Best Summer Math Programs – 2023

May 25, 2023

math summer programs

Math is often billed as one-of-those-things-you-have-to-master-because-your-school-says-so, but in actuality, math can be exciting, ground-breaking, and fun. It also encourages the type of abstract and critical thinking that is an incredible asset for any career, particularly those within the STEM field. So, if you’ve exhausted your high school’s math curriculum or simply feel that there has to be more than geometry, calculus, and statistics, math summer programs could be right up your alley. What these programs do is expose students to undergraduate and graduate-level mathematical topics while highlighting the incredible number of possibilities that exist within this ever-advancing field. As such, many of the programs available are intensive academic immersions, where students essentially eat, sleep, and breathe math in a community with like-minded students and passionate instructors. Hoping to push the upper limits of your math knowledge this summer? We’ve collected the best summer math programs below.

1) Boston University PROMYS

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 6 weeks
  • Cost: $6,000
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Application Deadline: March

PROMYS offers students a stunning number of mathematical opportunities, both structured and elective. All students begin their day with a ninety-minute Number Theory class, where they’ll receive challenging problem sets. After class, they’ll then spend a significant amount of time working through these. Additionally, all students have access to Advanced Seminars, which meet several times per week. Topics are diverse and include Algebra, Modular Forms, and Primes and Zeta Functions.

Furthermore, there are guest lecturers from institutions like Harvard and Georgia Tech, and all students can participate in research. Accordingly, exploration labs and problem statements are designed for students by professional mathematicians; topics include Irreducible Polynomials over a Finite Field and Balancing Centrifuges. Students then work in teams alongside their mentors. The summer culminates with a research presentation. Moreover, some past papers have been published or included in conference presentations.

Finally, residential counselors design and present their own minicourses throughout the program. These minicourses are open to everyone, allowing students to dive more deeply into new topics. They include Knot Theory, Surreal Numbers, or Banach Tarski Paradox, among a slew of others.

Although there are weekly organized social activities and field trips, most students spend the majority of their time doing math. Consequently, they’re given plenty of independence to organize their time how they wish. Admission to these summer math programs is extremely competitive–only 60 students are accepted. As such, students must submit short essays, solutions to a problem set, a recommendation letter, and their transcripts.

2) Canada/USA Mathcamp

  • Location: Burlington, VT
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 5 weeks
  • Cost: $5,000
  • Eligibility: Students aged 13-18
  • Application Deadline: March

Designed for mathematically talented high schoolers, Mathcamp introduces students to undergraduate and graduate-level topics. However, there is no set curriculum–students have the freedom to choose their own courses and design their own experience. That said, there will be an academic advisor assigned to each student who assists with planning.

Courses are of varying lengths—some are for several days and others last for the entire program. They are offered in pure math and applied math; past options have included Algebraic Geometry, Cryptography, and Bayesian Statistics. To an extent, the courses are determined by faculty and student interest.

In addition to their academic explorations, students have the opportunity to compete in math contests and problem-solving sessions as teams. This is completely optional. Moreover, students can participate in focused faculty-mentored projects, the results of which are presented at the program’s culmination. Past projects have included Billiard-Ball Geometry and Digital Signal Processing. It’s not uncommon for students to continue working on their projects after these math summer programs. Some even publish joint research with their mentors or receive honors at competitions like Siemens and Davidson Fellows.

There is a tremendous amount of interaction with faculty both inside and outside of class. Guest speakers also visit regularly. Moreover, students live and dine together, and they have weekends free. Social activities and field trips are available but optional.

Wondering what it takes to apply? Firstly, you’ll need to complete a Qualifying Quiz–essentially a challenging problem set. Then, you’ll need to write a personal essay. Two recommendation letters and a discussion of past mathematical experience rounds out the application. Finally, all students should have taken precalculus, either formally or self-studied.

Summer Math Programs – Continued

3) Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics

  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 6 weeks
  • Cost: $5,780
  • Eligibility: No restrictions, but most students are rising juniors or seniors
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

Hoping to study college-level mathematics? Hampshire College’s summer math programs could be an excellent fit.

Here, students spend six days a week and at least four hours per day in class. They’ll also spend a significant amount of time–approximately three hours per day–working on problem sets. For the first three weeks of the program, students are divided into workshops where they cover elementary number theory, combinatorics/graph theory, and modern algebra, among others. Moreover, the direction of each workshop is determined by the interest of the students and instructors.

Then, during the final three weeks of the program, students choose maxi and mini courses. (Maxi courses are equivalent to a full undergraduate elective course.) Each course has a specific focus, which range from probability to fractals and chaos to topology. Additionally, students enjoy regular guest lectures at daily Prime Time Theorems, math films, and social programming.

To apply, students will have to submit recommendations and an essay along with nontraditional materials. These include the Interesting Test, which includes a number of different types of math problems.

4) Ross Mathematics Program

  • Location: Columbus, OH and Terre Haute, IN
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 6 weeks
  • Cost: $6,000
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 15-18
  • Application Deadline: March

The Ross Programs run residential math summer programs on two college campuses: Otterbein University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Over the course of the program, students build their capacity for abstract thought and critical thinking. Ross places a high value on both skills and feels that they are essential for future success in STEM careers.

Students can expect an incredibly intensive academic experience–they’ll be in class for ten hours a day. To specify, five of these hours will be spent in class and the other five in small group discussions. They’ll also be expected to work on problems and ideas on their own time.

Additionally, students focus primarily on number theory, which Ross feels is central to success in the profession. In the process, they’ll write proofs, observe patterns, and formulate theorems, among other tasks. Specific topics include modular arithmetic, quadratic reciprocity, and Gaussian integers. Finally, students move at their own pace through the material.

In order to apply, students must submit transcripts, teacher recommendations, essays, and their work on a challenging problem set. Admissions is competitive with a 15% acceptance rate.

5) Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Residential?: Residential and online programs available
  • Program Length: 4 weeks (residential); 3 weeks (online)
  • Cost: $8,250 (residential); $3,550 (online)
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: February

SUMaC offers residential and online summer math programs. Both are intensive mathematics enrichment experiences that allow students to explore advanced topics, engage in mathematical research, and investigate how math can be applied to various scientific disciplines.

At SUMaC’s residential program, students choose from either Abstract Algebra and Number Theory or Algebraic Topology. In the former track, students engage with topics like error-correcting codes and cryptography. They also must have experience writing and reading proofs in addition to geometry and algebra mastery. In the latter track, students dive into the study of shape properties. They should be more advanced than Abstract Algebra students, with the above-mentioned experience as well as a “deep, thoughtful interest in higher mathematics.” The online program is faster-paced and offers identical academic tracks.

At the residential math summer programs, students are surrounded by mathematics undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, there are a variety of social activities and field trips. At the online option, students participate in community-building as well as student life workshops and panels.

To be competitive, students should have strong math grades, a stellar teacher recommendation, and essays that communicate their math passion. They should also have ample math engagement outside of school and a solid performance on the SUMaC admissions exam, which is comprised of challenging proof-based problems.

Final Thoughts – Summer Math Programs

Whether you’re already doing self-assigned proofs or brand new to the field, extracurricular ventures are an excellent way to build essential skills and immerse yourself in exciting new topics. While your mathematical success in college will depend on your ability to master challenging material, it will also be determined by your capacity for critical and abstract thinking. As such, summer math programs can be a valuable part of your long-term professional development.

Looking for math summer programs in your area? Consider checking out the following: