Frequently Asked Questions

Ross/USA Questions

What is the Ross Mathematics Program?

Ross/USA is a six-week, residential, summer session for high school students who are talented in mathematics, well prepared in standard high school math topics, and eager to explore more advanced ideas. In 2020 the Ross Program was entirely online, and a similar online session is planned for 2021. In 2022 we hope to return to in-person courses, with all participants living in a dormitory.
The responses below refer to the in-person sessions at the Ross/USA site.

Ross participants spend most of each day working on challenging sets of problems dealing with abstract mathematical concepts. By working for several weeks on one subject (number theory), participants delve deeply into the underpinnings of that subject. But more importantly, they learn to communicate mathematical ideas clearly and to write convincing proofs of all of their assertions. One goal of this program is to provide a first step toward independent mathematical research. It is not oriented toward math contests. Direct competition between students is discouraged.

Is admission automatic?

The admission process is competitive. In 2021 about 20% of the applicants were accepted. Each successful applicant has a strong high school record and exhibits excellent work on the mathematical problems that form part of the application.

Are scholarships available?

The Ross Program is able to provide scholarship support to qualified students who cannot otherwise afford to attend. Requests for support should be made after a student has been accepted to the Program. Various academic institutions in the applicant’s home city or state might also have available scholarships. In addition, some scholarship support for participation in math programs is provided by Mu Alpha Theta the national high school mathematical society. Other scholarship opportunities are offered by the Davidson Institute and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Living Arrangements

Where do the students live?

Students at Ross/USA will live in a dormitory on the campus of Ohio Dominican University in Columbus. Most students will live with three roommates in small suites consisting of two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a common area.

What is the mailing address?

The mailing address for Ross/USA Program participants is:

(participant’s name)
Ross Math Program
Ohio Dominican University
1216 Sunbury Road
Columbus, OH 43219

How are the dorm rooms at Ross/USA furnished?

The dormitory and classroom buildings are air-conditioned. Each participant uses a single bed, a desk, a chair, and some closet space, and is provided two sheets, a pillowcase, and a blanket. Students provide their own towels and washcloths, pillows, clothes hangers, shampoo, soap and other personal items. Since towels and pillows are bulky to carry, staff members will take students to stores where those items can be purchased at fairly low costs.

Is there a curfew?

All students must remain inside the dormitory after dark and must not leave the campus at any time unless accompanied by a counselor.

Are the students segregated from college students, and from other summer camps?

The Ross Mathematics Program usually fills up several floors of the dormitory. Other camps are held on campus. Their participants arrive and leave throughout the summer and some of them might occupy the same dormitory building.

What are the security arrangements in the dorm?

The dormitory is locked, accessible only by key card, and each suite has its own lock and key. In spite of these arrangements there is always some potential for theft or other crime, so we advise students to not bring valuable items or large amounts of cash.

Will the Ross counselors check that students eat good food, do laundry, clean their room, etc.?

Ross counselors and students live in the same dormitory. Counselors certainly provide supervision, but students must be mature enough to choose what and when they eat, do their own laundry, keep themselves and their rooms clean, and get enough sleep. If someone is not mature enough to do these things, or distracts other students from their mathematical work, we arrange for that student to leave the program and return home.

What do they eat? Where do they eat? How often do they eat? Are there any accommodations for my child’s special dietary needs, such as diabetes, peanut allergy, gluten intolerance, vegetarianism, etc.?

Student fees include the cost of three meals per day at the campus cafeteria. Upon request, the cafeteria can provide foods for students who are on restrictive diets.
Some foods (e.g. pizza) can be ordered from nearby restaurants and delivered to the dorm.

Packing List

What do students need to bring?

Sheets, pillowcase, and blanket are provided. Students need to bring or purchase their own towels and pillows, as well as shampoo, soap, etc. (On the first day, staff members will organize a trip to a mall where students can buy needed items.) Students should also bring clothes appropriate for a warm Columbus summer, in air-conditioned buildings. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket and rain gear. A certain amount of cash is needed for items like snacks and souvenirs.

How do most students handle money - cash, credit cards, ATMs?

Nearby stores accept all major American credit cards. Students may use ATMs to withdraw cash from home accounts. If there is a problem, one of the staff members can take students to a bank to help them get a cash advance, cash personal checks, etc.

What expenses are not covered in the program fees? Do you have a suggested/recommended additional spending allowance?

Off-campus trips will be organized by Ross staff members. Students participating in those excursions may be asked to pay a small fee. Washers and dryers in the dorm are provied without additional charge but detergent is purchased separately. There is not much more that students are expected to buy. Some students purchase books, extra food, souvenirs, etc.

Is there shopping within easy access?

There are stores nearby, but students should not leave the campus unless accompanied by a counselor. If special items are needed, a counselor will arrange to transport students to a store.

Are laptop computers allowed? What about other electronic devices?

Mathematical ideas presented in the Ross Program are investigated with pencil and paper. Students are NOT allowed to bring computers, electronic tablets, TV sets, video game systems, DVD players, etc. We ask students to refrain from using smart phones, and to avoid borrowing computers for internet searches, surfing websites, checking social media, computing, or playing games. Some computers are available on campus for checking email.


What is the transportation around campus? To/from lectures and the dorm?

All travel on campus is by walking.

Where are the math lectures and seminars held?

The lectures and seminars will be held in campus buildings within a few blocks of the dormitory.

Is there transportation to/from the airport if an attendee flies in or out unaccompanied?

Students who fly to Columbus will arrive at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH). Ross staff members will meet them in the terminal, and make arrangements to transport them to the dormitory in a taxi or van. At the end of the session, on Friday afternoon, the Program provides transportation back to the airport.

Do some students bring cars? Are there restrictions on students riding with other students?

First-year students are not allowed to bring cars.

Do students bring/use bicycles?

Students are not allowed to bring bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or similar items.

Health Concerns

Is a physical required?

No. But we need to know of any existing medical conditions and current medications, so a health history is required.

Do we need health insurance?

Yes. Each student must have medical insurance with coverage in Columbus, Ohio. Proof of insurance is required. If you do not have adequate coverage, we can suggest places to purchase short-term health insurance.

Is there a nurse on duty/doctors on call? Is there a campus clinic that they can attend for minor problems?

The ODU campus does not offer a medical clinic, but University staff members with training in first-aid are available 24 hours per day.

If a student is sick or injured, a counselor or staff member will transport and accompany them to a nearby hospital or clinic.

Is there a pharmacy on campus?

There are pharmacies a mile or so away from campus. Ross staff members will organize a shopping mall trip for those students who need to purchase items at a pharmacy.


Are there events planned for nights and weekends? Is social interaction encouraged?

Counselors organize some informal activities like Ultimate Frisbee games each Friday, and a Talent Show. However, students are expected to spend most of their waking hours working on the mathematical problem sets. Weekends are spent mostly catching up on problem sets that weren’t completed during the week.

Do you conduct field trips to other locations?

Yes. We are planning some off-campus trips. However, students may be asked to pay a small fee in order to join the organized trips.

Are parents allowed/ encouraged to make mid-session visits to campus?

We strongly discourage overnight absences for Ross students. Students build up momentum working full-time on hard problems. That momentum is halted when a student takes a day or two off. Parents are certainly welcome to visit for a day and take students out to dinner. But movies or similar events tend to distract students from mathematical motivations and interests. They can watch movies and TV at home, after the Ross Program is over. This policy might seem stringent: The point is to get students excited about mathematical ideas and to concentrate all of their energy on solving interesting math problems.

International Concerns

Do you accept international students?

Every year, several students from outside the U.S. are accepted to the Ross Program. They are highly talented, eager to learn abstract mathematical ideas, and fluent in English. Some financial aid is available for excellent students, but we can rarely provide support for travel expenses.

What sort of visa is needed?

Students at the Ross Mathematics Program are not registered as college students, and do not receive official credit from the University. Therefore this Program is classified as a ‘mathematical vacation’ so you may use a tourist visa (B-2).

Just Curious

How many students are admitted to the Program?

We plan to admit about 70 first-year students at Ross/USA, supported by 10 to 20 junior counselors, and about 18 counselors.

What is the ratio of boys to girls?

In past years, about one-fourth of the participants have been female.

What is the average age? What is the age spread? Is my child too young/old?

Nearly all first-year students are 15 to 18 years old, and the average age is usually 16 or 17. In rare cases we admit some exceptionally mature 14 year olds, as well as some students who have already graduated from high school.

Where do the students come from?

Ross participants come from all over the United States, and from several other countries. In addition to students from China, South Korea, and India, we have hosted students from other countries, including Botswana, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.

How does the Ross Program compare to other summer math programs like PROMYS, Canada/USA Mathcamp, HCSSiM, SUMaC, etc?

Prominent summer math programs for high school students are listed on the mathcamps page run by the American Mathematical Society. A key feature of the Ross Program is that the students concentrate deeply on just one subject for the entire session. We are convinced that this level of focus and depth is far more valuable than short overviews of many different topics.

PROMYS at Boston University is the summer program most similar to the Ross Program.