8 Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students

8 Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students

Architecture Summer Opportunities for High School Students

Introduction to Summer Programs with a Focus on Architecture

Architecture summer program for high school studentsArchitecture is an interesting and multilayered field. Architects play a significant purpose in our society, as they are involved in envisioning and designing places such as homes, offices, shopping centers, monuments, and much more. The job of an architect is multifaceted. Architects are involved in developing ideas and concepts, creating detailed 2D and 3D documents with significant specifications for projects, and working with other professionals on construction to turn ideas into reality. There are now a variety of architecture summer programs for high school students, which allow for an exploration of the field.

As a note, high school school students who have an interest in the creative and artistic aspects of architecture may also want to explore summer pre-college art programs.

Pre-College Summer Architecture Programs

Pre-college summer architecture program for high school studentsMany summer architecture programs are held on college campuses. This can provide an opportunity for high school students to explore potential majors, gain insight into educational pathways that can lead to becoming a professional, interact with professors, and spend time in a college setting. In essence, pre-college architecture programs give students a chance to get a small preview of what it is like to learn in a college environment. These programs also often provide access to architectural resources on a campus, which can help students become more familiar with the way that professional architects do their job.

Pre-college summer programs can help students to prepare for the transition that occurs when high school concludes and post-secondary education begins. Through pre-college opportunities, high school students can get a feel for college classrooms, facilities, and surroundings. Some pre-college programs have a residential option, which typically allows students to stay in university-run dormitories while they are participating in a summer program. This can provide a glimpse of living and learning at a college. However, a pre-college program does not have to be residential in order for the experience to be useful. The experience of learning and spending time on a college campus can help high school students become more familiar with the overall environment in a higher education setting.

Summer Activities to Become More Familiar with Architecture 

Participating in a summer program is just one of the ways that high school students can gain a better understanding of the field of architecture. There are a variety of options that students can consider in order to further their knowledge about the field of architecture. One of the ways that high school students can learn about the architecture profession involves job shadowing. A shadowing experience entails spending a day (or more) observing an architect in action. There are some architects and architectural firms that are open to having high school students engage in a shadowing experience. High school students can consider contacting a reputable architect or firm in the local area to inquire about a shadowing opportunity. 

Design and architecture summer program for high school studentsAnother way that high school students may be able to learn more about architecture is through a local college or university. If a local college has a program of study in architecture or a related field, students can try to contact the department and inquire about opportunities. Although there may not be a formal or structured option in place at the college, it may be possible for a student to observe a summer session class or meet with an instructor to ask questions about the field.

It can also be useful to read about the common types of job responsibilities of an architect. There are a variety of resources that can be used to read about pursuing a career in architecture, including the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

It is important to note that a student’s high school is often a useful starting place when inquiring about possible options to learn more about a career field. It is recommended that students check with someone at their high school (e.g., a teacher or a school counselor) to inquire about options and opportunities for learning about the field of architecture. 

Researching and Considering Architecture Summer Programs 

High school students working on a project in a summer architecture programThis article is intended to provide information about 8 structured summer architecture programs that are offered for high school students. While structured summer architecture opportunities can be helpful, the programs often vary with regard to factors such as the areas of emphasis, the types of learning activities, the daily schedule, and more. As a result, high school students and their families often find it useful to read about and research possible options to find opportunities that best align with individual goals and interests.

The summer programs in this article are examples of the types of architecture opportunities that are designed for high school students. The content of this post is not meant to provide an exhaustive or comprehensive list of summer architecture options. However, the information may be useful for high school students who have an interest in learning more about the field of architecture during the summer months.

Eight Summer Architecture Program Opportunities for High School Students

Tulane University Summer Architecture Careers Program

Tulane offers high school students the opportunity to explore architecture during the summer. The program enables participants to examine careers in the architecture field while exploring the architectural aspects of the city of New Orleans. This pre-college experience allows students to gain insight into what architects do as well as what it is like to study architecture in a college setting.

Architecture summer camp for high school studentsThe summer program enables high school students, who have an interest in architecture, to become more familiar with the field and the profession. Students have the chance to engage in a variety of interactive and productive activities that can help them to learn about significant facets of architecture. During the program, participants converse with university instructors, collaborate with peers, engage in practical hands-on projects in a studio, and visit sites in New Orleans that provide real examples architectural styles.

There are two summer sessions of the architecture program offered by Tulane, and each session is two-weeks in length. Students have the option of applying to participate in one or both of the sessions. Each session features a studio course that focuses on architecture, but the area of emphasis within the courses differ based on the session. 

Summer pre-college architecture program for high school studentsOne of the sessions features a course that enables students to explore the manual aspects of creating architectural designs. Students in this course gain experience with sketching designs, building models, and examining the ways that architects utilize drawings to plan projects. 

Another session features a course that emphasizes the digital and technology-based aspects within the field of architecture. This course enables students to utilize resources that are employed to exhibit design ideas using technology. Participants explore and gain experience with software programs that architects use to create, share, and present designs.

The program provides the opportunity for students stay on the campus to get a feel for what it is like to live in a college setting. There is an application for the program, and there is a limited amount of financial aid. There is also a scholarship opportunity for students who are residents of Louisiana.

Participants: The program is intended to be for high school students who will be going into their junior or senior year. Younger high-achieving students may also be considered.

Learn more: Tulane’s Architecture Summer Program

University of Illinois Summer Pre-College Architecture Program

The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has a summer program that has been developed to help high school students explore educational and career pathways in architecture. The program is structured to enable students to meet with and learn from professors in both classroom and laboratory settings. Through the program, participants can develop insight into what it is like to pursue a college major and career in architecture.

Architecture and design students in a high school summer architecture programDuring the two-week program, students participate in learning activities to become more familiar with a variety of aspects involved in architecture. The program includes classroom-based instruction where students learn about principals, ideas, and techniques from professors who teach architecture classes at the university. Participants also engage in experiential exercises in studio settings where they can use their knowledge and enhance their skills through the guidance of instructors. Additionally, students explore real-life architecture by visiting buildings and monuments that illustrate significant principles.

One of the features of this program is that students get to work on different design pieces in areas such as drawing, scaling, sketching, modeling, and more. At the end of the program, students can keep the design work that they completed during the summer experience at the university.

The summer program enables participants to reside on the campus to get a glimpse of what it is like to learn and live in a university setting. There is an application for the program. There are also some scholarships available for the program.

Participants: High school students and students who have just completed high school.

Learn more: U of Illinois Summer Architecture Program

University of Miami Summer Architecture Program

The University of Miami offers an educational opportunity for high school students known as Summer Scholars. The opportunity enables students to get a preview of academics and life on a university campus. One of the academic tracks in Summer Scholars is an architecture program, which is designed to help upper grade-level high school students to learn more about pursuing a degree and career in the field. 

High school students working on a model during a summer architecture programThe three-week architecture program provides students with the chance to enhance their knowledge of architecture through taking part in a variety of learning exercises. During the program, participants hear from professional architects, interact with faculty members, and become familiar with varying design styles. 

Students also spend time in a studio setting where they can begin applying knowledge and developing skills. In the studio, students can utilize the resources at the School of Architecture and engage in activities such as architectural drawing and model building. Students take part in project-based learning, which helps to provide a structure to the studio work. Additionally, there are opportunities for students to present, share, and discuss their creations.

The architecture program has residential and commuter options. Students in the residential model can stay on the campus and experience college living in university-run dormitories. Commuter students can participate in the program activities each day/evening, spend time at home each night, and return to the campus the following day. There is an application for the program, there is a priority application date, and students can apply for scholarships.

Participants: High school students who will be going into the eleventh or twelfth grade.

Learn more: U Miami Architecture Summer Program

New Jersey Institute of Technology Introductory Architecture and Design Summer Programs

The School of Architecture at NJIT offers summer programs in architecture and design for high school students. These programs provide students with the opportunity to gain experience on a college campus, learn more about the architecture field, explore career options in the professions, and become more familiar with college majors that can lead to becoming an architect.

High school students drawing in a summer architecture programOne of the programs offered by NJIT is an introduction to the field of architecture. The program includes direct instruction, presentations, interactions with faculty members and current professionals, and hands-on experiential learning. Participants engage in an architectural project under the guidance of an instructor. As the week-long program continues, students apply their learning through creating a project. One of the features of the program involves students sharing their projects with their peers towards the end of the program. Additionally, students have the opportunity to visit an architecture firm to meet with architects and see the types of work that take place in a professional setting.

Another program emphasizes designing and making. This unique experiential-based program includes designing a product and then working on a prototype. Through this program, participants learn about a variety of technological tools that serve to facilitate the design and production processes. 

The NJIT programs are pre-college experiences that expose students to a preview of life in a college setting. The programs are sponsored by NJIT and they allow students to reside on the campus to get a feel for what it is like to be a residential college student who is majoring in architecture or a related field.

As a note, the Hillier School of Architecture and Design also offers a graphic design summer pre-college program. 

There is a registration process for high school students who are interested in participating in one of the programs.

Participants: High school students.

Learn more: NJIT Summer Architecture & Design Programs

Drexel University Architecture Summer Program

The summer program at Drexel, known as Discovering Architecture, gives high school students the opportunity to learn about the field through a diverse range of learning activities, which include visiting significant architectural sites in Philadelphia. The program enables students to gain experience on a college campus, learn about the educational pathways that lead to becoming a professional architect, develop an understanding of different architectural styles, and become more familiar with the types of projects that are done by architects.

Architecture summer program with high school students building a modelThrough the two-week program, there are lectures, studio work, and site visits that are all intended to enhance learning. Participants interact with faculty members, utilize cutting edge university resources, and take part in experiential activities. As students begin to develop their architectural knowledge and skills, they can apply this learning in a studio setting through their work on designs and models. Students also learn about how computer technology is implemented in architecture and the ways that architects conceptualize scaled three-dimensional designs through software programs.

One of the features of this summer program involves giving participants a chance to make site visits around the city of Philadelphia. Students get to learn about and analyze real-world architectural designs by visiting them firsthand. Students are also able to see professional architects in action and gain insight into the career pathways in the profession.

The summer program has a residential and a commuter option. The residential option enables students to stay in dorms on the campus and get a preview of living in a college environment. The commuter option allows participants to engage in all of the educational activities during the day and evening and then return to the university each morning. There is an application for the program.

Participants: High school students who are at least sixteen and have finished the sophomore or junior year by the summer.

Learn more: Drexel High School Architecture Program

Illinois Institute of Technology Architecture Summer Program

IIT offers a program during the summer for high school students who are interested in learning more about college majors and career opportunities in the field of architecture. The program provides a solid foundation that helps students gain an understanding what architects do and how they work. Students gain knowledge through the instruction provided, and they also begin to develop their architectural skills by applying the learning through hands-on design exercises.

Architecture summer project for a pre-college summer program for high school studentsThe two-week summer program is structured and organized to provide students with a preview of studying architecture in college. Participants begin to develop specific skills that are utilized by architects. For example, students can learn about topics such as two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, the development of models, techniques for sketching, and the incorporation of design-based technological tools.

Throughout the program, students work in a studio setting and create work that simulates what architects do on the job. The program’s instructors provide valuable feedback and support to students as they develop their skills in the studio. Towards the end of the program, there is an opportunity for students to share their work.

During the program, students have a chance to go into Chicago to learn about and discuss architectural design as it is applied to sites in the city. They also have a chance to visit with practicing architects and listen to advice that is shared by professionals.

The program provides the opportunity for students to stay on the campus and get a feel for the environment in a post-secondary educational setting. There is an application for the program, and there may be some need-based financial aid.

As a note, IIT also offers a summer program that focuses on landscape architecture.

Participants: High school students.

Learn more: IIT Summer Program in Architecture

Penn State University Summer Architecture and Landscape Architecture Camp

The summer architecture program at Penn State provides high school students with a chance to learn more about majoring and pursuing a career in the field of architecture. The camp is held on the university’s campus, which enables students to utilize college-level resources, interact with faculty members, and gain insight into what it is like to be a college architecture major.

High school students in a class at a summer architecture programDuring the week-long summer program, students take part in a variety of educational experiences. They visit interesting places that connect to an aspect of architecture, learn from speakers, work collaboratively with each other, and engage in experiential exercises that involve drawing, designing, and building models. Participants also have the opportunity to meet with and learn from current college students on the campus who are studying to become architects. 

The summer camp is held at the university’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which gives students the chance to immerse themselves in a college environment with a focus on exploring architecture. The pre-college summer camp provides students with an opportunity to gain experience on a university campus and learn in a college setting. Participants can stay in university dormitories on the campus and dine in university-run facilities during the camp. There may be some need-based scholarships available for the program and students can contact a program representative at Penn State to learn more.

Participants: Rising ninth-grade students through students who have recently finished high school.

Learn more: Summer Architecture Camp at Penn State

Temple University’s Introduction to Architecture Summer Program

Temple University offers a pre-college summer experience and one of the program options focuses on exploring architecture. This program enables high school students to learn about what is like to study architecture at the college level, the tools that architects use to complete projects, and the types of professional career opportunities that exist within the field.

High school summer architecture programThe two-week program combines presentations by university professors, experiential studio work, and visits to architecturally significant sites around the Philadelphia area. Through the variety of activities, students learn about important concepts, styles, and techniques pertaining to contemporary design and the field of architecture. They also get to implement their learning through hands-on design projects in a studio setting. Towards the conclusion of the program, students have a chance to share the design work they completed during the program. Participants also gain insight into the educational pathways that can lead to becoming a professional architect and they learn about specialty areas within the field.

Students can participate in the summer program as a resident or a commuter. The residential option entails staying on the university’s campus, living in a college dorm, having meals in university dining facilities, and getting a glimpse of life on a college campus outside of academics. The commuter option enables students to take part in all of the educational activities each day, leave at the end of the day, and return to the campus the next morning. There is a registration process to participate in the program. There may be a limited amount of need-based financial aid available.

Participants: High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Learn more: Temple’s High School Architecture Program


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Mike Uretsky

Mike has worked in the field of education as a teacher, school counselor, program coordinator, and consultant. As an educator, he has helped high school students find summer programs, pre-college programs, and colleges that align with their interests and goals. He has an interest in assisting students with the transition from high school to college. Mike is the manager of Student Education Programs, an online directory, that is designed to connect high school students with valuable summer pre-college opportunities.

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Donna Andrews

Donna has worked in the field of education in a variety of positions. She has been a high school teacher, college academic skills coordinator, and university professor. She has helped students achieve success in summer STEM programs and sports programs. She has also coordinator and taught in pre-college programs for high school students.

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