The Ross Program

The Ross Program based at and held on the Ohio State University campus is an intensive 8-week long summer experience designed to inspire motivated pre-college students to explore mathematics. The central goal of the Ross Program is building a foundation for critical thinking, rather than just preparing students for proficiency in computational thinking. The motto of the program is "Think deeply of simple things."

Most of the first-year courses are in Number Theory and consist of daily lectures, seminar groups, and rigorous problem sets. The atomosphere of the program is intense, with little time for recreation and leisure activities. For this reason, the Ross Program is generally considered the most rigorous in America.


The Ross Program was founded in 1957 by Arnold Ross at the Notre Dame University in an effort to emphasize development of students' creativity and problem-solving skills. In 1964, the program was moved to Ohio State University. Ross managed to teach this program to his fullest until 2000, where he retired at the age of 94. Dr. Ross eventually passed on in 2002.


All participants must be between the age of 14 and 18 during the program. Admission to the Ross Program is determined by

  • Students' performance on application problems
  • Several application essays
  • Teacher recommendations and school transcripts

Successful first-year students can be invited to come back to the program the following year for more exploration in other topics, including Set Theory, Group Theory, Galois Theory, and more.


The Ross Program offers financial aid to qualified applicants who otherwise cannot afford to attend.

Merit scholarships are available to students through Mu Alpha Theta and Davidson Institute.

The Ross Program is currently run in partnership with the Clay Mathematics Institute.

Course structure

Ross students typically take classes 8 hours per week and plan their free time to solve challenging and rigorous problem sets given by the class.

Other parts of the day includes a seminar (similar to a study-session discussion in groups of around 13) and frequent special lectures (mostly optional). Previous special lectures have included presentations on the 3n+1 conjecture, Quaternions, and Bernoulli Numbers.

The average day could be compared with a regular college day. After the one or two hours of class in the morning, it's left for you to work (preferably on math). People not willing to work for at least 6 hours a day on math should not consider Ross. The weekends do not have classes. Most people spend their time catching up on work from the previous week.


The Ross Program is generally considered the most rigorous and intensive/demanding number theory program in the United States, due to the recreationless nature of the program. Slightly less competitive and/or balanced programs include Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists and the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics

External Links

The Ross Program at Ohio State