California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science

Prospective Students – FAQ's

Q: What is COSMOS?
A: The California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at UC San Diego is a rigorous, four week residential program for talented and motivated students. COSMOS students attend clusters that are designed to introduce students to STEM subjects not traditionally offered in high school.

Q: Who may attend COSMOS?
A: Students who excel in mathematics/science and are completing grades eight through twelve by the summer they are applying for are eligible. Parents and children should discuss the student's maturity and readiness to participate in a month-long residential program on a public research university campus. Non-California and international students may apply but pay out-of-state tuition and are not eligible for financial aid. A very small percentage of applying 8th graders, out-of-state, and international studnets are admitted to COSMOS each year.

International students applying to COSMOS UCSD are required to submit official TOEFL scores or equivalent with minimum requirement of 550 for TOEFL written test, 80 for TOEFL online test, or Band Score of 7 for IELTS. Official scores must be postmarked or emailed to by the application deadline, February 7th, 2020.

Q: Where and when is it held?
A: COSMOS will be held at UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz from July 5th - August 1st with the exception of UC Irvine which ends on July 31st.

Q: How much does it cost to attend COSMOS?
A: Tuition for 2020 is $4,128.00 for California residents. Out-of-state applicants pay the full tuition of $6,500 as required by legislation. Tuition includes room and board, classroom materials, field trips, and transportation while on campus. Transportation to/from COSMOS is at the student's expense.

Q: Is financial assistance available?
A: Yes. California residents may be eligible for further tuition assistance based on family income. See the Financial Assistance tab for more information.

Q: How do I apply to COSMOS?
A: Complete the online application that will be available at this website from January 6th - February 7th. Mail all of the supplementary application materials to the COSMOS Office postmarked by the February 1st deadline. See the Prospective Students tab for more information.

Q: When will I be notified about whether or not I have been accepted into the program?
A: Acceptance notifications are emailed in late March. COSMOS is not able to give early acceptance status out. Students can log back into their application account to check their status. COSMOS will also email applicants to check their online application status. Admission status will not be shared over the phone.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA to be accepted into COSMOS?
A: The average unweighted GPA for applicants is around 3.8 with special focus on math and/or science grades. Achievement can also be documented through competition in science fairs or other activities.

Q: Are there prerequisites for the courses?
A: Most courses require prerequisites and students who do not meet the prerequisites cannot be considered for that cluster. View this information on the Academics, Courses and Clusters tab.

Q: Do "in progress" courses meet the prerequisite?
A: Yes, courses that are completed before COSMOS begins meet the prerequisite and should appear as "in progress" on your transcript.

Q: What about Teacher Recommendations? How does it work?
A: Students can submit up to two math or science teacher's email using the Teacher Recommendation tab during the application process. An email is sent to the teacher immediately after the student saves their application containing a link to the online form the teacher will complete and submit electronically. The student does not have to complete their application for the teacher to receive the link. The student should check with their teacher to see if the e-mail message was received and completed.

Q: What is a typical day at COSMOS like?
A: During the day, the schedule consists of a cluster science and/or mathematics related course, and a writing/communications course. Students regularly attend lectures, labs or field trips. Recreation and study groups are planned for the evening, and special activities and supervised field trips are planned for the weekends. Click here for a look at a typical week in COSMOS.

Q: Do I have to conduct research while at COSMOS?
A: Some of the Clusters do require research as a part of the learning experience. COSMOS students are given an orientation to the library at UC San Diego and there is a Teacher Fellow for each cluster to assist with any research related questions.

Q: Are scheduled social activities required?
A: All COSMOS social activities, field trips, and programs require mandatory attendance.

Q: What are some academic requirements while at COSMOS?
A: Each COSMOS cluster requires different academic prerequisites as well as different amounts of research. Students should carefully review each Cluster's description prior to applying in order to determine the best fit for their educational experience. Additionally, there is a mandatory Ethics Essay assignment for each COSMOS student. The Ethics Essay is a valuable component of the UC San Diego COSMOS experience, requiring students to think critically about the area of STEM that they are studying and considering the potential ethical implications around research and development in that area of science.

Q: How many students will attend the program at UC San Diego?
A: COSMOS at UC San Diego is expecting to accommodate a maximum of 225 students.

Q: How are the housing accommodations set up?
A: COSMOS reserves two buildings in the Eleanor Roosevelt College area, one for male students and one for female students. Residential Advisors supervise students and reside in each suite.

Q: Who are the COSMOS faculty and staff?
A: Faculty consists of scientists, mathematicians, researchers, and teachers with most being university instructors. COSMOS staff includes a program Director, Assistant Director, Residential Dean, Administrative staff, Senior Residential Advisor, and trained undergraduate residential assistants (RAs).

Q: Is high school or college credit available for COSMOS attendance?
A: COSMOS is a widely recognized academic enrichment program that does not grant academic credit. Students applying to the University of California can list COSMOS under "Special Program Participation" on their UC application. COSMOS students can request recommendations for college from their cluster faculty.

Q: May I attend COSMOS more than once?
A: No, due to the high volume of applicants attendance is once only per student.

Q: What do I do if I have more questions?
A: Contact COSMOS via e-mail at, or call us at (858) 822-4361.