Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Coordinates: 41°47′13″N 88°21′17″W / 41.78694°N 88.35472°W / 41.78694; -88.35472
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Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Seal
1500 Sullivan Rd.


United States
Coordinates41°47′13″N 88°21′17″W / 41.78694°N 88.35472°W / 41.78694; -88.35472
School typePublic residential magnet
MottoTo ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition[2]
FounderLeon Lederman
PresidentDr. Evan M. Glazer
ChairpersonDr. Erin W. Roche ’89[1]
PrincipalDr. Angela Rowley – Interim Principal and Chief Academic Officer
Student to teacher ratio14:1
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)  Navy
  Pacific blue[4]
Athletics conferenceLittle Ten Conference
Team nameTitans[4]
AccreditationCognia (education)[3]
NewspaperThe Acronym[5]
EndowmentIMSA Fund for Advancement of Education
Annual tuitionFree
Nobel laureates1
Center for Innovation and Inquiry at IMSA

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, or IMSA, is a three-year residential public secondary education institution in Aurora, Illinois, United States, with an enrollment of approximately 650 students.

Enrollment is generally offered to incoming sophomores, although younger students who have had the equivalent of one year of algebra and a 9th-grade science equivalent are eligible to apply. All applicants undergo a competitive admissions process involving the review of grades, teacher evaluations, student essays, and SAT scores. Historically, approximately one-third of applicants in any given year are admitted. Due to its nature as a public institution, there are no charges related to tuition, room, and board; however, there is an annual student fee that may be reduced or waived based on family income. IMSA has been consistently ranked by Newsweek as one of the top ten high schools in the country for math and science, and some of its graduates have become leaders in a variety of fields. It is the top-rated public high school in Illinois on[6]


The school's founding president was former Batavia Superintendent Stephanie Pace Marshall, who was involved with the project from the start and with the school’s first legal counsel Richard L. Horwitz, helped form IMSA's original legislation, governing by-laws and slogan. Marshall retired from the position on June 30, 2007, and was later named President Emerita by the Board of Trustees.[7]

Although the school received a budget cut in financial year 2002, its budget has since increased with the support of House Minority Leader Tom Cross. IMSA's chairperson was Paula Olszewski-Kubilius.[8]


Front entrance
B-Wing Science Lab Classroom at IMSA
B-Wing Science Lab Classroom at IMSA

Prospective students, who are usually freshmen in high school but in some cases may be eighth graders, must complete an application to be considered for admission to IMSA.

The application process consists of an official transcript of the student's last 2½ years of school, scores from the SAT I, four student essays, three teacher evaluations in science, mathematics, and English, and a list of awards and extracurricular activities.

Historic admission statistics[edit]

Admission statistics[9]
Class Number of students invited Number of students graduated Average incoming SAT CR (or verbal) score Average incoming SAT math score
2016 241 206 610 678
2015[10] 242 195 611 678
2014[11] 242 198 598 672
2013 224 N/A 612 675
2012 252 212 581 650
2011 253 199 577 637
2010 231 177 587 652
2009 242 201 594 634
2008 242 204 595 644
2007 253 203 587 652
2006 240 184 601 649
2005 ? 208 588 639
2004 246 199 590 638
2003 230 189 601 648
2002 220 177 595 650
2001 ? 224 ? ?
2000 ? 191 ? ?
1999 ? 187 ? ?
1998 ? ? ? ?
1997[12] 230 ? 525 637

In order to draw greater numbers of applications and "transform teaching and learning," IMSA has an outreach program run by the Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly known as The Center for Advancement and Renewal of Learning and Teaching (The Center@IMSA), then "Professional Field Services (PFS)"). Some students who are invited to attend IMSA are admitted on the condition that they successfully complete a three-week, intensive preparation course, known as EXCEL, over the summer. IMSA has a fairly low retention rate; the average retention rate per class is 85%. The reasons for this may include the difficulty of the IMSA curriculum, home-sickness, disciplinary expulsion, student's family moving out of state, and the inability for Illinois students to matriculate to IMSA after their sophomore year.[13]


Students at IMSA take rigorous college preparatory courses, with all classes being taught at the honors level, though IMSA philosophically spurns the Advanced Placement curriculum. Each student must fulfill a set of specific credits in order to graduate. This set of credits is broken down by academic subject. Each semester-long class counts for 0.5 credits, unless it meets with greater-than-normal frequency.

In addition to the academic program, IMSA also offers a large number clubs ranging from religious clubs to volunteer organizations.[14] All these clubs are chartered by the Student Council, colloquially referred to as StudCo.[15]

Student Inquiry and Research

Most Wednesdays are "I Days" (for "inquiry") and are usually reserved for juniors and seniors to research in the SIR program. SIR also runs during the summer of one's sophomore year and junior year, allowing a student to conduct four disparate investigations. [1]

External programs[edit]

Unlike many other secondary schools, IMSA runs extracurricular and summer programs for the teachers and students of the State of Illinois. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), is the division of the academy that directs and manages programs serving Illinois Educators and Students. CTL offerings enable students to develop and sustain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. CTL Student offerings include the IMSA Fusion program, Summer@IMSA, Funshop student enrichment programs, an on-line research course (RISE) open to all Illinois students, ALLIES (selected High School students that lead and facilitate inquiry-based STEM programs) and a variety of online learning experiences. CTL Educator offerings include professional development to include IMSA Core Competencies, IMSA Fusion (Offering professional development for educators teaching the FUSION after school program) and the annual "IMSA Teacher Institute Day" for local Mathematics and Science educators. All CTL Programs place a special emphasis on students who are historically under-represented and under-served in math and science. Uniquely, The Center for Teaching and Learning, also operates a field office in the Metro-east area.

Student Life[edit]


The Acronym is IMSA's student-run general affairs newspaper. In the 2008–2009 school year The Acronym ceased paper publishing and transitioned to an online format. The Acronym also publishes yearly Back to School editions and Senior Editions at the beginning and end of the school year, respectively. Since its inception, The Acronym has had the participation of more than 400 writers. In the 2022-2023 academic year, The Acronym reintroduced printed editions while maintaining its online articles. Additionally, it launched its mobile application that same year.


IMSA is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), the organization which governs most sports and competitive activities in the state of Illinois, and began competing in the Little Ten Conference, a subdivision of the IHSA, during the 2021–2022 school year. IMSA's sports teams are stylized as the Titans.

The school sponsors interscholastic teams for young men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.[16] Young women may also compete in badminton.[16] While not sponsored by the IHSA, the school also sponsors a dance team for young men and women.[16]

Competitive Activities[edit]

The following teams have finished in the top four of their respective IHSA sponsored state championship tournament:[17][18]

  • Chess: 4th place (1997–98, 1998–99, 2009–1); 3rd place (1990–91, 1994–95, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2015–16[19]); 2nd place (1989–90); State Champions (1986–87, 1987–88, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2016–17, 2017–18)
  • Scholastic Bowl: 4th place (1991–92, 2014–15); 3rd place (2009–10, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19); 2nd place (1992–93); State Champions (1988–89, 1989–90, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2000–01, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14, 2016–17, 2021-2022)

Student Leadership and Development (SLD) Programs[edit]

Student Council[edit]

In addition to its primary role as the mediator between administrators and students, Student Council works with administrators to change aspects of the Academy. The Student Council website provides the student body relevant information about projects that the council is working on. Student Council also charters clubs at the beginning of each academic year and provides them with the necessary funds to hold various events. Student Council works throughout the year to collect student feedback and use that information to make changes that reflect the intentions of the student body.[20]


IMSA consistently ranks at the top of the nation in standardized test scores (of roughly 200 students in the senior class, about 50 are National Merit Semifinalists), as well as in the prestigious Siemens and Intel Science competitions. In the class of 2009, five students were named Siemens Regional Finalists and ten others as semifinalists.[21]

Six mathematics teachers have been honored with the Edyth May Sliffe Award: Titu Andreescu (1994), Ronald Vavrinek (1995), Micah Fogel (2001), Steven Condie (2002), Michael Keyton (2003), Don Porzio (2004), and Steven Condie (2nd award) (2007).[22] Asteroid 21441 Stevencondie is named after Dr. Condie.[23][24]

Dr. Lee Eysturlid was honored with a University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award (2020).[25]

Notable Alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Dr. Erin W. Roche '89url=". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ "IMSA's Mission and Beilefs".
  3. ^ Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-11
  4. ^ a b "Conferences & Affiliated Schools". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 14 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Clubs and Organizations". directory. IMSA. October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  6. ^ "2020 Best Public High Schools in Illinois". Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  7. ^ McSherry Breslin, Meg (June 29, 2007). "A Gifted Leader of Students". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  8. ^ "Trustees". IMSA. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  9. ^ "News Release Archives - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Nova (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy)". Aurora, Ill. : Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, 1987-2007. Retrieved 5 October 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  13. ^ "FAQ - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "IMSA Clubs and Descriptions | IMSA StudCo". Archived from the original on 20 July 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  16. ^ a b c "Athletics". Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  17. ^ "Records & History". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  18. ^ "Records & History". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  19. ^ "IHSA Team Chess Standings". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  20. ^
  22. ^ IMSANews. (December 2004)."IMSA Math Teacher is Sixth to Receive Prestigious Award" Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Ceres Connection. Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "2005 Award Honorees" Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ JPL Small-Body Database Browser. "21441 Stevencondie (1998 FC144)"
  25. ^ "Log in or sign up to view". Retrieved 2023-11-28.
  26. ^ a b "2007 Alumni Award Recipients". IMSA. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  27. ^ "Professor Steven G. Johnson". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  28. ^ Gaudi, B. (2013-07-19). "Recipient of the 2013 Alumni Trailblazer Award". Alumni Trailblazer Award.
  29. ^ "IMSA Alums Named to Fund Board and Advisory Council". IMSA. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  30. ^ "15 Questions with Sam A. Yagan '99". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  31. ^ "2008 Alumni Award Recipients". IMSA. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  32. ^ "Doing it for themselves". Fortune Magazine. September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  33. ^ "Sabrina Pasterski '10 Profiled by Chicago Tribune". IMSA 360. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09.