Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions


What is COSMOS?
The California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at UC Davis is a rigorous, four week summer residential program for talented and motivated students in grades 8* - 11, however, preference is given to 9-11 graders (*extraordinary 8th grade students are also eligible to apply). COSMOS students will attend short courses that are designed to introduce students to subjects not traditionally offered in high school. Courses will be offered in Chemistry, Robotics, Engineering, Mathematics, and more.

Who may attend COSMOS?
California students who are completing grades 8* - 11 may apply to COSMOS, however, preference is given to 9-11th graders (*8th grade students who are taking math/science courses beyond the typical track are also eligible to apply). A limited number of students from outside the state are considered each year. Participants are selected in the spring on the basis of their academic performance, quality of their application submissions, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular math and science achievements.

Where and when is COSMOS held?
COSMOS is offered at four UC campuses: Davis, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz. The UC Davis COSMOS Program will run in July and August

How much does it cost to attend COSMOS?
Tuition for the 2018 COSMOS Program is $3,745 for California residents. Out-of-state students are required to pay the unsubsidized cost of $6,000 as required by the California State Legislature. Tuition includes room and board, classroom materials, field trips, and transportation while on campus.

Is financial assistance available?
Yes. Full and partial financial assistance will be available. Out of state students must pay the unsubsidized fee of $6,000 and are not eligible for financial assistance. Financial assistance forms must be downloaded from the COSMOS Statewide website and included with your application materials.

How do I apply to COSMOS?
The application period begins in early January. COSMOS will only accept on-line applications. The application link is available at the COSMOS Statewide websiteand it's only active during this time period. You are encouraged to request the assistance of a school counselor or teacher if you need help accessing the on-line application.

How many applications do you receive and how many student can attend COSMOS at UC Davis?
COSMOS at UC Davis received over 1200 applications this year for 220 spaces. 

Are there prerequisites for the courses?
Some courses require prerequisites. Please check the Academics page for those marked with an asterisk.

What is a typical day at COSMOS like?
Each student's COSMOS schedule is created around a cluster consisting of one core course, two supplemental courses, and a science and technical writing course. On a typical day, COSMOS students attend special lectures, take courses, and/or participate in labs or course-related field trips. Recreation and study groups are built into the evening and weekend schedules. Special activities and supervised field trips are planned for the weekends. Social and cultural events and friendly competitions, including dorm Olympics have been popular in the past. Evening activities such as COSMOS Jeopardy, karaoke, and a student-organized Talent Show are highlights as well. You can also view a schedule for a typical week in COMSOS.

>COSMOS faculty is comprised of accomplished practicing scientists, mathematicians, researchers, and teachers. Most are university instructors. The student-teacher ration is roughly ten-to-one. The COSMOS staff includes an academic program director, program manager, resident dean, 2 senior residential advisors (SRA’s), and 22 undergraduate live-in residential advisors (RA's).

What do I do if I have more questions?
Contact COSMOS via e-mail at, or call us at (530) 754-7325.

Student Questions

Can I get high school or college credit for COSMOS attendance?
COSMOS is an academic enrichment program. It is not meant to replace high school or college course work, and does not grant academic credit. COSMOS participation helps a student demonstrate their academic excellence and provides a distinct opportunity to develop integral skills for success in a college-like residential learning community. COSMOS also gives students a unique opportunity to work closely with university faculty who may be helpful with recommendations to college. Students applying to the University of California may reference their participation in the "Special Program Participation" section on the UC application.

When should I request a teacher recommendation?
Teacher recommendations must be filled out and submitted online before the application deadline In order to meet this deadline, students must begin their online application well before the 20. When student go online, they must enter their teachers' email address and choose the "Send Now" option. Only after the student has clicked "Send Now" will the teacher have a chance to send in a recommendation on the student's behalf. Don't wait until the last minute! Teacher recommendations are a required component to the COSMOS application; please do everything you can to ensure your application is complete!

When will I be notified about whether or not I have been accepted into the program?
Email notification will be sent to all applicants in April. Admissions status will not be given over the telephone.  You can also check your application status online.

I was not admitted to my top cluster preference. Can I be transferred into my first choice cluster if someone drops out?
We make every effort to place admitted applicants in their top cluster preference. However, due to the large demand of certain courses, this is not always possible. We are unable to transfer cluster assignments once they have been made and hope that you will take the opportunity to explore different areas in math and science even if the cluster assigned is not your first choice.

I met the eligibility requirements, why wasn't I admitted to COSMOS?
Due to the large volume of applications and the strength of our applicant pool, we are simply not able to admit all qualified students. If you plan to re-apply next summer, we encourage you to focus on your essay responses and perhaps consider applying to a different cluster. In general, the biology clusters are the most competitive.

May I attend COSMOS more than once?
No. At this time students may only attend COSMOS once.  Due to the large number of applicants, alumni may not apply to any COSMOS program in order to allow other students an opportunity to attend COSMOS.

Parent Questions

How much supervision is provided for my son/daughter?
While students are ultimately responsible for their own conduct, administrative, instructional, and residential staff all work together to provide supervision. Students are primarily supervised by the residential staff who live in the residence hall with the students. The residential staff consists of a resident dean, two senior residential advisors (SRA's) who oversee a staff of 20 UC Davis undergraduate resident advisors. All have cleared background and DMV checks and participate in a intensive week-long training (including first-aid and CPR certification) prior to the program.  The RA's ensure that COSMOS rules and procedures are followed and that problems are handled right away. They are knowledgeable about the campus and college life and are available at all times to help students adjust to the program and life away from home.

Will my child be safe?
The COSMOS policies are put in place to keep the students safe at all times. Some of these policies include: Students must be in the dorms by 9PM, & no traveling away from the dorm area alone. Students must use the buddy system. See the COSMOS Handbook for more specifics on COSMOS policies. Parents will know best if a student is capable of following the policies while away from home. If at any time, a student does not feel safe, they should let a COSMOS staff member know so that the situation can be remedied.

COSMOS seems really strict. Can I authorize my child to have more freedom?
Inevitably, there will be students who are given more freedom at home and feel that the rules at COSMOS are too strict. There will also be students who have stricter rules at home and are surprised by the amount of autonomy they are given. The COSMOS policies have been designed to help ensure each student's safety and manage a large group of teenagers on the 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.

What is the best way to communicate with my child?
Students are kept very busy at COSMOS and often don't have a lot of time to devote to writing letters, email, or calling on the phone. Even if you don't hear from them, trust that they love to hear from you.  If you haven’t heard from your child for an extended period of time please email the resident dean who will get a note to your child to contact you!

What should I do if my child is homesick?
Four weeks can be a long time to be away from home (for the student and the parents). Before coming to COSMOS, this should be discussed with your student. The first week is often the most difficult to get through. Our staff will work hard to make sure that students are connecting with one another and feeling like they belong.

If you are concerned about your child's homesickness, please contact the COSMOS office immediately. Our staff will work hard to help the student adjust to life at COSMOS. Nearly all students who initially experience homesickness ultimately enjoy their COSMOS experience.

While it can be extremely difficult, please do not respond to your child's "rescue call" by coming to campus to talk them into staying. Once a student sees a ride home, there is rarely any turning back. If a student is begging to come home, please call a COSMOS staff member so that we can discuss different options. While it may be best for the student to go home in the end, we prefer to try other strategies first.

Can I come visit and/or can my child come home on weekends?
As many families live too far to visit during the program, it is certainly not necessary to visit your child during the four weeks. Weekend time allows students to establish friendships and become fully involved in residential life. Non-academic outings are planned every Saturday which most students don't like to miss. If you would like to visit your student or bring him/her home, you are required to submit a "Short Term Leave Form" at least 24 hours in advance. No visitors including parents will be granted entrance in to the residence hall once the program begins.

Summertime in Davis is hot! Are the dorms air conditioned?
Yes. Thankfully, all dorm rooms and classrooms are air conditioned!

Where can I find out more information about the Davis community?
Online you can visit The Davis Wiki and the The Yolo County Visitor's Bureau for Davis


Modified 2015-05-20