Science Honors Program (SHP)

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a Saturday morning program specifically designed for high school students in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Classes are held on the Columbia University Morningside Campus during the entire academic year from September through May.

For more information about the application instructions and requirements, please review the information below.

 
The 2024 Science Honors Program application has closed!

The application will reopen in the Spring of 2025. 

 

The 2024 SHP Examinations begin June 1st!

The SHP examination will be administered online (and remotely) on several weekend dates in the first half of June and may be taken anywhere with a strong and reliable internet connection.

The expected dates are:
* Sat. 6/1
* Sat. 6/8
* Sun. 6/9
* Sat. 6/15
** Sun. 6/16 (only for students with approved accommodations)
In all cases, students will have a start time between 10 and 11 am Eastern
time, with the exam running two hours from the assigned start time.

Please check your email in the coming days to select your preferred date(s) for the entrance exam.

The entrance exam may include questions in earth science, biology,
chemistry, physics, and high school math up to pre-calculus. Students
have found studying Regents review books or SAT II subject
tests helpful.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCIENCE HONORS PROGRAM 2024

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a highly selective program for high school students who have a strong interest in the sciences and mathematics. The SHP holds classes at Columbia from 10:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. on Saturdays throughout the academic year. Courses are primarily in the physical, chemical, biological, behavioral, and computing sciences; and instructors are scientists and mathematicians who are actively engaged in research at the University. During the past few years, the SHP has offered the following courses:
 

  • ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS
  • RELATIVITY AND QUANTUM PHYSICS
  • SCIENCE OF MATERIALS
  • ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING: HARNESSING THE POWER OF ELECTRONS 
  • CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM COMPUTING DEVICES
  • ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
  • BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOENGINEERING
  • HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
  • EXPLORING THE COMPLEX: AN INTRODUCTION TO COMPLEX ANALYSIS
  • PYTHON: FROM TOOLS TO HEALTHCARE APPLICATIONS*
  • INTRODUCTION TO ALGORITHMS*

* Students will need to be able to bring a personal laptop for these courses.


For current students, the program and its courses have no program fee charges; however, families of SHP participants are asked to consider making voluntary contributions to help support the program.

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, we anticipate an annual program fee of $600 per year for NEW students (with $300 due at the beginning of each semester). Program fee waivers may be available for students with documented financial hardships; waivers will be granted after the admissions process, and all applications will receive equal consideration regardless of need. We regret the upcoming change; however, the program fee will be significantly lower than comparable programs in the New York City area and more broadly.

To contact the program, you may write to [email protected], or you may call the SHP office at (212) 854-3354

Science Honors Program Course Descriptions

ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS: This course will trace our knowledge of the Universe from astronomy's ancient roots in naked-eye observations of the sky to the twenty-first-century studies of extrasolar planetary systems, black holes, and cosmology. Initial topics will include: Newton's laws of motion and gravitation, orbits and space travel, and the properties of planets' surfaces, interiors, and atmospheres. The course will then combine atomic and nuclear physics with stellar and galactic astronomy to describe stars, supernovae, black holes, the interstellar medium, galaxies, the creation of the elements, and the evolution of the universe.

RELATIVITY AND QUANTUM PHYSICS: Relativity and quantum physics underpin much of our modern understanding of the universe. The first part of the course will present Einstein's special relativity, including topics such as Galilean relativity, Einstein's postulates, time dilation, length contraction, failure of simultaneity at a distance, Lorentz transformations, space-time, four-vectors, the relativistic Doppler effect, Compton scattering, the Einstein and de Broglie relations, and mass-energy equivalence. A brief interlude to general relativity covers the equivalence principle and gravitational redshift. The second part begins with a historical introduction to quantum physics before moving on to topics such as wave interference, the double-slit experiment, complementarity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Bohr-Einstein debates, Bohr's atomic model, particle in a box, and zero-point energy. Advanced topics include the two-state quantum system, quantum tunneling, and the Schrodinger equation. Students should have completed pre-calculus.

SCIENCE OF MATERIALS: Almost every major technological advancement has depended on a leap in our understanding of Materials Science— we even name eras after their most important materials, from the stone and bronze ages to our modern age of steel and silicon. We will cover the main classes of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers/plastics, and functional-electronic) by understanding their structure at different length scales, from atomic bonds to crystals to steel in skyscrapers and silicon in transistors. We will see how the structure and defects in materials determine their properties and how physics and chemistry can be used to engineer the materials to build the modern world, answering questions ranging from “Why are rubies red?” to “How does tempered glass protect my phone?” Topics to be covered include: atoms and bonding; crystals and defects; mechanical, electronic, and optical properties; band theory and electronic devices; graphene and 2D materials.

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING: HARNESSING THE POWER OF ELECTRONS: This course will introduce the fundamentals of electrical engineering, equipping students with the analytical and practical skills needed to analyze and assemble basic electronic circuits. Students will be exposed to analog circuit elements and their applications, as well as basic semiconductor device physics and use; introductory calculus will be covered to contextualize significance of circuits' properties. Further on, fundamentals of digital circuit design will be introduced using CMOS components and Arduino microcontrollers. Hands-on lab exercises will be engaged with on a weekly basis, introducing students to the inner workings of thermometers, motion sensors, guitar pedals, voting machines, and more! The course will build towards the completion of a final design project, a 'smart' solar oven where an Arduino core will be integrated with analog subcircuits to track thermal and optical parameters while baking cookies. Whether you’re a fan of physics or chocolate chips, we’ll have something for you here!

CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM COMPUTING DEVICES: The course will begin with the principles of quantum mechanics, showing how entanglement and superposition could usher in a new era of quantum information devices. Students will be exposed to the math underlying quantum physics, learn about the many platforms being used to build qubits in research and industry, and have the opportunity to visit a quantum optics lab at Columbia. The second part of the course will introduce students to the theory and applications of modern CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) technology with an emphasis on devices for classical and quantum information processing. Students will examine the fabrication and implementation of conventional 3D semiconductor devices as well as the "new-age" 2D Van der Waals materials for multi-layered heterostructure analysis. The course will also include visits to see fabrication facilities and metrology/microscopy tools in quantum materials labs on the Columbia campus.

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY: This course combines lectures, laboratory experiments, and demonstrations to provide an introduction to the principles and exciting frontiers of organic chemistry. Students will be introduced to the synthesis of organic compounds and the reaction mechanisms. Lecture topics will include: chemical bonds, structural theory and reactivity, design and synthesis of organic molecules, and spectroscopic techniques (UV-Vis, IR, NMR) for structure determination. Experiments will introduce common techniques employed in organic chemistry and will include: extraction, recrystallization, thin layer and column chromatography, reflux, and distillation. Note that students must be present for one of the first two classes for mandatory safety training.

BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOENGINEERING: Biotechnology and bioengineering have transformed the world around us for countless fields, from medicine to agriculture. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of biology and biochemistry and how scientists have taken these biological systems and engineered them to produce life-saving insulin, drought-resistant crops, COVID-19 tests, and many more topics. In each class we will learn about at least one biotechnology breakthrough, how it works, and have discussions on the greater impacts of these breakthroughs.

HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY: This course provides an introduction to the major systems of the human body, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. Discussions will progress from general system structure to function on a cellular level. An overview of pathology and current research will also be presented.

EXPLORING THE COMPLEX: AN INTRODUCTION TO COMPLEX ANALYSIS: This course will provide an introduction to the fascinating field of complex analysis. Complex analysis is a branch of mathematics that studies complex functions, which are functions that map complex numbers to other complex numbers. In this course, we will explore the properties and behavior of these functions, which can help us understand and solve problems in many different fields. After examining the basic properties of complex numbers, including complex arithmetic, complex conjugation, and the geometry of the complex plane, we will move on to more advanced topics, such as complex differentiation and integration, the Cauchy-Riemann equations, and the Cauchy integral theorem. One of the key concepts we will study in this course is analyticity, which is the property that allows us to differentiate complex functions. We will explore the relationship between analytic functions and the geometry of the complex plane and see how analytic functions can be used to solve problems in physics, engineering, and other fields. Other topics that we may cover include complex power series, Laplace and Fourier transforms, and singularities. We will also examine the application of complex analysis to a variety of different problems, including fluid dynamics, electrical engineering, and number theory. No special mathematical background is required for this course.

PYTHON: FROM TOOLS TO HEALTHCARE APPLICATIONS: The course will start by introducing students to the various tools that are used in the field of computer science, namely command-line, text editors, etc., since these are often not covered in traditional computer science courses. We will then see how to set up Python, use git to track and publicize work, and learn programming basics, data manipulation, and visualization. The various machine-learning techniques used in healthcare will also be introduced. Distinguished guest lectures from the faculty of Columbia University and its affiliate institutions will provide valuable insights into advances in the field. *Students will need to be able to bring a personal laptop for this course.

INTRODUCTION TO ALGORITHMS: This course motivates algorithmic thinking. The key learning objectives are the notions of run-time analysis of algorithms, computational complexity, algorithmic paradigms, and data structures. Content will primarily be based on high-school algebra and calculus. A tentative list of topics includes: run-time analysis of algorithms, basic sorting algorithms, quick sort, binary sort, heap sort and hash table. If time permits, graph algorithms and dynamic programming will be covered. *Students will need to be able to bring a personal laptop for this course.

SHP Spring 2024 Calendar

February 10 - First Day of Classes, plenary talks

February 17 - Classes in Session

February 24 - Classes in Session

March 2 - Classes in Session

March 9 - Classes in Session

March 16 - No Classes, Columbia Spring Break

March 23 - Classes in Session

March 30 - No Classes, Easter Weekend

April 6 - Classes in Session

April 13 - Classes in Session

April 20 - Classes in Session

April 27 - Classes in Session

May 4 - Last Day of Classes

June 1 - Entrance Exam

June 8 - Entrance Exam

June 9 - Entrance Exam

June 15 -  Entrance Exam

June 16 - Entrance Exam (only for students with approved accommodations)

SHP Application Information

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is highly selective for students with exceptional talent in mathematics and the sciences. Interested students may apply during their ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade to enter the program the following academic year. Students must apply online.

Application to the program is via our online application at https://apply.engineering.columbia.edu/apply/. You can return to work on your application over several sessions by logging in with your email address and password.

Your information is transmitted through a secured server and is kept confidential until you submit your application. Your application will only be reviewed after submission. If you have any questions about the Science Honors application, please email [email protected].

After a complete application is submitted, the applicant should receive a confirmation e-mail indicating successful submission. 

You must pay an application fee by credit card or request a fee waiver prior to application submission. Applications can only be processed once the application fee is paid.

Your recommendation provider will be automatically notified and asked to submit their recommendation online. You can subsequently track the status of the submitted application and the receipt of the associated recommendation using your Status Portal. After the close of the application period, applicants will be notified of which examination date they have been assigned and will be able to print out an examination admission form that must be brought to the examination on the given date. 

We are pleased that we are continuing into our 67th year in the Science Honors Program. The annual tuition for the 2024-2025 school year will be $600 per year (with $300 due at the beginning of each semester). Tuition waivers may be available for students with documented financial hardships; waivers will be granted after the admissions process, and all applications will receive equal consideration regardless of need.

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) requires the following:

  • A completed online application, including a report of high school grades and an essay
  • A high school transcript
  • One letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher, guidance counselor, or principal
  • A $50 non-refundable application fee. *Application fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis. Students in need of a fee waiver will need to complete and submit the Application Fee Waiver Request Form.

As part of the application process, there will also be a 2-hour online entrance examination. There will be multiple dates available on the weekends throughout June. Students will be contacted to choose their preferred examination date after the application deadline. The examination will contain questions in mathematics and science. Students are expected to have a background in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and probability, together with some knowledge of elementary science subjects. No special studying or review is needed for the examination.

The deadline for completed applications is 11:59 pm on March 27th, 2024 including application fee. No applications will be accepted after this date. Transcripts and letters of recommendation must be received by April 10th, 2024.

Deadline for Completed Application and Fee Payment: March 27th, 2024

Deadline for Receipt of Transcripts and Recommendations: April 10th, 2024

Entrance Examination Date Selection: Early May

Entrance Examination Dates: The first three weekends of June

Admission Decision Notification: July 15, 2024 (via Email)

Payment

You must pay an application fee by credit card or request a fee waiver prior to application submission. Applications can only be processed once the application fee is paid.

Your recommendation provider will be automatically notified and asked to submit their recommendation online. You can subsequently track the status of the submitted application and the receipt of the associated recommendation using your Status Portal. After the close of the application period, applicants will be notified of which examination date they have been assigned and will be able to print out an examination admission form that must be brought to the examination on the given date. 

We are pleased that we are continuing into our 67th year in the Science Honors Program. The annual tuition for the 2024-2025 school year will be $600 per year (with $300 due at the beginning of each semester). Tuition waivers may be available for students with documented financial hardships; waivers will be granted after the admissions process, and all applications will receive equal consideration regardless of need.

To apply, indicate interest on the SHP program application and complete the following documents:

  1. Individual recent pay stubs for parent(s). Indicate if weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pay period.
  2. Family Income and Expense Worksheet
  3. Parent Non Tax-Filer Certification Form (this is only applicable if not filing a tax return)