Architecture Summer Programs at Penn

Interested in preparing for college over the summer? Architecture summer programs for high school students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design are based on the approach of the undergraduate architecture program. You will be encouraged to develop a unique creative process as you learn specific architectural design skills. Working with Penn faculty, you will experiment with different techniques and design tools and use the city of Philadelphia’s historic and modern architecture for inspiration.


Architecture Summer Programs at Penn

Architecture Pre-College Program

For any high school student thinking about pursuing a degree in architecture, a great first step is attending a pre-college summer program. Many top universities offer summer programs specifically designed to give high school students a glimpse of what it will be like to study architecture at a university. These types of programs are great at helping students explore an architecture degree and see if that career path is right for them. 

About Architecture: Summer at Penn

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design offers a four-week summer architecture program designed to mimic the classes and life of an architecture student. Students live in the dorms at UPenn, take classes with design faculty, and work in the same studios and facilities as undergraduate students. This program is perfect for any student who wants to see what architecture school is like, is unsure if it is the right degree for them, or is curious to learn more about architecture and design as a career. 


When applying to an architecture college or university, some schools will give you the option or even require you to submit a portfolio. Architecture portfolios submitted to universities often include photography, pencil drawings, model making, and 3-D work. The goal is to include the strongest examples of your work and to include the mediums at which you feel you excel. The goal of your portfolio should be about quality, not quantity.

During the UPenn summer program, students receive one-on-one attention during their daily studio sessions. You will get to work on traditional art skills, like hand drawing, and dive into other areas you may not have had a chance to work on before, like creating 3-D models. You will also work on creating professional-level photographs of your work to include in a portfolio. 

Studio Experience

Unfortunately, many high schools do not offer curriculums that are specific to architecture. A summer program can solve this problem for many students. High schoolers can get the opportunity to work in UPenn’s architecture facilities, learn model making, 3-D digital software, and digital fabrication using laser cutting and 3-D printing. It is an extremely unique opportunity to use state-of-the-art facilities and experience what an Ivy League architecture facility is like. Students typically have time in the studio every day from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with optional additional time after that.


Summer Program at Penn

Explore Careers

Part of the program is designed to help students get a better understanding of career options in architecture. You will visit local architecture firms, giving you the opportunity to talk to industry experts. You will also attend lectures where you will discuss different career options. 

Penn Faculty

The studio class size is limited to 12 students, which means each student has time to work one-on-one with faculty. Not only does this ensure you get personalized advice and guidance, but you are also able to get to know the professors. They often become mentors for the students and can even reference when the time comes to apply to college. 

Connect with Students

Another wonderful aspect of going to a summer program focused entirely on architecture means you will be working alongside students from all over the world who have similar interests as you. Students bring different ideas, perspectives, and advice from each corner of the world and connect based on their similar passions. 

Philadelphia Architecture

UPenn is located in the heart of Philadelphia, allowing students to explore architecture outside of the classroom. The summer program includes field trips to see many famous architectural sites, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and a day trip to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. 

Experience College Life

During the summer program, high school students live in the dorms at UPenn. They live with other high school students who are attending other summer programs. So while the classroom time helps architecture students connect, the dorms offer the opportunity to meet students with different interests and backgrounds. In the evenings, a mix of organized outings and free-time allows students different ways to experience college life. Each Saturday, students can also choose from several day trips to nearby places like Washington, DC and New York City. 


Summer Program at UPenn

Art Gallery Exhibition

At the end of the program, students get a chance to display their artwork in a final exhibition in UPenn’s art gallery. Students, teachers, and locals come to see everyone’s work on display. It’s a real glimpse into what it feels like to be part of an architecture program at a prestigious university. 


Summer Program at Penn

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