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PRIMES-USA: How to Apply

This page provides instructions for applying to PRIMES-USA, a nationwide research program for high school juniors living outside Greater Boston. To apply to MIT PRIMES, a research program for students living within driving distance from Boston, see How to Apply to MIT PRIMES. 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.

PRIMES-USA opened applications for the 2018 cycle on September 20, 2017. The applications and letters of recommendation must be received by December 1, 2017. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2018. Download PRIMES-USA flyer


High school juniors (including home schooled) residing in the United States are eligible, if they live no closer than 50 miles from Boston. Students residing within driving distance from Boston should apply to the MIT section of PRIMES. Sophomores may be allowed to apply, if they plan to graduate one year early, and can provide a confirmation letter from school.

It is not required but preferable that the applicant meets one of these criteria:

- USAMO or USAJMO qualifier;
- grade A for a college-level proof-based math course (online courses included);
- participation in Canada/USA MathCamp, HCSSiM, PROMYS, Ross Program, SUMaC, or AwesomeMath with a letter of recommendation from a counselor;
- a letter of recommendation from a college professor of mathematics.


Your application process includes three steps:

1. Solve the entrance problem set

Solve the PRIMES 2018 Math Problem Set, including both General and Advanced Math problems. We encourage you to apply if you can solve at least 60% of the problems.

It is recommended, but not required, to write the solutions using LaTeX.

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, 2017, and to notify us of any violation of these rules.

2. 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.

3. 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 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 mathematician.

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


The deadline for applications and letters of recommendation is December 1, 2017.

The admission decision will be based on the consideration of all components of your application. Admission decisions will be made by early January 2018.

If you are admitted, you will be asked to provide a written permission from your parent/guardian to participate in PRIMES-USA.

There is no application fee.


We suggest a list of recommended readings as a preparation for entering PRIMES-USA and as a background for further research. You may find it useful to consult previous years' problem sets and solutions:


With questions, contact PRIMES Admissions Assistant Jonathan Harmon at