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How To Apply for VSA

Our VSA residential programs and on-campus day programs will not be taking place during Summer 2021.

We will continue to offer virtual programs this summer through PTY Online Academy (rising 3rd-12th grade), Rising Expert: Mini Immersion (rising 9th-10th grade) and Mentor Immersion (rising 11th-12th grade). Applications are currently being accepted.

Jump to: Eligibility | Choosing a Course | Application Checklist | Additional Materials | Admissions ProcessFAQ


In order to determine if VSA’s accelerated courses are a good fit, all students are required to submit qualifying documentation as part of their application.

Students applying to Vanderbilt Summer Academy must submit qualifying documentation at the time of application. Test scores in the 90th percentile and above for their age group in one or more sections on an advanced achievement assessment (ACT, SAT, PSAT, or AP scores within the content area of the course) or any other nationally normed standardized assessment (such as state testing, if advanced achievement assessment scores are not available) would suggest that this program might be a good fit academically for a student. We look specifically at strengths and accelerated achievement in the content area(s) or course(s) of interest. However, PTY does not have cutoffs for standardized test scores in order to apply to the program. Also, please note that scores above the 90th percentile do not automatically guarantee admission into the program.

All students are also required to submit a current transcript. Grades of mostly As and Bs in the the most academically advanced courses your school offers typically suggest that the VSA program would be a good academic fit. Please make sure your transcript reflects particular required prerequisites (if any) for certain VSA courses. Through the transcript review process, we are looking for students who are highly motivated. PTY also understands that extenuating circumstances might impact a student’s grades. Please make sure you provide additional information if you believe your grades do not accurately demonstrate your ability or commitment to academics.

Additionally, we, at PTY, understand that there are additional ways to reflect a student’s academic knowledge and capacity for advanced academic coursework besides test scores. Feel free to contact the VSA office for questions about scores or a transcript that do not meet these criteria, as alternative documentation through additional portfolio information may be acceptable to determine fit.

To learn more about the ways to qualify for VSA, including portfolio information, visit the Student Program Eligibility page.


VSA welcomes students from across the globe to apply for and participate in our summer residential program. Vanderbilt considers you an international student if you are a citizen of any nation other than the United States of America. You are not considered an international student if you are a dual U.S. citizen, U.S. Permanent Resident, refugee/asylee, or a U.S. citizen living abroad.

To learn more about eligibility requirements for international students, please visit the VSA International Student page for more information about application requirements.

Choosing a Course

Please consider course choices carefully. As you review the course descriptions, rank-order as many of the courses as you like, knowing that you may not get placed in your first choice. While we do our best to place students in their first-choice courses, we often have to place students in second- or third-choice courses based on availability. Please note that ranking more than one course never hurts the possibility of receiving your top choice class, and ranking several courses increases the chances of being placed in a class. Rank only those courses that you are truly willing to take. If you get placed in lower ranked course, you will remain on the waiting list for higher ranked courses, but know, a spot may not open in a higher ranked course. Rank thoughtfully to ensure you will enjoy your VSA experience!

Application Checklist

Incomplete applications cannot be fully processed. Make sure to include all required materials in your application:

  • Admission application (online or paper), completed and signed
  • Qualifying documents: (1) Test scores and school transcript
  • Nonrefundable Application fee: $50 ($100 for International Students)
  • Application statement, completed and signed
  • Financial Documents (i.e. 1040 and W-2s, if you plan to apply for financial assistance)

Financial Assistance

Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth is committed to making programs available to academically gifted students regardless of a family’s ability to pay the full tuition. Therefore, need-based financial aid is available based on income. The VSA application review process is need-blind and does not consider financial status. More information on PTY’s financial assistance application can be found on the Tuition and Financial Assistance page.

Admissions Process & Placement

VSA begins accepting applications during a period called the Application Priority Window, but applications are accepted long after this window and until all VSA courses have filled. Many of our courses fill quickly, so we recommend that students apply as early as possible for the best chance of receiving their top choice course. Our VSA admissions process is intended to facilitate an equal opportunity for all potential participants to be placed in the courses that interest them.

Application Priority Window

There is typically a two-week priority application window in January after the application is released. Applicants can apply online or mail a paper application. Paper applications received before or during the window will be time-stamped as received during the window.

Please Note: If you are submitting applications for multiple children, you can add all applicants to the same account on SchoolDoc. However, a separate application will need to be submitted for each individual child. Please visit the SchoolDoc Help Page and scroll to the bottom of the page for more information on adding multiple students to a single account.

All applications received during the priority application window will be considered part of the primary application pool regardless of the specific time submitted. All complete and qualifying applications submitted during the application priority window have the same chance for placement. Upon the close of the window, all applications received will be randomly assigned a number determining their order in the review queue.

Applying during the priority window does not guarantee admission, but it increases your chances of admission. We strongly recommend that students apply during the window. If space in a course remains after the priority window, courses will be filled on a first-come, first-serve system, based on availability and eligibility. A waitlist will be maintained for full courses.

Course Placement

In your application, you should rank your course choices in order of preference, with 1 indicating your first choice. You may rank as many choices as you like. We will make every effort to place you in your first choice. However, courses fill very quickly, and we will place you into your highest-ranked course based on seat availability at the time we review your application. Thus, rank only courses you are willing to take. Once you are placed in a course you ranked, you will be notified and your spot will be held with your nonrefundable 15 percent tuition deposit. If you are placed in a lower-ranked course, you will remain on the waiting list for any higher-ranked courses regardless of whether you pay the deposit to secure your spot in a lower-ranked course.

Admission Notification

Once a completed application has been submitted within the priority window, a student can typically expect an admission notification via email within three weeks after the close of the priority window. For students applying outside of the priority window, an admission notification within three weeks after the application submission date can be expected. If the student is admitted, the admission notice will also include the tuition statement and instructions for paying the 15 percent tuition deposit, which holds the student’s place in the course. For families who have applied for financial aid, financial aid information may be included in the admission notice if financial aid materials have already been submitted. The tuition deposit for financial aid applicants will not be due until the financial aid materials have been processed and the award communicated to the family. Only complete applications are fully processed, so, if any items are missing (e.g., application fee, qualifying documents, essays, etc.), PTY will contact you to alert you to the incomplete status, and you will have five business days to submit the missing items.

Waiting List

A waiting list notification is due to space availability only and is no indication of student ability or merit. At the time of your application review, if no openings remain in your first choice course, we will look to see if a seat is available in your second choice course, and so on. Even if we place you in a lower-ranked course (due to availability), you will remain on the waiting list(s) for your higher-ranked course(s). If a seat becomes available in a higher-ranked course, we move the first student on the waiting list into that seat. Waiting lists are held until close to the start of the program session. No tuition deposit will be owed until you are placed in a course that you ranked in your application. The application fee, however, is nonrefundable.

If your student has been waitlisted, and you have questions about their status, please contact PTY at 615-322-8261 or

Required Forms

After admission into the program, families will receive instructions concerning required forms. Required forms includes emergency contact information, participant permission, medical information, immunization records, media release, etc. All students who participate in programs through Programs for Talented Youth (PTY) must have current health insurance documentation and required forms on file with PTY.

Cancellation Policy

The $50 ($100 for international applicants) application fee is nonrefundable for all applicants. Once the student is admitted and placed in a ranked course, an email notice will be sent. A nonrefundable 15% tuition deposit is due within two weeks of receiving notification of admission and is required to hold the spot for the admitted student. If no tuition deposit is paid within the two weeks, the student forfeits their space in that course. A student who has been admitted into the program but not placed in any course will remain on the waiting list and will not be asked to submit a tuition deposit unless placement in a course can be offered.

A student who withdraws from the program after submitting the 15% tuition deposit will receive a tuition refund for any amount paid above the deposit amount (less the non-refundable application fee) if VSA is notified before the tuition deadline. No refunds will be granted after the tuition deadline for the session.

If Vanderbilt University determines that it is in the best interest of VSA participants to delay or cancel the VSA program, VU staff will issue a timely statement to participants via email and the PTY website to advise of the delay or cancellation. No tuition reimbursements will be given for delays. If a cancellation is announced prior to the program start date, tuition paid, less the nonrefundable application fee, may be applied to a future program of the family’s choosing, or if preferred, a tuition reimbursement may be issued. In the event of a cancellation during a program, VU may, in its sole discretion, elect to provide partial tuition reimbursements. As is the VSA application policy, the application fee and deposit are nonrefundable. VU is not responsible for any expense or cost incurred by you in preparing for or arising or resulting from a delayed or cancelled program, including without limitation, the cost of non-refundable airfare, other transportation, lodging and meal expense and the cost of any additional or alternative arrangement you elect or are required to incur or make as a result of a delayed or cancelled program.

Equal Opportunity
In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other university-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the university does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression consistent with the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Inquiries or complaints should be directed to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department, Baker Building, PMB 401809, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-1809. Telephone (615) 322-4705 (V/TDD); Fax (615) 343-4969.