Skip to main content

How To Apply for VSA

Applications are no longer being accepted for VSA 2024.

Jump to: Program Dates | Program Timeline | Eligibility | Choosing a Course | Admissions ProcessFAQ

2024 Program Dates

SessionRising 7th and 8th Grade One Week ProgramRising 9th and 10th Grade One Week ProgramsRising 11th and 12th Grade One Week ProgramsRising 11th and 12th Grade Two Week Program
Program DatesJune 9 - June 14, 2024June 9 - June 15, 2024 &
July 7 - July 13, 2024
June 23 - June 29, 2024* &
July 14 - July 20, 2024
July 7-19, 2024

Please Note: Program Dates are Subject to Change
* During June 23-29, 2024, VSA will offer a rising 11th grade only session and a rising 12th grade only session.

2024 Program Timeline

2-Week Session1-Week Sessions
VSA Summer 2024 Courses AnnouncedNovember 28, 2023December 5, 2023
VSA Application Priority Window OpensDecember 5, 2023January 4, 2024
VSA Application Priority Window Closes (Midnight)December 12, 2023January 11, 2024
VSA General Application Window Begins (Rolling Admission) for Open SpotsDecember 13, 2023January 12, 2024
VSA Admissions Notification for Priority Window Applicants Sent During this Window*January 3-19, 2024January 29 to February 16, 2024
VSA General Application Window Continues (Rolling Admission) for Open Spots**Currently Ongoing****Currently Ongoing**
VSA Tuition and Required Forms Due**March 1, 2024March 15, 2024
Rolling Admissions Continues if Spots Remain***March 1, 2024March 15, 2024
Tuition Due for All Families on a Payment PlanJune 1, 2024June 1, 2024

*A nonrefundable 20% deposit due one week after this date or one week after an admissions notification is received (whichever date is later).
**For previously admitted students, no tuition will be refunded after this date.
***For any applications accepted after March 1 (two week session) or March 15 (one week sessions), or any students admitted from a waiting list after this date, tuition is typically due one week after placement. No deposit is needed. After the communicated tuition due date has passed, no refunds are available.

Eligibility (Updated for 2024)

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.

There are two eligibility documentation options. Below is a description of each option.

Both options are considered equally when determining admission placements. Therefore, selecting one option over the other will not help or hurt a student’s chances of placement. All complete applications will be reviewed based on VSA’s admissions process and placement. Please carefully review the eligibility information below along with information about VSA’s admissions process and placement.

Please note, VSA does not compare one student to another in the admissions process. We review a student’s application in its entirety to ensure that the program will be a good academic fit for the student. Incomplete applications will not be considered in first-round reviews. If a student has participated in PTY programs before, a review of the student’s past academic performance and conduct while attending a program will be considered when determining placement.

Eligibility Options SummaryVSA 1 Week Sessions - Test ScoresVSA 1 Week Sessions - PortfolioVSA 2 Week Session - Test ScoresVSA 2 Week Session - Portfolio
Test ScoresYES-YES-
Two Educator Recommendations- YES-YES
One Administrator/Counselor Recommendation--YESYES

Eligibility Documentation Options

Option 1: Submission of Test Scores

Students applying to Vanderbilt Summer Academy who select this option should submit qualifying documentation at the time of application. Please note that test scores in the 90th percentile and above for age group in one or more sections on an advanced achievement assessment (ACT, SAT, PSAT) OR any other nationally normed standardized assessment (such as state testing, MAP/NWEA testing, ITBS, or ERB) suggests that VSA would be a good fit academically for a student. We also accept cognitive measures (i.e., WISC-V, CogAT, Otis Lennon, Stanford-Binet) and out-of-level test scores (i.e., ACT in 7th grade). Individual ability and/or achievement assessments from psychologists are also accepted. All pages of the individual evaluation and assessment need to be included. Test scores should be less than three years old.

When reviewing scores and assessment reports, we look specifically at strengths and accelerated achievement in the content area(s) for selected course(s) of interest. For example, if a student is applying to a humanities course, the VSA team is looking at reading/writing/ELA test scores to determine fit. While PTY does not have cutoffs for standardized test scores in order to apply to the program, scores around the 90th percentile or above have the best chance of immediate placement if there is course availability. At the same time, please note that scores above the 90th percentile do not automatically guarantee admission into the program based on VSA’s priority window and randomized admissions process.

We ask that all students submit a transcript in addition to their test scores. This additional information can be useful when determining fit for the program when test scores are below the 90th percentile. We also ask that all students who apply for classes with prerequisites make sure that the transcript reflects the prerequisite qualifications. Transcripts can be submitted as a picture or screenshot of a student’s unofficial record but must include the student’s name and show grades for the 2022-2023 school year and the fall 2023 school year.**

If a student’s test scores fall significantly below the 90th percentile in the area of VSA course interest, students should select the portfolio option as this option provides additional information for VSA staff to use when determining if placement in the program would be a good academic fit.

Students may submit a screenshot or picture of an assessment as long as the student’s name is visible on the test results. Please contact us at if you have questions concerning your test scores.

Option 2: Portfolio

At this time, VSA is currently allowing for an option that does not require test score submission to determine program eligibility.

Please note, although selecting the portfolio option does not hurt a student’s chances of admission, VSA strongly encourages students to submit test scores (option 1).

Required Portfolio Components (3 Components):

1. Transcript: Grades of As and Bs in the academically advanced courses typically suggest that the VSA program would be a good academic fit. 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 or course options. Students should make sure to provide annotation if their grades or course options do not accurately demonstrate their ability and motivation to participate in an accelerated academic environment.

Transcripts can be submitted as a picture or screenshot of a student’s unofficial record but must include the student’s name and show grades for at least the 2022-2023 school year and the fall 2023 school year.

2. Two Educator Recommendations: Students should request recommendations from two educators (content area teachers or academic advisor) who can speak to the student’s academic ability well. Students should send their recommender the link below to complete the recommendation. When a student’s recommenders complete the form, the completed form will be automatically emailed to PTY. Please do not request that your recommenders write a letter or submit a recommendation in any method other than the following form. The form takes 10-15 minutes to complete. 

An application will not be considered complete, even though it may be marked as 100% in our application portal, until PTY receives two educator recommendations. It is the student’s responsibility to follow up with recommenders to confirm completion.

Can I request educators submit recommendations before a program application opens?

Educator recommendations can be submitted at any time. Before requesting educators complete the recommendation form, please create a SchoolDoc account (free) by visiting As your educators submit recommendation forms, they will be internally associated with your account.

If I submitted educator recommendations for a previous PTY program application, do I need submit new recommendations for future PTY program applications?

You are not required to submit new recommendations if PTY has recommendations on file from the previous school year. We ask that you submit new recommendations if your previous submission is older than the previous school year. If we have current recommendations on file, you are welcome to request additional recommendations from educators who may be able to provide more recent assessments of your academic performance. Our admissions team may reach out to request additional recommendations depending on the content area of your top-ranked course or the date of your previous recommendations.

3. Resume: Submit a one-page resume as part of your application, so the VSA admissions team has a better understanding of your interests and extracurricular activities. Knowing more about you helps VSA staff determine if this program is a good fit. The resume should include extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experience, awards, and honors, etc.

The three portfolio components are reviewed together to determine whether VSA would be a good fit for a student. PTY will employ a holistic, context-aware review process to determine a student’s likely academic fit at VSA. Therefore, PTY recommends that students are thoughtful with their resume submission. Additionally, please be aware, all components of the portfolio, including educator recommendations, must be submitted for an application to be considered complete.


Additional Requirements for Two-Week Sessions

Due to the length and intensity of VSA’s two-week program, additional application components (described below) are required of all students applying for this extended session. These application components, along with the other eligibility documents (test scores or portfolio), are reviewed carefully when determining placement for the two-week intensive experience. This review occurs after our randomization process for applications submitted during the priority window and on a rolling basis after the close of the window if spots are still available.  

Therefore, we encourage students applying for the two-week session to submit a quality and thoughtful essay along with other stellar application components.  

1. Administrator/Counselor Recommendation

Students should request a recommendation from a school administrator (principal, assistant principle, dean of students, head of school, etc.), college counselor OR guidance counselor using the form below. Students should send their recommender the link below to complete the recommendation. When a student’s recommenders complete the form, the completed form will be automatically emailed to PTY. Please do not request that your recommenders write a letter or submit a recommendation in any method other than the following form. Please also ensure that you send this recommender the correct form as this recommendation form is different from the form in the portfolio for educator recommenders. The form takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

Please note: An application will not be considered complete, even though it may be marked as 100% in our application portal, until PTY receives this recommendation. It is the student’s responsibility to follow up with the recommender to confirm completion.

2. Essay

Since the two-week VSA program is an intensive academic experience, please answer the following in less than 600 words: “Why you would like to make a two-week commitment to attend an academic course during your summer vacation? Why you are interested in the particular course that you have selected as your first choice?”


International Students

VSA welcomes students from across the globe to apply for and participate in our summer residential program. Vanderbilt considers a student an international student if the student is a citizen of any nation other than the United States of America. A student are not considered an international student if they 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. While reviewing the course descriptions, students should rank-order up to four courses, knowing that they may not get placed in their first choice. While we do our best to place students in their first-choice courses, we often have to place students in their second, third, or fourth choice courses based on availability. Please note that ranking more than one course never hurts the possibility of receiving the top choice, and ranking up to four courses increases the chances of being placed in a course. Students should rank only those courses that they are truly willing to take. If placed in a lower ranked course, the student will remain on the waiting list for higher ranked courses; however, a spot may not open in a higher ranked course. Rank thoughtfully to ensure VSA is an enjoyable experience!

Application information

When an application goes live for VSA, you will complete your application by visiting the “Apply Now” section of our website. Programs for Talented Youth uses SchoolDoc as the online application platform.  With this option, you may upload test scores and other eligibility criteria, indicate your course preferences, and select a preferred payment method for the nonrefundable application fee. If you have applied for other programs using SchoolDoc, you can use your previously created account to login and submit a VSA application.

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 after this window and until all VSA courses are filled. Many of our courses fill quickly, so we recommend that students apply during the priority window for the best chance of receiving their top choice course. Our VSA admissions process, which includes a randomized review of all applicants received during the priority window, 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 one-week priority application window after the application is released. Please see the Application Timeline section on this page for more information about the dates of the priority window. Applicants will apply online.

All complete 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 for placement.

Applying during the priority window does not guarantee admission, but it increases the chances of placement. We strongly recommend that students apply during the window. If space in a course remains after the priority window closes, courses will be filled on a first-come, first-serve system, based on availability and program fit once eligibility documentation has been reviewed. A waiting list will be maintained for full courses for students who have determined to be a good fit for the program.

Course Placement

In your application, students should rank their course choices in order of preference, with 1 indicating their first choice. Students may rank up to four courses. We will make every effort to place students in their first choice. However, courses fill very quickly, and we will place you into their highest-ranked course based on seat availability at the time we review their application. Thus, students should rank only courses they are willing to take. Once placed in a ranked course, students will be notified and their spot will be held with your nonrefundable 20% tuition deposit.

Admission Notification

Once a completed application has been submitted within the priority window, a student can typically expect an admission notification via email during the timeframe detailed in the program timeline. For students applying outside of the priority window, an admission notification can be expected within approximately 3-4 weeks after the application submission date. If the student is admitted, the admission notice will also include the tuition statement and instructions for paying the 20% tuition deposit (due one week after admissions notification is sent), 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. PTY can only process complete applications.

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 the application review, if no openings remain in a student’s first-choice course, we will look to see if a seat is available in their second-choice course, and so on. Even if we place a student in a lower-ranked course (due to availability), they will remain on the waiting list(s) for a higher-ranked course(s) if you have paid the 20% deposit or you have specifically requested in writing to remain on the waiting list for other courses. 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 the student is placed in a course that was ranked in the application. The application fee, however, is nonrefundable.

If your student has been placed on a waiting list, 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 include, but are not limited to, 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 notification will be sent. A nonrefundable 20% tuition deposit is due within one week of receiving notification of admission and is required to hold the spot for the admitted student. If no tuition deposit is paid within the week, 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 nonrefundable 20% 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 a family 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 a student/family elects 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 VI and 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 Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act, and 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, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, covered veterans status, 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 gender expression. Requests for information, inquiries or complaints should be directed to these offices: Equal Opportunity and Access Office,, telephone (615) 343-9336; Title IX Office, Title IX Coordinator,, telephone (615) 343-9004, 2100 West End Ave, Suite 700, Nashville TN 37203; Student Access Office, telephone (615) 343-9727.