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Should You Apply to Otis Summer of Art: Pros and Cons

Having an interest in art during your high school career can create ample opportunities for you to access creativity and expression. For some, developing one’s skills can be daunting as graduation creeps around the corner.

If you are a high school student interested in cultivating your artistic skills in a college environment but unsure of what space to enter, one option is the Otis Summer of Art program.

This article will explore whether this program is the right fit for you, highlighting the pros and cons of the overall experience. Read more below to determine whether you’d like to apply!

What is the Otis Summer of Art Program?

The Summer of Art at Otis College of Art and Design offers a concentrated college immersion opportunity crafted for emerging creatives who are in high school looking to enhance their skills and gain real-world skills. During this program, students can enhance their skills while delving into specialized art and design forms. This summer experience is catered for young artists aiming to refine their skills or receive an introduction to art and creativity as an occupational path.

Who is eligible?

For the Summer of Art, anyone above the age of 14.5 years is eligible to apply.

International students are welcome to apply with an international student or visiting international student program option that spans a 5-day, 3-day, or 2-day program.

Eligibility for international students requires a separate international student application and documentation, visa eligibility, and English language proficiency. Proof from one of the following language competency scores is accepted.

  • TOEFL with a 79 or above

  • Pearson Test of English with a 58 or above

  • IELTS with a band score of 6.5 or above

  • Duolingo English Test with a 105 or above

Is Otis Summer of Art prestigious?

While there are college immersion programs that vary in their competitiveness, they all share the common goal of offering a tailored experience for high school students to broaden their knowledge. The Otis Summer of Art program, a paid initiative, strives to make educational resources and courses at Otis College accessible to all students. Consequently, despite not being positioned as an exclusive or highly competitive summer opportunity, it remains a program that prioritizes enrichment.

What will I learn in the program?

The Otis Summer of Art program offers a wide range of Specializations, including 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Character Development and Design, Concept Art, Environmental Design, Fashion Design, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, New Genres, Painting, Photography, Printmaking & Urban Art, Product and Toy Design, Sculpture, and Storytelling and Animatics. Additionally, they provide Drawing Studios, which include Beginning Drawing, Intermediate Drawing, Life Drawing, and Drawing from the Costumed Model.

Among these courses, you can choose either one 3-day specialization or one 2-day Drawing Studio. Enrolling in the 5-day program allows you to select one specialization and one drawing studio.

An example of the 5-day program can look like this







7:00-9:00 am

Main Campus

​Drawing Studio

12:00-2 pm

Main Campus


7:00-9:00 am

Main Campus

Drawing Studio

12:00-2:00 pm

Main Campus


7:00-9:00 am

Main Campus

Important Note: If you plan to enroll in the full 5-day program, please ensure that you choose the appropriate Drawing Studio based on your Specialization. For instance, if you intend to enroll in the 2D Animation Specialization, which takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, make sure to register for a Drawing Studio scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

One of the benefits of this college-immersion program is the ability to take college-level courses with well-known instructors in their respective fields. Some of these courses include demonstrations, hands-on learning techniques, lectures, and the standard technique courses in one specialization or the option of a drawing studio. Learn more about these courses here!

What are the application requirements?

Applications go live around January of the given year that the summer program will take place and will be available online. An outline of the application schedule is regularly updated on the site, where information on housing applications, tuition balance, and enrollment can be found.

The Summer of Art Program does not require GPA, transcripts, or letters of recommendation from applicants, so the application is easily accessible and ready to fill out.

How does housing work?

Similar to a college immersion experience, applicants will be required to fill out a housing application and be assigned on-campus dorms with access to dorm amenities that a traditional undergraduate student would have. Find more information on the housing application on the program’s website!

How much do I need to pay to participate?

The Summer of Art program offers several options with specific prices:

1.) Full 5-Day, Weekly Program:

  • Tuition Fee: $4,400

  • Early Enrollment Tuition Fee (by April 28th): $4,200

  • Includes three college credits

  • Housing is available for an additional cost

  • Art supplies estimated at $200-$400 per course

2.) 3-Day, Weekly Program:

  • Tuition Fee: $2,650

  • Early Enrollment Tuition Fee (by April 28th): $2,550

  • Includes two college credits

  • No mention of housing availability

3.) 2-Day, Weekly Program:

  • Tuition Fee: $1,750

  • Early Enrollment Tuition Fee (by April 28th): $1,650

  • Includes one college credit

  • No mention of housing availability

In addition to the tuition fees, there is a non-refundable $200 deposit per course included in the tuition. Students can access the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) for acute health issues.

Art supplies are estimated to cost between $200 and $400 per course, and students will receive supply lists via email. Graphaids, the on-campus art store, offers preferred prices for supply kits for many courses, but books and items not available at Graphaids must be purchased separately.

Early enrollment discounts are applicable if registration is completed by April 28th, and tuition balances must be paid by May 26th to secure enrollment. Overdue accounts may be referred to a collection agency, incurring additional costs.

What kinds of scholarships are offered?

Because the Summer of Art program is a paid college-immersion experience, the program offers a variety of scholarship awards for students who may need financial support to attend. Scholarships are offered to cover the entire tuition of the 5-day program. These are awarded based on financial need, student portfolio, personal statement, and academic achievement. This scholarship does not generally include expenses such as supplies, transportation, housing, or meals. In recent years, the program introduced scholarships specifically for students who identify as members of underrepresented communities, which can be found here.

Scholarship Requirements

  • Completed Application

  • Unofficial transcripts

  • Personal statement (300-500 words)

  • 10 piece portfolio

  • 5 observational drawings

  • 5 pieces of personal choice

Pros of the Otis Summer of Art Program

  1. This program offers skill enhancement in a college environment: The program provides a focused college immersion experience for high school students looking to develop their artistic skills in a collegiate setting. This can offer a taste of what it's like to study art at the college level.

  2. You will engage in diverse course offerings: Participants can take advantage of a variety of college-level courses taught by experienced instructors in different artistic disciplines. This exposure to different techniques and styles can broaden students' artistic horizons. The added benefit of the Otis Summer of Art Program is the access to award-winning instructors who are practicing professionals. Some examples of the 2022 instructor include Beverly Bledsoe, an artist from Southern California who holds an MFA in Printmaking and a BFA in Printmaking and Sculpture, her work has been featured in exhibitions across the United States. Amy Bond, who is a fashion designer with a BFA in Fashion Design and an MFA in Fashion Design. She has been teaching fashion since 2002 and appeared on Project Runway Season 16, and she currently serves as the Supervising Producer for the Next in Fashion series on NETFLIX. You can find more about the yearly faculty on their instructor bios page!

  3. The program is accessible to all students: The program's application process is straightforward and doesn't require GPA, transcripts, or letters of recommendation. This makes it easier for interested students to apply and participate.

  4. You can apply for financial support through scholarships: The program offers scholarships that can potentially cover the entire tuition of the 5-day program. These scholarships are based on financial need, portfolio quality, personal statement, and academic achievement. The inclusion of scholarships for underrepresented communities is an inclusive step.

  5. Experience on-campus housing at Otis College: Participants have the opportunity to experience living on campus in dorms, giving them a taste of the college lifestyle and fostering a sense of independence. Housing on campus gives students the benefit of experiencing weekend field trips with their cohort around the area, resident assistant events, free Wi-Fi, and peer-to-peer connections.

Cons of the Otis Summer of Art Program:

  1. Cost: While scholarships are available, the overall cost, including room and board, can be significant at $2,800. This might deter some students who are unable to secure financial aid. While scholarships cover tuition, they generally don't include other essential expenses like supplies, transportation, housing, and meals. This might lead to unexpected costs for participants.

  2. Focus on Full Program: The emphasis on registering for the full 5-day program might be challenging for students with time constraints or those who are interested in specific courses but can't commit to the entire duration.

  3. Non-Competitive Nature: While being accessible is a plus, the program's lack of competitiveness might raise questions about the rigor and selectivity of the experience. For students looking for an introductory experience, this program functions as an experiential and developmental summer immersion program, but its aid in boosting a competitive profile for already artistic-focused students may not offer rigor in resume building.

Otis Summer of Art - Should You Do It?

The Otis Summer of Art program is an option for high school students interested in exploring and enhancing their artistic skills. Through the college environment, diverse course offerings, and an accessible application process, the program relays a great opportunity for artistic minds to grow their skills.

You should note that if you already have a portfolio and are looking to participate in competitive events that award scholarships and fellowships, you can consider YoungArts or Davidson Fellows, both of which we have covered in detail. Otis Summer of Art is priced quite steeply for a five-day program, but if you are looking for an immersion program that can help you build a portfolio before you apply for college, it is a decent option. If you are looking to conduct research in art history or related fields, you may want to consider independent research programs or internships at museums!

Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!

Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. 

The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, art, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research in art history and culture, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I 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.

Tenzing Dolma is a Masters student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelors in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!

Image Source: Otis College logo


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