Columbia College Chicago

Summer at Columbia

Take Your Talent to the Next Level

Columbia College Chicago's pre-collegiate Summer at Columbia program is an intensive three-week program offering college-level courses specifically tailored for high school students age 15 - 18 interested in exploring the arts, media, and communications fields.

Our courses are uniquely designed by Columbia faculty to challenge you to explore your creative ideas and develop the technical skills to bring them to life, all while earning college credit that can be used towards your major should you attend Columbia College Chicago in the future. From the very first day of class, you'll get hands-on experience in the creative field of your choice and get a feel for what it's like to pursue your passion on a campus in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Why Choose Columbia?

Columbia College Chicago is an arts and media-focused college dedicated to rigorous academics, hands-on learning, collaboration, and career preparation. We encourage students to take creative risks, develop their authentic voices, and author the culture of their time.

Columbia gives you the opportunity to practice and perfect your craft from day one while grounding you in a liberal arts curriculum. Our location in Chicago— one of the most vibrant, forward-thinking cities in the world— provides you with access to an array of cultural and professional experiences, and our award-winning faculty of working professionals prepare you for successful careers in your field.

Columbia College Chicago has been a destination for high school summer learning for over 30 years. Thousands of high school students from across the country and around the world have studied on Columbia's campus. Our Summer at Columbia program immerses high school students in an urban college setting by providing access to accredited college courses during a three-week intensive that is open to commuters as well as students wishing to live on campus.

2018 Immersion Programs

Summer at Columbia's Immersion Programs are industry-specific programs that offer you an opportunity to live and work with high-achieving, like-minded peers, while gaining a comprehensive understanding of the creative industries and gaining transferable college credit. The program includes plenty of time for study, staff-led exploration of the City of Chicago, and many opportunities for cross-curricular collaboration.

Each all-inclusive program is led by fully-vetted, department-specific Faculty Mentor, as well as a Student Mentor. Each program cohort is strictly limited to 25 students.


Working around the curriculum for the Entertainment Marketing course within the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, students in this immersion will experience a deep dive into branding, marketing, and audience, as it relates to the entertainment industry and entrepreneurship. Working collaboratively, and in various locations throughout the City of Chicago, students will explore such topics as brands and branding, the business of entertainment, marketing and the entertainment “product,” audience research, the legal aspects of branding, traditional and modern promotion, and the construction and analysis of marketing plans. In exploring these topics, students will be introduced to a wide array of guest professionals and organizations, and explore multiple Chicago destinations through the lens of marketing and entrepreneurship. The program culminates in the public presentation of student-created marketing plans, under the mentorship of faculty member Clayton Smith.

About the Faculty Mentor:

Clayton Smith is a digital marketing professional, writer, and entrepreneur with a great passion for live and performing arts. He has extensive experience in social media marketing and communications, having managed social strategies and platforms for brands like Ticketmaster, NFL, NHL, NBA, and New York Yankees. In addition to teaching, Smith runs a self-publishing services company called Dapper Press.

Clayton is a published author and a regular contributor to several digital publications, including the popular Dumb White Husband blog.


Great filmmakers start with a clear, independent vision, but bringing it to the big screen is all about collaboration, and the Filmmaking Immersion is a collaborative and exciting dive into the film industry. Participants will attend a live set during production, and have the opportunity to meet and learn about film festival strategies from programmers at the Chicago International Film Office. Site visits will include the Illinois Film Office, Cinespace Studios, Periscope post-production facilities, the new think tank Studio 18, the Emmy and Peabody award-winning Kartemquin Films, and Chicago’s oldest sound stages at Chicago Studio City.

Students will also participate in their own collaborative filmmaking project, and attend an outdoor screening at the Millennium Park Summer Film Series. By participating in this residential experience, students will achieve the learning outcomes and credits for the Acting & Directing Workshop course in the Cinema Art and Science Department.

The Hollywood Reporter ranked Columbia College Chicago's film school as one of the top 25 in the country in 2016.

About the Faculty Mentor:

DeAnna "De" Cooper is an award-winning producer with over 20 years of experience in the film industry, including serving as a senior executive at Twenty Century Fox Studios and New Line Cinemas. She works in both Los Angeles and Chicago and has produced seven independent films and two award-winning commercials, including a 2015 Emmy winner. As a studio executive, De generated title-specific estimates on films like Titanic, X-Men and Ice Age, handling financial modeling, contract negotiations, marketing, and estimate analysis for both in-house productions and acquisitions. De is a founding member and president of Elston Films.