The Outreach Pre-college Program

Still Life by Ava Hecht for the Pre-college art class for high school students Still Life by Alma Moos Nunez Photo by Chris Chow Sculpture by Jasmine Ali

Free art classes for high school students - NYC

The Outreach Pre-College Art Program was created in 1992 as a full scholarship program to support New York City area high school students interested in pursuing a degree in art. The Outreach Program serves the needs of talented local high school students who would benefit most from a fully funded college level education. It helps students develop a portfolio worthy of art college admissions and scholarships. Professional artists and poets teach all courses, and Cooper Union undergraduates serve as teaching assistants. Instructional materials, field trip transportation, and museum admissions are provided at no cost.

The Outreach program offers art courses in the Fall, Winter, and Spring for New York City area high school students, grades 10-12. Enrollment is limited to 18 students per section, 36 total students per session, to ensure optimum time with instructors and critique of student work.

Classes take place on Saturdays from 9am-5pm, in 5 to 8-week courses. All students are required to take drawing classes, with additional workshops in animation, printmakingphotography, 3D design and 2D design. Each Saturday concludes with a seminar on contemporary art issues, which encourages students to discuss, think critically, and write about current issues. This seminar often includes guest speakers as well as museum, gallery and artist studio visits throughout New York City.

The Outreach Winter Program 2017 returns to the Cooper Union Letterpress Studio, with instructors Pablo Diaz and Amy Buckley.  Students will work with letterpress type techniques, photography, and drawing.  The Winter Program will again partner with Ava’s Smile for a special post-Outreach poetry project.

Each season concludes in a celebration of student artwork with an exhibition at the Cooper Union, as well as a reading to showcase the poetry from the creative writing workshops.

To apply for the Outreach Pre-College Art Program, students must register online and attend a portfolio review. The reviews are held on the Cooper Union campus and are conducted by Outreach staff, guest artists and alumni.

The next portfolio review will be on Saturday December 10rd, 10am-2pm, 41 Cooper Square, room 101.

For more information on the Outreach Pre-College Art Program call 212-353-4202 or email

Follow us on      

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.