Frequently Asked Questions

For Students Interested in Applying to YSPA

Full tuition for the 6-week 2020 Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics is $6100. This fee covers all aspects of the program except travel and incidental expenses. Students who accept admissions offers in April will need to send in a deposit for $1000 in order to secure a spot in the program, and the balance of tuition is due in June. 

Yes. Students who have been admitted can apply for limited, need-based financial aid within two weeks of the admissions decision notification. A typical financial aid award is a 50% tuition remission, although discounts of up to 75% may be awarded (such that a student would pay $1525 to attend the program), depending on the availability of funds and financial need of the student.  


Yes, international students are considered in the same application pool as US applicants, both for admission and for financial aid. However, all students must be proficient in English and must have a student visa or must be able to get a 30-day tourist visa to visit the US during the on-campus program.

There are no specific requirements for applicants other than age (you must be > 15.5 years old at the start of the on-campus program), grade (you must be a rising senior or equivalent in your school system, i.e., entering your last year of secondary school before college), language (you must be proficient in English), and availability (you must commit to fully participating in the two-week online directed self-study program as well as the four-week on campus program). 

However, successful applicants have likely taken (and aced) all of the advanced math and physics classes available to them as a high-school junior, have exceptional self-motivation and maturity, and have demonstrated a sincere interest in science as a career.


No, you must be a rising senior (a junior when you apply) to participate in YSPA.

No, Yale does not award college credit for participating in YSPA. College credit for summer courses is offered through the Yale Summer Session (

No, the residential component of YSPA is integral to the program, and it is not possible to participate as a day student. Yale does offer other science-based summer programs for day students, such as Pathways to Science Summer Scholars.

Not necessarily. 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 during the four  weeks of the on-campus program. By completing this project, students will learn techniques in scientific research, data analysis, programming, scientific modeling, science writing, and other skills that are valuable in a broad range of science and tech disciplines. You don’t have to be a total astronomy nerd to get a lot out of YSPA, and we don’t expect most of our students to become professional astronomers. But since you’ll be working at an observatory on an astrophysics research project, you should at least have a passing interest in astronomy and astrophysics, even if you think your are more interested in studying math, engineering, biology, geology, or chemistry when you go to college.

During the four-week on-campus program, mornings are normally spent in class in the Leitner Planetarium, learning about stellar physics, Calculus, observing techniques, etc.. Afternoon sessions are spent in the computer lab working on tutorials in data analysis and python programming in small groups with the faculty and student research teams. Students and staff get together for dinner every evening in the residential college, and then student teams observe about every other night in the observatory in four shifts from 8pm until 2am. There are also times when we work on side projects (such as the high-altitude helium balloon or a lab with the radio telescope), talk about science, philosophy, and life, and so on. There are also times when we take a break from science to have a dance, go for a hike, play a game, and enjoy other fun surprises. 

Overall, we try to make the program extremely challenging and a lot of fun. We emphasize collegiality and personal responsibility. Students in the program can expect to get a lot of one-on-one time with faculty and to get to know their research teammates very well.

Past YSPA students have maintained a daily blog each year during YSPA which may give you a good overview of the program from the students’ perspective:

For Current YSPA Applicants

Applications typically are due the first weekend in March before the summer’s program. Specific deadline are explained at Note that the time for the deadline is given for the Eastern Daylight Time zone.

No, if you have uploaded a digital or scanned copy of your transcript into the application management tool, this is the prefered way of getting your transcript and you do not need to mail one to Yale. However, if your school will not release your transcript, you can request that they mail a copy to the address given in the application form.

The application management tool will allow you to see if your application is complete, remind your teachers to submit recommendations, or change the teacher who receives a recommendation request up to the date of the application deadline.

We do not consider SAT scores or other standardized test scores, and you should not submit test scores with your application.

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

There are more specific dates and deadlines for this year’s program on the “How to Apply” page. 

Maybe… you can use the tool in the application management system to request an extension, but during the admissions process we will look at all of the applications that have been started, and we will consider any that appear to be complete, even if they are not formally “submitted”.

Financial aid applications are only considered for admitted students. If you have been offered YPSA admission, you can request a financial aid application from, which must be submitted within two weeks of your admissions offer.

The application period is now open for the YSPA 2020 program!!

Applications usually open around the end of the year before the next summer, i.e., around December 15-31 for the next summer’s program. Specific application procedures are described at .

For Admitted YSPA Students

You will get a detailed list of recommended items to bring in the Participants’ Handbook.

If you have no experience in programming, it is recommended that you start learning the basic syntax of python, perhaps by completing the free intro python course at Codecademy: .  

You might also start reading intro college-level books on Astronomy, such as the OpenStax textbook: , especially the sections on observational astronomy, stellar evolution, and supernovae.  A more detailed list of optional preparatory reading for your specific program will be sent to you along with the Participants’ Handbook.

Details about the specific summer program you will be attending, including an explanation of the YSPA Honor Code and program rules, will be covered in the YSPA Participants’ Handbook, which will be sent to you after we receive your tuition deposit. You and your parents should read this handbook carefully. We don’t have many program rules, but the ones we have are important and are strictly enforced, such as staying within the program boundary, respecting the program curfew, and following instructions from the staff.

You can expect to be in class with faculty, working on projects with teammates, observing, and engaged in other program activities (such as meals, workshops, and field trips) for about 10 - 14 hours per day for six days a week (Monday through Saturday). Sundays are “unscheduled” days, when participants manage their own time until dinner, and there are also bits of unscheduled time in the afternoons and evenings. However, we expect that students will be engaged in program activities during most of their waking hours, getting as much as possible out of both the academic and social opportunities at YSPA. It is not recommended that you plan to work on other time-consuming projects during YSPA.

No, full participation in the 2-week, online, directed self-study program is required of all students. We have discovered in the past that students who do not fully participate in this pre-arrival program are typically unprepared for the on-campus program.  Consequently, students who do not fully participate in the self-study program may have their admissions offer withdrawn without a tuition refund, and they would not be admitted to the 4-week on-campus program.

No, students are expected to remain on campus and participate for the duration of the 4-week on campus program. Students who arrive late may lose their admissions offer without a tuition refund. 


You tuition deposit and final balance should be sent to:

YSPA Coordinator
c/o Yale University Department of Astronomy
P.O. Box 208101
New Haven, CT 06520-8101 USA

Or send via FedEx/UPS

YSPA Coordinator
c/o Yale University Department of Astronomy
52 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

Please list Yale University as the payee on your USA bank or personal check.

We do not accept credit card payments at this time. Please contact us for wire payment information if you are paying from an international account.

There is no connection between admission to YSPA and undergraduate admissions at Yale. That said, many YSPA alumni have been admitted to and matriculated at Yale. 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!