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Program Overview

Join our community of artists and makers and spend your summer building a portfolio of new and exciting artwork! In line with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University's (SMFA at Tufts) approach to interdisciplinary art making, the goal of the Pre-College Summer Studio Art Intensive program is to coach students through creating conceptually sophisticated artwork. As you learn to work with new materials and deepen your understanding of familiar mediums, you will make connections to bigger ideas.

Over the course of the program, you will participate in foundations classes that will blur the lines between disciplines. Taught by a team of qualified artists and educators, these classes will include instruction to technical skills such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and digital media. As you work on open-ended projects, you will build a portfolio of materially complex, intentional works of art.

In tandem with these foundations classes, additional programming including group critiques lead by instructors and visiting artists; field trips to local museums and galleries; and a Critical Studies class that will focus on analysis and the contextualization of art within the real world, will support you in thinking deeply about what it means to make art.

The program will take place at SMFA at Tufts, one of Tufts University’s treasures. SMFA's campus is located in the heart of Boston's Fenway neighborhood, allowing young artists easy access to the city and Boston’s many art destinations – the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the SoWa Art and Design District, and many galleries.

Residential students will have the opportunity to experience life on our beautiful Medford / Somerville campus just outside the city – a short 20-minute shuttle ride from SMFA at Tufts. Staying in our Medford / Somerville dorms will give students the opportunity to live, eat, and have fun with students from many pre-college programs while gaining access to the many amenities of our residential campus.

Join us for your summer studies and share the Tufts experience!

Over the course of three, students will explore the following questions:

  • How do artists examine, critique, and better the world around us?
  • How can art transcend medium by combining and transforming materials in order to communicate something new and meaningful?
  • What ideas are important to me and how can I best communicate them?

Program Highlights:

  • Work one-on-one with a faculty or graduate student mentor to develop your portfolio
  • Expand your art practice with the introduction of new materials and ideas
  • Refine your approach to making art and create in your own studio space
  • Collaborate with other young artists to make meaningful work
  • Live in the Tufts’ Medford campus dormitories and experience life as a SMFA student
  • Take advantage of visits to local museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Not for you? Check out one of our other programs.

The SMFA Pre-College Program has enabled me to grow immensely as an artist. I have learned new techniques and skills that have increased my understanding towards art. Here at SMFA I was granted with the opportunity to work with mediums I never have worked with before. Through making these pieces, I learned a lot about myself as an artist.

I learned about different mediums and ways to express a narrative. I am proud of the work I have done in different types of art.

During this program, I have learned a lot and grown as an artist here at SMFA. I learned to follow through on projects even if I found them difficult which is why I am proud of every piece I made here.

Making these works of art has caused me to loosen up and become more expressive. Additionally, I have learned to really push myself when developing conceptual ideas behind my work.

The teachers were great. Very supportive and gave a lot of technical information that she found helpful.

Nice combination of coursework, explorations, meeting other students and getting to know Tufts

It was a great way to experience Tufts, get to know the campus, and learn about SMFA and why it’s different than other schools.

I loved how we were given a lot of free time to work on what we wanted, which made the program very personalized to each person

The people and teachers were great! And I also learned a lot about art and the different forms.

I loved being pushed to explore different art forms while having the option to create what I wanted to. There was enough structure in the program to teach us new things, but there was also an ample amount of free studio time for us to work independently. I think that I left this program with much more passion for art and a curiosity to further develop skills in using other media.

Program Details


Our residential program begins with an orientation and opening dinner on Sunday at 5:00pm in Dewick-MacPhie Dining Hall on the Medford/Somerville campus. During this required orientation, we will review policies and safety, and answer questions. Staff will be on-hand to address any issues.

Orientation will continue on Monday morning when residential students are joined by their commuter student friends at the SMFA at Tufts in Boston. At this time, we will review the program schedule and discuss policies specific to the SMFA at Tufts.

Program Location

All studio art classes and activities will take place on at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, located at 230 the Fenway in Boston. Commuter students should plan to arrive here each morning of the program.

Residential students will be living in the Tufts Undergraduate dormitories, located on our Medford/Somerville campus. Each morning, students will be shuttled from Medford to the SMFA in-time for their programming to begin. 

Program Schedule

The SMFA at Tufts takes a distinctive approach to studio art education and the design of our pre-college program gives students the opportunity to experience our approach first-hand:

  • Foundations Classes: Drawing and Painting, Sculpture/3D, and Digital Media. During the three weeks of the program, students will participate in three foundations classes that are geared towards instruction in drawing/painting, sculpture/3D, and digital media. Students will work with a range of materials from acrylic paints and charcoal to wire, found objects, and digital animation. These classes will help students build technical skills while supporting them in making connections across mediums. Each class will build towards a final project that allows students to use their learning to explore ideas and materials that interest them.
  • Critical Studies Class: This class will connect visiting artist talks, field trips, and other explorations of making art in the context of the real world. The Critical Studies class will introduce students to analysis and critique while supporting them in writing and thinking critically about art, including their own.
  • Portfolio Development: Students will have the chance to work one-on-one with summer program faculty mentors to help develop their portfolios. They will also have individual meetings and daily access to members of SMFA at Tufts' admissions team who are ready to answer questions about building a portfolio and putting together college applications.
  • Final Exhibit: On the last day of the program, students will participate in a final exhibition attended by family, friends, faculty and other members of SMFA at Tufts’ community. Students will have the chance to learn what it's like to work in exhibitions as they collaboratively curate and install the show.

Please note: the below represents a sample schedule based on Summer 2019. The schedule is subject to change as we continue to evolve the program to be as meaningful as possible for our students!

Sample Weekly Schedule

Time Block Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7:30am - 8:30am Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Free Time Free Time
9:30am - 11:15am Foundations A Foundations A Foundations A Open Studios Foundations A
11:20am - 1:05pm Foundations B Foundations B Foundations B Foundations B
1:05pm - 1:55pm Lunch/Open Studio Lunch/Open Studio Lunch/Open Studio Lunch/Open Studio Lunch/Open Studio
1:55pm - 3:40pm Critical Studies Critical Studies Critical Studies Field Trip Critical Studies
3:45pm - 5:30pm Foundations C Foundations C Foundations C Foundations C
6:30pm Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner


Students are required to attend all elements of the program schedule and any expected absences must be communicated to program staff in advance. Tufts takes the safety of its students very seriously. As such, our current policy for pre-college students states that students cannot be in a classroom or lab or leave campus during their program without the supervision of a staff member or explicit parental permission received through official processes.

Tufts makes reasonable efforts to secure background checks and to provide Title IX training to every staff person responsible for students in its Pre-College Programs.

Application Materials & Deadlines

Remind me when applications open!

Application & Key Enrollment Dates

Priority deadlines may apply. Admission granted on a rolling basis.

Note: all dates are as of 11:59PM ET

Application Opens Deadline: Application Deadline: Payment Deadline: Enrollment Forms
December 1 May 1 May 15 June 15

Program Eligibility

General Requirements

  • Entering high school grades 11-12 *or* a Spring 2020 high school graduate
  • Any intermediate or advanced language sections will require passing a placement exam

Residential Students

Students electing to live in the dorms or to attend a residential program must be at least 15 and no older than 17 at the start of the program.

International Students

Both domestic and international students are welcome to apply to and attend our pre-college programs, although please note we cannot sponsor visas for this program.

Non-Native English Speakers

If you indicate that English is not your primary language, you will be asked to submit evidence of English Language proficiency. Please see our "How to Apply" page for details.

Application Requirements

Step 1: Complete an Online Application

The online application will ask you for the following information:

  • Basic personal information, including parents/guardians and emergency contact (if you are under 18, we will contact a parent for permission to enroll)
  • Program preferences (e.g., whether you would like to be a residential or commuter student)
  • List of any art classes taken (none necessary)
  • Short interest statement (max 200 words) - What are your goals for attending a Pre-College Studio Art Intensive this summer?
  • Contact information for 1 individual to submit a Letter of Recommendation - this individual can be a teacher, counselor, or mentor. We will contact this individual on your behalf.
  • Test scores - optional, unless you must submit scores as evidence of English proficiency
  • Warrants and signatures

If you need to log back into this application after starting, click here: return to my application.

Step 2: Email or Mail your High School Transcript

After submitting your online application, you must contact your high school and ask them to send a transcript to us. They can send us this information in two ways: by email to summer@tufts.eduor by mail to Tufts Pre-College Programs, Dowling Hall, 419 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155.

Step 3: Parental Consent and Letter of Recommendation

As a part of your application, you will be asked to provide contact information for both a parent/guardian and a recommender. Once you submit your application, our systems will automatically email the parent/guardian and recommender you listed in the application with instructions for how to fill out the online permission or recommendation form.

Please note your application will not be considered submitted and review of your application will not begin until the materials from Step 2 and Step 3 have been received by Tufts Pre-College Programs.

Pre-College Admissions Decision

Once an applicant has submitted an application and all required admissions documents are received, the applicant will be considered for admission by the Tufts Pre-College Programs review committee for the specific program(s) to which they applied.

Decisions are made on a rolling basis and students will typically receive an official email informing them of their admissions status within 10 business days of Tufts receiving all required materials.

If you do not receive your email within two weeks of all materials being submitted, please contact us at or 617-981-7008.

Disclaimer: This program is not related to Tufts University Undergraduate Admissions. Participation in this program does not result in admission to a Tufts University degree program. Tufts reserves the right to admit as requested, to deny admission, or to offer provisional admission. The program will not provide feedback to applicants if admission is denied.

Post-Enrollment Materials

Admitted students must do the following prior to the start of the program:

  • Submit a deposit to hold your seat; this program requires a deposit within 10 business days of the date on which the admissions decision was posted
  • Pay your balance in full prior to the stated deadline
  • Complete all enrollment forms and/or follow-up requests prior to the stated deadline

Should the above not be completed prior to the stated deadlines, the student will be automatically withdrawn from the program.

Tuition & Fees

Program Fees - Summer 2020

Commuter Program Fee: TBD (Summer 2019: $4,800)

  • Includes: all program activities, materials and supplies, 1 meal per weekday (lunch), opening/closing events, use of select campus facilities, included program excursions and daily activities.
  • Excludes: residential accommodations, breakfast/dinner/weekend meals, airfare/transportation to and from home city or residence, courses and activities shown to have an extra fee, laundry, spending money, souvenirs, meals eaten away from program, trip cancellation insurance, medical insurance, required vaccinations, medical and dental expenses, any non-program-related transportation needs, and anything not explicitly stated above.

Residential Program Fee: TBD (Summer 2019: $6,000)

  • Includes: all program activities, materials and supplies, room, 3 meals per day (brunch / dinner on Sundays), use of select campus facilities, included program and residential excursions and daily activities, bed linens, pillow and towels, 24-hour residential care and support, staff accompanied airport transfer during specified windows.
  • Excludes: airfare/transportation to and from home city, courses and activities shown to have an extra fee, laundry, spending money, souvenirs, meals eaten away from program, airport transfers outside of specified windows, trip cancellation insurance, medical insurance, required vaccinations, medical and dental expenses, any non-program-related transportation needs, and anything not explicitly stated above.

Non-Refundable Program Deposit: $550, applied to the Program Fee

  • A pre-payment on program fees is required to reserve space in the program within 10 business days of admission to the program
  • This deposit will be applied toward program fees and is not an additional fee
  • The balance of payment for program fees is due upon notification of charges, and no later than May 15
  • This deposit is non-refundable in the event of withdrawal from the program

Health Fees - Summer 2020

Health Insurance: TBD, only if evidence of valid U.S.-based health insurance is not presented (Summer 2019: $216)

  • Coverage Dates: TBD
  • Students carrying sufficient, valid U.S.-based health insurance do not need to pay this fee
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must carry valid U.S.-based health insurance
  • Students will be asked to provide evidence of sufficient insurance during the enrollment process. If your student has sufficient insurance, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have sufficient insurance will be asked to purchase a plan during the enrollment process

Vaccinations: TBD, only if evidence of required vaccinations is not presented (Summer 2019: $100-$300 per vaccine)

  • Students who can demonstrate that all required vaccinations were received prior to the program start date do not need to pay these fees
  • All high school students enrolled in Tufts Pre-College Programs must show evidence of required vaccinations during the enrollment process. If your student has all required vaccinations, no further action will be necessary
  • Those who do not have all required vaccinations will be asked to provide further documentation or will be required to receive the vaccination, with parental consent, while on campus. If a student receives the vaccination while on campus the student will be responsible for the associated fee and grades / transcripts will be with-held for non-payment. If a student does not provide appropriate documentation or agree to receive the vaccination while on campus, Tufts reserves the right to remove the student from the program

Other Key Financial Policies

Refund Policies

Billing & Payment Policies

All Policies

Financial Aid

Availability of Awards

Tufts Pre-College Programs are committed to welcoming students from all backgrounds to Tufts’ campus. Although we have only limited financial aid available, we do our best to distribute the funds to students for whom it can make the greatest difference in their ability to attend.

Each of the programs offering financial aid in this way offers a very limited number of scholarships, typically covering 75—100% of the program fee based on demonstrated need.

  • Fall: we will distribute any available aid in August
  • Spring: we will distribute any available aid in December
  • Summer: we will typically distribute two awards in February and will continue to issue awards once a month in March and April, until all available funds have been distributed

Please note:

  • International students are not eligible for financial aid at this time. Families should expect to contribute to the remaining portion of the program cost as well as other expenses like travel, books, etc.
  • This program is not available for Tuition Remission or Reimbursement


  1. Complete the Admissions Application for the pre-college program you would like to attend.
  2. After submission, you will have the option of completing a financial aid application in your student portal
  3. We will review your financial aid application only after you have been admitted to the programOnce admitted, your financial aid application will be considered for the next monthly aid award(s).
  4. If you receive an award,
    1. You will be notified by email of the amount of the award
    2. You will have 10 business days to accept the award by emailing
    3. Tufts Pre-College Programs will then credit your student account with the amount of financial aid you received
    4. Please note: Your enrollment in the program is still contingent on payment of any remaining balance after the award is applied to your account, and on receiving your enrollment forms
  5. If you do not receive an award, your application will be automatically considered in the next application cycle for the program term in which you are applying, unless funds are no longer available.
  6. Once all of our funds have been distributed, we will notify all remaining applicants.

Please see the policies section of this website for a complete list of applicable policies.

Life at Tufts

Whether you commute to our program or live with us on-campus, we endeavor to make each moment of the student experience at Tufts memorable for our students. Every piece of the student-life experience, from our dorms to our dining halls, our athletic facilities to our check-in and orientation is designed to inform and enable students to have a healthy, fulfilling, and safe summer.

Take a Tufts Virtual Tour

University Facilities

Students will have full access to the university’s facilities including the libraries, computer lab and student center. Students will also have full access to Tufts’ Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness center, featuring racquet courts, a swimming pool and cardio and weight-training equipment.

In addition, SMFA Studio Art Intensive students will have access to supervised studios and resources including, the W.Van Alan Clark Library, the media stockroom (where you can borrow any equipment necessary for your art), the School Store, the computer lab. See more details about our studios.

Health & Wellness

Tufts works hard to ensure the health and well-being of all of its students. Once accepted to the program, Tufts will ask all students to submit information related to their health and will collect details regarding allergies and accessibility concerns. Tufts and Summerfuel staff will work together to ensure students’ routine medical needs are met.

Tufts also has procedures in-place for students with urgent or emergency needs, illnesses, or injuries. Our procedures combine on-campus and hospital-based care depending on the nature and severity of the issue. A student’s emergency contact will be notified, if one is provided, in the event of an issue. Please see our Health & Wellness Services page for additional information.

In any type of health & wellness emergency, students should immediately contact Tufts University Police at (617) 627-6911.

Please note: medical fees of any kind will be billed to the student and are not included in program fees.

Campus Security

The campuses of Tufts University are considered very safe among U.S. college campuses. Although crime on campus is unusual, we do have an open campus in a major metropolitan area and we expect our students to exercise good judgment and responsibility as they navigate the campus. Tufts University maintains its own police department, on the job 24 hours a day, if an emergency arises. Each location is equipped with an emergency blue light phone system and residence halls require a current and valid Tufts ID card for entry and a mechanical key for access to bedrooms. Emergency processes and protocol will be reviewed during orientation.

For more information, please visit our Campus Safety page

Residential Students


Check-in will begin at Houston Hall at 9am on the first Sunday of the program. Students are welcome to arrive on campus and check in anytime on Sunday between 9am and 5pm. During check in, room assignments will be distributed and students will have the opportunity to meet their RAs and roommates and unpack.

For students arriving from out of town on Sunday between 9am and 5pm, there is a shuttle service from the airport and train/bus station for students arriving from out of state. All details about arrival and departure travel will be communicated after you have been admitted to the program.

Students arriving outside of the specified window should be in-touch with us to discuss what accommodations can be arranged. While we make reasonable efforts to accommodate students who need to arrive early or depart late, we cannot guarantee the same services will be available to students arriving or departing outside of the specified windows.

Residential Life

Residential Students will get the full Tufts University experience by living on-campus in one of Tufts Undergraduate dorms: Houston Hall! Tufts partners with Summerfuel, a well-known provider of high school summer programming, to offer top quality residential and social experiences for its students. Rooms are air-conditioned, 24/7 security and hospitality is available, and accessible rooms are available upon request.

Bedrooms will be doubles on a common hall. Halls are divided by gender and age and students are grouped into smaller communities known as Resident Advisor groups. Roommates and RA groups are determined based on the pre-program housing questionnaire and taking into account age and geographic diversity. Full bedding and towels will be provided and will be replaced weekly. Wi-Fi is available throughout campus.

Resident Advisors (RA) will live on each hall and will work to create a strong, supportive residential community. A Resident Advisor’s role is to support students in every aspect of their summer experience while serving as a mentor and active leader. Summerfuel Senior Staff also live in residence and are available to help address student concerns and emergencies, day or night.

The residence is accessible with a current and valid Tufts ID card, which is required for entry into the building and a mechanical key for the bedroom door. Tufts University security is on 24-hour patrol and available to any student that may need assistance. The Summerfuel office is located in the building’s entrance corridor and serves as the information and security hub for students.

A dedicated residential staff oversees student safety during the entirety of the program. Students are honor bound to follow clear safety protocols whether on campus or in the city, and are required to use the buddy system during free time.

See our policy section for additional information and please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and concerns.

Residential Staff

Residential staff will support students as they adjust to living in a dormitory and being responsible members of a summer program community. The residence staff will include a director, senior staff and one resident advisor for every ten students. Prior to the program, residence staff will be trained to lead student groups, manage student conflict and resolution and oversee all safety aspects on program. They will begin the program well prepared to meet the needs of all Tufts Pre-College Program students.

This summer's team will be led by George Kinzel, a 20+ year Summerfuel veteran and a long-time summer resident at Tufts. Meet George


Residential program fees include three meals per day and brunch / dinner on Sundays. All meals on the Medford/Somerville campus will be at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center, conveniently located a few minutes from student housing. Dewick-MacPhie provides a wide variety of menu choices, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and an organic salad bar. All meals on the Boston Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston Health Sciences, or Grafton campuses will be provided through boxed lunches or by Tufts staff. Tufts staff will also provide meals for program related activities taking place off-campus. Tufts dining is able to accommodate most dietary restrictions and preferences. Please advise us of dietary needs during the application process.

Activities & Trips

We want your summer to be fun too! It is summer after all! Summerfuel will be planning trips and activities throughout the summer that will allow students to make friends, build relationships, and relax from the world-class academic work they will be doing in the classroom.

Examples of past weekend trips include excursions to Six Flags New England, Crane Beach in Ipswich, downtown Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Duck Boat tours, Charles River Cruises, and more! Please note that weekend trips vary from year to year and these are only examples of the kinds of trips this program might include.The cost of any such excursions (including transportation, entrance fees, regularly scheduled meals, and supervision) is included in the cost of the program, although souvenirs, extra food, and other incidentals is not.

Daily activities might include ice cream socials, midnight pancakes, trips to local coffee houses for poetry readings, lectures around campus, visits to Davis Square, etc. The cost of most of these activities will be included, however incidentals like coffee at the coffee house or public transportation fares for an optional activity will not be covered by the program.

Commuter Students

Commuting to the Program

We know that for some students, living on campus is not the best option. We welcome you to our program! For commuter students, the program will begin at 5:00pm on the first Sunday of the program with an orientation and end at 8:00pm on the last Friday of the program with a closing event. Saturdays and Sundays are not program days and commuter students are not expected on campus on these days. During each day of the program, commuter students must arrive on campus at 8:45am, meeting at Dewick-MacPhie or at the Security Desk at 230 the Fenway (SMFA Studio Art program). Students must depart from campus by 6:00pm at the latest, though students may leave at the end of their afternoon sessions at 5:00pm on most days. Students remaining on campus past 6:00pm, arriving before 8:45am, or on non-program days will not be under the care of program staff (parents accept responsibility) except on the first Sunday and last Friday of the program, on which days the end of the opening / closing events (8:00pm) will be the official departure time for students.

Commuter students and their parents are responsible for ensuring their student travels to and from campus safely and on time each day. Detailed information about traveling to the Medford / Somerville campus and the Boston Fine Arts campus, including details on parking, can be found here.

Please note: commuter students are not permitted to enter any residence halls on campus. Breakfast / dinner are not provided for these students.


Commuter program fees include lunch each day of the program. All meals on the Medford/Somerville campus will be at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center, conveniently located a few minutes from student housing. Dewick-MacPhie provides a wide variety of menu choices, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and an organic salad bar. All meals on the Boston Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston Health Sciences, or Grafton campuses will be provided through boxed lunches or by Tufts staff. Tufts staff will also provide meals for program related activities taking place off-campus. Tufts dining is able to accommodate most dietary restrictions and preferences. Please advise us of dietary needs during the application process.