July 9 - August 6, 2017 at Yale University

Frequently Asked Questions

YSPA guest lecturer, courtesy M. Faison

The astrophysics research project at YSPA is a means to an end; we want to give students an interesting and challenging project that can still be completed within the 4 weeks of the program. By completing this project, students will learn techniques of scientific research, computer programming and modeling, scientific writing, and other skills that are important in a broad array of science and tech disciplines. So you don’t have to be an astronomy geek to get a lot out of YSPA, and we don’t expect most of our students to become astronomers. But since you’ll be working at an observatory on an astronomy project, you should at least have a passing interest in astrophysics, even if you are more interested in studying biology, physics, geology, or chemistry when you go to college.

There are no specific pre-requisites. You will learn everything you need to know to do the research project at YSPA, including all of the physics, observational astronomy, and programming skills needed. However, successful applicants will probably have taken (and aced) high school math through pre-Calculus or beyond as well as some physics and programming. Students who are accepted to participate at YSPA will engage in directed self-study in python programming and observational astronomy basics for two weeks before the residential program so that you are ready to hit the ground running.

No, we do not offer college credit of any kind, nor grades of any kind.

The Yale Summer Session (YSS) is a program that offers a selection of the same Yale courses offered during the academic year over a 5-week or 10-week summer session. YSS courses can be taken for college credit. YSPA, on the other hand, is a very selective, more focused research and enrichment program that does not offer college credit. The classes at YSPA are focused on the skills needed for the central research project, and YSPA overall is more structured than YSS. The social environment and community of YSPA are also very different compared to Yale Summer Session, and YSPA students have much more direct interaction with the faculty, compared to students attending Yale Summer Session. 

The class and work schedule at YSPA is intense and demanding… you can expect to be in class for 2 hours per day, engaged with the faculty for 4-8 hours each day, and working on problem sets, programming exercises, or research for 2-6 hours per day. But at least one day per week will be dedicated to a separate one-day or half-day project or to a field trip off campus. Then every Sunday is unscheduled time when you can catch up on sleep, relax, or work on research or other projects as needed. We will also have other regularly scheduled recreational activities for you such as dances, sports, music, and movie nights.

Yes; there is limited, need-based financial aid available. The application for financial aid should be submitted after the application for admission.

YSPA is a program for rising high school juniors and seniors, thus, in order to attend you must apply when you are a high school sophomore or junior.  

YSPA does accept international applicants.

The YSPA admissions committee asks that the math recommendation come from a mathematics teacher and the science recommendation come from a teacher in physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, or biology.

When your teacher submits a recommendation, both the teacher and you will be notified of their submission with a confirmation E-mail from the application system, as long as they have put in accurate E-mail addresses for both of you.   If you believe your teacher has submitted and neither of you received such an E-mail, please contact us.

If you are able to obtain a scanned copy of your transcript to attach to your application, this is preferred and we do not need a hard copy sent to us.

Many schools do not give students official transcripts, but YSPA does accept attachments of unofficial transcripts on the application.  If you are able to get an unofficial transcript from your school, please attach that to your application and have them send the official transcript to the address below.  If you are unable to get an unofficial transcript, please instead attach a letter explaining that the school will send us the official transcript to the address below.

Email (preferred):  yspa@leitnerobservatory.org


c/o Victoria Misenti
Yale Astronomy Department
P.O. Box 208101
New Haven, CT 06520-8101


c/o Victoria Misenti
Yale Astronomy Department
52 Hillhouse Ave.
New Haven, CT 06511

If you have received a confirmation E-mail for your application and a confirmation E-mail for each of the recommendation forms that were submitted on your behalf, this means we have received all your materials and your application is complete.  If you have submitted but have not received these E-mails, please check your spam filter as the E-mails are automatically generated by our system.  If you do not see the E-mail in your spam filter, it is possible that you or your recommenders did not submit an accurate E-mail address in the form.

E-mail offers for admission and for the wait-list will go out sometime in April.

YSPA  does not permit accepted participants to defer admission.  If you are eligible, please apply again next year.

No; there is no connection between admission to YSPA and undergraduate admissions at Yale. That said, a summer on campus is a great opportunity to see if Yale is a good fit for you, and glowing letters of recommendation from YSPA faculty can’t hurt your chances for admission to Yale or any other college!

YSPA attendees should only apply for a tourist visa.   

If you are already in the US for study and have an F1-visa / I-20 that is valid for the dates of the program, you do not need to get an additional visa.

No. We expect students who are admitted to the program to participate for the full duration of the program. The program is cumulative, and you would get behind even if you miss just the first day. If you inform us that you plan to arrive late, your admission offer may be withdrawn. Likewise, students are very much discouraged from leaving early, and if they do, they may forfeit their full tuition.

If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.