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PRIMES Circle is a free after-school math enrichment program for talented high school students living within commuting distance from Boston.

The goal of this program is to increase diversity in the mathematical community by helping strong students from underrepresented groups (including girls, minorities, students with disadvantaged backgrounds and from underserved communities) to develop their interest in mathematics and to set them on a path toward pursuing a math-based major in college.

For four months, late January through mid-May, they work with MIT professors and undergraduates to study mathematics and to solve challenging math problems beyond high school curriculum. Students focus on a specific area of mathematics, read literature in that area, and practice problem solving, expository writing, and presentation skills.

Message from Dr. Chelsea Walton, Program Coordinator in 2013-2014


This exciting after-school program provides a wonderful opportunity for you to explore fascinating mathematical theories, such as graph theory, knot theory, or game theory. Working in small groups with other talented students under the guidance of MIT undergrads, you will discover the beauty of the mathematical way of thinking and the thrill of solving a challenging problem.

At PRIMES Circle, you will meet brilliant mathematicians, from professors to undergraduate students, who will guide your interest and help you achieve professional heights.

The new coordinator, Isabel Vogt, was a mentor for PRIMES Circle for the first two years of the program. During this time she ran an excellent course on The Game of Sprouts, which has connections to both graph theory and topology. I could not think of a better replacement as Program Coordinator.

Message from Isabel Vogt, Program Coordinator since 2014


Welcome to PRIMES Circle!

In its fourth year, PRIMES Circle remains a unique program for motivated high school students. At PRIMES Circle, we will meet you where you are mathematically, and then guide you as you learn new mathematical theories and tackle new types of problems. This will certainly challenge you, but it will also push you to develop as a student and a mathematician, and to achieve even more.

I look forward to your applications!


Download the PRIMES Circle flyer

For student testimonials, see PRIMES Circle: What Students Say

Operation Details

PRIMES Circle operates in the study group format. The Circle students work in small groups under the guidance of undergraduate student mentors (two students per mentor). They are assigned readings based on their level and interests. The mentors meet with the students once per week for two hours on MIT campus, explain new material, discuss homework problem solutions, and assign new homework. The mentors check in with the students by email mid-week between meetings. The students are encouraged to email their mentors for assistance, if they are stuck on a problem. Time commitment of at least 5-7 hours per week is expected, including the weekly two-hour meeting with the mentor at MIT, from late January to mid-May.

Success of a student in the program is measured not by the number of textbook pages studied, but by achieving a good understanding of what s/he has read. The pace of study is adjusted to match the individual learning styles of students. Learning proceeds most efficiently when a student studies at his/her natural pace.

Primes Circle Students

2015 Circle students at a group meeting at MIT


Late September: Applications are open.

November 15: Applications and letters of recommendation are due.

Late November: Admissions decisions are made.

Early December: Admitted students come to MIT for a welcome meeting with mentors and a placement test.

Late January to mid-May: Circle students in small groups meet with their mentors on MIT campus once a week to study mathematical texts and to receive homework assignments.

Once per month, starting in February: All-student meetings with Program Coordinator

Mid-May: Circle students submit an expository paper about their subject of study and give a presentation at a mini-conference at MIT.

Primes Circle StudentsPRIMES Circle students at a mini-conference at MIT, May 6, 2015 Primes Circle Conference2016 mini-conference schedule


High school students living within commuting distance from Boston are eligible. The students are selected on the basis of their academic record, teachers' recommendations, and demonstrated ability and interest in mathematics. Girls, minorities, students with disadvantaged backgrounds and from underserved communities are VERY STRONGLY encouraged to apply.


See How to Apply to PRIMES Circle page.

There is no application fee.

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