• Program Dates & Deadlines
  • Additional Information
  • Two-Week Credit Program
  • Four-Week Credit Program

The USC Summer Programs invites high school students to connect with the world of architecture. Exploration of Architecture provides a wide range of exposure to an architectural education and the vibrant surroundings of Los Angeles through an exciting two or four weeks at the USC School of Architecture. You will be designing and building in a collaborative studio environment, touring famous landmarks, living on-campus in a residence hall, and working with the School’s distinguished faculty and upper division students. The four-week program offers three units of college credit.

RELATED RESOURCES: Visit USC Architecture, USC Summer Programs: Exploration of Architecture, Exploration of Architecture Photo Album

These programs will provide you with an introduction to architecture and will enable you to make an informed decision about future academic and professional choices. You will experience firsthand what it is like to work in a studio on a design project. You will also take study trips around the Los Angeles region, attending lectures and participating in other activities available in Southern California during the summer.

The Exploration of Architecture program will inform you of architectural career opportunities and enable you to meet and make friends with other students from around the world with similar interests. These programs provide excellent opportunities to refine problem-solving skills and deal with abstract concepts. They have great value to all students, not just those contemplating a career in architecture.


We hope you will join the thousands of high school students who have enrolled in the Exploration of Architecture program for over thirty years. It is a program we have designed to be both fun and intellectually stimulating.

For more than 30 years, high school students from all over the world have come to the University of Southern California's School of Architecture for a taste of college life and an introduction to college level study of architecture and design of the built environment. If you are considering a career in architecture, engineering or urban planning you will have the chance to try out your interests in a studio setting at one of the top 10 architecture schools in the country.

Program Dates & Deadlines


JUNE 14 – JULY 11, 2020

Four-Week Credit Program 


JUNE 14– June 28, 2020

Two-Week Non-Credit Program


FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020, 4:00 PM PST

International Student Application Deadline

FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020, 4:00 PM PST

Domestic Student Application Deadline

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    The USC Exploration of Architecture program provides high school students from across the country and the world with an intensive and in-depth introduction to the world of architecture and the experience of an architectural education. The goal of the program is to help students make an educated decision regarding their own career direction while at the same time providing them with a wide exposure to the diverse and colorful surroundings of Los Angeles.


    The Exploration of Architecture summer high school program has been conducted at the USC School of Architecture since 1982. This highly successful and popular program has grown and developed into one of the most comprehensive and rewarding programs of its kind in the country.


    The summer student leaves the Exploration of Architecture Program with an understanding of what it is like to be an architecture student. Students learn about the architectural profession and gain an appreciation for Los Angeles as a place where people live, study and work.


    The program is targeted toward high school students who are on the verge of making decisions regarding colleges, careers and life-goals. The program is designed to help that student with his or her decision, and to show by experience and discussion the joys and hardships of the profession. Students receive counseling on many levels from students currently enrolled in the USC School of Architecture (who serve as class assistants) and the faculty. The students will also be advised on how to create a compelling portfolio of creative work for admission to college-level design programs. Students must have completed ninth grade by the first day of the program.


    The Exploration of Architecture program has grown in the last 30 years, from a two-week program with 20 students to an internationally oriented program spanning four weeks and accommodating more than 100 students.


    In addition to experiencing first-hand the intensive involvement of an architectural education, the students are introduced to the experience of a university campus life. They live on campus in the USC residence halls, eat the majority of their meals in the campus dining facilities and have access to the educational and recreational facilities on campus. They learn what it is like to live with roommates, get themselves to class on time, and deal with a demanding and hectic schedule. The net result is a rich and accurate impression of life on a major urban university campus.


    The core of the Exploration of Architecture program is the design studio experience. Students learn first-hand that the inspiration, hard work, excitement and frustration of the design process all occur in the design studio setting. Through this experience, they gain an appreciation for the collaborative design experience that is the core of the architect's educational and professional life.


    The Exploration of Architecture program would not be complete without the wealth of tours in and around the Los Angeles area. The intent of the program is not only to provide students with the opportunity to design and make architecture, but also to introduce them to the abundance of fascinating and exciting experiences that a major city like Los Angeles has to offer. The Tours take them around Los Angeles to include Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry (1989 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, USC School of Architecture, B.ARCH 1952); Caltrans District 7 Headquarters by Thom Mayne (2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, USC School of Architecture, B.ARCH 1968); Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles by Rafael Moneo (1995 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate); Getty Center by Richard Meier (1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate); Getty Villa by Machado and Selvetti; as well as numerous architecturally significant buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler, Greene & Greene and others.


    The Exploration of Architecture program endeavors to show students what it is like to be an architecture student, becoming more in-depth and detailed as the program progresses. Each week of the program focuses on different issues, and requires ever-increasing levels of commitment and expertise. Upon successful completion of the four-week program, students will earn an official USC transcript and three (3) elective credits. This credit can be counted as elective credit towards a USC bachelor’s degree or transferred to most other four-year colleges.



Non-Credit Program

June 14 – June 28, 2020 

The two-week program offers a general overview of architecture and urbanism and the making of places and spaces. During these intensive two weeks, the students are taught the fundamentals of architectural drawings and model-making skills. They are exposed to issues of architectural design and space-making through independent and group projects, and they tour historic and architecturally significant buildings throughout Los Angeles.

Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least the ninth grade by the start of the program.

TUITION: $2,958

LAB FEE: $250


ROOM AND BOARD: $1,211 (omitted if commuting)

Student Health Center: $55


Total Estimated Cost of Attendance: $4,699

Total Estimated Cost of Attendance (Commuter): $3,488

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Credit Program

JUNE 14 – JULY 11, 2020

Building upon the first two weeks of instruction, the final two weeks provide a more in-depth exposure to specific architectural design issues through the intense exploration of one project. Students will deal with issues of program and community, as well as of human dimensions through continued model making and freehand drawing. Architectural concepts of order, circulation, light and structure will be investigated for their impact on a building’s form and function. Problems of site, place, and space, as well as social implications of architecture, will be analyzed and discussed. To further enhance the students' knowledge of the rich architectural history of Los Angeles, extended field trips will be made to projects designed by great architects and designers, such as Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler, and Greene and Greene.

Note: This is an in-depth and intense experience providing the student with a taste of college-level expectations and critiques. The daily schedule for this course varies from the standard schedule.

Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least the ninth grade by the start of the program.

TUITION: $5,784

LAB FEE: $275


ROOM AND BOARD: $2,657 (omitted if commuting)

Student Health Center: $110


Total Estimated Cost of Attendance: $9,126

Total Estimated Cost of Attendance (Commuter): $6,469

Daily Schedule

Studio/Lecture: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Workshop: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.*

* workshop hours are subject to change

Due to the late schedule and the intense nature of this course, it is recommended that students choose the residential option for safety and to gain the most from the experience. The commuter option is available, but not recommended. Students who choose to commute will be on campus for two meals (lunch and dinner), and should plan accordingly.

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