose to participate in
  • Camp dates: Individual classes held throughout the months of June and July, 2023
  • Location: Ithaca, New York

3. MIAD Pre-College Program

The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design Pre-College Program is a two-week program designed for high school students to get a taste of college art and design courses, get them ready for college, and to help them develop a portfolio. The program is located in the heart of Milwaukee, known for its arts district and creativity. Students choose between the Core Concepts courses or Advanced Studio Concepts courses to get them started within the program From there, they can choose what topics they focus on throughout their studies.  

  • Eligibility: High school freshman through seniors
  • Cost: $1,365 to $1,960 not including room and board  (MIAD offers scholarships to eligible students)
  • Application deadline: May 1st, 2023
  • Camp dates: July 10th – July 21st, 2023, and July 10th – July 28th, 2023
  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

4. CIA Pre-College Program: Artist-in-residence

The Cleveland Institute of Art Pre-College Program is an artist-in-residence program for high school students. The program is designed for 9th through 12th graders to gain the necessary skills to apply to art school. Students can choose between two or four-week sessions; during those weeks, students immerse themselves in creating art and learn how to better their skill sets. Students are able to build their portfolio, earn college credits, and kick-start their career. 

  • Eligibility: Freshman, Sophomores or Juniors in high school
  • Cost: Two-week residential is $3,050 and four-week residential is $5,850 (a limited number of scholarships are available) 
  • Application deadline: February 15th, 2023
  • Camp dates: June 18th – 30th, 2023, and July 9th – 21st, 2023
  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio

5. The Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) at Academy of Art University

The Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) at Academy of Art University is a program designed to help students jump-start their careers in the field of art, develop their portfolio, and earn money towards their college education. They offer two separate programs– an in-person option that is located in San Francisco, California, or an online version that runs year-round. To earn money towards their degree, students must take classes and receive a “PASS”. For every “PASS” that the student receives, they will earn $1,000 towards their higher education, with a maximum cap at $4,000. 

  • Eligibility: Students currently in high school that are under 19 years of age
  • Cost: Free
  • Application deadline: TBD
  • Camp dates: February 11th – March 31st, 2023, and June 26th – August 5th, 2023
  • Location: San Francisco, California or remote

6. UCLA Art Summer Institute Program

The UCLA Art Summer Institute Program is designed for high school students who are passionate about art. This is an intense program, filled with a great deal of activities such as studio work, group critiques, artist lectures, and one-on-one meetings with faculty. They offer specialized tracks in drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and video art.

  • Eligibility: 8th – 12th grade in Spring 2023; must be between the ages of 14 and 18
  • Cost: Due to having multiple sessions with various focuses, UCLA offers a fee calculator to give students accurate cost of attendance information.
  • Application deadline: June 1st, 2023
  • Camp dates: Session A (in-person) is July 10th -21st, 2023, and Session B (online) is July 24th – August 6th, 2023
  • Location: Los Angeles, California or remote

Also see: High school checklist: Freshman through senior year

7. Early College Program Summer Institute

The Early College Program Summer Institute at School of the Arts Institute of Chicago is a summer arts program that believes their values separate them from other summer programs. This program offers state of the art facilities for students to work out of, the opportunity to study with world renowned faculty and staff, understand college life by living in the residence halls, and helping students to understand their vision for their future. They also offer financial aid scholarships for eligible students. 

  • Eligibility: Ages 15-18
  • Cost: Four week session is $7,240 for tuition only, and two week session is $3,570 (Merit scholarships and financial aid are available)
  • Application deadline: TBD
  • Camp dates:
    •  Session 1: 2 weeks, June 19-30, 2023
    • Session 2: 2 weeks, July 3-14, 2023
    • Session 3: 2 weeks, July 17-28, 2023
    • Session 4: 4 weeks, July 3-28, 2023
    • Session 5: 1-week, July 31-August 4, 2023
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois 

8. Syracuse University Pre-College Summer Program

The Syracuse University Pre-College Summer Program offers courses in architecture, art and design, as well as film and photography (in addition to many other non-art related courses). These courses offer students the opportunity to experience life as a college student, take college level courses in their desired field of study, and get to know faculty and staff. At the conclusion of their program, students will earn a certificate of completion from Syracuse University. 

  • Eligibility: High school students who are 15 or older by their move-in date
  • Cost: Each session costs a different amount due to difference in length, but cost of attendance could be anywhere from $1,995 to $10,280. For your specific session, check out their Cost and Aid Information page. 
  • Application deadline: May 1st, 2023
  • Camp dates:
    • 1-week Session: Sunday, July 16 – Friday, July 21, 2023
    • 2-week Session I: Sunday, July 2 – Friday, July 14, 2023
    • 2-week Session II: Sunday, July 16 – Friday, July 28, 2023
    • 2-week Session III: Sunday, July 30 – Friday, Aug. 11, 2023
    • 3-week Session: Sunday, July 16 – Friday, Aug. 4, 2023
    • 4-week Session: Sunday, July 2 – Friday, July 28, 2023
    • 6-week Session: Sunday, July 2 – Friday, Aug. 11, 2023
  • Location: Syracuse, New York

9. SCAD Rising Star

The Savannah College of Art and Design hosts an annual pre-college program at their Savannah and Atlanta campuses. This program is a five-week program that challenges students and helps them to gain a real life college experience prior to entering their first year of college. Courses that students can take differ depending on which campus they choose to attend.

  • Eligibility: Applicants must be current high school juniors
  • Cost: $6,165 (financial aid available)
  • Application deadline: April 15, 2023
  • Camp dates: July 18th – 21st, 2023
  • Location: Savannah or Atlanta, Georgia

10. The California State Summer School for the Arts

The California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) is a month-long training program for high school students. While attending, students learn more about their preferred art form– whether that be animation, film, or visual arts. Each program is an intensive course that helps students to dive into their studies, prepare for college level courses, and have the opportunity to attend lectures and workshops with guest speakers. The application does require a submission of artwork of various types. 

  • Eligibility: Students entering 9th-12th grade
  • Cost: $4,250 for California residents, $6,500 for out-of-state students (full and partial tuition scholarships are available)
  • Application deadline: February 28th, 2023
  • Camp dates: July 8th – August 4th, 2023
  • Location: Sacramento, California

Related: Free summer programs for high school students

Scholarships for art summer programs for high school students

Unfortunately, cost can be a major barrier to many of these summer programs. However, there are many scholarships out there that can help offset this cost. Try our free scholarship search tool to find opportunities which can help pay for your programs. Many of these programs also offer their own scholarships, so if you demonstrate financial need in your application you may be able to attend for a reduced price, or even for free.

Next Steps

Next Steps

  • Start building your application
  • Create a portfolio of the work you already have completed to submit to the summer art programs for high school students that interest you
  • Request letters of recommendation
  • Apply for scholarships
Next Steps

Don’t miss: Top journalism summer programs for high school students