About Sotheby’s Institute of Art

  • Evolving from a small connoisseurship program begun by Sotheby's Auction House in 1969, Sotheby's Institute is now the leader in art business education and object-based learning both in person and online. Our faculty represent the best of the art world helping students master the unique forces at play at the intersection of art and commerce. We have campuses in New York, London, and Online, and we offer a range of different programs from Master’s Degrees to Online, Semester and Summer courses. Please visit sothebysinstitute.com to learn more about our full suite of program offerings.

  • The Sotheby’s Summer Institute is an online program for high schoolers (rising 10th – 12th graders and graduating seniors) who are curious and passionate about art. Each two-week course is taught by a leading scholar and professional in the art world and gives students an insider's look at world class museums, galleries, auction houses, artists’ studios, and more.

  • Sotheby's Institute of Art has been the leader in instructor-led online courses about art history and the art market for over a decade. In summer 2020, we expanded our online offerings to high school students by transforming select courses in our pre-college summer program into an online format. These courses took advantage of the rich cultural offerings available online to provide a curated international art world experience that helped prepare students for college-level academic expectations while also providing a snapshot of career options in the art world.

  • As a pre-college program, Sotheby's Summer Institute gives students the opportunity to get a glimpse of the college experience while also exploring possible topics of future study. Typically, college admissions officers look favorably upon students who continue to enhance their academic portfolio during the summer months. Students will also benefit from receiving a written evaluation from their instructor which can be included as part of their college application.   


  • Sotheby’s Summer Institute is open to current high school students, rising 10th – 12th grade based on the grade the student is entering in the Fall 2021 school year. Graduating seniors are also welcome to apply. Students must be at least 15 years old by the first day of the program and no older than 18 years old by the end of the term. If admitted, students meeting these age guidelines will be invited to enroll.

  • Yes, students who have graduated from high school who are 18 years of age may apply to the Graduating Seniors courses at the Sotheby’s Summer Institute. Students who are 18 years of age are also eligible to attend a continuing education online course. For more information about online courses outside of the Sotheby’s Summer Institute, please email online@sia.edu.

  • Our team of admissions counselors are available to schedule one-on-one sessions if applicants so chose to learn more about the program and discover if the program is a right fit and/or discuss their application. You can contact our Admissions Office at +1 646-665-1861 to schedule a call.

  • All students must complete an application through the website. The application requirements include class section, short answer question, and submission of current transcripts and school report.

  • Yes, our courses change each year, so all students must re-apply even if they have attended in a previous year. Application fees will be waived for returning students.

  • Any student who was admitted to Summer Institute 2020 and deferred their enrollment will be given priority consideration and admission to Summer Institute 2021. As course offerings may have changed, students will need to complete a simplified application to indicate their new course preferences. To access this simplified application, start your application here and select “Yes” when asked if you were accepted to Sotheby's Summer Institute. Please note: As the Institute is using a new application system, all deferred students will still need to provide some family information in the application. 2020 Financial Aid awards are not deferrable. Students seeking aid for 2021 will need to re-apply for financial assistance.

  • Transcripts do not have to be official. Unofficial copies are acceptable.

  • A secondary school report has information about the school, its curriculum, and grading system. Your school office or guidance counselor should be able to provide this information.

  • - Early Decision: January 4 - Priority Decision: February 8 (Applications received prior to this date are eligible for financial aid) - Regular Decision: March 15 - Next Deadline: April 26

  • No, once an application has been submitted, you are not allowed to change it. Please contact the admissions office at precollege@sia.edu if you have any questions.

  • Admission to Sotheby's Summer Institute is competitive. All applications are carefully reviewed by our admissions committee. Admissions officers seek talented student leaders with diverse interests, ambitions and writing styles. The committee strives to select critical thinkers who will contribute to a well-rounded, academically engaged community of students. Each application is reviewed holistically and qualified students who have demonstrated a genuine interest in the program as well as a strong academic background will be considered for admission to the program. Our goal is to accept the most qualified students as possible and to ensure we are accepting the right students into the right program.

  • All applicants will be notified via email within four to six weeks after each deadline.

  • All admitted students must complete the Student Acceptance Form and submit a nonrefundable deposit to guarantee their space in this program.

Tuition, Scholarships & Billing

  • Yes, students may take more than one course as long as those courses take place in different terms. Students who enroll in more than one course/term will receive a 10% tuition discount.

  • Upon submitting the Student Acceptance Form, admitted students will be required to pay a $500 deposit by credit card to secure their seat in the program. Tuition may also be paid in full at this point. For those preferring to pay in installments, an invoice for the remaining balance of the tuition will be sent within two weeks of the deposit submission. Tuition may be paid via credit card or ACH payment by the invoice due date. Families may access their accounts and submit as many payments as necessary until the invoice is paid in full. All payments must be received by the due date indicated on the invoice, typically 30 days before the start of term.

  • Deposits for the Summer Institute are non-refundable. To withdraw from the program for any reason prior to the start of the term, the student must notify Sotheby’s Institute of Art in writing via email and depending on the date of withdrawal, a portion of the tuition and fees previously paid may be refunded. No refunds will be given for early departures from a program, once it is underway, whether voluntary or otherwise. Payments cannot be deferred to future years.

    Date of receipt of written cancellation notification Amount of tuition and fees refund less non-refundable deposit
    Before March 15 100%
    March 16 - April 15 60%
    April 16 - May 15 30%
    After May 15 0%

  • Yes, financial aid is available to qualified candidates and is based on a combination of merit and need. All applicants must complete a financial aid application as well as a program application. Once all aid has been distributed the financial aid application process will close. Need for financial aid has no bearing on admission to the program. To apply for financial aid, please see our financial aid application online.


  • The curriculum for the virtual pre-college program are designed to maximize the use of available digital resources and create optimal student interaction with those resources. For example, students might take a guided tour of a virtual museum collection and then generate their own virtual exhibitions which they would present to the class and their instructors for commentary. In an art business course, students could focus on building entrepreneurship skills by performing online research and creating a business proposal for a new art-related venture such as an art fair. In a course with an art law component, students will study famous art crime cases and create written plans to track down stolen objects and return looted objects to their rightful owners. The assignments in the pre-college program are exciting, relevant, and diverse.

  • Classes run Monday through Friday in week 1, and Monday through Thursday in week 2 from 10 AM to 4 PM EST. During this time, students will experience a combination of live sessions focused on content knowledge with their lead faculty, guided activity periods combining skill development with peer-to-peer interaction, and independent study modules with self-paced assignments that emphasize higher-level thinking. There are breaks scheduled throughout the day. Daily community-building events will be available for students in all courses from 4 PM to 5 PM EST.  

  • Students enrolled in the Sotheby’s Summer Institute program will experience courses taught by art world experts, many of whom are teaching in the Sotheby’s Institute of Art MA program and others who are actively practicing in the international art world. Faculty will work closely with students to guide them in their learning and complete a full evaluation of their progress at the end of the term which students can use as part of their college application. Esteemed guest lecturers will participate in all of the courses to share their expertise and inspiring experiences with the students. In most courses, private, virtual behind-the-scenes tours of NYC-based institutions will be offered. All students will have the opportunity to interact with these influential art world leaders and create lifelong connections.

  • The program is designed for maximum flexibility across different time zones. Along with the academic schedule, the schedule provides time for peer-to-peer interactions with the ability to develop meaningful relationships in a friendly community. All live sessions and activity periods will be recorded and posted on the learning platform Canvas for students who cannot participate synchronously. 

  • Students will be “in class” each day from 10 AM – 4 PM EST with a one-hour lunch/dinner break and other 15-minute breaks throughout the day. During their time in class, they can expect a two-hour live session with their lead instructor, a one-hour guided activity in the afternoon, and a one-hour window in which they will have an interactive, self-paced activity with the instructor available for support. After school hours, students will have daily assignments and an end-of-term project that will require some additional time spent outside of the classroom.

  • At the start of the program, we host a live orientation for both parents and students -which will be recorded for families to watch asynchronously if needed—during which we will discuss tips and advice for creating an optimum learning environment at home. Students will also be required to complete a module on digital citizenship to learn best practices and etiquette for online platforms and virtual spaces. Communication will be shared with parents throughout the term as necessary regarding any changes, concerns, progress, or emergencies that may arise. Parents who have concerns about their students’ participation, performance, or engagement in the program are encouraged to reach out to the staff for additional support.  

  • Sotheby’s Summer Institute aims to create a respectful, safe and student-focused community with the goal of providing a positive learning environment for students enrolled in its programs. With that aim in mind, the staff of Sotheby’s Summer Institute is dedicated to working closely with our community to ensure that all questions and concerns are answered in a prompt and complete manner. In return, Sotheby’s Summer Institute expects that all stakeholders, including students, treat our staff with respect and uphold the policies and practices of Sotheby’s Summer Institute. All students and parents must adhere to our Community Standards and Guidelines and Digital Code of Conduct.

  • All live sessions and guided activity periods will be recorded and posted on the online platform Canvas for students who cannot participate synchronously because they are in different time zones. 

  • All sessions including discussions and independent study are guided by a lead instructor and a co-instructor. Lead instructors are both experts in their field and highly experienced online educators. The co-instructors are experienced high school teachers with extensive insight into the needs of our pre-college students. Additionally, instructors and academic lounge staff will be readily available during the independent study periods to answer questions and offer additional support.

  • The Academic Lounge is a virtual space that is overseen by a team of academic assistants. The academic assistants are available during all posted Academic Lounge hours to guide students in their learning experience and support them in their writing assignments and projects. The Academic Lounge also features a selection of special programming for students to enhance their understanding and includes presentations around topics such as how to write about art and how to assemble a portfolio. Additionally, students who would like assistance with their college application essay are encouraged to use the Academic Lounge for this purpose.

  • Pre-college students work towards a final project which they present at the end of the term. The final project will focus on skill development and knowledge acquired in the chosen subject matter, and may be an individual or group assignment, depending on the course and the instructor. If enrolled in a Studio course, students will end the program with finished works of art which they can include in their portfolios.

  • Canvas is a Learning Management System made by Instructure, which has been in business since 2008, has 30M+ users and over 5,000 customers in 70+ nations. Canvas is now widely considered one of the most well designed, user friendly and well supported Learning Management Systems with over 30% of the market including leading education institutions. Canvas fully integrates with our admissions and onboarding processes, so we can ensure a positive user experience for both students and faculty while providing robust user support. We also have deep insight into how users interact with content and have policies and procedures in place to ensure user security, safety and—for minors—anonymity. It operates on a hybrid cloud model that hosts critical infrastructure on the Amazon Cloud, while allowing us to provision user accounts from our private cloud for full control and increased security.

  • You should have an up-to-date web browser such as: Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer. Students are encouraged to use a Chrome browser, as it is the most reliable way to access Canvas. For more detailed information, please see the guide for supported browsers and basic computer specifications. Summer Institute Online can be accessed on a mobile or tablet device, although we strongly encourage you to have access to a desktop or laptop computer and reliable internet connection for certain course components. Former students have told us it is easiest to read discussion threads and complete written assignments on a laptop or desktop computer.

  • Students who participate in the course should have access to a computer with the technology requirements listed above. Sotheby’s Institute will not be able to provide a computer for enrolled students, due to the constraints of distance learning. Professional tech support from our IT team will be readily available to students during program hours to ensure that students are able to access the Learning Management System Canvas as well as any additional software that will be used during the course.

  • Parents should not participate in the course outside of the parent orientation at the start of the program and the closing ceremony on the last day. Parents can support students after class and are encouraged to engage in meaningful conversations around the students’ learning experiences each day.

  • Yes. All students that successfully complete the term in good standing will receive a certificate from Sotheby's Summer Institute via email.

  • Yes. Each student who completes the course and is in good standing will receive an individualized written evaluation summarizing both their growth and progress class and feedback on their final project from their instructor via their Canvas account.

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