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10 Architecture Programs for High School Students

Architecture is considered a melting pot of STEM and non-STEM thinking. It requires substantial technical finesse and an understanding of human behavior, and the environment as well as a futuristic outlook. If you are thinking of becoming an architect, you’ll find yourself with a lot of sub-fields that connect to architecture - civil engineering, mechanical engineering, environmental studies, sociology, urban planning, art, and design just scratch the surface!

It can be very hard to find the right opportunities for an interest as specific as architecture. So, we’ve put together a list of great architecture programs for you!

10 Architecture Programs for High School Students

Location: On campus

Fee: $1,680 per credit

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available

Application deadline: Not announced at the time of writing.

Program dates: Mid-June to end-July.

Eligibility: Open to all high school students interested in a career in architecture

Cornell University, one of the country’s best colleges for architecture, offers an intensive six-week program for high schoolers. This program covers all the fundamentals of architecture through a combination of lectures, studio work, field trips, and a final project presentation at the end. The highly selective program has no more than 12 students per section.

Location: 2023’s program features camps in Boston and Phoenix.

Fee: Free

Financial assistance: NA

Application deadline: February 20, 2023 – February 24, 2023, in Boston, March 13, 2023 – March 17, 2023, in Phoenix

Eligibility: Open to anyone from 6th – 12th graders

An offbeat but interesting choice, this program teaches students about architecture and urban planning through the lens of hip-hop. It was founded by Michael Ford, an architect, and designer known for researching the intersection of hip-hop and architecture and creating a more inclusive form of urban planning.

This program summarizes its mission into "4C's" - Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking. While Hip Hop may be very niche, the program opens up design thinking that is rooted in ‘community’ thinking and upliftment and empowerment through well-designed spaces. You will learn about materials, textures, and lighting as you create your very own designs for a music video set! The best projects will also win a prize at the end of the camp.

Location: Girls Garage, Berkeley, California

Fee: Free

Financial assistance: NA

Application deadline: March 1, 2023

Program dates: Cohort 1 from June 13, 2023 – June 16, 2023, Cohort 2 from June 20, 2023 – June 23, 2023

Eligibility: Open to 9th-12th grade girls and gender-expansive youth with preference given to youth of color or those in financial need.

Better suited to those living in the Bay Area, this program is perfect for you to get some hands-on experience in the field of architecture. The course focuses on a real-world project for a non-profit client and students will be involved in the process from start to finish. It will include carpentry, architectural drafting, screen printing, and more. One of the previous projects was a float for the SF Pride Parade! The cohorts have 12 students each and the general acceptance rate is 30-40%.

Girls Garage also offers a host of other workshops and programs that can be found here.

Location: This project takes place in several different locations

Fee: Varies as per location

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available

Application deadline: Varies as per the location.

Program dates: Varies as per location but should take place sometime in July or August

Eligibility: Open to 8th-12th grade students of color

Organized by the National Organization of Minority Architects, this program offers you a learning experience of architecture within the broader lens of community and social justice. Through exercises, research, and interviews, you will be guided into learning about the intersection of architecture and urban planning with culture, society, and history. You will also work on a project that addresses a specific issue within the city. For example, the 2019 SoCal NOMA Project Pipeline had students make designs for Destination Crenshaw, an open-air museum dedicated to African Americans that was being constructed at the time.

Location: Online

Fee: $3,000

Financial assistance: Need-based financial aid is available.

Application deadline: None

Program dates: Session 1 from June 12, 2023 – June 30, 2023, and Session 2 from July 10, 2023 – July 28, 2023, Monday to Friday 9 am – 12 pm.

Eligibility: An internet-connected computer will be required.

Design and urban development are key focuses of this three-week online program hosted by The Architectural Foundation of San Francisco, a non-profit educational organization. You will learn how to use a number of digital design software platforms and culminate the session with portfolio-worthy digital work. The program also offers a unique opportunity of being mentored by a professional architect or engineer, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking for some individual attention and guidance.

Location: Students have the option of commuting but living close by or on campus is recommended

Fee: $4,885 (not including housing fees)

Financial assistance: Need-based financial assistance is available.

Application deadline: May 1, 2023

Program dates: July 3, 2023 – July 28, 2023

Eligibility: Open to rising 11th and 12th graders with a GPA of 3.0 or higher

An ideal course if you are specifically looking to learn about environmental design, a field of design that addresses environmental impact and parameters. The curriculum includes components like architecture and urban design, sustainable city planning, and landscape architecture. You will find a combination of lectures, workshops, one-on-one critiques, and live gallery showcases. Not only will you work on a final project for a local non-profit, but you will also earn a 1-semester unit of college credit at the end of the course!

Location: Commuter and residential tracks available

Fee: $2,825 for the 1-week commuter course, $6,300 for the 3-week commuter course, and $12,449 for the 3-week residential course

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available only for commuter students

Application deadline: March 3, 2023, for the residential track, March 31, 2023, for the commuter track

Program dates: Varies as per the course.

Eligibility: Open to students from 8th to 12th grades, residential tracks are open to those who are 16 years of age or older.

Columbia University offers three architecture-based pre-college programs. They include two one-week courses (Introduction To Contemporary Architectural Practice In New York City and Looking At Architecture: A Primer On Style) and one three-week course (Introduction To Architectural Design And Theory). They will use a balance of seminars and studio time, but the central feature of these programs is the hands-on experience they provide right in New York City. Keep in mind, this is a highly selective program that looks for motivated and high-achieving students.

Location: On campus

Fee: $10,700 for the residential program and $8,100 for the commuter program

Financial assistance: A limited number of scholarships are available for those in need

Application deadline: None but admissions decisions begin to be released in late January, February 1, 2023, for the scholarship application.

Program dates: June 24, 2023 – July 29, 2023

Eligibility: Students must have completed 10th or 11th grade and be of at least 16 years of age by October 1, 2023. If English is not your primary language, proof of proficiency will be required.

This five-week program allows you to experience life as a RISD college student while also building a strong foundation in design. The required courses include Drawing Foundations, Design Foundations, and Critical Studies in Art. They are accompanied by a Major in a particular field. The Architecture major involves plenty of lectures, demonstrations, and practical experience. Also, you can consider visiting the university’s free Teen Summer Expos where you can get all your questions answered.

Alternatively, RISD also has an online track for high school students which is a certified program.

Location: On campus

Fee: $1,250

Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available

Application deadline: April 1, 2023

Program dates: July 10, 2023 – July 15, 2023

Eligibility: Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders

In this one-week residential program, you will get a combination of academic instruction and social activities at the university. You can choose one area of focus from Architecture, Construction Science, and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. You might want to consider this program if you’re particularly looking to learn from a niche subject like the latter two focus areas. These are generally unavailable in other architecture programs for high school students.

Location: Fallingwater, Pennsylvania

Fee: $1,200

Financial assistance: Limited full and partial need-based scholarships available

Application deadline: April 30, 2023

Program dates: Session 1 from June 26, 2023 - June 30, 2023, Session 2 from July 10, 2023 - July 14, 2023, Session 3 from July 31, 2023 - August 4, 2023

Eligibility: Open to all high school students

Picture studying architecture while residing at a world heritage site. Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous designs, hosts summer residencies for high school students. It offers three sessions one after the other and you can choose to apply for one or all. The program features drawing and design projects, discussions on Wright’s principles of organic architecture, and career exploration. The second session is entirely focused on portfolio prep. Keep in mind that the program is quite selective.

And here’s a bonus program for those of you who are more interested in the design aspects of architecture:

Location: The Met

Stipend: Students receive a stipend commensurate with New York State minimum wage law

Financial assistance: NA

Application deadline: March end

Program dates: June end to mid-August

Eligibility: High school students of grades 10 and 11, who live or attend school in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut

This unique opportunity allows you to work within the walls of The Met and be mentored by one of its staff. You will complete 40 hours of department-specific work and the placement will be based on personal interests, availability, and the department’s internship project. This is particularly fruitful for students leaning towards design as the Design department lets you directly work with exhibitions and galleries. However, the application process also includes a round of interviews, so competition is relatively high.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.



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