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10 Graphic Design Summer Programs for High School Students

If you're passionate about graphic design, don't miss out on these summer programs! These opportunities are worth exploring to level up your graphic design skills, gain practical experience, and let your creative flair shine on college applications and in your portfolio.


Participating in graphic design programs can significantly boost your college applications by highlighting your commitment to honing your creative talents and gaining hands-on experience. Admissions committees appreciate candidates who show genuine dedication to their chosen field. The impact of a program on your application can be influenced by how well it aligns with your academic and career goals and the reputation of the program itself.


Programs hosted by renowned design schools, creative agencies, or tech companies can carry substantial weight. Nevertheless, regardless of the program's prestige, it's crucial to emphasize your roles, accomplishments, and the new design skills you've acquired, as this is vital to effectively showcase your dedication to graphic design and your potential contributions to a college community.


Specific graphic design summer programs for high school students can vary widely in terms of availability and popularity. The top ten options can change from year to year, but here are ten specific graphic design programs that have been recognized for providing valuable learning experiences for high school students passionate about design.


Location: RISD

Cost: $10,700

Program dates: June - July

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors aged 16-18


The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Pre-College Program is an extraordinary opportunity for high school students passionate about art and design. RISD, a world-renowned institution in the field of creative arts, offers a transformative pre-college experience where students can delve into a wide spectrum of art and design disciplines, including graphic design. With access to RISD's cutting-edge facilities and an array of expertly taught courses, participants are immersed in an environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and artistic exploration. They have the chance to work with accomplished faculty, engage in studio practices, and collaborate with peers who share their passion. This program not only offers a preview of the rigorous and inspiring education RISD provides but also empowers young artists and designers to expand their skill sets, cultivate their artistic voices, and develop impressive portfolios.


Location: New York City and Zoom

Cost: $2495 (in-person) and $1299 (virtual)

Program dates: 2 weeks

Application Deadline: Rolling Basis

Eligibility: High school students


The NextGen Bootcamp—Graphic Design Summer Camp is an exceptional and comprehensive program tailored for high school students who are enthusiastic about graphic design. Hosted by NextGen Coding and Design School, this camp offers an immersive and hands-on experience that covers the fundamentals of graphic design. Participants are exposed to a range of design principles, software tools, and industry-standard techniques. Through a series of dynamic workshops, practical projects, and personalized guidance from experienced instructors, students have the opportunity to unleash their creativity and develop their design skills. The camp not only equips participants with a strong foundation in graphic design but also encourages collaborative work and innovation. It's a perfect platform for budding designers to explore their passion, gain practical experience, and set the stage for potential future careers in the world of design.


Location: Virtual

Cost: $2000

Program dates: TBD

Application Deadline: May 1

Eligibility: Students entering grades 10-12


The Tufts University Pre-College Program SMFA Graphic Design Bootcamp is an enriching and immersive summer program crafted for high school students who aspire to delve into the captivating world of graphic design. Hosted by Tufts' School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), this bootcamp provides an exceptional opportunity to explore the principles of graphic design, hands-on techniques, and digital tools essential to the field. With guidance from experienced instructors and access to state-of-the-art design studios, students engage in a creative journey where they develop essential design skills. The program emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and artistic expression, fostering a holistic understanding of graphic design. Students have the chance to build a portfolio, work collaboratively, and gain insights into the professional design world.


Location: UCLA

Cost: $4142

Program dates: 2 weeks in July

Application Deadline: June

Eligibility: 9-12th grader who is at least 15 years old


The UCLA Pre-College Summer Institutes in Design Media Arts is a remarkable and immersive program designed for high school students passionate about exploring the intersections of art, design, and technology. Hosted by the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), this program provides an exceptional platform for budding artists and designers to broaden their creative horizons. You will engage in a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of design, media arts, and digital expression, gaining hands-on experience with cutting-edge tools and software. Under the guidance of accomplished faculty, participants explore design principles, animation, web development, and multimedia storytelling. They also have the opportunity to build a portfolio and collaborate on projects, providing a tangible foundation for future educational and professional endeavors in the dynamic field of design media arts.


Location: New York City

Cost: $4675

Program dates: 18 days in either June or July

Application Deadline: May and June (depending on session)

Eligibility: Ages 16-18


Parsons Summer Institute Graphic Design 1 is a comprehensive program offered by Parsons School of Design for high school students. This program is a creative and immersive journey into the fundamentals of graphic design, providing students with the opportunity to develop their visual communication skills, learn about design principles, and engage in hands-on projects. Led by accomplished faculty, the curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including typography, layout, branding, and digital design. Through a combination of studio work, critiques, and group projects, participants not only refine their design skills but also gain insight into the creative and collaborative aspects of the field. Parsons' rich artistic heritage and its focus on innovation make this program a perfect starting point for young designers looking to expand their knowledge, build a portfolio, and explore the dynamic world of graphic design.


Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Cost: $10,647

Program dates: June 22 - Aug 4

Application Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: Current high school sophomores and juniors who are at least 16


Carnegie Mellon University's Pre-College Design Program is an immersive educational experience that offers high school students a unique opportunity to explore the world of design and innovation. This program, hosted by one of the most renowned institutions in the fields of design and technology, provides a hands-on, six-week summer experience that allows students to delve into various aspects of design, from product and industrial design to graphic design and human-computer interaction. Participants benefit from a rich learning environment, working closely with expert faculty, industry professionals, and like-minded peers. Through a combination of studio projects, workshops, and design critiques, students gain a deep understanding of the design process, problem-solving, and creative thinking.


Location: Virtual

Cost: $3050

Program dates: 11 days in June or July

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: Grades 8-11


Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes' "Product Design" course is an exceptional opportunity for high school students eager to explore the exciting intersection of design, engineering, and innovation. Hosted by Stanford University, this program offers an immersive and hands-on experience in the world of product design. Under the guidance of accomplished instructors, students learn about the entire design process, from ideation and prototyping to the creation of functional products. They gain insight into design thinking, sketching, 3D modeling, and digital fabrication techniques. The course encourages collaborative work, enabling participants to work on real-world design challenges, fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. This program not only equips students with a strong foundation in product design but also provides a glimpse into the cutting-edge research and innovation happening at Stanford University.


Location: New York City

Cost: $4000

Program dates: July-August

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: 15-18 year old high school students


The Cooper Union Summer Art Intensive "Graphic Design & Drawing" program is a dynamic and immersive experience designed for high school students with a passion for art and design. Hosted by the renowned Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, this program provides an exceptional platform for students to explore the dynamic and interconnected worlds of graphic design and drawing. Led by accomplished faculty and industry professionals, participants delve into the core principles of graphic design, gaining expertise in visual communication, typography, layout, and digital design. Additionally, students refine their artistic abilities through drawing, honing their skills in various traditional and contemporary techniques. This program encourages students to engage in hands-on projects, critiques, and collaborative work, fostering a holistic understanding of art and design. It not only provides valuable insights into these creative disciplines but also prepares young artists and designers for future educational and professional pursuits.


Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Cost: $2000

Program dates: One Week in July

Application Deadline: Winter

Eligibility: High School students who are at least 16


Drexel PreCollege's "Exploring Graphic Design" program is an enriching and immersive summer opportunity for high school students interested in diving into the vibrant world of graphic design. Hosted by Drexel University, this program offers a comprehensive exploration of the principles and practices of graphic design. Under the guidance of experienced faculty and industry professionals, students learn about design theory, visual communication, typography, and digital design tools. They engage in hands-on projects, creative challenges, and critiques that encourage innovation and problem-solving. The program also emphasizes the development of a design portfolio, allowing participants to showcase their newfound skills and creativity. This immersive experience not only equips students with a strong foundation in graphic design but also provides a glimpse into Drexel's innovative approach to design education.


Location: Ithaca, NY

Cost: $5250

Program dates: 3 Weeks in July

Application Deadline: March 31

Eligibility: Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors


Cornell Precollege's "Art 1101: Art as Experience" is a captivating and immersive program designed for high school students passionate about the arts. Hosted by Cornell University, this course offers a comprehensive exploration of the profound role of art in our lives. Through a series of dynamic and interactive sessions, students engage with various artistic forms, including visual arts, music, dance, and theater. The course encourages critical thinking, creative expression, and cultural understanding as students explore the intersections of art and everyday life. Led by accomplished instructors, participants delve into art theory, history, and techniques, gaining insights into different artistic movements and styles. This program not only provides a holistic understanding of the arts but also encourages students to cultivate their creativity and appreciate the transformative power of artistic expression.


These programs provide insight into the dynamic field of graphic design, which plays a crucial role in various industries, from marketing and advertising to web and app design. Additionally, by building a design portfolio during the program, students can set themselves apart in college applications and resumes.



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to dive further into graphic design and the arts, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.



Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!


Image Source: RISD logo

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