“PROMYS is a life-changing experience during which students discover the importance of critical thinking and cooperation – two necessary skills for success in mathematics and life.” Eugene Shao, Student 2016 and 2017
Since the founding of PROMYS in 1989, nearly 3,000 students, counselors, and teachers have participated in a PROMYS program with many tackling increasingly advanced mathematics over multiple years of attendance. Alumni from a wide range of fields tell us that PROMYS had a profound effect upon the way they think and on how they approach challenges.
Over the past 32 years, 1,894 students and counselors from around the world have attended a total of 2,969 summers at PROMYS. Five hundred seventy-two teachers and teacher counselors have attended a total of 998 summers at PROMYS for Teachers since its founding in 1991. PROMYS Europe (with its 140 alumni) and PROMYS Math Circle are newer programs having been established in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Alumni tend to form long-lasting friendships and mentorship bonds with each other and to stay well connected with the alum community over the years and decades. Many mentor other alumni in academia or industry. Some collaborate and publish research together. Many alumni return to PROMYS as guest lecturers, research mentors, or volunteers. There are reunions and online groups plus networks of alumni at many institutions and companies around the world.
PROMYS Alumni Outcomes
- The PROMYS flagship program at Boston University has post-secondary school educational data on 97% of alumni since 1989, and recently updated education or career data on around 90%.
- Alumni attend over 160 undergraduate colleges and universities.
- Over half attend Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, or Caltech.
- Approximately 60% major or double major in mathematics with many others selecting computer science, engineering or physics.
- At least 75% of alumni attend graduate school.
- Approximately 50% of alumni earn doctorates of which 56% are PhDs in Mathematics.
- Approximately 50% of alum Math PhDs are from MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, Princeton, or Stanford.
- Over 80% of alum doctorates are STEM PhDs.
- 172 alumni are currently professors of whom 83 are full or associate professors.
- 108 are professors of mathematics; others are professors in other fields including computer science, physics, finance, economics, chemistry, biology, meteorology, philosophy, medicine, business, public policy, management, English, sociology, urban education, and law.
- Alumni are on the faculty at a great many institutions including 7 at Harvard University, 5 at Cornell University, 4 at University of Chicago, 4 at University of Pennsylvania, 3 at MIT, 3 at Columbia University, 3 at University of Michigan, and 2 at UC Berkeley.
- Alumni excel in a wide range of fields and professions.
- About one third are in mathematics; about a third are in computer science or engineering. Six percent are in medicine. Approximately 8% are in other scientific fields. About 14% are in finance, investment banking or consulting, and 3% are in law.
- Many have started their own businesses.
- There is some overlap between these categories as many alumni work at the intersection of several fields and/or have multiple areas of expertise.
- The alum community is interesting and diverse. It includes two patent examiners (and too many patent holders to count), a State Representative for Massachusetts, an Assistant General Manager of the Yankees, a bass guitarist, an economist with the World Bank, a 17-year writer and producer of The Simpsons, artists and architects, members of the armed forces, actors, foreign service officers, experimental psychologists, data scientists, teachers, businesspeople, and many more.
Alum awards and distinctions of which we are aware are very numerous and include the following:
- 9 Fellowships of the American Mathematical Society
- 13 Sloan Research Fellowships
- 12 NSF CAREER awards
- 40 NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
- 6 Hertz Fellowships
- 152 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
- 21 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships
- 11 Putnam Fellowships
- 4 Alice Schafer Prizes (and 11 runners up and honorable mentions)
- 27 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) medals: 10 gold, 14 silver, and 3 bronze
- 22 USA Mathematical Olympiad wins
- A great many top awards in high school science research competitions such as Regeneron/Intel STS, Siemens Westinghouse and ISEF
- Alum honors also include a Purple Heart, President of the Harvard Law Review, World Scrabble Champion, and World Puzzle Champion.
PROMYS for Teachers (PfT) Alumni Outcomes
- Of the 506 teacher alumni from the past 30 years, at least 340 (67%) are still teaching.
- 282 (83% of alum teachers) teach in public schools, 47% in high-needs public schools.
- 73% of alum teachers teach in Massachusetts, 90% of them in public schools.
- Alumni currently teach in over 151 different Massachusetts schools including 72 high-needs MA public schools.
- Approximately 50% of teacher alumni have been teaching for at least a decade, with many still in the classroom after more than two decades.
- While retaining mathematics teachers in the profession has long been a national crisis, alumni often credit PfT for helping them to remain in the classroom.
- A rough estimate of 150 students per teacher per year, would indicate that PfT alumni currently teaching may directly impact the mathematical learning experience of over 50,000 students annually.
- In addition to their direct impact in the classroom, PfT alumni have an even larger indirect multiplier effect due to their extensive involvement in mentoring, supervising, and teaching other math teachers.
- At least 12% of PfT alumni teachers are currently high school mathematics department chairs, heads of mathematics for school districts, or principals (or vice principals) of their schools.
- Through its workshops, courses, and alumni community, PROMYS for Teachers actively supports the development of exploration-based mathematics curriculum for secondary schools.
- 46 PfT teachers and 49 teacher counselors have earned (or are currently working on) a doctorate. Almost all are PhDs in Mathematics Education, Mathematics, or Educational Leadership.
- 58 PfT alumni are currently professors. Many teach math teachers or prospective teachers thus expanding the number of students exposed to rigorous discovery-based mathematics in secondary schools.
- Many PfT alumni develop innovative mathematics curricula, present at mathematics education conferences, and/or publish in math education publications.
- One PfT alum (PfT 2003-2004, 2006) is an experienced research scientist, curriculum developer, professional development facilitator, and project director at the non-profit Education Development Center (EDC). The alum has directed several multi-million dollar federally funded projects, managed development teams, and co-authored nationally published mathematics curricula.
- Another alum (PfT 1996-1997, 1999-2001) has been writing math curriculum for 20 years with a focus on helping students learn higher order thinking skills at the same time they are learning new content. The alum is currently Senior Math Curriculum Developer at Art of Problem Solving (AoPS).
- While a high school math teacher in Maryland and New York, another alum (PfT 2006-2007) co-created Math Munch, a very popular weekly summary of online mathematics for grade school students and teachers. This alum is now a Dickinson Instructor and NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago.
- Another alum (PfT 2007) was awarded a Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) Fellowship. In addition to teaching mathematics, the alum was a co-developer and co-coordinator of the Algebra Project’s African Drums and Ratios Curriculum and also co-founded CrossPulse Consultants, which aimed to produce “fierce” African American STEM learners and more STEM graduates from underserved backgrounds.
PfT alumni have earned many district, state and national teaching awards and distinctions including the following.
- 1 induction into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2020: Jamil Siddiqui (PfT 1999-2001) noted, "No single program or class has influenced the way I teach more than PROMYS."
- 1 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 2019.
- 3 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
- 1 Boston Public Schools Educator of the Year in 2017.
- 2 Edyth May Sliffe Awards for Distinguished Mathematics Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).
- 1 Harvard Teaching Policy Fellowship to empower students through the Historically Black College and University Ambassador Program. This alum also received a Boston Teachers Union Professional Learning Grant for his project on the mathematics of social justice.
- 32 Math for America (MfA) Fellowships including at least 25 Master Teacher Fellowships. MfA Fellowships are designed for teachers who are committed to teaching in high needs public schools.
- 1 Golden Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching awarded by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).
- 2 MAA NExT Fellowships.
- 2 Sontag Prizes in Urban Education which recognize and celebrate outstanding educators for their teaching excellence.
- At least 5 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and/or Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.
- At least 3 Fulbright Teaching Fellowships.
PROMYS Europe Alumni Outcomes
- Many former PROMYS Europe students have subsequently progressed to study mathematics at university, with others taking their experiences from PROMYS Europe into other fields including biology, computer science, engineering and beyond.
- Some of the earliest PROMYS Europe students are now studying for PhDs in various of branches mathematics as well as in other subjects, perhaps unsurprisingly these include several number theorists. Others have graduated and are developing careers in a variety of interesting roles in different industries.