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PRIMES-USA is a free, year-long program open to high school juniors (or home schooled students of the same age) from across the United States. The students work on original research projects in mathematics provided by MIT faculty. Projects are mentored by MIT graduate students via teleconferencing, using software and hardware tools for online collaboration, or by local mentors chosen by PRIMES. Download PRIMES-USA flyer.


PRIMES-USA student Ritesh Ragavender, May 2013, MIT


In 2013, PRIMES-USA admitted the first five students. In 2014, already 13 students completed projects in this section. By 2018, the section has grown to 21 students. Over the years, PRIMES-USA has developed partnerships with faculty from Cornell University, Boise State University, Stanford University, Penn State, University of Illinois at Chicago and at Urbana-Champaign, City College of New York, SUNY at Stony Brook, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Michigan, and University of Washington.


  • Phase I, January 1 - 31:
    Reading period. In early January you will be assigned a research project and a mentor. The mentor will recommend background reading necessary for your project. You will conduct the reading independently in consultation with your mentor.
  • Phase II, February 1 - May 31:
    Active research period. You will discuss your project with your MIT mentor via teleconferencing twice a week for one hour. The day/time of your telecon session will be chosen to suit both you and your mentor. You will be expected to spend at least 10 hours per week working on your project. You will be encouraged to visit MIT for face-to-face meetings several times, depending on your distance from Boston. PRIMES-USA will provide a modest travel subsidy.
  • End of May:
    Annual PRIMES conference at MIT. You will travel to MIT to present your intermediate results at the annual PRIMES conference. An interim research report is due one week before the conference. Presentation abstracts and slides will be posted on the PRIMES website for free public access.
  • Phase III, June 1 - August 31:
    Independent research period. You will continue working on your project independently, staying in e-mail contact with your mentor. PRIMES-USA has a flexible schedule in the summer, allowing students to participate in other summer programs.
  • Phase IV, September 1 - December 31:
    Write-up period. You will complete your project and write a final paper summarizing your results. This paper may be submitted to national science competitions for high school students and/or sent to peer-reviewed academic research journals for publication. A penultimate version of the final research paper is due November 30; the final version is due December 31.

Computer requirements

Applicants must have access to a personal computer with administrator privileges, a webcam, and high-speed Internet access.


PRIMES-USA is a free program. The students are selected on the basis of their demonstrated extraordinary mathematical ability, potential for conducting original research, and self-motivation for independent study. A small number of candidates is admitted, and a very advanced background is expected.

PRIMES-USA accepts applications for mathematical research only. Currently it does not accept applications for research in computer science or computational biology.

For details, see How to Apply to PRIMES-USA page.

Female students, underrepresented minorities, and students with economically disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

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 Program Director Dr. Slava Gerovitch at