PK-12 Student Programs for 2023

We are Proud to announce the OPENING of the Summer Program Registration Season for 2023! Please review the program descriptions and course offerings with your child prior to applying. The application link is at the bottom of this page.

Application Deadlines are as follows:

  • May 1: Day Programs – Young Gifted & Summer In the Middle
  • May 15: Residential Program – Summer Gifted Studies
  • May 30: Residential Programs – Leadership Studies & SPAATY

Some partial, need-based scholarships are available for our residential programs. Scholarship Application Deadlines are firm. No late applications will be reviewed for scholarships.

Residential Programs

We offer three residential programs each summer, The Leadership Studies Program, Summer Gifted Studies Program, and the Summer Program for Academically and Artistically Talented Youth (SPAATY). Both the Leadership Studies Program and SPAATY are part of the Mississippi Talent Development Initiative.

Students applying to one of our residential programs may also apply for a partial scholarship for the cost of the program’s tuition. Scholarships are limited, need based, and awarded on a first-come-first served basis. If you are a parent or student interested in applying for a scholarship, click here for more information.

Donors are needed for our scholarship funds. We would love to talk to your organization about becoming a scholarship donor. Click here to schedule an appointment to speak to Dr. Houston to learn more about becoming a donor.

Leadership Studies Program

Leadership Banquet Student Presenters with Teachers and Counselors

Important Information About the Leadership Studies Program

Offered annually, this residential program invites students to assess their own leadership potential, gain individualized instruction on growing in that potential, and provides each student the opportunity to develop a platform for community development.  Three Levels of courses are available in this program and must be taken in order. Community leaders provide mentorship and guidance during afternoon sessions and cheer students on during our Annual Leadership Banquet.   During the Banquet students present their leadership platforms, impassioned speeches, or research on past leaders.  Students in recent years have raised more than $5,000.00 for their various causes once they have returned home to execute their plans.  Recreation, meals, room and board are included.

Dates and Costs
  • June 26-July 1, 2023
  • $975.00
  • Grades 6-11


The Leadership Studies Program is open to all students who have a desire to grow as leaders and who are dedicated to helping their community thrive. That dedication is shown through an entrance essay of 500 words that completes and expands upon this framework:

My goal for participating in the Leadership Program is to learn _______, to develop myself by _________, and to change my community through ______________.

Course Offerings for Leadership Studies 2023

Leadership I

Learn your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Build basic skills such as public speaking, team leadership, and idea generation.

Leadership II (Leadership I prerequisite)

Delve further into teams with an understanding of situational and transitional leadership. Help your team work together and know when to instruct and when to let them be creative.

Leadership III (Leadership II prerequisite)

Grow your ideas and skills while you dive into the world of entrepreneurship. Learn the very basics of philanthropy and compare the various characteristics of for-profit and not-for-profit structure and management.

Summer Program for Academically and Artistically Talented Youth

2022 Math on a Mission Students celebrate passing their finals!

Important Information About the SPAATY Program

This two-week residential program brings together the talents of engaging professors and instructors from across the Southern Miss Campus and Community with highly able students who desire to try their hand at accelerated course work.  Students spend two weeks diving into courses designed to give them the experience of studying at their own rapid pace and gaining a sense of the world of work and the university resources. Students have opportunities to visit the USM arm of the Mississippi Crime Lab, Polymer Science Labs, Nursing Simulation Labs,  Art Galleries, Musical performances, Rock Wall Climbing, and personalized time with the Honors College Admissions team.  Recreation, meals, room and board are included.

Dates and Costs
  • June 19 – July 1, 2023
  • $2,600.00
  • Grades 7-11


Academically Talented

  • Students may use the following ACT scores to show eligibility:
7th or 8th Grade202018
9th, 10th, or 11th Grade262623

Artistically Talented

  • Students must prepare a portfolio in the form of a slide show (created in Power Point or a similar program, and saved as a .pdf) or video presentation (.mp4) that includes images and an explanation of a MINIMUM of 7 artistic or creative achievements that they believe demonstrate their potential for success.  NO MORE than 12 items may be included.  The student may include images or videos of art works, performances, competitions, or other creative works that demonstrate their diligent pursuits.  

Course Offerings for SPAATY 2023


This class explores the ins and outs of competitive debate in a variety of forms.  Be prepared to think and write quickly as you learn how to listen to your opponent and use appropriate strategies to step into the lead.

Criminal Justice: From Lawmaking to Verdict

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the U.S. legal system, beginning with an analysis of the Constitution and moving through the court system to reach a verdict in a criminal case.

Unleashing Your Creativity

Creativity is a concept that many people see as dichotomous—either you are creative, or you are not. However, everyone can be and is creative. Existing research on creativity has resulted in numerous theories relating the concept to culture, personality, divergent thinking, and mental health. There are even suggestions on how to enhance one’s creativity. These topics have implicit and explicit influences on students’ successes; thus, it is important that students learn how to recognize, appreciate, and inspire creativity within themselves and others.

Motivation in Action

Action is not the impact of motivation; motivation is force behind the action.  Motivation theories have been used in many different areas of psychology.  This course would refer to and apply motivational theories from Robert Sternberg, Abraham Maslow, Richard Ryan, Edward Deci, and so many more.  These theories can be used in future careers of motivating yourself and others around you. 

The Game is Afoot: Investigations in Detective Fiction

“The problem with putting two and two together,” writes crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, “is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.” That spirit of investigation and critical, often unusual, thinking will drive our inquiries this summer as we rendezvous with several classic detectives and their stories, unmasking the origins of the detective fiction genre and writing our own! We will consider the role of psychology in the detective story, as well as the historical, cultural, and political realities directing the writers and framing the readers of these texts.  We will also investigate questions at the heart of the humanities which allow us to read these texts even more imaginatively and ask ourselves how this genre solves the truth of who we are and why justice should be a human concern and right.

Fairy Tales

“But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

-C.S. Lewis

Did you love fairy tales as a little child? We all did, but somewhere along the path, we were misled into believing that fairy tales are only for children. The truth is that fairy tales, those joyful dreams of our ludic imagination, never cease to be instructive and enchanting. They teach us about life, and they teach us about stories. In this intensive creative writing course, we will return to the form of fairy tales and draw lessons about fiction writing in general. Each day, we will read a story and discuss its techniques that we may apply and improvise in our creative practice. We will also regularly write short-short stories based on various exciting prompts. You will revise and polish one of these pieces and share it with your fellow students on the final day of the course. Our ultimate goal is to help you unleash and celebrate your inner genius and creative potential.


Students will learn different aspects of technical theatre including stagecraft, lighting, rigging, and design. By learning how the backstage operations of theatres work, students can gain an appreciation of technical theatre. Technical theatre is not just construction but also requires a high amount of problem solving and ingenuity. Skills such as carpentry and welding can be transferred across many fields

Summer Gifted Studies Program

Brainstorming Prototypes in the 2022 Inventions Class

The Summer Gifted Studies Program is now in its forty-seventh year and is the one that started it all! The success of the very first summer program, prompted the University to establish The Center for Gifted Studies the following year. This one week intensive program offers students in grades four through eight the opportunity to explore interesting topics through an integrated unit of study. This program introduces our upper elementary and middle grades students to residential life and rigorous study. Students enjoy fascinating courses during the day and experience ample recreation and social activities in the afternoons and evenings.

Dates and Costs
  • June 19-24,2023
  • $975.00
  • Grades 4-8


Students who score at or above the 90th percentile on an individual IQ test, or students who score at or above the 90th percentile on nationally normed tests of achievement appropriate for their grade level, are eligible for this program.

Course offerings for SGS 2022

This year we are declaring our gratitude for the collaboration and cooperation of many of Southern Miss’s academic and extra-curricular departments that share in everything we do.  To celebrate the University of Southern Mississippi’s status as an R1 Research University, we will explore what it is like to work in a lab to solve real world problems using a blend of timeless and modern tools. 

Critical Thinking Lab

Critical thinking is a foundational skill for multiple disciplines and provides a baseline for scientific discovery.  This lab will operate metacognitively to explore Brain Function and best practices for problem solving.  Select, design, and study the accuracy of your classmate’s problem-solving ability before and after learning a variety of logic building skills. This course features an integration of Critical Thinking, Art, and Research Skills.

Propulsion Lab

Come explore the history and science of propulsion systems from Newton to NASA.  Propulsion systems are everywhere from the international space station to your family’s vacuum cleaner.  Learn how different systems perform under different circumstances, then design, build, and code your own propulsion systems to solve a variety of challenges throughout the week. This course features an integration of History, Science, and Coding.

Encryption Lab

Scytales, decoder rings, and modern encryption algorithms are all tools that people use to send and receive messages securely. Whether you become a military strategist, an air traffic controller, or a manager at your local bank, encryption and decryption will be important elements of your day. Before the week is over, you will utilize a wide variety of codes and ciphers to take on a campus-wide mission.  This course features an integration of History, Linguistics, and Mathematics.

Timeless Treasures and Lost Arts Lab

This lab explores life skills and art forms that are endangered in the modern world.  Making everyday tools and necessities from scratch required our great-great grandparents to think innovatively and creatively.  Come see if you can build tools that make your life better today. Each morning we will visit different spaces on campus that allow us to try our hand at an endangered art. Each afternoon, we will use innovative skills and creative thinking to find solutions to common problems in the modern world. This course features an integration of History, Science, Math and Research skills.

Day Programs

Summer in the Middle

A balcony view as students stage their play about the Chinese Zodiac.

Designed with our middle grades students in mind, this program offers a format similar to our other popular day programs. Demonstrating creative and dynamic exploration of interesting topics, students can still embrace the flexibility afforded by a half-day program. Middle grades are wonderful years of growth and discovery and during this time there are wide differences in individual development. This program may meet your family’s needs to serve as an extended transition to our residential programs.

Dates and Costs
  • June 12-16
  • $260.00
  • Grades 4-6


Students who score at or above the 90th percentile on an individual IQ test, or students who score at or above the 90th percentile on nationally normed tests of achievement appropriate for their grade level, are eligible for this program

Course Offerings for 2022 SIM Program

Population Migration

From Biblical times to now, the history of civilization is full of records of people moving from place to place.  We will take a look at the economic and social precursors and impacts of those movements.  How do cities and towns change and adapt to people coming and going? Can you create solutions to help people meet their needs? Come find out!

Inklings Junior

Are you an aspiring young writer with lots of ideas?  Do you wish you could bounce those ideas off of other people who like to write?  You’re looking for a writer’s guild. Come join us for a writer’s workshop where we will work collaboratively to start new stories and work on old ones. We will help you improve characters, plot elements, settings, and more. The original Inklings guild was founded by C.S. Lewis. We will therefore use his works and those of fellow Inkling, J.R.R. Tolkien, as model texts.


In this fun class, we will discover how probability works inside the games we play and the way we move throughout our day.  We will look at the way math informs music, art, and even the foods we eat.  Come learn some interesting ways to solve problems and even a few math hacks that will help you amaze your parents, teachers, and friends.

Young Gifted Students

Making new friends and exploring new spaces.

Designed to serve the youngest of our students, the Young Gifted Students program is a one-week, half-day program offered in the summer each year. Students explore their own strengths and weaknesses as learners while they discover the joy of accelerated curriculum. Vocabulary development and broad exploration of integrated topics make this a program your young child will talk about for a long time.

Dates and Costs
  • June 12-16, 2023
  • $260.00
  • Grades PK(4)-3


Students who score at or above the 90th percentile on an individual IQ test, or students who score at or above the 90th percentile on nationally normed tests of achievement appropriate for their grade level, are eligible for this program

Course Offerings for Summer 2022

PK – Kindergarten:  Go Buggy! 

Come find out about miniature creatures and their habitats in this exciting class.  We will discuss how insect colonies work together, how they benefit people, and how using what we know about insects can help us in our own lives. Each day we will journey to different parts of campus on a bug-fari and learn new skills related to maintaining a variety of habitats.

1st and 2nd Grades – Lead the Way

Navigation and exploration are concepts that lead us beyond the face of a map.  Through map reading skills, we will discover the importance of setting goals, staying on target, and even taking detours. Each day we will discover navigators from the past and see how their skills are still being used today; think about the path from Galileo to NASA’s Deep Space Network. Are there other paths of learning you know of that can help you navigate?  Come share your ideas and learn with us!

3rd Grade – Mutants and Clones

What if you knew how to make an exact copy of yourself? Did you know that mutants are here? (And, no, they aren’t turtles.) Come investigate DNA sequencing and discover the history of the first clones. We’ll explore gene cloning, genetic mutations and other mysteries. You might discover you’re a mutant yourself!

Saturday Gifted Studies Program – This program will return in 2024

1st Grade students enjoy experimentation.
1st Grade students enjoy the experimentation process.

Offered in January and February, this five-week program is thoughtfully designed to provide your child with the most innovative content and engaging learning methods available in gifted education today. Students in elementary grades participate in one math and science based course and one humanities based course throughout the program.  Students in Middle Grades choose from a variety of offerings and dive deeply into engaging topics.  Campus mentors often visit classes or welcome students into their labs to see a variety of future opportunities.

Applications are now closed for the 2023 Summer Session.

Please contact us for information about eligibility or other questions you may have. We are here to serve!