Pre-College Art & Design Experience

Academy of Art University’s free Pre-College Art & Design Experience (PCADE) is for every high school student who wants to take a deep dive into their own creative universe. Study animation, game design, fashion, fine art, photography, filmmaking, and much more.

We’ve designed our college-level courses for high school students new to art and design, and for those who want to take their skills to the next level. You will collaborate with other artists and make new friends in an environment that embraces what is unique about you.

Your PCADE experience can be on campus in San Francisco or online—anywhere in the world, on your schedule, in your time zone. Or combine the best of both worlds and join our on-campus classes in real-time via Zoom as a participant from your home, wherever you live.

Available Programs

Your classes will be taught by professionals working in your field of study. Your work will be featured in a juried art show at the end of the semester. You’ll be invited to attend panel sessions with graduates who have found work as artists, designers, creators, and innovators. They’ll answer your questions and give you insight into the tips and tricks that got them to where they are today.

Spring
February 17, 2024 - April 5, 2024
Summer
June 24, 2024 - August 3, 2024
Fall
October 5, 2024 - November 15, 2024
FALL & SPRING COURSES

You can register for one or two of our free art and design classes per semester in Fall and Spring. You can take each class in whatever modality works best for you. For example, you can take one class on campus and the other online. Don’t forget: some classes allow you to combine the on-campus and virtual experience through Zoom.

All students who want to participate in our juried art shows and alumni panels will have the opportunity to do so.

Click here to see the schedule of classes in Game Design, Fashion Design, Toy Design, Car Design, Interior Design, Photography, Filmmaking, Animation, Auto Restoration, Illustration, Painting, Drawing, Architecture, and many more.

Before registering, check each class in the catalog and contact a representative to discuss the details. The cost of supplies is the student’s responsibility.

SUMMER COURSES

During the Summer semester, you can take up to two free art and design classes.  You can take each one in whatever modality works best for you. For example, you can take one class on campus and the other online. Some classes allow you to combine the on-campus and virtual experience through Zoom.


“Before attending this program, I was unsure if being a photographer was a feasible career path. This experience has confirmed that my dreams are possible. I was introduced to various mentors, youth artists, and creative/ academic resources. I would encourage students interested in pursuing art as a possible career path to consider attending this program because it is committed to helping students succeed.” —Pharoah


Live On Campus

If you want to experience college life to its fullest, we have a room for you in our dorms.

Explore San Francisco

Get to know San Francisco through weekly sponsored outings and make instant connections with your fellow students from around the world.

Workshops and Panels

Our Friday Open Workshops allow you to experiment with creative skills and tools different from the ones you use in class.

Our FREE Saturday panels will teach you how to brand yourself, sell your artwork, and use social media to market your skills. Alumni speakers will give you valuable insight into career opportunities available to you at the end of your college experience, as well as how to pursue them.

A juried art show at the end of the semester—open to all students and available for viewing on our website—will give you an opportunity to display your work to the world.


“The Academy of Art University summer program was an amazing experience that inspired me to explore different things I have never explored before. I felt like I could be whoever I wanted to be and it helped me become less shy and more talkative. This program has also helped me distinguish between the careers that I feel really passionate about and the ones I don’t feel as passionate about.” —Jose-Sainz


Pre-College Classes

You can register for one or two of our free art and design classes per semester in Fall and Spring. You can take each class in whatever modality works best for you. For example, you can take one class on campus and the other online. Don’t forget: some classes allow you to combine the on-campus and virtual experience through Zoom.

All students who want to participate in our juried art shows and alumni panels will have the opportunity to do so. Click here to see the schedule of classes in Game Design, Fashion Design, Toy Design, Car Design, and Interior Design, Photography, Filmmaking, Animation, Auto Restoration, Illustration, Painting, Drawing, Architecture, and many more.

Before registering, check each class for required supplies; the cost of supplies is the student’s responsibility. Scholarships for supplies are available on a needs basis. To apply for a supplies scholarship, click here.

Check out these representative classes to get a taste of what our program has to offer.

Character Design
Fashion Design
Introduction to Maya
Figure Drawing
Graphic Design
Photography
Screenwriting (Basic)
Comic Book Illustration

How to Get Started?

Step 1: Submit an Application
Have your parents join you for this part, which takes about 10-15 minutes. No application fee needed.
Step 2: Selecting Classes
You can choose up to two classes in the Fall and Spring, and up to two classes in the Summer.
Step 3: Finalize Your Registration
You and your parents will review your class choices with your admissions rep. Once this final check-in is complete, you will be officially registered for PCADE!

Hear what past PCADE students have to say about their experiences.

You’ll work in a collaborative environment with faculty members who are practicing artists, designers, authors, and entrepreneurs themselves. You’ll also learn from other creative, highly motivated high school students from around the world who will challenge, inspire, and encourage you to push your limits and produce your best work.

Apply Now

PCADE Gallery

High School students participating in Academy of Art University’s PCADE program get the chance to showcase their completed works at the end of the course. The Academy is proud to present some of the best student art work to be produced under the most recent PCADE program in this online gallery.

Student Testimonials

“The Academy of Art University summer program was an amazing experience that inspired me to explore different things I have never explored before. I felt like I could be whoever I wanted to be and it helped me become less shy and more talkative. This program has also helped me distinguish between the careers that I feel really passionate about and the ones I don’t feel as passionate about.” —Jose-Sainz

“For me, it was a path-changer.” —Jarschire

“I learned how to use Photoshop, how to draw an automobile, and many more new skills. Although it takes a lot of concentration and dedication, this program is worth it all in the end. I am now sure that I want to spend my life doing this because of this experience.” —Yair

FAQ

Students who are currently enrolled in High School and younger than 19 years old when attending

  • High School seniors graduating in 2023 are not eligible for the Summer 2023 Pre-College Art & Design Experience program but are welcome to apply to undergraduate programs.

International High School students (Online program only)

  • While International High School students cannot take onsite classes, we welcome them to participate in our online Pre-College Art& Design Experience.

Yes. You must re-apply every semester you take part in PCADE. If you are a returning participant, you should log in as a “returning user” on the application page.

No. Once you graduate from high school you are no longer eligible for the pre-college program. However, you are welcome to apply to one of the amazing art and design undergraduate programs at the Academy.

For every one pre-college class in which a student receives a PASS, the student will earn a $1,000 scholarship toward their undergraduate studies at Academy of Art University. A student may earn up to a maximum of $4,000 in scholarships.

The scholarship will be disbursed across the first year following successful completion of the student’s first semester. It will be released $1000 per semester. 

The Pre-College Art & Design Experience is a scholarship program, where the application and tuition fees are covered. Cost of supplies, course fees, and housing will need to be paid by the student. To learn more about this opportunity complete your PCADE application online. Once this is processed, you will be contacted by a member of our Admissions Department to register for your classes. Or call 1.800.544.2787 and we’ll walk you through the process.

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