Young Scholars FAQs

Eligibility & Costs


Rising 10th - 12th Graders from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, or Wisconsin.

The Young Scholars STEMM Research Program is a regionally-focused program. Applicants need to live in one of the noted states to be considered.

The grades listed refer to the grade the student will be entering in the fall semester after the research program ends.  

No. This is a regionally-focused program. Applicants must live in the states noted.

No, you do not need to apply with a teacher or other students from your school, but please encourage teacher applicants to mentor. The website will have a form that interested teachers can use to apply. 

No. Eligibility is determined by what grade in school the applicant will be entering in the fall after the camps end and their home state. 

IDEA programs are mission-driven programs aimed at Increasing Diversity, Equity, & Access in STEMM majors and careers. These programs focus on broadening participation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine for groups that have historically been excluded from these fields because of their gender, racial, ethnic, ability identities, and/or socioeconomic status. It is in our best interest as a University and as a nation to do what we can to increase equity and access in these fields of problem-solving and innovation. Addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion is an important part of the mission of WYSE. Because of this, we regularly host programs that focus on broadening access and participation in STEMM fields.  

The Young Scholars STEMM Research Program is an IDEA program. 

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Our definition also includes the diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values. We also recognize that individuals affiliate with multiple identities. 

Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society. 

Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity. 

IDEA programs will have content specifically aimed at empowering historically excluded populations to navigate and negotiate systems that have traditionally been unwelcoming, as well as providing examples of success through faculty, students, and alumni who have experienced similar issues of systemic and individual bias. All who meet the grade range and location eligibility are welcome to apply.  

There is no cost for selected applicants other than transportation to and from the University of Illinois campus. Students accepted into this program will receive a fellowship payment for committing themselves to full participation and effort to learn and try new things. 

Housing will be available for selected, non-local applicants. Selected applicants will receive that information upon acceptance. 

No. We cannot offer any course credit for the program.

Application & Review Process


No. Students initially APPLY to the Young Scholars Program. Those who are accepted and choose to claim their seat will then complete a registration form. 

Young Scholars does not employ rolling admissions. An applicant who applies at the beginning of the application time frame has as much chance of acceptance as an applicant who applies at the end (but before the deadline). Accepted students are selected through a competitive application process (all applicants are ranked against each other).

The Young Scholars application process begins in February with the release of the application form. The application includes student information (contact information, recent grades, extracurriculars, etc.) and two personal statement essays.

In addition, the applicant will provide contact information for a teacher, mentor, or counselor who will be asked to complete a brief online recommendation form (Note: We do not accept separately written recommendation letters). This form will be emailed out to the educator listed AFTER the student submits their portion of the application. The application will not be considered complete until after the teacher recommendation form has been submitted. For this reason, it is recommended that the applicant notify the teacher that they should expect an email from the University seeking the completion of the recommendation form. 

Application deadlines are generally towards the end of March or early April each year and the specific date will be posted on the Young Scholars Program page with the application.

For Summer 2024, the priority deadline is March 24, 2024. To be considered in the first round of reviews, both the application and teacher recommendation need to be completed/submitted by March 24th.  Applications are considered for review once both the applicant portion and teacher recommendation are received. However, we still review applications completed after the priority deadline until program spots are confirmed filled. 

The best way to stay up to date each year with summer program announcements or deadlines is to subscribe to the Summer Program Notifications mailing list.

Minimum self-reported grades should include the current year's Fall semester courses and grades, as well as the full previous academic year. 

No, we cannot accept emailed or post-mailed educator letters of recommendation due to the number of applicants we receive and how recommendations are linked to applications. Additionally, the form asks specific (and short!) questions to more objectively compare responses among applicants. 

No. There is no cost to apply. 

Applications are reviewed in March and April, and notification of acceptance, rejection, or waiting list placement will occur by the end of April or early May. 

The applications are reviewed by the summer research leadership team. Applicant names are removed prior to this review. We receive more qualified applicants than we have lab spots available. Considerable weight is put on the applicant's interest statements and their connections to the research lab(s) accepting students this year. 

The Young Scholars STEMM Research Program is a highly selective program with a mission of providing opportunities for groups historically excluded from STEMM fields based on gender, racial, ethnic, and ability identities, as well as socioeconomic status. All are who meet the grade range and location eligibility are welcome to apply, but priority will be given to qualified applicants within one or more of the above identity groups.

In 2022 and again in 2023, we received over 600 applications for only 30 lab spots. 

Considerable weight is put on the applicant's interest statement on the essay portion of the application. 

We understand many families want to schedule summer plans as soon as possible. Notifications of acceptance, wait list, or denial will not be sent out until the last week of April or early May due to the number of applicants we receive and the review process. We recommend not delaying acceptance with any other programs you may lose out on if this does not work for your time frame. 

Students invited to be a part of the program are asked to formally accept their spot by completing the remainder of the registration process (including medical information, waiver forms, and emergency contact information).

Deadlines to accept the offered seat in the program must be followed, or the camper's space may be passed on to the next person in line on the waiting list. 

Yes. All applicants are notified of either acceptance, waitlist status, or rejection once the application review process is completed in early May.

About the Young Scholars Experience


The Young Scholars STEMM Research Program is primarily an in-person program on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Occasionally, research groups will provide a hybrid or virtual program. These options will be explained after acceptances into the program have occurred. When applying, you should assume that the program is occurring in-person. 

There is no virtual-only option for Summer 2024. 

All travelers, whether in-state or out-of-state are responsible for getting to Champaign County. We will assist in picking students up and dropping them off at the airport (Willard Airport – CMI) or the train/bus station (Illinois Terminal). All admitted students will be asked to provide details during registration regarding their travel plans to guarantee and ensure safe camper arrival.

For student pickup, flights must arrive and depart from Willard Airport (CMI) in Savoy. You can find the transportation carriers that route through the Illinois Terminal on the Tenants’ webpage.  The Illinois Terminal is located at 45 E University Ave, Champaign, IL.

FAMILIES: Be sure to research the rules of the airline, train, or bus regarding the travel process for unaccompanied minors before buying a ticket.