Portfolio Plus Program

  • Studio Art concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    Studio Art concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • Communication Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    Communication Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • Fashion Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    Fashion Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • Drawing studio.
    Drawing studio.
  • Closing exhibition, Steinberg Hall Gallery.
    Closing exhibition, Steinberg Hall Gallery.
  • Trip to the Kemper Art Museum. Photo by Whitney Curtis.
    Trip to the Kemper Art Museum. Photo by Whitney Curtis.

We are currently accepting applications to the 2020 Portfolio Plus Program in SlideRoom>>

Art & Design
3 weeks | July 12–August 1, 2020
3 college credits

The Portfolio Plus Program invites high school students to take college-level art and design courses. You will spend your mornings learning the fundamentals of drawing and your afternoons pursuing a studio concentration of your choice: communication design, fashion design, or studio art. With guidance from Sam Fox School faculty, you will work throughout our intensive three-week program to develop strong portfolios for college admission. Studio work is rounded out by organized trips to museums, visits to artists' and designers' studios, and workshops.

This program is for rising juniors and seniors in high school. Upon successful completion, you'll earn 3 college credits.


Each weekday morning, you will take part in a Drawing course, where you will use a variety of wet and dry media to learn the fundamentals of line, composition, form, space, and modeling. Demonstrations and illustrated lectures supplement studio sessions, in addition to a trip to the Study Room for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

During the afternoon session, you will pursue your choice of one of three concentrations, which reflect the degree paths offered through the Sam Fox School's Bachelor of Fine Arts program:

Communication Design: Positioned at the intersection of graphic design, illustration, and interaction design, Communication Design will introduce you to visual problem solving using elements of two-dimensional design, such as visual hierarchy, composition, typography, color, and image making. The course explores both traditional and digital tools, with studio assignments supported by workshops aimed at developing computer skills.

Fashion Design: Fashion Design focuses on the relationship between clothing and contemporary culture. You'll begin by learning to conceptualize and illustrate your designs two-dimensionally. Sketches translate into wearable artworks, with a focus on construction, proportion, and form. Your work culminates in a final garment constructed from alternative materials.

Studio Art: Studio Art explores techniques and strategies for working across disciplines in visual art. With an emphasis on experimentation and thinking through making, the course will expand your base of technical skills and equip you with a greater understanding of how the interrelation of form, content, materials, and process give work its meaning.

In addition, the program includes a series of weekend workshops in the areas of printmaking, photography, and book-making, which provide opportunities to explore additional media and techniques.

Course work is also complemented by additional events and activities, including:

- Guest lectures by artists, designers, and curators.
- Artwork documentation workshop.
- Presentations on topics such as research, portfolio preparation, and the college admission process.
- Field trips to places such as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Kemper Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Fashion Fund, Tremendousness, and local artists' and designers' studios.
- Design and installation of a final exhibition of work.


John Early
Program Director; Lecturer, Studio Art
John Early is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work documents the dynamics of permanence and change in the world around us. Two of his current projects include a self-published artist's book of snapshots from Florence, Italy, and a sculptural installation created as part of the Material World of Modern Segregation project headed by WashU's American Culture Studies Program. As an instructor, he strives to make the studio a laboratory for experimentation and risk-taking to help students build confidence as makers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, he has lived in St. Louis for the past fifteen years.

Audra Hubbell
Senior Lecturer
Audra Hubbell has a range of professional experience from art direction at a large advertising agency to design strategy and branding work for smaller design studios. Her client work has included everything from global brand communication to public projects such as Chicago's Navy Pier revitalization plan and the University of Illinois at Chicago's proposal for the National Obama Presidential Library. Hubbell's work has been featured by Paste magazine, the Huffington Post, Design Taxi, and The Society of Typographic Art’s Chicago Design Archive. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in graphic design from The University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently a senior lecturer in design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

Tom Reed
Master Printer, Island Press; Senior Lecturer
Tom Reed earned his MFA from the University of Iowa in Printmaking in 1998, Where he studied under Keith Achepohl, Bob Glasgow, and Virginia Myers. After an offer from artist Tony Fitzpatrick, Reed moved to Chicago to work as a printer for Fitzpatrick's Big Cat Press. After meeting Steve Campbell, and collaborating with him on several projects, Reed was asked to join Jack Lemon's Landfall Press, where he worked for several years as the intaglio printer, collaborating with and printing works by Peregrine Hoenig, Ed Paschke, David Levinthal, John Buck, Sol Lewitt, and others. He is the Master Printer at Island Press, the collaborative print workshop housed in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Art at Washington University. Reed maintains an active studio practice with exhibitions at Bruno David Gallery, and group shows at both the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis and the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Mary Ruppert-Stroescu
Associate Professor
Possessing international fashion design experience, Mary Ruppert-Stroescu contributes a dynamic, global perspective. While working in Europe, she founded her own business designing, manufacturing, and selling women’s wear at wholesale and retail levels through proprietary boutiques in Paris and Dusseldorf. She began teaching full-time for ESMOD Casablanca, in Morocco, and has taught fashion design for over 25 years while designing for exhibits, notably winning the ITAA Award for Excellence in Draping. Ruppert-Stroescu holds a PhD in Human Environmental Sciences and a MS in Textile and Apparel Management from the University of Missouri. Her current areas of research include sustainable fashion; the interaction between technology and creativity; methods of fostering creativity in fashion design; and wearable electronic sensing systems to promote health and well-being.

Tuition, Room, & Board

The estimated cost of the 2020 Portfolio Plus Program is $5,327. Estimated tuition includes room and board (3 meals per day), supplies, and field trips. An additional $100 should be budgeted as extra spending money for purchases such as snacks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. Upon acceptance to the program, a $250 non-refundable deposit will be required by June 1, 2020, to reserve your space in the program. If you withdraw from the program after classes begin, no portion of tuition will be refunded.

You will live in one of our modern residence houses on the WashU campus. Study rooms, kitchenettes, laundry facilities, floor lounges, and a computer lab are available. Program Assistants are current undergraduates or recent graduates who live in the residence houses, assist in your classes, chaperone field trips, and guide you through the program. With your meal plan, you get to enjoy a variety of food choices available across campus.


We are currently accepting applications for Summer 2020; apply online through SlideRoom>>
International & early application deadline | March 15, 2020
Scholarship application deadline | March 15, 2020
Regular application deadline | April 15, 2020

If the application fee presents financial hardship, students may request a fee waiver by emailing Courtney Cushard at courtney.cushard@wustl.edu.

International students are welcome to attend WashU’s Art & Design Pre-College Programs. Previous students have come from many countries including France, Russia, China, Mexico, and Korea. Pre-College is a wonderful way to pursue your art and design while experiencing American culture and college life.

Student Visa

If you are not a US citizen or legal permanent resident, you are considered an international student and must obtain an F-1 student visa to participate in the Pre-College program.

You may not attend the program with a tourist visa (B1/B2) or visa waiver (ESTA) because while participating in the Pre-College program you will be studying full-time.

Student Visa & I-20 Process

• Apply to the Architecture Discovery or Portfolio Plus Pre-College program and be accepted for admission. Once you have been admitted, pay your program deposit.

• Once Sam Fox School receives your deposit, we will email you the forms required for I-20 application.

• Complete the forms and email them to the Pre-College program coordinator, along with bank documents that show that you have sufficient funds to support your education at WashU, a copy of the photo page of your passport, and English language test scores (see below).

• After the above materials have been received, reviewed, and approved, the WashU I-20 will be created. We will send the I-20 to the address you provide.

• Once you receive your I-20, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee (instructions will be included with your I-20) and make a visa appointment at the US Consulate closest to where you live.

• You will then take your WashU I-20, the I-901 fee receipt, the original bank statement(s), and your WashU letter of acceptance to your visa interview to obtain an F-1 student visa for entry into the United States.

English Language Proficiency

International students must have strong English language skills as the program is conducted in English only.

If you are applying from a country where English is not the primary language, you must submit test scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test. A TOEFL score of 90 or higher is required, or the equivalent score on one of the other tests. Scores should be submitted with your I-20 required forms.


Scholarship assistance is available up to the full cost of tuition. Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need and academic merit. The program deposit is waived for students requiring scholarship assistance. The scholarship application package must be received by March 15, 2020, in order to be considered.

Scholarship application process:

1. Download this pdf form, complete, and attach your 2018 tax return.
2. Submit scholarship application and program application by March 15, 2020.
3. If eligible, our team will be in contact to schedule a phone interview with the student.
4. Scholarship recipients will be notified before May 1, 2020.

Completed scholarship applications should be emailed to courtney.cushard@wustl.edu or mailed to the following address:
Courtney Cushard
Washington University in St. Louis
One Brookings Drive
Weil Hall, CB 1213
St. Louis, MO 63130


For more information about the Portfolio Plus Program or application process, please contact:

Courtney Cushard
Coordinator of Special Programs

Rachel Youn
Admissions Counselor