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A Comprehensive Guide to COSMOS at UC Davis (The California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science)

4 minute read

In the heart of the University of California, Davis, an extraordinary program unfolds each summer, captivating the minds of prospective scientists and mathematicians. California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) is a beacon of academic excellence, providing an immersive and comprehensive experience in the realms of science and mathematics.

UC COSMOS is a rigorous four-week summer program designed for high school students with a demonstrated aptitude for STEM subjects. Open to students completing grades 8-12, the COSMOS summer program offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with renowned faculty in state-of-the-art facilities. The curriculum goes beyond typical high school courses, providing hands-on and lab-intensive experiences. 

This is a unique opportunity for high school students to delve into the fascinating worlds of science and mathematics. The COSMOS summer program is designed to nurture the curiosity and intellectual growth of young minds, providing them with a taste of the rigorous academic environment that defines competitive summer programs high school students seek.

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Program Structure: What is COSMOS?

The program is structured to offer a high school student a multifaceted experience, exposing them to cutting-edge research, hands-on experiments, and collaborative projects. From biology and chemistry to physics and computer science, COSMOS embraces diversity in scientific exploration. At the core of COSMOS is its distinguished UC faculty, a cadre of experienced educators and researchers who serve as mentors and guides in the pursuit of scientific inquiry. These renowned faculty members bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to the program, fostering an environment where a COSMOS student can engage with complex concepts and develop scientific and mathematical prowess.

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Who can apply? 

Exclusive to California residents, this program is specifically tailored for students entering 9th through 12th grade in the fall of 2024. For inquiries regarding student residency status for application purposes, it is recommended to contact the Statewide COSMOS office.

What are the application requirements? 

To apply, candidates must submit a comprehensive online application, featuring a personal statement. Additionally, two teacher recommendations are necessary, with a preference for STEM teachers; however, recommendations from other disciplines are accepted. Official high school transcripts are required, and 9th graders should include a copy of their 8th-grade report card. Parent or guardian e-signatures in the parent portal are mandatory, and applicants are required to pay a $42 application fee, payable online via credit card or check. For those particularly interested in mathematics, the program provides valuable experiences akin to math internships for high school students, allowing participants to engage with the subject and explore its practical applications deeply.

What do students get?

The university's commitment to providing top-tier facilities extends to its computing resources. In an age where data analysis is integral to scientific inquiry, The COSMOS UC Davis program ensures that students have the computational power and software tools necessary to explore, interpret, and visualize complex datasets.  This emphasis on advanced resources and hands-on learning places COSMOS among the top math summer programs for high school students, offering a comprehensive and enriching educational experience.

Where does it happen? 

While this article is specifically focused on UC Davis, please note that there are actually four University of California campuses from which you can choose! These include UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement? 

The competitive selection process considers factors such as GPA (typically 3.5 or above) and academic excellence. Each campus can accommodate around 160-200 participants, ensuring a focused and enriching experience.

Collaborative Learning: A Community of Scholars

UC Davis COSMOS fosters a sense of community among its participants, creating an environment where collaboration is not only encouraged but essential. Students from diverse backgrounds come together to share their passion for science and mathematics, engaging in discussions, group projects, and collaborative problem-solving.

The program's emphasis on collaborative learning extends to interdisciplinary exploration. While delving into their chosen scientific or mathematical focus, students have the opportunity to interact with peers from other disciplines, broadening their perspectives and enriching their overall COSMOS experience.

Beyond the Traditional Classroom Settings

The COSMOS UC Davis experience goes beyond the traditional classroom setting. The program organizes a variety of extracurricular activities that complement academic learning and provide students with a holistic experience. Field trips, guest lectures by renowned scientists, and interactive workshops add a dynamic layer to the curriculum, offering students a taste of the real-world applications of science and mathematics. Additionally, these experiences can inspire students as they highlight various math degree career opportunities, demonstrating the diverse paths a strong foundation in mathematics can lead to.

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COSMOS Showcase: Celebrating Achievement

At the culmination of the program, there will be the “COSMOS Showcase”, where students can share their research findings, projects, and experiences. This event not only celebrates the achievements of the participants but also allows them to engage with the broader scientific community. The COSMOS Showcase serves as a testament to the transformative impact of the program, showcasing the growth and accomplishments of the next generation of scientists and mathematicians.

Where can I apply?