PROMYS Foundation


The Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) was founded in 1989 by members of its current faculty, Prof. Marjory Baruch (trustee), Prof. David Fried, Prof. Steve Rosenberg, and Prof. Glenn Stevens (trustee) who were former participants in the Secondary Science Training Program (SST) founded in 1957 by Arnold Ross. The PROMYS founders' own experiences in SST provided them with a theoretical model for PROMYS which they adapted to their own environment at Boston University. With Prof. Stevens serving as founding director, they successfully turned theory into practice over 30 years ago and have continued to introduce strategies for the discovery of bright and eager young students from all backgrounds.

PROMYS is a challenging program designed to encourage ambitious high school students to explore the creative world of mathematics. Each summer, approximately 80 high school students from around the country gather on the campus of Boston University for six weeks of rigorous mathematical activity. Through their intensive efforts to solve an assortment of unusually challenging problems in Number Theory, participants will practice the art of mathematical discovery. The problem sets encourage students to design their own numerical experiments and to employ their own powers of analysis to discover mathematical patterns, formulate and test conjectures, and justify their ideas by devising their own mathematical proofs.

Students are advised by resident counselors: junior counselors who have just graduated high school and undergraduate counselors who are embarking on their own mathematical careers at some of the finest universities. In addition, the returning students, who share dormitory rooms with the first-year students, are a constant source of helpful hints and suggestions. Senior mathematicians also serve as resources for providing mathematical support and encouragement to the students.

Financial Aid

The PROMYS Foundation is dedicated to the idea that every student accepted to PROMYS can attend, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances. To this end, participation cost is subsidized for all students to keep the program more accessible.

In addition, we are happy to offer the program FREE for American students whose families make under $60,000 per year, and we expect to offer financial aid for American students whose families make under $140,000 or have demonstrated need. For international students, financial aid is considered on a case-by-case basis.

With continued fundraising efforts, we hope to expand the financial aid program for future years. Donate here!

Breakout Fellowships

The Breakout Fellowship are full scholarships to PROMYS for mathematically talented student who might not otherwise be able to attend. In 2014, Terence Tao, Richard Taylor, and Jacob Lurie, recipients of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics created the Breakout Fellowship to PROMYS. The PROMYS Foundation led the PROMYS alum community in a successful campaign to match the very generous donation of the Breakthrough mathematicians. Thanks to the generosity of all the donors, the Breakout Fellowships Endowment was created, and the future of the Breakout Fellowships to PROMYS is assured: there will be a Breakout Fellow in every PROMYS cohort in the future!

Yongren Fellowships

Envisioned and funded by a generous family foundation in 2017, the Yongren Fellowships are full scholarships to PROMYS for mathematically talented high school students in China who could not otherwise afford to participate in PROMYS. The fellowships cover tuition, housing and meals for the six weeks of the program plus round-trip travel from China, visa fees, and any required books.

Alumni Community

During the summer session, PROMYS participants are part of a vibrant and supportive mathematical community consisting of both full-time PROMYS attendees and visiting mathematicians, scientists, and alumni. At the end of the summer, first-year participants become alumni and have life-long access to the extended PROMYS community of kindred spirits around the country and around the world. PROMYS alumni form a dedicated group: many students return to PROMYS as counselors, mentors, lecturers, or instructors; very many alums return to visit and to maintain important social and intellectual bonds. There are over 1,729 PROMYS alumni.

In partnership with PROMYS, we hold alumni reunions both during the summer session in Boston and in January to coincide with the Joint Math Meetings (JMM). Participants during the summer attend math talks given by alums and participate in arranged networking activities to encourage current participants to ask visiting alums about their educational and career backgrounds. Of course, there is always a whole lot of mathematics going on! JMM brings many of our alums from all over the world together to present their research and to socialize with fellow mathematicians, so this is a perfect time for PROMYS friends to gather too!

PROMYS for Teachers

In 1991, two years after the founding of the student program, PROMYS for Teachers, now a nationally recognized teacher institute, was established in collaboration with Boston University's Department of Mathematics and the Education Development Center (EDC), with a small group of 4 teachers. PROMYS for Teachers has grown to be a nationally known program attracting up to 50 Massachusetts teachers in recent summers. Teachers spend 6 weeks in the summer working intensely on challenging math alongside the talented high schoolers in PROMYS. Follow-up activities consist of five full-day workshops offered during the academic year by mathematicians at EDC. PROMYS for Teachers' mission is to enable the teachers to build the tools they need to create an atmosphere of joyful discovery in their own math classrooms.

PROMYS for Teachers (PfT) works to promote a "culture of exploration" in secondary school mathematics classrooms. Our experience proves that the joys of exploration and discovery can be experienced by secondary school students and teachers in ways that are not all that different from what a seasoned mathematics researcher experiences. Moreover, teachers who have such experiences are better prepared to encourage independent inquiry among their own students. Reports from PfT alumni confirm that all students benefit from this kind of instruction, not just the most talented ones.

Ninety percent of PROMYS teachers work in public high schools, almost all in Massachusetts, and over half in high-needs school districts.