About The Program


The aim of the Young Scholars Program (YSP) is to strengthen the participants' mathematical powers through a deep experience in mathematical thought and effort. Our intention is to broaden and enrich the students' understanding of mathematics rather than to accelerate them through the standard elementary or high school mathematics curriculum.

The Young Scholars Program hosts two programs: the Saturday academic year Math Circles of Chicago program, which consists of thirteen sessions; and the Summer YSP Program, which is a four-week day camp throughout the month of July that requires an application and is significantly more selective.


The Young Scholars Program began in the summer of 1988 under Paul J. Sally Jr. and Diane Herrmann in order to further Paul's vision of teaching young talented students some "real" mathematics, and it continues to honor that vision. The program has been running since 1988. Prior to that, the Mathematics Department held a Summer Science Training Program (SSTP), funded by the National Science Foundation and other agencies from 1975 until 1983. In fact, renowned mathematician and educator Arnold Ross visited Chicago for three summers in the mid-1970's to initiate the SSTP at The University of Chicago. To this day, we still follow the Ross model in our program.


Summer Curriculum

In even years, the program's mathematical focus is on number theory, and in odd years, the program's mathematical focus is on geometry. The content and sophistication vary according to the grade level of the participants.

During a day's session (non-Friday), a young scholar's day is broken into four components: two lecture-based classes led by faculty, one break-out problem session in small groups led by undergraduate math majors, and one lunch period. Two of the academic parts are before lunch, and one is after, with the exact schedule determined by the component (7-8's have break-out sessions right before lunch, 9-10's begin the day with break-out sessions, and 11-12's have their break-out sessions after lunch). The seventh and eighth grade component spend a significant amount of time in the computer lab carrying out research activities related to their course work.

Academic Year Curriculum

The curriculum varies. Please visit the Math Circles website for more details.


The summer Young Scholars Program has a participation fee structure based on family income that runs as follows:

Household Income

  1. less than $75,000...suggested fee is $250 (scholarships are available)
  2. $75,000 - $150,000...suggested fee is $600
  3. more than $150,000...suggested fee is $1,000

Please note that ability to pay does not affect the application process in any way. Financial assistance is available to qualifying students.