Prospective Students – FAQ's

The California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at UC San Diego is a rigorous, four week 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.

Students who excel in mathematics/science and are completing grades 8th-12th by the summer they are applying for are eligible. Parents and children should discuss the student's maturity and readiness to participate in a virtual program. Non-California students may apply, but pay out-of-state tuition and are not eligible for financial aid. A very small percentage of applying 8th graders are admitted to COSMOS each year.

Only students that physically reside in the United States during the 2021 activities are eligible to attend COSMOS 2021. Students must further be able to receive packages to their US residence prior to the start of the program. These are requirements for all students regardless of their CA residency status for in-state tuition


(Does not apply for Summer 2021) International students applying to COSMOS UCSD are required to submit official TOEFL scores or equivalent with a minimum requirement of 550 for TOEFL written test, 80 for TOEFL online test, or Band Score of 7 for IELTS. Official scores must be submitted with the $30 application fee.


COSMOS 2021 will be held ONLINE  for all sites:  UC San Diego, UC IrvineUC Davisand UC Santa Cruz from July 6th - July 31st.

Tuition for 2021 is $2117.00 for California residents. Out-of-state applicants pay the full tuition of $4,500 as required by legislation. Tuition covers all cluster materials (including mailed kits) and virtual activities.

Yes. California residents may be eligible for further tuition assistance based on family income. See COSMOS Statewide's Financial Aid tab for more information.

Complete the 2021 online application and submit supplementary application materials by February 19th, 2021. Applications will be available at this website from January 20th - February 19th. Refer to  the How to Apply Tab for more information.

For application FAQs, please visit COSMOS Statewide's site.

Acceptance notifications are emailed in early April. 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.

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.

Most courses require prerequisites and students who do not meet the prerequisites cannot be considered for that cluster. View this information by selecting the desired cluster on our Clusters tab under Academics.

Yes, courses that are completed before COSMOS begins meet the prerequisite and should appear as "in progress" on your official transcript.

Students submit one or two math or science teachers’ emails 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. One recommendation is required, but two are recommended.

Sample Schedule for Online Format

Time Frame



9:00 - 9:30

Lecture (content or Science Comms) 

30 mins

9:30 - 10:15

Activity based on Lecture

45 mins

10:15 - 10:30


15 mins

10:30 - 11:30

Guest Speaker/Lecture/Other events

60 mins (1 hr)

11:30 - Noon


30 mins

Noon - 1pm


60 mins (1hr)

1:00 - 1:30

Social Event (game, small group discussion)

30 mins

1:30 - 2:00

Project/Lab Overview

30 mins

2:00 - 4:00

Project/Lab with Office Hours

120 mins (2hrs)

*Some evening activities may be required, as well as time in the evenings to work on Cluster projects.​​​​​​

COSMOS at UC San Diego is expecting to accommodate a maximum of 245 students.​​​​​

Each cluster varies slightly in tech requirements - make sure to check each cluster description for up-to-date information.

Faculty consists of scientists, mathematicians, researchers, and teachers with most being university instructors. COSMOS staff includes a program Director, an Assistant Director, Administrative staff, and trained undergraduate cluster assistants (CAs).​​​​​​

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.​​​​​​

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applicants, attendance is once only per student.

Please contact the UCSD COSMOS office via e-mail at - please do not call, as the COSMOS team is not working onsite due to COVID restrictions.


Parents - FAQ's

COSMOS cluster faculty have designed activities that have been assessed different levels of risk from low to high.  COSMOS highly recommends that a parent or an adult aged 18+ be available to supervise medium to high risk activities. Due to the online nature of the program, COSMOS faculty and student staff will be available to supervise activities in an online environment only. Additionally, students will need to have an available work surface with plenty of space in order to complete their projects.

COSMOS students are required to attend all scheduled online learning activities, including faculty and teacher fellow lectures, small group work, social networking opportunities between 9am-4pm, and any additional presentations by outside lecturers. Failure to attend any COSMOS event between the 9am-4pm timeframe during the program may result in consequences up to and including removal from the program. Evening social activities may be optional - guidance will be provided from Cluster faculty and staff in regards to these optional programs.​​​

Due to the online nature of the program, COSMOS students may have external commitments so long as they do not impact the student's ability to attend all scheduled COSMOS activities - including any evening activities. Students will not be excused from any scheduled activities due to other commitments.​​​​​​

  • Students must have their cameras on for all COSMOS sessions.
  • Students should be logged in on time and ready to participate. A video/audio test is recommended a few minutes before class is scheduled to begin.
  • The chat feature will be disabled on most Zoom meetings.  Cluster faculty and staff will determine when to enable the chat feature.
  • Siblings/other children:  Must be out of the room and off camera at all times.
  • COSMOS highly recommends a parent or adult over the age of 18 be present in the house during all scheduled lab sessions.

If you have other questions, please don't hesitate to email us at