Photo by Nicholas Lea Bruno/CCA

Youth Programs

Youth programming at California College of the Arts (CCA) gives middle and high school students the opportunity to explore new creative mediums, deepen skills in areas they already love, and make new friends in an immersive, art-school environment.


Summer art programs and art classes for teens

Two students work on their shoe design together.

Go from concept to portfolio-ready

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend art school, CCA offers several opportunities for young students to explore fine arts, architecture, design, or creative writing before starting their college journey.

CCA’s Pre-College Program, held on our dynamic San Francisco campus, is the perfect opportunity to take studio-focused courses taught by accomplished faculty who help you push beyond concepts to portfolio-ready pieces. You’ll earn three college credits, immersed in our supportive, inspiring community.

two pre-college students sharing art during the summer

Additional opportunities for high school students include our noncredit Summer Atelier program and CCA Extension courses, offered in Oakland and San Francisco. Middle schoolers can immerse themselves in the practice of artmaking through our Oakland Young Artist Studio Program.

Summer Art Programs at CCA include courses in Film.

Students working together to achieve the best framing during a class film shoot. Photo: Megan Bayley.

Who can apply?

Develop your skills and experience life as an art and design student first-hand.

High school students

  • Pre-College: Students completing their sophomore, junior, or senior years; must be at least 15 years old by June 2021 and no older than 17 through the program dates to apply for admission
  • Summer Atelier: Students completing their freshman or sophomore year by June 2021
  • CCA Extension: Primarily for adults 18 years of age or older
  • Occasional offerings, fall and spring, specifically for high school students

Middle school students


Experience college life and earn college credit

Take your art to the next level

CCA’s Pre-College Program is one of the best pre-college summer programs for high school students. It takes place on our San Francisco campus for four weeks from July 12 through August 6. Designed for rising high school juniors and seniors and recent high school graduates, Pre-College gives students a chance to confidently explore what it’s like to be in art school, grow as an individual and artist or designer, earn three college credits, and pursue purposeful work suited for any art and design admissions portfolio.

Student participating in precollege at CCA

On our San Francisco campus, you’ll take studio-focused, college-level courses taught by expert and caring faculty ready to help you create and refine your work. You’ll select courses and studios based on which discipline you’d like to explore in greater depth. Classes, which typically include 12 to 18 students, take place Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm (with a one-hour lunch break).

Pre-College Program studios

  • 2D Animation
  • 3D Animation
  • Architecture
  • Ceramics
  • Comics
  • Creative Writing
  • Drawing
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Fashion Design
  • Film
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture

Another opportunity: In addition to the immersive Pre-College program in San Francisco (which offers the option of new on-campus housing), CCA will be scheduling two summer credit courses for local commuting high school students on the Oakland campus (where housing will not be available) June 28–July 23. These courses are not part of the Pre-College program.

Additional resources

Completed applications are processed and reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. An application won’t be reviewed until all materials—including transcripts, fees, and scholarship materials, if applicable—are received. Within two weeks of receiving your completed program application, we’ll email you an admission notification including studio and housing placement.

Pre-College for international students

International students are welcome to attend CCA’s Pre-College Program. It’s a wonderful way to pursue your artwork while experiencing American culture and get acquainted with a new country’s academic and college life.

Portrait of Dean of Special Programs Nina Sadek

Nina Sadek

Dean of Special Programs

[email protected]

Summer Atelier

Topic-focused art programs

Strengthen and exhibit your work

CCA’s Summer Atelier is a noncredit, nonresidential program available to students who'll have completed their freshman or sophomore year of high school by June 2021. With different courses held on both our campuses, you’ll either attend the San Francisco Atelier or Oakland Atelier. You’ll hone your skills, learn new concepts and techniques, and meet others from around the Bay Area who share your interest in art. At the conclusion of the program, you'll participate in a student exhibition.

Course example

In the Graphic Novel Workshop at the Oakland Atelier, students learn what it takes to write and draw comic books, manga, and graphic novels. Discover how to create an effective narrative and present a story using images, then develop a short comic while working to create a distinct and personal illustrative style. Both traditional media and digital drawing tools are used, addressing a wide breadth of options when developing a preferred toolset. Participants also learn about self-publishing techniques in print and online, how to print work, and how to set up a basic website where they can publish their work digitally.

Portrait of Audrey Jones

Audrey Jones

Program Manager, Special Programs

[email protected]

Young Artist Studio Program

Gain skills from seasoned artists

Young Artist Studio Program

Since its inception in 1997, our Young Artist Studio Program (YASP) has provided an exciting opportunity for youth who have recently completed the sixth, seventh, or eighth grades to be immersed fully in the practice of artmaking in a professional art school setting.

YASP features focused summer classes that meet in the morning and afternoon, with a 45-minute break for lunch (a lunch plan is available). Tuition includes all material and lab fees, and each day, students work on various projects based on their desired subject. The all-day programs culminate with an exhibition held in CCA’s Oliver Art Center, where family and friends have an opportunity to see what the young artists have created during their time in YASP.

Please note: Due to the COVID–19 pandemic and efforts to contain its spread, all of our summer youth programs have been canceled for summer 2020. We hope to resume these programs in summer 2021.

Portrait of Audrey Jones

Audrey Jones

Program Manager, Special Programs

[email protected]

CCA Extension

Develop creative skills

Inspiration and guidance for high school students

Our studio art courses for high school students, which are held throughout the year, are special opportunities to develop your drawing skills and experience rigorous artmaking coursework and in-class expectations, preparing you for college and launching your own creative practice. Please email [email protected] for details.


Ready to assist you

Have questions?

Portrait of Rachel Gelenius

Rachel Gelenius

Pre-College Program Manager

[email protected]

Study abroad or as a domestic student at CCA

Learn more