Set in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, UCLA forms the cornerstone of California’s prestigious public research university system. Settle into our dorms on this summer Pre-College program and immerse yourself in challenging coursework with engaging instructors and like-minded peers. Enjoy access to top-notch facilities, including tennis courts, libraries, sports fields, a gym, and a pool.

The majority of our Pre-College programs are postponed until next summer. Be the first to know when we announce 2021 dates and new programs: Sign up for our newsletter!

Looking for a program this summer? View our Pre-College Vermont program!

Dates: July 5, 2020 – July 18, 2020

Eligibility: Completing grades 9 – 12

Duration: 14 days

Tuition: $5,390


  • Experience college life on UCLA’s state-of-the-art campus
  • Draft a screenplay or short story in a writing workshop
  • Interview entertainment business leaders about their careers
  • Screen your video at a private premiere with your group


Arrival • Join a supportive community of like-minded peers and faculty ready to learn, make new friends, and have fun in the process on Putney’s Pre-College program at UCLA. Fly into Los Angeles International Airport, where staff meet and escort you to campus; families may also arrange to drop off students directly at UCLA. Settle into your dorm and take a quick tour of campus before gathering for a full group orientation on your first night.

Campus Life • 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. With full access to the university’s top-notch facilities, including the gym, pool, tennis courts, library, museums, and sports fields, Pre-College at UCLA is the ideal program for exploring new subjects or digging deeper into known passions. Live in dormitories right on campus, and immerse yourself in university life. Instructors and Resident Advisors live alongside our students, creating a community experience that goes beyond the classroom. Explore nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods as well as local beaches and coastal canyons.

Seminars • Choose two stimulating seminars—a major and a minor—and explore your chosen subjects in the classroom and in the field. Each Pre-College course is designed to encourage collaboration and hands-on learning, allowing you to get out of the classroom often for field trips, experiments, performances, field assignments, and to meet with local experts. Without the pressure of grades or tests, you can enjoy delving into your seminars within a collegiate environment.

Each seminar works toward a final project—a short film, a business proposal, a performance piece, or a dramatic reading, for example—which you present to fellow participants on the final night of the program. Parents and families are welcome to attend this final presentation. Seminars are limited to ten students or fewer. See below for more information on seminars.

Afternoon & Evening Activities • In the afternoons and evenings, choose from a variety of activities to make the most of your summer and of campus life. Join a soccer or volleyball game, take a salsa dancing lesson, visit a nearby flea market or thrift store, or head to the beach to enjoy the amusement rides on the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Try surfing or stand-up paddleboarding with experienced instructors, 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. Attend a baseball game at Dodger Stadium and bring a picnic dinner of local fare from Los Angeles’ Original Farmers’ Market. Evening activities such as concerts, movie premiers, bowling or game nights round out your Pre-College experience.

Final Night • At the end of your program, showcase your work in a final project, concert, installation, pop-up gallery, or performance. Invite family and friends to attend this culminating Final Night Show and celebrate what you have learned. Say goodbye to your instructors and new friends from across the country and around the world.

Departure • Staff escort students from the UCLA campus to the local bus or train station, or LAX airport. Families can also arrange pick up directly from campus.

This description represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

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

A Day in the Life: Pre-College at UCLA

Due to the dynamic nature of this Pre-College summer program, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day on the UCLA campus.

8 AM • Grab breakfast in the university dining hall
9 AM • Head to your major seminar
12 PM • Break for lunch in the dining hall
1 PM • Convene for your minor seminar
3 PM • Choose an afternoon activity, such as the Santa Monica pier or a salsa dancing lesson
5:30 PM • Eat dinner in the dining hall with your Pre-College community
7 PM • Reflect on the day at Community Meeting
7:30 PM • Head to your chosen evening activity, such as a concert or bowling
10:30 PM • Check-in at dorms for the night
11 PM • Lights out


Choose two Pre-College seminars—a major and a minor seminar—and tap into the incredible resources on campus and your knowledgeable instructors at UCLA. Seminars are rigorous, focused, and interactive. They get you thinking critically about important topics in today’s world and help you focus your interests as you look ahead toward college.

MAJOR SEMINARS (click on seminar to read the full description)


The 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 are made, from pitch to talent acquisition, production and marketing, licensing, and promotion. Examine business entertainment strategies and consider how entertainment executives weigh and allocate resources in developing and launching creative products. Meet with film producers, talent agents, bloggers, and promoters. Attend a movie premiere, if available, or go behind the scenes at a movie studio, and leave the program with a better understanding of the business of entertainment.
Economics & Trade
Although the global economy is expected to continue to grow, the United Nations has observed “rising financial, social, and environmental challenges” that could impact these projections. This hands-on course begins by examining the economic playing field where firms operate, with discussions of supply and demand, regulations and free trade, international trade, and currency flows—as well as the challenges facing the global economy and national economies around the world. Through role-playing, discussions, and lectures, dig into the context and economic implications of current events, such as tariff disputes, extreme weather events linked to climate change, and potential Brexit fallout.
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 create fertile ground for entrepreneurialism to thrive, from 19th century industrialists to modern Silicon Valley, and glean insights from the individuals who thrive in these environments. Survey the start-up scene in Los Angeles, debate whether entrepreneurs are born or made, and apply the entrepreneurial business model to politics, social change, and cultural movements. Examine the personality profiles, strategies, successes, and failures of famous entrepreneurs as you develop and present your own “formula for entrepreneurial success.”
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 university level. Learn to communicate effectively with your future professors and immerse yourself in American culture as you explore Southern California and UCLA.
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, produce a series of short videos to present at a campus-wide film screening. You can expect to spend time editing outside of class, and may watch some films that are “R” rated. There is a $250 supplemental fee for this course.
Marketing & Advertising
What makes a targeted ad on Facebook successful? Why are buyers loyal to a particular brand of shampoo or jeans? In this dynamic, hands-on course, begin by learning about “The Five P’s”—the principles and strategies behind marketing and advertising, which have now expanded to include platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google. Investigate the rapidly changing methods of marketing and how we, as consumers and global citizens, respond to and digest this information. Delve into the psychology behind the decisions businesses make to successfully market their products. Examine trends and brainstorm innovative and creative ideas for the future of the field. Working in teams, research a local company’s approach to marketing and come up with a new plan to improve their business strategy. Collaborate with other seminars and pitch your ideas in the “board room” at the end of the program.
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 group critiques. Discuss and explore the implications of digital manipulation in an age dominated by the power of the image, collaborate on projects with other seminars, and curate a gallery showing of your newly created portfolio. Students are responsible for bringing their own digital camera, which should have the option of being operated in manual mode. There is a $150 supplemental fee for this course.

MINOR SEMINARS (click on seminar to read the full description)


Communications & Public Relations
Expert communicators are essential to every successful organization, from government agencies to tech startups, multinational corporations to nonprofits, especially in the realm of reputation management and public image. Whether you’re considering a career in public relations, marketing, speechwriting, business, journalism, or beyond, this seminar is designed to develop and hone your skills in effective communication. Learn how to convey information coherently; how to simplify complex ideas; how to create audience personas; how to appeal to an audience’s emotions and reason; how to tell an effective story; how to mitigate crises; and more. Use real-world case studies of communications and marketing campaigns and PR “disasters,” and develop an understanding of the metrics used to rate success. Discuss how this field continues to change with emerging communication platforms such as social media and video and messaging apps, and apply proven strategies to emergent trends.
ESL Writing for College
Building on ESL for College, ESL Writing for College takes these skills one step father. Whether composing lab reports, business presentations, literary analysis, or e-mails to professors, writing will play an important role in anyone’s college education, especially for those for whom English is their second language. This course is designed to help prepare you for the challenges ESL students will face. Become acquainted with writing and reading in a variety of contexts, developing into a better reader and editor of your work as you gain the critical communication skills necessary for college work. Examine many of the genres required for higher education, including rhetorical and critical analysis, research, and reflective writing. Receive personalized feedback on your work and leave better prepared for success in a wide range of writing situations at the university level.
Film Studies
The development of any art form is a restless search for new forms of expression. A great innovation may break with past “rules,” only to be adopted later into conventional forms. Today’s cinematic language has been influenced by a combination of artistic, scientific, and economic development over the past 100 years. This seminar examines the visual language we take for granted when we watch movies. What are the “rules” that make a believable reality on screen? What are the artistic and technological innovations that have expanded the language of cinema? How will the art of moving pictures change the ever expanding world of technology? Students may watch some films that are R-rated.
International Business
What makes a business succeed in today’s market and what are the steps between identifying a need and opening your (real or virtual) doors? This hands-on course begins by explaining the international playing field where firms operate, with discussions of supply and demand, regulations and trade, and currency flows. Through role-playing, discussions, field trips, and lectures, consider the practical aspects of business, including management, finance, marketing, advertising, public relations, organizational psychology, corporate leadership and culture, and business ethics. Working together as a team, put what you have learned into practice as you research, and develop your own small business.
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 becoming a loyal customer. Through role-plays, hands-on projects, and case studies, dive deep into the strategies and tenets of marketing that have held constant, and explore those strategies that are evolving alongside internet-age capabilities like Facebook targeting, Google search ads, and display ad remarketing. Consider the privacy implications of data collection and usage. Learn to build audience personas based on demographic data, identify the most effective channels for reaching your audience, set a budget that maximizes your dollars, and develop and present your marketing strategy to your Pre-College peers and instructors.
Scriptwriting: Writing for Stage & Screen
What makes someone commit a crime? How effective are the psychological profiling techniques used by crime investigators? Is there such a thing as the Criminal Mind? In this course, examine the criminal mind through case studies and historical data. Look at evidence that both supports and rejects modern theories and discuss criminal profiling as it is portrayed on today’s cinematic crime dramas. Examine traits that connect serial killers throughout history and discover what makes modern-day white-collar criminals tick. Present a final collaborative project on criminal minds to the entire Pre-College community.
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 and associations such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and FIFA. Explore effective marketing and communication methods, including the role of social media and the evolving media landscape. Meet with representatives of professional sports teams, such as the L.A. Dodgers, L.A. Clippers, or Anaheim Ducks. Learn how effective sports managers solve business problems by engaging with case studies and current events, and gain the skill set to understand future career options in this exciting field.

What to Expect

Seminars • Pre-College seminars are interactive and collaborative, with ample time spent outside the classroom exploring Los Angeles and all it has to offer, and using the city as a lens for your seminar topics. You can expect to meet with local and regional experts, artists, entrepreneurs, and guest speakers during the program. Each seminar works toward a final project—a short film, a business proposal, a performance piece, a gallery opening, or a dramatic reading, to give a few examples—which you present to fellow participants on the final night of the program. Parents and families are welcome to attend this final presentation!

Afternoons & Evenings • Outside of seminars, each day brings new adventures and a variety of activities from which to choose. Instructors lead activities and often bring in guest instructors or local experts and students are encouraged to suggest activities and excursions they would be excited to join.

Physical Activity • This is a physically active summer program. You can expect to participate in activities such as hiking, swimming, soccer, biking, and frisbee. Students have access to the UCLA gym facilities as well as green spaces throughout campus. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you are excited about trying new activities.

Transportation • You and your family are welcome to meet us on campus at UCLA, or our staff can arrange pick ups from the local bus or train station, or at nearby LAX International Airport.

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