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Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC): 6 Great Reasons to Apply

If you’re looking for a summer program in advanced mathematics as a high school student, consider applying to Stanford University’s Mathematics Camp (SUMaC). The program has seen students from over 50 countries since its inception in 1994.

SUMaC provides a rigorous academic program for high school students (for Grade Levels 11-12), including lectures, guided research, and group problem-solving.

It is a highly prestigious summer program, and including your experience on your resume will definitely give you an edge while applying to college.

In this blog, we’ve listed 6 great reasons to apply to SUMaC, as well as other details about the program, such as:

  • Overview of the program curriculum

  • Eligibility

  • Application dates and deadlines

  • Materials required to apply

  • Cost

About Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

Who is eligible to apply and participate?

  • SUMaC is open to both domestic and international students.

  • Students who are in 10th or 11th grade at the time of application, and who demonstrate genuine interest in mathematics are encouraged to apply.

  • If you’re considering applying, you should have previous experience writing and reading mathematical proofs, and strong mastery in high school geometry and algebra.

  • Prior study of number theory and familiarity with modular arithmetic are suggested.

  • Standardized test scores are accepted, but not compulsory.

What is the difference between SUMaC Residential and SUMaC Online?

The Residential program and Online program differ in terms of duration and pace of academic instruction.

SUMaC Online admits 64 participants and includes

  • Faster-paced three-week curriculum

  • Daily TA and peer problem-solving sessions and online guest lectures

  • Final research projects that are presented on a single day

SUMaC Residential, on the other hand, admits 40 students and includes

  • Four weeks of curriculum

  • Daily TA sessions and structured evening and weekend social activities

  • Final research projects that are presented at the end of the program

  • Housing and learning at the Stanford Campus

What is the application deadline for the 2023 SUMaC program?

The 2023 deadline for applications usually falls at the beginning of February.

What are the program dates for SUMaC?

The dates for the SUMaC programs generally fall between June and July each year.

What do you need to apply to the program?

For a complete application, you will need to submit the following, along with a $65 application fee.

  • Academic records, such as transcripts

  • One online recommendation from a math teacher

  • A video essay that shares more about your interest in the program.

What does a typical day at SUMaC look like?

You can view the typical schedule of a SUMaC participant here -



Where can I find more information about the courses offered at SUMaC?

SUMaC offers two courses, Program I covers Abstract Algebra and Number Theory and Program II covers Algebraic Topology. You can pick between the two and indicate your preference in your application. You can find more information about the various courses offered at SUMaC here.

What is the cost of the program? Is financial aid offered for SUMaC?

The tuition cost of the online program is $3,550, while the tuition cost for SUMaC residential is $8,250.

Financial aid is offered.

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC): 6 Great Reasons to Apply

1. Learn advanced math through a rigorous curriculum

SUMaC is best known for its rigorous academic curriculum, which is spread across 2 academic tracks, known as Program I and Program II. Both these programs offer unique subjects that you can choose from depending on the topics you wish to explore, the depth of learning you are comfortable with, as well as your skill level.

As a SUMaC applicant, you will be provided with a choice of one of the two programs, which will be counted towards your preference during allotment. Note that both these programs are highly competitive, so it's a good idea to consider and select the one you wish to study.

Program I topics are usually introduced to participants via problems that cover topics such as limitations of geometric constructions, patterns in two dimensions, error-correcting codes, cryptography, and the analysis of symmetry in structures.

If you choose to opt for Program I as part of your SUMaC trajectory, you will be expected to have experience writing and reading mathematical proofs, and strong high school geometry and algebra mastery.

Program II, on the other hand, mainly focuses on algebraic topology, and students that opt for Program II are expected to be either previous participants of Program I or have more proof experience.

SUMaC participants engage in a variety of mathematical concepts to grow their knowledge and contribute to research, instead of simply memorizing concepts for competitions or challenges.

This intensive academic exposure is what sets SUMaC apart from other high school math programs.

2. Learn from expert faculty

The program features world-class faculty, including professors, and researchers from a diverse range of mathematical subjects. You may learn a prescribed list of topics or concepts from a single teacher at high school, but at SUMaC, you have the chance to work with and learn from some of the brightest minds in mathematics.

SUMaC offers a liberal learning environment, and you can choose to engage with your mentor and faculty’s teachings both inside and outside the classroom. Additionally, each group of students and each course is assigned a Teaching Assistant, who holds regular office hours and sessions to help you understand a topic in more depth, and answer any questions you may have in between classes.

SUMaC’s faculty includes Professor Rafe Mazzeo and Professor Ralph Cohen, co-founders of the camp who teach topics such as partial differential equations and algebraic topology.

3. Do advanced research

Pursuing research in mathematics as a high school student is a highly prestigious achievement to put on your resume, and as a SUMaC participant, you will be encouraged to solve problems, pursue research ideas, and think of solutions and applications in the field of mathematics.

Many SUMaC participants have pursued research during the program, something you can do too. Note that if you’re passionate and driven enough to pursue research questions even after SUMaC has ended, you can go on to work with your professors at university alongside your undergraduate degree.

College admissions officers are looking for students that not only participate in competitive pre-college programs but also gain as much experience and build their aptitude for research.

4. Collaborate with and learn from talented peers

As a subject, math relies greatly on discussions, debates, and engagement with your peers while working on a particular problem or research idea.

At SUMaC, you are encouraged to work on group discussions, projects, and collaborative problem-solving with your fellow SUMaC students.

You are also expected to participate in on-site tours and social events with your peers. You can use SUMaC’s peer learning opportunities to develop your critical thinking skills, teamwork, and problem-solving skills - qualities that can help boost your application at university.

5. Pick between online and in-person options: schedule and cost flexibility

SUMaC recently launched a virtual component and offers its long-standing in-person component at Stanford University. If you’re unable to attend the program due to personal and financial constraints, you can choose to apply for the virtual program.

The curriculum and topics covered remain the same for both, but flexibility is offered in terms of pace and duration. The virtual program is fast-paced and is spread over 3 weeks, while the in-person program is 4 weeks, and includes activities such as social events, tours and trips, and a university experience at Stanford.

As a SUMaC participant, you are expected to fully engage with the content taught over both mediums.

This flexibility has helped SUMaC take in 104 participants across both mediums, which has led to a more diverse and engaging cohort.

6. Boost your profile with a prestigious program

Attending intensive academic programs as a high school student is often viewed favorably on your resume and college application profile.

In terms of selectivity, SUMaC accepts less than 6% of all its applicants.

SUMaC is a program that is as rigorous as college-level courses in math and offers extensive learning opportunities and research options. Many SUMaC alums have gone on to pursue advanced degrees in math, work on innovative ideas, or do independent research.

You can view a list of SUMaC alumni here.

You should make the most of the networking opportunities that the program offers to the fullest, and interact and engage with your peers, professors, faculty, and teaching assistants.

Building a solid network in the field you wish to pursue a career in is an asset to have, and participating in programs that offer you such opportunities is one you may want to apply for.

If you are interested in doing university-level research in math, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image source: Stanford University Mathematics Camp logo

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