Spend your summer immersed in the world of architecture, urban design, and sustainable city planning on the UC Berkeley campus. embARC is an engaging college-level course that offers you the chance to study at the top-ranked public university for architecture and the built environment alongside students from all over the world.
Challenging design assignments, one-on-one reviews with instructors, field trips around the Bay Area, and a design/build project for a community nonprofit introduce you to the skills, ideas, and culture of an environmental design education. You'll leave the program with a strong portfolio for your college applications in any area of environmental design and credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript.
In this fun and challenging four-week program, you will:
- Explore architecture, urban design, and city planning as possible college majors and careers
- Develop technical and time-management skills through college-level coursework
- Work with fellow students with similar interests
- Build a design portfolio to use when applying to college
- Be exposed to public policy issues that empower you to make a real impact on your community
- Earn a certificate of completion and credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript
- Take part in building a project for a local nonprofit organization
“I learned how design can positively impact a community, and that is something I have carried with me since my involvement in embARC”
What was a program highlight?
The group aspect of the community build project was extremely rewarding because by the end of the program, not only had we gained studio experience, formed strong bonds with our peers through working in the shop and building as a team, but we knew our design would be helping improve people’s lives.
What have you done after the program?
I attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and studied architecture.
About the Program
As an embARC student, you'll have the chance to work on realistic design projects and be a part of developing solutions to real-world urban planning issues. embARC's multidisciplinary approach provides a comprehensive framework for "placemaking."
Learn how to conceptualize and communicate design ideas in 2D and 3D through instruction in freehand sketching, drafting, model-building, and digital representation.
Presentations and talks by local professionals and Berkeley professors provide a theoretical framework for the practice and methods of environmental design. Guided discussion groups engage you in the key discourses of the discipline.
Explore how a full building physically comes together – from foundation to finishes – through multiple precedent studies and drafting exercises. Then design your own tiny house!
Engage as a stakeholder and participant in a community change process through site observations, research, and the development of an authentic urban planning question.
Prepare for technology-driven college-level design courses by building skills in digital representation with the latest software and digital tools.
True to UC Berkeley’s public mission, embARC fosters civic responsibility by partnering with a local organization to design a community improvement project. You’ll use the skills and tools learned in studios, workshops, and lectures to make a real impact on the community.
“The highlight of the program for me was the design/build project we did for the campus food bank, building a bike attachment for a mobile market. This inspired me to think about how design work can be fun as well as make an impact in the community.”
What led you to embARC?
I became interested in embARC when trying to decide if I wanted to apply to architecture school for college. It was a great way for me to experience what a design education would be like and if it was right for me.
What have you done after the program?
I’m now in my senior year at Washington University in St. Louis studying architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.
Typical Daily Schedule
- Architecture + Urban Design Studio: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. (Guest lectures on Tuesdays.)
- Workshops (Materials Exploration / Digital Design / Sustainable City Planning): 1–4 p.m.
- Extended studio time/socials: 4–6 p.m.
“Thank you all for creating such a dynamic summer program. The embARC staff was nothing short of fantastic: each day they arrived fully vested with awesome energy and each week they continued to mentor and find ways to listen to, help, and motivate our son. He really enjoyed learning what led the local architect guest speaker to become a designer. He also enjoyed meeting and working with students from around the Bay Area, country, and globe. He gained new perspectives, experiences, and insights. He felt connected.”
— Parent of embARC student
Applications & Admissions
embARC is open to rising high school juniors and seniors (students who will be entering 11th or 12th grade) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. No prior design experience required!
Deadlines & Fees
March 11, 2024: Deadline for embARC priority application, embARC scholarship application, and embARC housing application
April 15, 2024: final embARC application deadline to fill remaining seats, if any (scholarships and housing likely not available after March 11)
If you live within 45 minutes of the UC Berkeley campus, you may opt to commute to embARC as a day program. If you're not local, you may request on-campus housing for an additional fee. As a residential student, you'll stay in Stern Hall, which is within walking distance of your embARC classes in Bauer Wurster Hall and offers both traditional residence hall rooms and suite-style accommodations.
PLEASE NOTE: UC Berkeley’s summer residence halls fill up fast. If you wish to live on campus, you must request housing by the posted deadline as indicated on our website’s Deadlines & Fees page. The cost of housing is a separate fee and not included in the embARC tuition. Housing costs include three meals per day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Read more about Applications & Admissions, Program Cost & Financial Support, Course Credit, How to Prepare, Housing & Transportation, Cancellation & Withdrawal, After the Program, embARC, embARC Housing, embARC studio on the Summer Program FAQ page.