The mission of COSMOS is to motivate the most creative minds of the new generation of prospective scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will become leaders for California, the nation, and the world. The program aims to create a community of high school students who participate in and contribute to an intensive academic experience delivered by distinguished educators and scholars.


COSMOS at UC Davis is an intensive four-week summer residential PRE-COLLEGE program for high school students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12 have the opportunity to be mentored by renowned faculty, researchers, and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools. COSMOS fosters its students’ interests, skills, and awareness of educational and career options in STEM fields through challenging curricula that are both hands-on and lab-intensive.  For details on what is being offered this year at COSMOS UC Davis, Click here.


COSMOS is guided by a statewide advisory board composed of select leaders with interests and experience in STEM education. The Board advises the COSMOS leadership in general, and the Executive Director in particular, on essential program strategies, including:

  • Fundraising, development, and student accessibility
  • Legislative and public communication
  • Academic and research opportunities for students and alumni

The Board meets semi-annually to review the COSMOS program and discuss new opportunities for advancing the program's mission.


Students can only apply to ONE of the five University of California’s COSMOS campuses — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz.  While each campus employs the best practices in STEM education, each program's curriculum builds on the unique teaching and research expertise of its faculty and host campus. Each campus can only accommodate about 160-250 participants, so the selection is competitive. A typical COSMOS student has a GPA of 3.5 or above. Students must have achieved academic excellence. In making admission decisions, we consider the following factors:

  • Grades, especially in math and science courses

  • Math/science teacher recommendations

  • Response to one personal essay question


The California Legislature established the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) in 1998 (Assembly Bill 2536) with the goal of engaging highly talented and motivated students in an intensive program of study, experimentation, and activities to further their interests and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science is modeled after the California State Summer School for the Arts. The Request for Proposal to host COSMOS was awarded to the University of California, and the program was launched at Irvine and Santa Cruz in 2000. Due to high demand, UC added additional campuses: UC Davis in 2001, UC San Diego in 2004, and UC Los Angeles in 2024,

COSMOS helps California meet its need for a talented workforce by encouraging the brightest students in high schools across the state to continue their interest in STEM fields. COSMOS subsequently plays a vital role in supporting the mission of Education Partnerships to address the critical needs of STEM education and the University of California’s objective to help develop a talented STEM workforce that will enhance the state’s economic climate.

To remain competitive in the global economy, California must provide students with exciting opportunities to encourage their enthusiasm for mathematics and science. COSMOS supports California high school students with a nurturing environment that celebrates excellence and innovative thinking in STEM fields. The program also improves the linkage between high school, postsecondary education, and the workforce by connecting students to institutions of higher learning and research facilities. For COSMOS, innovation begins with education.