MIT PRIMES: How to Apply
This page provides instructions for applying to MIT PRIMES, a research program for students living within driving distance from Boston. To apply to PRIMES-USA, a nationwide research program for students living outside Greater Boston, see How to Apply to PRIMES-USA page. To apply to PRIMES Circle, a math enrichment program for local students from urban public high schools, see How to Apply to PRIMES Circle page. For more information about MIT PRIMES, see MIT PRIMES program details page .
MIT PRIMES opened applications for the 2021 cycle on October 1, 2021. The applications and letters of recommendation must be received by 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2021. Admission decisions will be made in early January 2022.
To participate in MIT PRIMES, you must be a high school student (or a home schooled student of high school age) living in the Greater Boston area, so that you can come to MIT weekly (late afternoon or evening on a weekday or on weekend) in February-May and September-December. Seniors may apply only to the reading track of the Math section.
Current MIT PRIMES students may reapply to stay in the program. If they reapply for the same section, they submit only an updated questionnaire and do not have to submit solutions of the entrance problem set. Their applications will be evaluated based on their mentor's recommendation. If they apply to a different section, they must do the problem set for that section.
Female students, minorities, and students from underprivileged groups are strongly encouraged to apply. PRIMES makes a special effort to reach out to schools in disadvantaged areas. Sophomores and juniors from urban public high schools of the Boston area are eligible for PRIMES Circle program. U.S. high school juniors and sophomores living beyond Greater Boston are eligible for PRIMES-USA program.
Your application process includes five steps:
1. Choose your research section:
In 2022 MIT PRIMES will include two sections:
- mathematics (Math)
- computer science and computational biology (CS/Bio)
For a general description, see our research areas. You can apply to both sections at the same time, but you can be admitted only to one. The Math section includes a research track and a reading group track; you can apply to either track, or to both.
2. Open your application
Open your application online. Start by filling out your profile and background questions and naming your recommenders. The system will automatically send them requests for letters of recommendation. Do this as early as possible to give them ample time to submit the letters.
3. Ask for letters of recommendation
Ask for two to three letters of recommendation from people who know you well, preferably from those familiar with advanced mathematics or computer science, such as teachers, counselors at summer camps, or college professors.
4. Solve the entrance problem set
If applying to the Math section, solve the PRIMES 2022 Math Problem Set (updated 10/7/2021), both General and Advanced problems. It is strongly recommended to write the math solutions using LaTeX. We encourage you to apply if you have solved at least 50% of the problems.
If applying to CS/Bio, solve General Math Problems (updated 10/7/2021) and Computer Science Problems (updated 10/16/2021). Please note that Computer Science solutions must not contain the applicant's name, except in the name of the main .zip file. We encourage you to apply if you have solved at least 30% of the General Math problems and at least 90% of the Computer Science problems.
If you apply for both Math and CS/Bio sections, solve both Math (including Advanced) and Computer Science problem sets.
Upload your solutions. The name of the file must start with your last name, for example, "smith-math-solutions" for math problems, and "smith-CS-solutions.zip" for CS problems.
You are allowed to use any resources to solve these problems, except other people's help. This means that you can use calculators, computers, books, and the Internet. However, if you consult books or Internet sites, please give us a reference.
WARNING: Posting these problems on problem-solving websites is strictly forbidden. Applicants who do so will be disqualified, and their parents and recommenders will be notified.
In fairness to all applicants, we ask general public not to post these problems until January 1, 2022, and to notify us of any violation of these rules.
5. Complete your application
Fill out all remaining parts of the application and add a personal statement. In a free-format statement (1-2 pages), discuss some of your most memorable/enjoyable math/computer science experiences. What type of problems do you like to work on? Explain why you want to participate in PRIMES, what makes you a good candidate, and what are your plans for the future. Feel free to provide any additional information you think might help us get to know you better as a young researcher. Make sure to submit your application well ahead of the deadline to avoid any last-minute technical glitches.
A complete application must be received by 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2021.
Admission decisions will be based on the consideration of all components of the application. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2022 (in the Math section) or mid-January (in the CS/Bio section).
If you are admitted, you will be asked to provide a written permission from your parent/guardian to participate in PRIMES.
There is no application fee.
We suggest a list of recommended readings as a preparation for entering PRIMES and as a background for further research. You may find it useful to consult
Past Math problem sets:
- 2011 problems and solutions
- 2012 problems and solutions
- 2013 problems and solutions
- 2014 problems and solutions
- 2015 problems and solutions
- 2016 problems and solutions
- 2017 problems and solutions Note: See the summary of student answers to the 2017 open-ended question. That problem gave rise to the 2017 CrowdMath project
- 2018 and solutions
- 2019 and solutions
- 2020 and solutions
- 2021 and solutions
Past Computer Science problem sets (CS solutions are not posted):
- 2013 problems (the auxiliary files test1.txt and test2.txt)
- 2014 problems
- 2015 problems
- 2016 problems
- 2017 problems
- 2018 problems
- 2019 problems
- 2020 problems
- 2021 problems
Why It Makes No Sense to Cheat
PRIMES expects its participants to adhere to MIT rules and standards for honesty and integrity in academic studies. As a result, any cases of plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, cheating, or facilitating academic dishonesty during the application process or during the work at PRIMES may result in immediate disqualification from the program, at the sole discretion of PRIMES. In addition, PRIMES reserves the right to notify a participant's parents, schools, and/or recommenders in the event it determines that a participant did not adhere to these expectations. For explanation of these expectations, see What is Academic Integrity?
Moreover, even if someone gets into PRIMES by cheating, it would immediately become apparent that their background is weaker than expected, and they are not ready for research. This would prompt an additional investigation with serious consequences. By trying to get into PRIMES by cheating, students run very serious risks of exposing their weak background and damaging their college admissions prospects.
With questions, contact PRIMES Admissions Assistant André Dixon at email@example.com