embARC Summer Design Academy


July 6 - July 31, 2020

Applying and Admissions

Am I eligible to apply to the embARC Summer Design Academy?

All students who have completed their sophomore or junior year of high school by July 2020 and who are in good academic standing will be considered for the embARC Summer Design Academy.

How do I apply?

Students must complete an online application that includes a brief statement of interest, an unofficial transcript, and a letter of recommendation from a high school guidance counselor, principal, professor or community leader.

I am an international student. May I apply to embARC?

Yes, international students are encouraged to apply. Once accepted to the program, the Summer Sessions Office will guide students through each step of the student visa application process. International students will be enrolled in the course for five units of credit, which is the minimum amount required to be considered a full-time student and eligible for a visa. Please make note of special deadlines for international students

When will I find out if I've been accepted?

The embARC program office will review applications on a rolling basis and welcomes early submissions. Applications will be reviewed beginning in February and continuing through the application deadline in May. Admissions decisions are sent approximately two to three weeks after the application is received.

Do I need to have health insurance?

All embARC students are required to carry valid health insurance for the duration of the program. Insurance policies should cover all medical and hospital costs, with a minimum of $50,000 (U.S.D.) for each accident or illness, and with a deductible of $500 or less, and should cover at least 75% of hospital and physician costs from the time students leave their current residence to the date they plan to return to it.

If students staying in on-campus housing will be bringing medication with them, or have special medical needs, please indicate this to our summer program partner, Polychrome International Education (DBA Sesame Consulting). Generally, we ask families to equip their child to store and administer his/her medication individually. We do not take possession of medication or administer medication directly to a students.

I am not eligible for embARC. Are there any other design opportunities offered through CED?

Yes! The College of Environmental Design offers two additional summer programs - one for current college students (Disc*: Design & Innovation for Sustainable Cities) and one for post-baccalaureate students (the Summer [IN]STITUTE)

Program Cost

What is the total cost of the program, including UC Berkeley Summer Sessions and housing/dining fees?

Detailed information on the cost of embARC can be found on the Cost page.


Student Type Tuition Summer Sessions Fees Housing Total
Commuter/Local Student $4,400 $991 N/A $4,191
Non-Local, Domestic Student $4,400 $991 $4,600 $9,000
International Student $3,200 $3,491 $4,600 $11,300


Cancelling or Withdrawing

How can a student cancel their enrollment or withdraw from the program?

CED reserves the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient enrollment for a full refund, and to withdraw or modify course offerings. 

If a student needs to cancel or withdraw from the program, they will need to do so through their CalCentral account.  You can find more information on Cancelling and Withdrawing here.  


Scholarships and Financial Aid

A small handful of need-based scholarships are available to accepted students. Applicants will have the opportunity to request a scholarship while filling out the program application. Program applications must be submitted before March 27 in order to be eligible for consideration for a stipend.  Award amounts are dependent on:

  • Financial need. 
  • The student's academic achievement.
  • Timely completion of the embARC application form and essay questions.
  • Timely submission of the letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor, teacher or a mentor. 
  • Timely submission of the financial aid application form.

  Contact the CED Summer Programs Office to inquire about a scholarship.



Will I earn credit?

Upon successful completion of embARC, domestic students will earn 1 unit of college credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript, and international students will earn 5 units. (5 units is the minimum courseload international students must register for in order to qualify for the student visa.) Whether these units will fulfill any degree requirements on an undergraduate level is solely at the discretion of the institution you decide to attend.

Do I need to have experience in design or architecture to participate in the program?

Students participating in the program have a range of experiences, from taking no art classes to having taken many. Although students come to the embARC Summer Design Academy from various backgrounds, what they all have in common is their interest in learning about the fields of architecture and design.

Will participating in the program help me to build a portfolio that I can use for my college applications?

embARC students complete the program with individual projects from the Digital Design Workshops and Architecture + Design Studio, as well as group work from the Sustainable Planning Workshop and Community Build. The student work is digitally archived and can be included in a portfolio for college applications.

How heavy is the workload?

embARC is a condensed, highly rigorous version of a college-level design course, and therefore requires a significant time commitment. Participants should expect to work in and out of the studio after instruction hours on some weeknights and weekends, as they would in any college degree program in the field of environmental design.


How can I order transcripts?

Students can request paper or electronic transcripts through the UC Berkeley Office of the Registrar Transcript Ordering Service. 


Dorm Life

Do I need to live on campus?

Students living within 45 minutes of the UC Berkeley campus may opt to commute to embARC as a day program. For non-local students, it is mandatory that students either secure housing through our campus partner, Polychrome International (DBA Sesame Consulting), or reside with a local guardian, relative or someone officially sanctioned in writing by the student’s parent prior to arrival.

Where will students stay on campus?

The College of Environmental Design partners with Polychrome International (DBA Sesame Consulting) to manage the residential component of the embARC program. The student dormitories are located on the UC Berkeley campus within walking distance to the College of Environmental Design, which is located in Wurster Hall on the southeast side of campus. Students will stay in an on-campus dorm with a shared bathroom on each floor. Each bedroom is furnished with a bed, desk, chair, mattress and dresser drawers. The dorm also has wireless internet access available for the residents. A majority of the dorm rooms are triple-occupancy rooms, and students will be grouped in rooms by gender. 

PLEASE NOTE: UC Berkeley's summer residence halls fill up fast. embARC participants wishing to live on campus must request housing by the deadline

How secure are the dorms?

In order to gain access to their dorm, students will need a resident card to open the outer gate as well as all doors inside the building. The dorm floors are separated by gender, and supervisory staff members reside on the floors with the student residents in order to provide evening supervision and to be available throughout the night in the event of an emergency. Our supervisors will take roll call every evening at 9 p.m. After room check is completed, student residents are asked not to leave their rooms for the remainder of the evening for any reason other than emergencies or for necessary restroom visits on their floor. embARC faculty will take roll call every morning at 9 a.m. at the College of Environmental Design and will notify the program office shortly thereafter if a student is not in attendance.

What is included in residential housing?

The cost of residential tuition covers overnight accommodation in the student dormitories on campus, an 88-point meal plan (approximately 11 prepaid meals per week) in the campus dining halls, supervision at all times (24 hours per day, 7 days per week), weekend excursions off-campus and organized evening activities if students have completed their classroom/studio assignments.

Do you offer transportation to and/or from the airport if the student is traveling without a family member or guardian?

The housing fee includes group transport between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and campus dorm accommodations. Students will need to arrive at SFO on the specified date for group airport pick-up. The departure date for group transport back to SFO at the end of the program will also be specified ahead of time. Student group transport from/to SFO will be coordinated through Polychrome International (DBA Sesame Consulting). Participants are asked to refrain from making plane reservations until group transport dates have been specified. 

What happens on the weekends?

Students will be expected to work over the weekend to complete embARC assignments. Polychrome International (DBA Sesame Consulting) will organize two weekend excursions. Any additional free time may be spent at the discretion of the student. There are many activities and attractions in the Bay Area; however, students will need to return to their dorms before the evening roll call.

How are dietary restrictions, medication, and health issues handled?

Students enrolled in the embARC program will be given meal points that will be uploaded to their student identification card. These points may be used at all Cal Dining cafeterias on campus. If a student has special dietary needs, Polychrome International (DBA Sesame Consulting) will provide parents and guardians with the dining hall manager’s contact information to coordinate needs. Any agreement reached regarding a student's dietary needs will be made solely between the parent(s) and dining hall services.

Who is our summer program partner Polychrome International Education (DBA Sesame Consulting)?

Polychrome International Education (DBA Sesame Consulting) has been working with UC Berkeley Summer Sessions for years to recruit qualified international high school students from all over the world. Polychrome works with students and parents to arrange group airport pick-up (to and from the airport) and chaperone dorms and weekend activities.


What materials are included in the cost of the program?

The following materials are included in the cost of the program:

  • 24" T-Square
  • 12" Triangle Arch Scale
  • 2mm Lead Holder
  • Mini Pointer
  • (3) HB 2mm Leads
  • (3) 2H 2mm Leads
  • 2H Pencil
  • HB Pencil
  • 2B Pencil
  • 6B Pencil
  • 7"x10" Sketch Book
  • X-ACTO Knife
  • Mars Vinyl Eraser
  • 8" 45/90 Clear Triangle
  • 10" 30/60 Clear Triangle

Students should expect to spend an additional $75 - $150 on supplies for specific assignments. These supplies can be purchased by students at the CED Materials Store or near campus at the Ink Stone in Berkeley.

What else should I bring for the program?

Students are encouraged to bring a laptop and a digital camera to class. Additionally, students should anticipate about $100 in additional supplies for model making.

What is the appropriate attire for studio and field trips?

Students should wear comfortable clothing and shoes for regular studio course days. In studio, long hair should be pulled back, and students should refrain from wearing jewelry that dangles, such as long necklaces or large earrings. Professional business attire or neat/clean clothing is required for some field trips and final presentations to project clients.

Will participating in the embARC program help me to build a portfolio for my college applications?

embARC students complete the program with individual projects from the Digital Design Workshops and Architecture + Design Studio, as well as group work from the Sustainable Planning Workshop and Community Build.   The student work is digitally archived and can be included in a portfolio for college applications.

How can I cancel my enrollment or withdraw from the embARC Summer Design Academy?
How can a student cancel or withdraw from the program?

Learn more about embARC