Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

The California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at UC Santa Cruz 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.

COSMOS is open to California students who excel in mathematics/science and are completing grades eight through twelve by the summer. 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.

Online application will be available in early January through – early February each year. Please see the official statewide COSMOS site https://cosmos-ucop.ucdavis.edu/app/main for detailed information on the application process.

Tuition for 2022 is $4,550. Tuition covers all cluster materials and activities.

Yes, Financial aid is available and distributed based on need (further documentation will be required and outlined during the application process). Please ensure that you select that you would like to apply for financial aid on your online application, as the deadline is Feb. 11, 2022. Note that all required documentation needs to be mailed, and postmarked, to our Statewide Office in Davis no later than the application deadline. There are no extensions on this deadline.

Please contact the COSMOS Statewide Assistant Director, Helen Barr, directly at cdirect@ucdavis.edu with any financial questions you may have. We DO NOT directly handle any financial documents at UCSC.
COSMOS Statewide Office
230 Physical Sciences &
Engineering Library
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
At the time of application, you will be requested to provide unofficial transcripts that include your (unweighted) cumulative GPA. This can usually be uploaded as a PDF document to the application portal. If accepted into the program, you will be required to verify this unweighted cumulative GPA with an official transcript.

Please note: only students who are officially admitted into the program will need to provide an official transcript by the acceptance deadline. Additional information will be provided regarding these details.

An official high school transcript is typically requested from your counselor or School Registrar. You must ensure that the document is signed, sealed, and sent out by the postmark deadline specified by COSMOS administration. Any missing, opened, or late submissions WILL NOT be considered. If there are ANY discrepancies between your official and your unofficial transcript, or your reported GPA from the time of application, COSMOS will cancel your admittance into the program.
The average unweighted GPA for applicants is around 3.8 with a special focus on math and/or science grades. Achievement can also be documented through competition in science fairs or other activities.
Some COSMOS clusters have prerequisites and students who do not meet the prerequisites will not be considered for that cluster.

Yes, courses that are completed before the COSMOS start date do meet the prerequisite and should appear as “in progress” on your transcript.

We strongly encourage students to submit two teacher’s emails using the Teacher Recommendation tab during the application process, though only one is absolutely required. 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 cluster science and/or mathematics-related courses, and a transferable skills course focusing on science communication. Students regularly attend lectures, labs, and/or field trips. Recreation and study groups are planned for the evening, and special activities and supervised field trips are planned for the weekends.

Most of the Clusters do require research as a part of the learning experience. COSMOS students are given an orientation to the campus library and there are Course Assistants (UCSC grad. students) for each cluster to assist with any research-related questions.

Most of the COSMOS social activities, field trips, and programs require mandatory attendance.

Each COSMOS cluster requires different academic prerequisites as well as different amounts of research. Students should carefully review each Cluster’s description prior to applying in order to determine the best fit for their educational experience.

COSMOS at UC Santa Cruz is expecting to accommodate 280-300 students.

Faculty consists of scientists, mathematicians, researchers, and teachers with most being university instructors. COSMOS staff includes a Faculty Director, Assistant Director, Operations Coordinator, Coordinator for Residential Education, and trained undergraduate residential assistants (RAs). The information can be found on this website.

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. In addition, COSMOS alumni can request recommendations for college from their cluster faculty.
No, due to the high volume of applicants, attendance is once only per student.
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 travel in groups and alongside a COSMOS staff member to go significant distances on campus.
  • Students must be accompanied by a COSMOS staff member or a pre-approved family member if leaving campus.
  • For field trips, students must check in with staff at designated locations and times.
  • Students must follow a strict dorm schedule daily.

No, full participation in COSMOS is required of all students in order for the students to receive a Certificate of Completion. In addition, COSMOS is not able to accommodate the individual schedules of close to 300 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. Students benefit most by full involvement in the COSMOS program.

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 without exception.

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.

You can send them mail as well; letters and packages are allowed.  Nothing perishable and nothing alive.  Address items to:

Student’s Name
UCSC COSMOS
Central Conference Office
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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 works 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.

Parent FAQ

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.

Some safety policies include:

  • No traveling on campus alone.
  • 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.

No, full participation in COSMOS is required of all students in order for the students to receive a Certificate of Completion. In addition, COSMOS is not able to accommodate the individual schedules of 315 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. Students benefit most by full involvement in the COSMOS program. NO EXCEPTIONS CAN BE MADE.

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.​​​​​​
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.

If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at cosmos@ucsc.edu.

Parent Testimonials

We contacted various parents of previous COSMOS students and asked them if they had any advice or comments about the program that they wished to pass on to prospective students and parents. Below are a few of their responses.