Mars College

Applications for Mars College 2024 are now closed. If you would like to visit, or apply for next year, contact us.

Mars College is a 3-month program, during which we build a temporary village on a 20-acre stretch of open desert in Southern California called Mars. During this time, we study and incubate projects related to technology and sustainability, and gradually turn camp into a large art installation.

Important dates:


Mars is a barren landscape with intense sun, frequent cold, and strong wind. It is located on a dry lake bed in the Southern California Desert, next to the Salton Sea.

We construct a campus in the open desert with camping areas and academic buildings. We build structures with wood and pallet racks. We set up solar panels for electricity and install a high speed WiFi link to town for internet. We bring water to Mars from town in 5 gallon jugs and IBC tanks.

Mars is one mile from a small community with two bar/restaurants and a convenience store. Indio is the closest large town with big grocery stores and hospitals.


Cars, Vans, RVs, Camper trailers and other spaceships make good domiciles on Mars. The more self-contained and self-reliant you are, the more control you have over your welfare and happiness. If you’ve been dreaming about vanlife, Mars College is a good chance to build out a van or cargo trailer into a spaceship of your own.


There is no public transportation to and from Mars. Many participants come without cars and are generally able to carpool rides into town with other Martians when they need them, including on first arrival.

Within Mars College and including town nearby, everything is walking distance. For medium and long distances, many of us have an intense love of electric unicycles. They transform your ability to inhabit an open rural space. We also have some old red beach cruiser bicycles that we can lend.

Academic program

Mars College has an open calendar where participants schedule classes, activities, and workshops they want to offer.

Some returning alumni have prepared courses with weekly meetings exploring a field and coming up with project ideas.

New applicants may select one of those courses to major in or write a plan outlining their goals for an independent study.

Structure of the semester

The first week of Mars College is an orientation period where people settle into the routine on Mars and help develop the space. During the second week, we have lightning talk sessions for everyone to introduce themselves, share exciting ideas, and propose extracurricular activities and projects.

After the lightning talks we open up the calendar for people to add activities and workshops they would like to offer.

Courses begin week 3. Typically courses have weekly meetings until the midterm in mid-February. During this time, students are encouraged to explore new ideas and technologies with the aim of choosing a thesis project concept which they present at the midterm.

During the second half of the semester, participants develop their thesis projects to present at the final showcase. The showcase is accompanied by a largescale collaborative interactive art installation that is built into the communal structure.

People document their work and help breakdown camp during the final week.

Courses and Majors

The following courses are available for the 2024 semester. More courses may be added later. Some of the courses have additional applications. Please fill those out in addition to the main application.

Creative AI with Eden

Harness the power of AI to create art and creative applications. Led by the Eden team.

Read more | Apply here
Department of Future Music

Push the envelope of what's possible in terms of musical creation and experience. Led by Atin.

Read more | Apply here
Department of Physical Art

Painting, sculpture, installation, traditional craft, and how they interact with the outdoors and digital realm, led by Vanessa and Seamus.

Read more | Apply here
Culinary institute

The art of cooking for large groups of Martians in a communal setting. Led by Catherine.

Read more | Apply here

Yoga and meditation with Chatsubo.

Read more
Lifestyle Engineering

How to live a lifestyle on your own terms, with Josh.

Read more
Utopias in the Metaverse

Virtual spaces, metaverses, video game design, and 3D worlds. Led by Nico.

Read more
Independent study

For Martians who wish to propose an independent learning plan for the semester.

Apply / get in touch

Applications for Mars College 2024 are now closed. The Deadline to apply was November 24, 2023.

If you would like to get in touch with us about visiting or applying for next year, please get in contact with us. You may do so by:

Apply here!


How much does it cost?

There is no fee to attend Mars College, but participants need to cover their own expenses like food and travel and contribute to group expenses like internet, propane, water delivery, and toilet service.

When did Mars College start?

Every Jan-March since 2020, growing out of a precursor in 2020 called BRAHMAN. 2024 will be our fifth consecutive year.

What are you looking for in applicants?

We seek participants who can stay for most of the duration of the program, commit to a field of study, and help us run camp.

Volleyball demo lightly adapted from @hardmaru.