The Saturday Program

About The Saturday Program

Founded in 1968, Cooper Union's Saturday Program has offered free art and architecture classes to New York City public high school students for over 55 years. The Saturday Program plays a crucial role in supplementing missing or underfunded arts instruction in NYC schools and promoting the participation of historically underserved communities in the arts. The program offers free visual arts instruction typically reserved for exclusive courses, as well as additional learning opportunities for students in the form of field trips, studio visits, and presentations from working artists. Writing workshops are integrated into the curriculum to bridge visual and written thinking. 

Introductory Saturday Program classes are open to 9-12th grade students and are taught by current Cooper Union undergraduate students, which allows high schoolers to learn from “near peer” mentors. 11th and 12th graders hoping to pursue art in college can apply for the Portfolio Prep classes, which are specifically designed to assist students with the creation of college-ready portfolios. Portfolio Prep classes are led by a team of professional artists and undergraduate instructors.  

Classes run on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm throughout the school year, operating semesterly (Fall and Spring).   

Fall 2024 Dates
    •    October 5 – Week 1
    •    October 12 – Week 2
    •    October 19 – Week 3
    •    October 26 – Week 4
    •    November 2 – Week 5
    •    November 9 – Week 6
    •    November 16 – Week 7
    •    November 23 – Week 8
    •    November 30 – No Class (Thanksgiving)
    •    December 7 – Week 9
    •    December 14 – Week 10

Spring 2025 Dates
    •    January 25 – Week 1
    •    February 1 – Week 2
    •    February 8 – Week 3
    •    February 15 – No Class (President's Day)
    •    February 22 – Week 4
    •    March 1 – Week 5
    •    March 8 – Week 6
    •    March 15 – Week 7
    •    March 22 – Week 8
    •    March 29 – Week 9, Year End Show Opening
    •    April 5 – Week 10


The Saturday Program prioritizes students from historically underserved communities with limited access to educational opportunities in the arts. We especially welcome applications from women and individuals who identify with groups historically excluded from visual arts careers, such as Black, Latino/a, LGBTQ+, and Neurodiverse communities.
To be eligible, students must meet one or more of the following criteria: 
    •    Attend a New York City public or charter high school
    •    Attend a school without a comprehensive visual art program
    •    Qualify for free school breakfast and/or lunch
    •    Come from low- or moderate-income household (see 2024 NYC Area Median Income)
These criteria collectively aim to target students who may face barriers to accessing comprehensive educational opportunities, particularly in the visual arts, due to financial constraints or lack of familial support for higher education. 
Returning Students
All students that have previously been accepted into the program are automatically eligible to return for the current program year. Simply fill out the registration form and indicate returning student where prompted. 

Applying to The Saturday Program 

Fall 2024 registration is now open and will close on Friday, September 13th. 



High school students interested in applying to the program can complete the form linked above. 

Current Cooper Union students interested in working with the Saturday Program can check for listings here.


  • 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.