The School of Interactive Arts is a pre-college program in game design.

The SIA pre-college is a small, highly selective, and rigorous program intended for high-school students who want to make games and study game development or computer science in college. Classes are provided on Saturdays and weekday afternoons at the Manhattan office of Urban Arts Partnership. SIA has the strongest results of any program of its kind. Our recent outcomes include:

College Admissions: All SIA alumni since 2015 have matriculated to collegiate and pre-professional game design, computer science, and animation programs. Every SIA senior in 2018 was admitted to NYU's top-ranked programs in game design or computer science, and two seniors earned full-tuition scholarships to attend. To date, SIA seniors and alumni have earned over $600,000 in merit scholarships.

Test Scores: 2018 seniors received an average 200-point increase in their SAT scores after SIA tutoring, with gains as high as 290 points (or 35 percentile points).

Game Design: In 2017, SIA students were winners of the top two national awards for young game developers - the Unity prize at the National STEM Game Design Challenge and two out of three category prizes at the Games for Change Student Challenge.

Entrepreneurship: In 2017 and 2018, SIA alumni raised over $7,500 in successful Kickstarters to commercialize their student work. All SIA crowdfunding campaigns have been selected by Kickstarter as ‘Projects We Love,’ out of hundreds of competing projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SIA?

SIA is a multi-year pre-college program for New York City high school students who demonstrate high achievement in one or more aspects of game development. We provide instruction in game programming and design on Saturdays during the school year and weekdays during the summer.

What does the SIA curriculum include?

Our curriculum focuses on pre-professional game development skills with the goal of enabling you to create original, polished projects in two years. In year 1, you'll learn the fundamentals of Unity Engine usage and C# programming. Our design curriculum teaches the usage of real-time game mechanics to deliver stories interactively. In year 2, you'll use these technical and design skills to build games for competitions and your portfolio. While learning programming, you will also have the opportunity to develop your skills in other game development disciplines, including art, animation, music, and narrative writing.

What resources are available to SIA students?

We have a high-caliber faculty made up of professionals who have sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their creative works. Our library of games and consoles is available for any student to use and browse. Test prep and individual, private school-style college advising are provided to all our 11th and 12th-grade students to ensure that seniors earn admission and scholarships to elite colleges.

How much does SIA cost?

SIA is free, underwritten by grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Adobe Foundation, and the AT&T Foundation. Our tuition-free model allows our admissions process to focus exclusively on recruiting the best students, regardless of family income.

How does one apply to the SIA pre-college?

Send us an email at sia@urbanarts.org indicating your interest in pursuing the program. We will get back to you within 48 hours with a link to the application process, which involves the submission of a portfolio piece showcasing either your art, music, writing, or programming skills, or your high school transcript. Upon receipt of your materials, we will schedule a 15-minute phone interview with you, and your admissions decision will be given the next day.