Frequently Asked Questions

“My daily talk with my counselor was my favorite part of each day…" Alexander Rodriguez, Student 2016, Counselor 2017–2019, Head Counselor 2020

Q: What are my responsibilities at PROMYS?

A: During the six-week program, counselors are full-time academic mentors, residential advisors, community builders, and mathematicians in their own right. Counselors are expected to attend the morning Number Theory lectures along with the students. They provide written and verbal feedback on the daily problem sets of three to four students, plus guide student work for an advanced seminar and/or supervise a lab or research project. The team of counselors meets weekly to assess student progress and regularly to organize social activities. In order to serve as mathematical role models, counselors are encouraged to engage in their own mathematics.

Q: What will I learn as a counselor at PROMYS?

A: PROMYS is designed for the mathematical engagement and development of the counselors as well as the students. Number Theory, advanced seminars, exploratory or research labs, mini-courses and counselor seminars are offered on a wide variety of topics. Additional information can be found in Counselor Math.

Q: Is any specific mathematical background required? Are college freshmen eligible?

A: All interested undergraduates, regardless of year in college, are invited to apply. The main requirements are a high level of mathematical achievement, mathematical maturity, potential for mathematical growth, and interest in working with ambitious high school students. Preference is given to applicants with a strong background in Number Theory or Algebra.

Q: Are non-alums welcome to apply?

A: We welcome all applicants and value the perspective that counselors who are new to the program bring. Every year, there are counselors who are new at PROMYS.

Q: Is PROMYS a traditional REU?

A: For most counselors, mathematical research at PROMYS is self-structured. Some years, PROMYS has partnered with REUs so that counselors have had both experiences over the summer. All counselors are based at Boston University for the full six weeks of PROMYS.

Q: What do counselors do after PROMYS?

A: Almost 75% of counselor alumni who are old enough for graduate school and for whom we have up-to-date educational data (91%) have, or are working on, a doctorate. Over 80% of those doctorates are PhDs in Mathematics. Many counselors end up in other STEM fields, especially software development or engineering, or pursue careers such as finance or law.

Q: How will being a counselor help me in my future?

A: Counselors have an intense mathematical experience during their summer at PROMYS and many report that PROMYS revolutionized their attitude toward having a career in mathematics. By coming to PROMYS, you join an ongoing community of peers and faculty mentors who can provide guidance for your next steps. Counselors who do not end up pursuing academic careers also value the long-term impact of PROMYS and stay in touch with the program.