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ArcStart is a three-week long residential program for high school students that offers students the opportunity to explore the built environment firsthand through an introduction to architectural design. Participants will experience the rewarding intensity of an engaging college architecture studio, partake in skill-building workshops that reinforce analytical and conceptual problem solving skills, and visit architecturally significant projects in Ann Arbor and the immediate region.

Update: ArcStart 2020 Canceled

Out of an abundance of caution due to evolving information about COVID-19, ArcStart 2020 has been canceled.



Over the course of the program, students will witness how a design education prepares students to engage the world around them within the context of a rigorous academic setting at a leading design institution. Students will engage in thought provoking discussions that challenge their understanding of architectural design and push them to think more broadly about space and the built environment. The curriculum is aimed at introducing and enhancing a wide variety of skill sets including hand drawing, model making, diagramming, photography, and sketching. Students will employ a variety of digital and analog tools to aid in the design process of their own projects and will also be introduced to the possibilities of advanced 2D and 3D modeling and printing facilities at the college's advanced Digital Fabrication Lab.

Inside ArcStart: National architecture high school residential summer program

Residential Life

Living on the University of Michigan's North Campus, students will experience the collegiate lifestyle and have opportunities to strengthen their academic skills, develop a peer support network, and familiarize themselves with the campus and its resources. In addition to a rigorous academic schedule, there will be plenty of time to relax and unwind with new friends and partake in a variety of evening and weekend activities organized by the live-in residential counselors. These may include evening software tutorials, pick-up basketball games, afternoons at a nearby outdoor pool, movie nights, sketching scavenger hunts, and more. Students will also have access to the North Campus Recreation Building, which offers a full range of sporting and workout equipment.

College Preparation

In addition to the academic and social aspects of the program, students will also benefit from presentations conducted by the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions on the college application process and how to prepare for their college experience. Although these presentations are based on the University of Michigan's programs, they will help guide students and parents in the college process no matter the institution.

At the end of the three-week session, students will come away with an expanded understanding of the role architecture and design plays in everyday life, and those intending to apply to architecture school will be well equipped to begin the application process.


Admission is limited to rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as rising college freshman that are U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents. There is no minimum GPA requirement to be eligible to apply. 


Application Opens: January 15, 2020

Application Deadline: March 15, 2020

Submit Application

Applications can be submitted by clicking the button above and selecting the “ArcStart: High School Summer Program 2020” option and creating a SlideRoom account. Once you have created your SlideRoom account please be prepared to submit additional information about yourself, your parent(s)/legal guardian(s), and your high school. You will also need to submit:

  • High School Transcript(s): An unofficial high school transcript (PDF or JPG) for each high school you have attended.
  • Interest Essay: An essay (300 - 500 words) explaining: your favorite building and why, your interests in architecture and the ArcStart program, and what you hope to learn in ArcStart and how the ArcStart program will help you reach your goals. Applicants are encouraged to write the essay before starting the online application. The essay can only be accessed while completing the application. The essay must be completed when the application is submitted.
  • Financial Aid Consideration Documents: If you would like to be considered for financial aid, please upload a copy of the first page of your parent or guardian's 2018 tax return. Please be sure identifying information such as social security number is covered in your upload. Please note: we cannot consider you for financial aid without a copy of your parent's or guardian's tax return.
  • Examples of Work: Please submit up to five (5) examples of work that you think best capture your abilities and interests. This might include drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, or other media. Format these examples as 8.5" x 11" pages (in landscape orientation), including labels such as titles and year created. Submit as a multi-page pdf document.
  • Application Fee: A $5 application fee is required for all applicants.
  • The program is open to U.S. students only. 
    • **ArcStart is only able to accept non-U.S. Citizens if they posses a U.S. Green Card, U.S. Visa, or U.S. Passport.

If you have questions about the application process or are in need of a fee waiver, please contact us at TaubmanCollegeAdmissions@umich.edu.

Program Dates and Timeline

Program begins in mid-July and runs through late-July. Out of an abundance of caution due to evolving information about COVID-19, ArcStart 2020 has been canceled.

Jan 15                         Online application available

Mar 15                         Deadline to submit applications                                 

Week of April 1            Decisions completed, notifications sent 

April 15                        Deadline for accepted students to accept/decline

May 1                          Acceptance deposits due

June 1                         Final date to pay any remaining tuition balance, forms and ID photo due 


The program cost is $3,600, which includes housing, most meals, program fees, excursions, access to the recreation center, and studio supplies. It does not cover travel expenses to and from the program, medical expenses, insurance, and daily personal expenditures. Limited scholarships are available for students that express financial need.

Funding Opportunity: The Watson S. Young Scholarship is available for Michigan residents with an annual family income of $65,000 and under. Click here for more information regarding eligibility and how to apply.

Admitted Students

Applicants will be emailed an admission decision per the dates outlined above. Admitted students will receive an information packet by email that provides enrollment material (i.e. housing information, class schedule, liability and health forms).

Admitted students click here for next steps

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