Pre-College Art Experience

The Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) at Academy of Art University is a tuition-FREE art and design education program for high school students.

It’s a great opportunity to jump-start your art and design education while earning money toward your college degree. You can take the pre-college program on our campus in San Francisco or online year-round.

Explore your future, gain confidence in your creative abilities, and have the time of your life as an art and design student at Academy of Art University.

Pre-College Summer Art Experience Summer 2023 Dates for Housing


Monday, June 17, 2023Apply for Housing and Deposit
Saturday, June 24, 2023Move in Day* (Housing Students)
Saturday, June 24,2023PCAE Prep Day*
Monday, June 26, 2023First Class Session
Monday, July 3, 2023Last Day to Apply/Change Schedule
Tuesday, July 4, 20234th of July (no classes)
Friday, July 21, 2023Last Class Session
Saturday, July 22, 2023Final Exhibition (onsite)**
Saturday, July 22, 2023Hall Closing (Move Out)
 *Prep-Day Mandatory for all new/1st time onsite students who are not in Housing.
**Students may submit finished work to to be showcased on website or Instagram.

“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

Available Programs

Transform yourself at Academy of Art University with our creative, hands-on courses that prepare you to excel in your future creative career. We teach the skills that prepare you to dive into fields like animation, cartooning, fashion, 3D design, architecture, acting, writing, film, and many more.

September 24, 2022 - November 11, 2022
February 11, 2023 - March 31, 2023
June 26, 2023 - August 5, 2023

Pre-College Classes

Here are some courses that our students love. These are offered all year around. Get to know yourself better, become a better creative thinker, and have a much better idea of what YOU want in your life. Once you apply for the PCAE program, then you can go ahead and select your pre-college online or on-campus courses.

Inspiration by Collaboration

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.

Are You Eligible for the Pre-College Art Experience?

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 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 Experience.

Apply Now

PCAE Gallery

High School students participating in Academy of Art University’s PCAE 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 PCAE 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

“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


Yes. You must re-apply every semester you take part in PCAE. 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.

The scholarship will be disbursed across the first year following successful completion of the student’s first semester. It will be disbursed at up to $250 per class during Fall and Spring, with the remaining amount to be disbursed during the following term.

The Pre-College Art 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 PCAE 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.

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.

Get a head start on your art and design education with our pre-college program.

Request Info     Apply Now

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