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Note: Applications open each year about Dec. 15 and close about March 1.

Imagine Yourself ...
... learning to track and image a near-earth asteroid with your two teammates, up in the dome after midnight ... writing your own software to calculate its orbit ... working harder and learning faster than you ever thought possible ... and sharing the whole mind-expanding experience with some of the brightest, most interesting friends you'll ever make!

The Summer Science Program is a 39-day residential enrichment program, held on two campuses (one in Southern California, one in New Mexico). Since 1959, talented high school students from diverse backgrounds have come to SSP for its research-based curriculum, stimulating guest lectures, and behind-the-scenes field trips to places like NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab or the Very Large Array (of radio telescopes). The challenging, college-like "SSP experience" accelerates students' academic and personal development, by immersing them in a supportive community of scholars. And, it's a lot of fun!

A student team at the Celestron C-14 at NM Tech's observatory
 

Is SSP for You?

Are you currently a high school junior (graduating in 2015), now taking calculus or pre-calculus? If so, you're eligible to apply. Sophomores may also apply, although most sophomores should wait a year to avoid being disappointed (see the Admissions FAQ for more advice.) Sorry, we do not admit graduating seniors or freshmen under any circumstances. We can remind you by email to apply when you reach your junior year.

The academic program is challenging - lectures in astronomy, physics, calculus, and programming are taught at a college level - but every one of the 36 students receives a very high level of personal attention from the seven resident faculty, so no one is left behind. Teams of three students tackle the asteroid orbit determination research project together. The spirit of cooperation is reinforced by the absence of grades, tests, or formal credit.

To be admitted, you should be earning top grades in the most advanced math & science courses available to you. Your standardized test scores in math and science should also be strong. However, we do not require any particular test, nor do we rank applicants by test scores. We do look for scientific pursuits outside of the classroom, and evidence of good character and motivation. We take into account any personal or family circumstances that may have presented obstacles to your academic achievements. The application will provide an opportunity for you to explain your interests and background.

The Summer Science Program seeks a diverse enrollment on the basis of gender, ethnicity, citizenship, national origin, and socioeconomic status. Young women, and students from racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in science, are especially encouraged to apply.

Note to international students: it's a big world, but SSP is small, and most of the 72 spots go to applicants from U.S. schools. If you live in a country where thousands of students want to attend college in the U.S., you can assume that dozens of them will apply to SSP, competing for very few spots. Keep that in mind when deciding whether to apply.

For more information, see the Admissions FAQ and comments from alumni and their parents.

Choosing a campus

SSP takes place at two campuses, starting and ending one week apart:

  • on the campus of New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico (about 80 miles south of Albuquerque)
    Sunday, June 15 - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California (about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles)
    Sunday, June 22 - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The curriculum and facilities are largely identical at the two campuses. You will tell us in the online form whether you are applying for a particular campus only, or either campus. You may also indicate a preference. Check your school's academic calendar and ask your parent or guardian. Your chance of admission will be somewhat higher if you can attend either campus, since one may fill before the other. We cannot accommodate late arrivals or early departures; do not apply if you have another commitment during the dates shown.

How To Apply

The following information applied to 2014; 2015 will be similar.

SSP's college-like experience starts with the application itself. In fact, applying to SSP is good practice for your college apps next fall. Applications open on Dec. 15. Visit then to complete our online form and start your application.

Program Fee and Financial Aid

There is no application fee. Financial concerns should not be a factor in your decision to apply.

We understand that many families have little or no room in their budgets for a residential summer science program. The all-inclusive program fee - the most we ask any family to pay - is $4,300 (much less than our actual cost of $7,000). It covers tuition, room & board, supplies, and local transportation everything except travel to campus.

Thanks to donations from alumni and friends of SSP, need-based financial aid is available to further reduce the cost. Each summer between a third and a half of students receive financial aid. As an example, students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch at school are likely to attend at no charge, with SSP paying the airfare too (up to $500). International students are eligible for financial aid on the same basis as other applicants.

The optional Financial Aid Application form is in the PDF with the other application forms. Applying for financial aid has no impact on admissions decisions. Parents of applicants in the U.S. may wait for the admission decision before deciding whether to apply for financial aid. It is really true that financial concerns should not be a factor in your decision to apply.

Financial Aid FAQ Admissions FAQ