Prospective Students – FAQ's

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.

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 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 submitted with the $30 application fee.

COSMOS 2021 will be held at UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz from July 6th - July 31st.

Tuition for 2020 is $4218.00 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.

Yes. California residents may be eligible for further tuition assistance based on family income. See the Financial Assistance tab for more information.

Complete the 2021 online application that will be available at this website from January 6th - February 5th . Mail all of the supplementary application materials to the COSMOS Office postmarked by the February 5th deadline. See the Prospective Students tab for more information.

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. 

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 on the Academics, Courses and Clusters tab.

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

Students submit 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.

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 fun activities 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.

COSMOS at UC San Diego is expecting to accommodate a maximum of 225 students.

COSMOS reserves two buildings in the Eleanor Roosevelt College area, one for male students, one for female students. Residential Advisors supervise students and reside in each suite.

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).

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, or call us at (858) 822-4361.

Parents - FAQ's

Q: What is the level of supervision provided?
A: The safety and security of COSMOS students is the priority of all COSMOS faculty and staff. Students are responsible for their own conduct with administrative, instructional, and residential staff working together to provide supervision and appropriate guidelines. Students will meet with their RA on a daily basis allowing for strong connections and an opportunity to address concerns. The Student Handbook addresses these issues in more depth and can be used as a guideline on whether a student is capable of following these policies away from home.

Some safety policies include:

  • No traveling on campus alone-students must use the buddy system.
  • Students must be accompanied by a COSMOS staff member or a pre-approved family member if leaving campus.
  • On field trips, students must check in with staff at designated locations and times.
  • Students must be in their dorm suite by 10pm.

Q: Can my child leave COSMOS to attend outside commitments?
A: COSMOS is not able to accommodate the individual schedules of 225 active teenagers. The majority of COSMOS students are active in sports, church, band, clubs and academic review courses and we do not have the staff to safely monitor arrival and departure schedules. COSMOS is a full participation activity and students benefit most by full involvement in the COSMOS program. NO EXCEPTIONS CAN BE MADE.

Q: Can I authorize my child to have more/less freedom?
A: The COSMOS policies were designed to help us ensure each student's safety and manage a large group of teenagers on campus. There is one set of rules for all students, regardless of their age or "freedom" allowed at home. Older students, or students who are used to operating more independently should consider this before coming to COSMOS. 

Q: What is the best way to communicate with my child?
A: Students are kept very busy at COSMOS and often don't have a lot of time to devote to texting, emailing, or calling on the phone. Even if you don't hear from them, they love to hear from you. Students are not allowed to call, text or email during designated class times, so consider this when contacting your child. Check the Admitted Students/Parents tab for more information.

Q: What should I do if my child is homesick?
A: Four-weeks can be a long time to be away from home for students and parents and should be discussed prior to COSMOS admission acceptance. The first week is often the most difficult, and staff work hard to ensure students are adjusting. If you are concerned about your child's homesickness, please contact the COSMOS office so staff can help the student adjust to life at COSMOS. Nearly all students who initially experience homesickness ultimately enjoy their COSMOS experience. In all cases, contact COSMOS staff prior to arriving to take your child home. Although that may be the best course, the staff is trained to help students and parents adjust.

Q: Can I come visit?
A: Family Visitation weekend is designated as a time to visit with your student. Students may visit or leave campus with family or a designated adult for a few hours or the weekend. Many students do not go home during the weekend and the residential life staff provides supervision and activities. Early or late check in is not available. More information is provided after acceptance. The four COSMOS sites have slightly different weekend visitation schedules. 

Q: Other questions?
A: If you have other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.