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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 2019 cycle on September 20, 2018. The applications and letters of recommendation must be received by 11:59 pm EST on December 1, 2018. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2019.


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. 12th-graders are allowed to apply. Even though Phase IV of the Program would overlap with their first semester in college, they would be encouraged to stay in touch with their mentor and to bring their work to publication.

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 living beyond Greater Boston are eligible for PRIMES-USA program.


Your application process includes four steps:

1. Choose your research section:

In 2019 MIT PRIMES will include two sections:

  • mathematics (Math)
  • computer science and computational biology (CS)

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. Solve the entrance problem set

If applying to the Math section, solve the PRIMES 2019 Math Problem Set, 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 60% of the problems.

If applying to CS, solve General Math Problems and Computer Science Problems (updated 10/9/18). 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 sections, solve both Math (including Advanced) and Computer Science problem sets.

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 December 15, 2018, and to notify us of any violation of these rules.

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, such as math teachers, counselors in math camps, or college professors. Emails with instructions to your recommenders will be automatically sent by the online application system.

4. Submit your application

Submit your application online. Fill out your profile and background questions 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.

Upload your solutions. The name of the file must start with your last name, for example, "smith-math-solutions" for math problems, and "" for CS problems.


A complete application must be received by 11:59 pm EST on December 1, 2018.

Admission decisions will be based on the consideration of all components of the application. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2019 (in the Math section) or mid-January (in the CS 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:

Past Computer Science problem sets (CS solutions are not posted):

Academic Integrity Rules

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, in 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?


With questions, contact PRIMES Admissions Assistant Jonathan Harmon at