Is SSP for You?

Imagine yourself …

  • living and working in a close-knit community drawn from around the world, everyone just as interesting and motivated as you are, united by curiosity and exploration …
  • immersing yourself in a fascinating, challenging research project …
  • helping your teammates and being helped in turn, collaborating rather than competing …
  • learning more and learning it faster than you ever thought possible, feeling intellectually challenged as you never have before…

The “SSP experience” accelerates your academic and personal development as you approach important life decisions. Afterwards you will really know whether a STEM major and career is your best path – or not. And you will gain practical skills, such as time management, that will help you succeed in college and beyond.

It is free to apply. There is a program fee, but generous need-based financial aid funded by our generous donors allows students from lower-income families to attend at a fee they can afford. In 2020, 33 attended absolutely free, and 23 more at a discounted fee.

SSP is intense and challenging – material is presented at a pace faster than college courses, and the schedule is jam-packed – but every participant receives a high level of personal attention from the seven faculty, so no one is left behind. The spirit of cooperation is reinforced by the absence of grades or tests.

Should you apply? Well, if the idea of spending most of your summer doing science excites you, and you meet the pre-requisites, then why not? We will carefully evaluate your application holistically and in context, taking in account your motivation, resources, and obstacles overcome. Every year, some people are surprised to be admitted – maybe that will be you! But since we have many more applicants than spots, you should have a backup summer plan too. Whether you are admitted or not, applying to SSP gives you good practice and a head start on applying for college.

In the classroom


Applications are open each winter to current high school juniors and exceptional sophomores who have completed the pre-requisites, and will be at least 15 years old, but not yet 19, during program operation. Current freshmen and seniors are not eligible.

To meet the pre-requisite, a course must be taken for credit and a grade, and completed by June. Self-study does not qualify.

Research in
Year in school
(when applying)
Coursework Pre-requisites
(completed or in progress)
Astrophysicsjunior (11th grade)calculus OR
[physics AND precalculus]
Astrophysicssophomore (10th grade)calculus AND physics
See the FAQs
Biochemistryjunior or sophomorebiology AND chemistry AND strong algebra skills


We have not yet decided if SSP will be online or in person. The dates below are for in-person attendance at each campus. If online, date may shift slightly.
Research In Campus Time
Astrophysics Univ. Colorado 13 June – 21 July
Astrophysics NM Tech 20 June – 28 July
Biochemistry Purdue Univ. 13 June – 21 July
Biochemistry Indiana Univ. 20 June – 28 July

With very few exceptions, we cannot accommodate late arrivals, overnight absences, or early departures – see the FAQs.

Whom do we admit?

Admitted applicants are earning top grades in the most advanced math & science courses available to them. We look for evidence of good character and motivation, and take into account any obstacles you may face, for example limited resources in your family or your school. The application provides ample opportunities to explain your unique circumstances.

Each program of 36 participants and 7 faculty is a diverse community of scholars. Those from racial and ethnic backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM are especially encouraged to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or application for financial aid.

Given two equally promising and motivated applicants, we will offer the experience to the one likely to benefit more.

For more on who should apply or not, see the FAQs.