Pre-College at UCLA

UCLA, California

Join us this summer on our Pre-College program at UCLA, the cornerstone of California’s prestigious public research university system. Immerse yourself in challenging coursework with engaging instructors and like-minded peers as you become part of an inspiring and supportive community. Choose a seminar and dive deep into your subject matter as you take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer and enjoy access to the university’s top-notch facilities for learning and extracurriculars.

High School

Grades 9–12
Motivated rising 9th graders will also be considered


June 26–July 9, 2022


14 days



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Safety in a Time of COVID-19

Since Putney’s founding 71 years ago, we have approached each participant’s summer experience with the same attention to safety and security that we give our own children. This summer is no exception. Please read our FAQ to learn more about 2022 programs, our refund policy, and our successes in offering programs in this new travel environment.

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UCLA Campus

UCLA’s 400+ acre campus, set in the heart of Los Angeles and only five miles from the Pacific Coast, is ideally situated for experiencing college life in a beautiful setting. Live in dorms on campus and take advantage of full access to the university’s top-notch facilities, including the gym, pool, tennis courts, library, museums, and sports fields, in addition to classrooms and labs. On field trips and afternoon excursions, explore nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods as well as local beaches and coastal canyons.

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Choose a seminar and dive deep into a subject that inspires you, from Film & Video to Marketing, Scriptwriting to Entrepreneurship. Putney seminars combine experiential learning and global perspective, and are intentionally designed not to be like school, where learning is classroom-centered and text heavy. Instead, Putney Pre-College students learn by doing. Cap off your studies with a final project or installation to share your work.

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Afternoons & Evenings

Join a soccer or volleyball game, take a salsa dancing lesson, visit a nearby flea market or thrift store, or join a behind-the-scenes visit of a movie studio. Pursue new interests such as yoga, African drumming, improv, or rock-climbing with your peers and friends. Rent bikes for a casual ride on the Venice boardwalk, spot marine life at the Aquarium of the Pacific, or take in the art exhibits at the Getty or UCLA’s own Hammer Museum. Explore the surrounding area on a hike in the nearby canyons or a visit to Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills.

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“We are so grateful for the exposure to teachers and the off-campus trips to see the sets in Hollywood. After the visit with the special effects firm, Caroline sent a text saying ‘I know where I want to intern next summer, and I need to learn to code.’ Just the fact that Caroline was so inspired to think about an internship is fantastic.”

— Kelly & Rick Hopkins, Charlotte, NC


Putney Pre-College at UCLA brings together motivated and like-minded high school students to grow intellectually and personally as they immerse themselves in a subject, learn from inspiring instructors and guest speakers, prepare for college, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Accommodations & Meals

At UCLA, we stay in college dormitory-style suites with bathrooms either ensuite or on the hall. Students have access to common space for community meetings and socializing. Leaders reside in the same dorm building and on the same floors as students throughout the program. Each day we dine in one of the many dining facilities across campus.


Find a community of like-minded peers, invested in personal and intellectual growth. Like you, they are curious about the world and eager to have a positive impact on it. Everyone attends Community Meeting each evening, where the group shares ideas, successes, and goals, and sets plans for the coming day. Become part of a community that supports and nurtures your interests, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Guest Speakers

Gain inspiration from the experiences and perspectives of industry leaders and professionals. Guest speakers bring to the program diverse backgrounds with high-level, real-world experiences and insights. Whether an emerging filmmaker or a start-up entrepreneur, each speaker structures their workshop or lecture to relate to the seminars and their area of expertise.


In addition to your in-depth seminar, explore other interests and topics in elective workshops offered by instructors and students alike. Tap into the unique knowledge, skills, and abilities of your peers and instructors to expand your Pre-College experience, learning on topics ranging from the natural history of the Los Angeles area to lessons on improv comedy.

“I was really nervous, but it was actually one of my favorite adventures and camps I’ve ever done, and I wish it wasn’t so short. Now I am trying to start my own business.”

— Alexa M., The Archer School for Girls, Santa Monica, CA


Choose a seminar from a wide variety of fascinating topics. Begin with classroom discussions that frame your seminar concepts and identify key issues. Take the learning beyond the classroom with site visits, meetings with local experts, and field trips. UCLA is an ideal environment to take learning into your own hands, consider your college major, and learn from inspiring, expert instructors.

Architecture & Design

Design expresses ideas in spatial, material, and cultural terms, drawing inspiration from diverse sources—a functional need, the structure of a leaf, a philosophical text. From architecture and urban planning to user-centric technologies, design can also be structured with sustainability in mind, forming interconnected systems that benefit both communities and the planet. In this seminar, explore Read more

Business of Entertainment

With its film studios, production houses, and Hollywood legacy, Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment world. In this topical seminar, delve into the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Examine the history of the film and television industry, factors that have contributed to its success in Los Angeles, and prospects for its future. Discuss how films and television shows Read more

Entrepreneurship & the Start-Up

The entrepreneur—bold pioneer of business, changing the world and turning a profit along the way—has long captured our collective imagination. In recent years, larger than life characters like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk dominate headlines and raise questions about leadership, charisma, and risk-taking. Learn about the conditions that Read more

ESL for College

This course is open to foreign students wishing to hone their English fluency for collegiate studies. Gain confidence and increase your comprehension through a specially designed series of engaging and active written and conversational exercises and simulations. Students learn formal collegiate skills of reading, writing, and grammar while increasing vocabulary at the Read more

Fashion: Style Icons & Design

Trace the history of the multi-billion dollar global fashion industry as we know it today, and explore the social and cultural factors that continue to shape it. From high-end fashion to fast fashion, streetwear to workwear, discuss how trends are born and how, through media and association, they propagate differently in cultures around the world. Identify the impacts of style Read more

Film & Video Production

Get a hands-on introduction to film and video in this production-oriented workshop. Practice storyboarding, camera operation, sound recording, lighting, direction, and non-linear editing as you collaborate on a series of video projects. Explore the hidden language of cinema by looking at a variety of films, from documentaries to experimental shorts. As a final project, Read more

Marketing & Social Media

Today’s marketer has access to digital tools and data that their predecessors could only have dreamed of. Still, the fundamental rules of marketing apply. Begin with an introduction to the marketing “funnel” and the “journey” that a customer goes on before purchasing a product, from becoming aware of the company to considering a purchase, all the way through to Read more

MedTech: The Future of Healthcare

Artificial intelligence and Big Data, virtual and augmented reality, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and robotics—cutting-edge technologies continue to revolutionize how healthcare is delivered, medicine is administered, and diseases are diagnosed and treated. In this seminar, designed for students interested in pursuing careers in Medtech, health technology, biotech, or Read more


Designed for photographers of all skill levels, this course teaches the basics of photography and composition before diving into more advanced shooting techniques and editing instruction. Whether your passion is portrait, landscape, adventure, or abstract photography, build your confidence and nurture your creativity through one-on-one workshops with your instructor and Read more

Scriptwriting: Writing for Stage & Screen

How does a writer turn a blossoming idea or concept for a play, movie, or television show into a fully developed screenplay or script? In this workshop-style seminar, gain the skills to effectively tell a story for screen or stage. Learn how to develop a basic storyline, including the three-act and five-act narrative structure for movies and TV shows. Practice the construction Read more

Social Activism & Leadership

From climate change to income inequality, food security to systemic racism, the world needs young people to be leaders. This seminar is designed for students who are passionate about advocating for a cause, who want to better their community, and seek to improve their leadership skills. Focus on turning advocacy into action as you work on developing, funding, and implementing Read more

Sports Business

The ever-growing sports industry provides opportunities in a number of fields, including business management, sports marketing and sponsorship, sports media, and even the business of sporting facilities and goods. In this course, examine different cultural models and successful management strategies for sports organizations, paying particular attention to sports leagues Read more


Our Pre-College instructors are accomplished academically and professionally. They bring to each seminar deep content knowledge and experience in their field, as well as enthusiasm for their subjects, a passion for teaching, and a proven capacity to connect with and inspire students. They are dedicated and caring individuals who also live in dormitories with students, sharing in their lives and fully participating in extracurricular activities.

Meet Our Instructors

Day in the Life

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day at UCLA.

Daily schedule

8 AM • Breakfast in the campus dining hall

9 AM • Seminars meet in classrooms, labs, studios, or outdoors

11 AM • Lunch and free time 

1 PM • Seminars continue the day’s activities

3 PM • Afternoon activities, workshops, extracurriculars

5 PM • Dinner with your group

7 PM • Community meeting

8 PM • Evening programming, speakers, or activities


Outcomes & Final Projects

The Pre-College program at UCLA is designed to immerse students intellectually in their chosen seminar topic as they prepare academically and socially for the college experience. Over the course of their two-week Pre-College seminar, each student develops a final project based on their particular interests, which they present to peers and instructors at the end of the program. Display your photography in a pop-up gallery, present a business plan from your Entrepreneurship seminar, or conduct a reading of your script for a film short.