The Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student solving mathematical problems

The Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University

Are you a high school student with a burning passion for numbers? Do you have an insatiable curiosity and a desire to explore the captivating world of mathematics like never before? If so, you’re in for a treat! This article is your gateway to the remarkable Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University.

Mathematics often hides behind classroom walls, waiting for the adventurous souls who dare to seek its secrets. And that’s precisely what the Ross Program is all about – unleashing your inner mathematician, nurturing your insatiable appetite for mathematical wonders, and igniting the spark that will illuminate your journey through the realm of numbers.

But what exactly is this Ross Program that we’re raving about? Is it just another math summer camp? Or is it a mathematical adventure of epic proportions?

Picture this: six weeks of intense exploration, deep dives into abstract mathematical concepts, and a chance to rub shoulders with fellow math enthusiasts nationwide. Sounds like a dream for math enthusiasts! In this program, equations become your playmates, proof your trusty companions, and mathematical problems your daily puzzle to solve.

What is The Ross Mathematics Program?

Ross Mathematics Program is an extraordinary summer program that provides high school students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in advanced mathematics, fostering a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and promoting critical thinking and independent research skills.

The program typically spans six weeks during the summer and offers an immersive learning experience like no other. Ross Program participants engage in rigorous mathematical exploration, tackling challenging problem sets and delving into abstract mathematical concepts.

The curriculum focuses on a single central topic, often number theory, and encourages students to go beyond the surface-level understanding to develop the ability to think critically and write persuasive proofs. Unlike traditional math education, the Ross Program places a strong emphasis on collaborative learning and independent mathematical research rather than competition.

It aims to instill a deep appreciation for mathematics and nurture the intellectual independence needed for future scientific innovation. Admission to the Ross Program is highly competitive, and successful applicants typically demonstrate a strong high school academic record and exceptional problem-solving skills.

A Brief History

Back in 1957, the visionary Dr. Arnold Ross established this transformative program at Notre Dame University. Its inception gained momentum during the era of the Sputnik satellite launch, which sparked a nationwide fascination with science education.

Since then, the Arnold Ross Program has continued to thrive, with close ties to Ohio State University from 1964 to 2018. Subsequently, in 2019, the program found a new home at Ohio Dominican University.

Although the years 2020 and 2021 necessitated a shift to virtual learning, the Ross Program enthusiastically returned to in-person sessions in 2022, hosted at Ohio Dominican University and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The program’s core mission has consistently revolved around nurturing the mathematical prowess of talented young minds and kindling their passion for abstract ideas.

For first-year participants, this marks their initial encounter with the intriguing world of number theory. It’s a unique opportunity for them to grapple with entirely novel questions, develop innovative problem-solving techniques, and substantiate their solutions rigorously.

The significance of a mathematical education extends beyond computational skills; it lays the groundwork for the cultivation of critical thinking. Students who have never delved into the “why” behind mathematical concepts are ill-equipped to spearhead future breakthroughs in science.

The Ross Program, at its heart, aims to foster a spirit of independent thought and a relentless thirst for inquiry. It is this very spirit that we seek to instill in our participants, equipping them to become trailblazers in the world of scientific innovation.

Solving a Math problem on a book.

Ross Mathematics Program Course Topics

During this intensive six-week summer program, students engage in a total of ten hours of classes each week, divided into five hours of lectures and five hours of small-group meetings.

Beyond these structured sessions, students have the flexibility to manage their own time, with the expectation that they will dedicate many hours to exploring the intricate mathematical concepts covered in class and tackling challenging problem sets.

Upon successfully solving a problem, students are tasked with the important exercise of crafting clear and precise proofs for all their conclusions. This emphasis on logical reasoning and honing mathematical writing skills serves as valuable preparation for more abstract science and math courses they may encounter in college.

The Ross Program has chosen Number Theory as its central theme because it presents ideas that are readily accessible at first glance yet harbor deeper, more intricate concepts and connections waiting to be explored.

Participants in the Ross Program delve deeply into this single subject, delving into aspects that may not typically be covered in standard high school or college courses. The significance lies in the experience of immersing oneself profoundly in a single subject matter.

Throughout the problem sets, you’ll encounter various topics that weave through the course, often intersecting within the same set of problems.

By investigating a series of interconnected problems over several days, students have the opportunity to observe patterns, formulate conjectures, test these conjectures through additional examples, establish theorems, construct proofs, refine their arguments, and explore broader generalizations.

Students advance through the problem sets at their individual paces. In reality, grasping all the ideas and techniques presented may not happen on the first try, and that’s perfectly fine.

Ross counselors actively foster a “community of scholars” in the dormitory, encouraging everyone to engage with these challenging mathematical ideas, share their thoughts and insights, and relish the satisfaction of conquering a complex problem together.

Mathematical Topics to be Tackled at Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University

Prepare for a captivating world of mathematics at the Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University. Here, you’ll dive deep into a treasure trove of mathematical topics that will expand your horizons and challenge your intellect in ways you’ve never imagined.

  • Euclid’s Algorithm
  • Modular arithmetic
  • Binomial coefficients
  • Polynomials
  • Orders of elements
  • Quadratic reciprocity
  • Continued fractions
  • Arithmetic functions
  • Gaussian integers
  • Finite fields
  • Resultants
  • Geometry of numbers
  • Quadratic number fields

From exploring the mysteries of Euclid’s Algorithm to navigating the intricate realm of finite fields, the Ross Program will empower you to grasp these mathematical gems and unlock their secrets.

With each concept you conquer, you’ll gain not only knowledge but also the confidence to tackle the most intricate mathematical puzzles.

So, are you ready to delve into these fascinating topics and discover the boundless possibilities that await you in the world of mathematics?

Male student studying math book with blackboard as background

How to Apply

To begin your journey in the Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University, go to the application portal located at this website. Make sure you prepare these requirements, as you might need to upload them:

School Records/Transcripts

Your academic performance in high school plays a crucial role. A strong track record in mathematics and related subjects demonstrates your foundation and commitment to the subject.

Teacher Recommendations

Recommendations from your teachers provide valuable insights into your academic abilities, work ethic, and potential for success in the program. They can vouch for your dedication and passion for mathematics.

Personal Statement Essays

The essays you submit are an opportunity to express your genuine interests and aspirations in the field of mathematics.

They offer a window into your motivation for participating in the program and your vision for how it aligns with your academic goals.

Your Personal Statement Essay serves as your introduction to the Admissions Committee and provides an opportunity for you to discuss your interest in mathematics and your goals for your participation in the Ross Program.

For this portion, you will be asked to write one essay discussing the following questions and related topics. You may copy and paste the essay into the textbox in the application, or you may upload a PDF version of your essay.

  • What aspect of mathematics draws your interest and attention? Are you interested in math for its own sake? For the thrill of solving puzzling problems? Or because math has important applications in other fields?
  • Do you have some strong academic interests in addition to math? For instance, are you intensively studying physics? Or economics? Are you serious about Chinese literature, paleontology, or modern dance?
  • What do you hope to gain by attending this challenging summer program?
  • How do you like to spend your time?
  • What are your hobbies or interests outside of school?

Mathematical Solutions

The ability to tackle challenging math problems is a critical aspect of your application. It showcases your aptitude for abstract thinking and problem-solving – skills that are central to the Ross Program experience.

The Ross Program is not looking for complex mathematical presentations; instead, they value clear and comprehensible explanations that showcase your explorations, hypotheses, and supporting evidence through rigorous proofs.

You may upload your problems and solutions in a Word or PDF format. You may scan your documents if you have written them by hand; make sure they are clear and readable.

man is studying for his exam, solving math problems to practice.


If you’re a motivated high school student with a passion for math and science, you are encouraged to apply.

Typically, the first-year participants are between the ages of 15 and 18, but occasionally, they welcome younger or older students who demonstrate exceptional potential.

How many students get into the Ross Mathematics Program?

They usually have 60 new students at each location, with the assistance of 15 junior counselors and 15 counselors.

You can say that those numbers are not much of a crowd. However, the Ross Mathematics Program is a prestigious program. This goes without saying, but the admission process is competitive.

In 2023, about 15% of the applicants with complete applications 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.

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.

You will surely be making friends and connections from all over the world!

Costs and Financial Assistance

Every Ross Program participant is required to contribute a program fee of $6000.

These funds are used to cover essential expenses like lodging and meals for the six-week duration, as well as the salaries of our dedicated instructors and counselors. Additionally, they help support the creation and management of their math courses.

Their goal is to ensure that every deserving student who gains admission to our program has the opportunity to attend, and we aim to provide sufficient assistance to make this possible.

The Ross Program offers scholarships to eligible students who may face financial constraints that make attending the program challenging. The process for requesting scholarship assistance begins after you’ve been accepted into the program.

As suggested and endorsed by the Ross Mathematics Program, you may want to look into National organizations like Mu Alpha Theta, the high school math society, that offer scholarships for participation in math programs.

You can also explore scholarship options through organizations such as the Davidson Institute and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Students who are interested in attending the Ross Mathematics Program and are looking for financial assistance may want to explore scholarship options beyond what the Ross Program provides directly.

These scholarships could be offered by local colleges, universities, or educational organizations in the student’s home city or state.

You should conduct thorough research to identify and apply for scholarships that may be available from other educational institutions or foundations within your area.

These additional scholarships could potentially help offset the cost of attending the Ross Mathematics Program and make it more financially feasible for students who might not have access to significant resources.

Students packing their things to their dorm

Where will students stay?

In 2023, The Ross/USA Program has two locations:

  1. Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio
  2. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana

All participants will be housed in on-campus dormitories. Usually, you will share a small suite of rooms with three roommates.

What are the living arrangements like?

The dormitories and classroom buildings are equipped with air conditioning to ensure your comfort. Each participant is provided with a single bed, a desk, a chair, and some closet space. Additionally, you’ll receive two sheets, a pillowcase, and a blanket.

Please note that you must bring your towels, washcloths, pillows, clothes hangers, shampoo, soap, and other personal items. To make things easier for you, they will organize trips to nearby stores where you can purchase towels and pillows at reasonable prices since they can be cumbersome to bring with you.

Is there a set time to be back in the dorm?

Yes, there is a curfew in place. After sunset, all students are required to stay inside the dormitory, and leaving the campus without a counselor is not permitted.

Will high school and college students mix, and will there be other camps?

In general, the Ross Mathematics Program occupies multiple floors within the dormitory. While the program is running, there may be other summer camps taking place on campus.

These camps have their own participants who come and go at various times throughout the summer, and some of them might share the same dormitory building with you.

Are there activities for evenings and weekends? Is there a chance to socialize?

The counselors arrange a few laid-back events, like playing Ultimate Frisbee on Fridays and hosting a Talent Show. Exciting, right?

Nevertheless, the main focus is on dedicating most of your daytime hours to solving challenging math problems. Weekends are typically used to catch up on any problem sets you might not have finished during the week.

Young female student completing he college list.

Ross Mathematics Program: Celebrating 60 Years of Legacy

The Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University boasts a remarkable legacy of achievements and contributions in the world of mathematics education. Over the years, this program has left an indelible mark by:

Nurturing Mathematical Talent

The Ross Program has consistently identified and nurtured young mathematical talent, providing a platform for high school students to explore advanced mathematical concepts beyond their standard curriculum.

Fostering Critical Thinking

Through its intensive problem-solving approach, the program has cultivated the critical thinking skills essential for future success in mathematics, science, and various academic disciplines.

Promoting Collaboration

The emphasis on collaborative learning over competition has created a supportive and inclusive environment where students share ideas, insights, and the joy of mathematical discovery.

Inspiring Future Mathematicians

Many alumni of the Ross Program have gone on to become successful mathematicians, researchers, and educators, contributing significantly to the field and inspiring future generations.

Encouraging Independent Research

The program’s unique curriculum encourages students to embark on independent mathematical research, setting the stage for groundbreaking discoveries and innovative approaches to problem-solving.

Scholarship Opportunities

The Ross Program has opened doors for students from diverse backgrounds by offering scholarships and financial aid, ensuring that talent, not financial constraints, determines participation.

Adapting to Change

The program has demonstrated resilience by adapting to changing circumstances, such as shifting to online learning during challenging times, ensuring that mathematical exploration continues unabated.

Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University has a rich legacy of fostering mathematical talent, critical thinking, collaboration, and inspiration among high school students.

Its impact extends far beyond the program’s duration, leaving an enduring mark on the world of mathematics and shaping the future of mathematical education.

a group of college students talking in a staircase

The Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University stands as a beacon of inspiration and opportunity. It’s a place where your mathematical dreams take flight, where curiosity knows no bounds, and where you’ll discover that the journey is as exhilarating as the destination.

With a legacy of nurturing talent, fostering collaboration, and igniting the flames of discovery, Ross empowers high school students to redefine their limits, embrace challenges, and embark on a lifelong quest for mathematical brilliance.

Unlock your potential, forge lifelong friendships, and realize that the world of mathematics is boundless. Your mathematical adventure awaits, and with Ross, the sky’s not the limit; it’s just the beginning!

If you seek assistance in securing admission to pre-college programs, it’s a smart choice to seek advice from college admissions specialists, such as AdmissionSight. With more than ten years of experience, our team has successfully shepherded students through the demanding admissions process, helping them secure places at prestigious universities worldwide. Don’t hesitate to schedule your first consultation with us now!

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