Financial Aid

Washington Studio School is deeply committed to promoting an inclusive community, and we believe that students from any and all backgrounds should have access to quality studio-arts education. WSS offers financial aid to eligible students in the form of full or partial scholarships and work-study positions. While qualifications for the two programs differ, both will utilize the same application and review process.


Please see below for application deadlines and more information. Questions? Send us an email at or call 202-234-3030.


To ensure that arts education is accessible to talented students regardless of economic background, WSS offers scholarship assistance to adults and teens requiring full or partial financial assistance. The number of scholarships available will vary from year to year according to resources and availability of funding. We are grateful for the generosity of our donors who support all or part of the available scholarship opportunities. Please see below for our different scholarship options. 


Established in honor of longtime WSS student, friend, and supporter, Joan Burgess Shorey, the scholarship is generously funded in large part by the WSS Joan Burgess Shorey Legacy Fund and by our community of donors. The program provides full or partial tuition assistance to teens and adults with limited economic resources. Teens may apply to attend WSS’s highly regarded three-week Summer Teen Intensive Program, and adults or teens may apply to attend a ten-week class or workshop throughout the year.


About Joan Burgess Shorey

Joan Burgess Shorey was raised in Chicago and lived in Washington, D.C. from 1964 until her death in early 2018. She attended Vassar College and the Harvard School of Design after which she moved back to Chicago to a career in community planning work. In D.C., she co-founded a consumer organization, Concern, Inc., worked for Solar Lobby, helped organize Sun Day, and was an aide to Congressman Richard Ottinger. She embraced volunteer work throughout her life and became, along with her husband, Ev, a stalwart of the citizens association CAG, and was a leading supporter of the Georgetown Public Library. She was an active member of The Folger Library Poetry Board and student body at Washington Studio School, taking numerous classes and supporting the organization throughout her tenure in various capacities.


Learn more about the Joan Burgess Shorey Legacy Fund.


The WSS Alma Thomas Scholarship, inaugurated by The Friends of Alma Thomas, is in honor and memory of abstract expressionist painter and art educator, Alma Thomas. Thomas was the first fine arts graduate of Howard University and an art teacher at Shaw Jr. High School from 1924 to 1960. Thomas was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The Scholarship is available to DC resident teens and adults from historically underrepresented communities who attend the University of District of Columbia, Howard University, DC public high schools or charter schools. The scholarship is also available to art teachers in DC public high schools or charter schools. The winning applicant(s) will receive full or partial tuition to WSS’s Summer Teen Intensive Program or enrollment to attend one ten-week class or a workshop

The WSS Alma Thomas Scholarship honors DCPS art teachers and awards spots to these teachers in our classes and workshops with a simplified application process. Please contact us (admin[at]] for additional information.


Mariah R. 

"I have grown tremendously in my artistic abilities thanks to [WSS]. My experience has significantly shaped the way I think about, look at, and appreciate art, as well as certain aspects of my own life. I'm so thankful to have had such an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."


"I am an Art Teacher in DCPS...thanks to the Washington Studio School and the Alma Thomas Scholarship, I was able to take time for my art this summer. I feel strongly that this experience has helped me reconnect with my love of the portrait."


WSS work-study opportunities are currently paused while WSS continues to operate remotely.

WSS offers work-study positions to potential students who might be otherwise deterred by tuition fees. The program is first-come, first-served, and there are a limited number of opportunities each term, depending on the needs of the School. Work-study students may enroll without charge in a ten-week class, in exchange for 40 hours of unpaid work for the class. The 40 hours must be completed by the end of the term in which a student is taking a class. Work-study assignments may include anything from sitting at the front desk to greeting visitors in the evenings, tidying up classrooms in between classes and assisting with set-up and hospitality during public programs or events.


Drop-in Figure Drawing/Painting sessions, workshops, and other special classes are excluded from the work-study program. Work-study students must demonstrate professionalism, reliability and accountability, and are expected to provide their own supplies for classes.


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Those interested in taking a course during a current or upcoming term should submit their applications two weeks prior to the start of the course.