Questions and Answers

  1. How does the academy differ from regular high schools?
  2. What is the curriculum of the academy?
  3. Who teaches at the academy?
  4. Will grades or credit be given?
  5. What is the cost to scholars?
  6. What will residence hall life be like?
  7. Will family members be able to visit scholars?
  8. Will participants be allowed a leave of absence?
  9. Will participants be allowed to bring vehicles?
  10. What recreational facilities will be available?
  11. What entertainment and cultural activities will be provided?
  12. What health services will be available?
  13. Will scholars have an opportunity to participate in religious services?
  14. Will scholars have unscheduled time?
  15. What personal items should students bring?
  16. What is the appropriate dress?
  17. What behavior is totally unacceptable and would likely result in immediate expulsion?
  18. Will participants have any input regarding extracurricular activities?
  19. What is the schedule of the first day of the academy?
  20. What is the schedule for the last day?

How does the Academy differ from regular high schools?

The Missouri Scholars Academy is a residential academic camp that operates seven days each week, enrolls only academically gifted students, and provides a curriculum different from that found in the traditional public or private school. It offers unique opportunities for students to enhance their academic skills; assimilate the accumulated knowledge of the culture; relate to contemporary issues; deepen understanding of themselves and their unique abilities; and engage others in critical-thinking and problem-solving activities. It operates for three weeks during the month of June.

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What is the curriculum of the Academy?

The Academy’s curriculum is designed to give participants an opportunity to pursue studies that differ from traditional educational programs. Guest lecturers, forums, and other events during the academy reinforce and extend the curriculum. The curriculum is organized into three areas of study:

Academics (Major)
On the basis of personal interests and abilities, each scholar will select one course of study from the four major academic offerings: mathematics, science, social studies and humanities. Scholars will spend three hours each day, six days a week, in intensive academic pursuits in their academic major.

Academics (Minor)
Scholars will study a second academic field for one hour each weekday afternoon. Ordinarily, they will enroll in a field different from their major. Scholars will receive Area I and Area II information shortly after their acceptance into the Academy.

Cor: Personal and Social Dynamics
The curriculum in this area relates to the unique personal and social situations faced by gifted students. The goal is to provide scholars with insights into their own special needs and abilities, as well as the responsibilities they have to themselves and to society. All students will attend an Area III class one hour each weekday afternoon.

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Who teaches at the Academy?

Faculty and staff for the Academy are selected from among highly qualified applicants representing public and private schools, colleges and universities, private businesses and other organizations. The staff is chosen on the basis of the scholars’ needs and interests and an applicant’s abilities, interests and willingness to participate with scholars in rigorous and challenging work.

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Will grades or credit be given?

Neither grades nor credit will be given; however, all scholars successfully completing the program will receive a special certificate of commendation. College applications often provide students an opportunity to explain their participation in special programs like the Missouri Scholars Academy.

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What is the cost to scholars?

Pending final approval from the Missouri Governor, MSA 2024 will be free for students to attend.

For in-person academies, it is suggested that scholars will need approximately $20 per week for personal expenses. Scholars are strongly discouraged from having large sums of money in the residence hall. Scholars should bring three rolls of quarters for vending and laundry machines. ATMs are available on the MU campus.

Scholars are financially responsible for any damages in the residence hall caused by inappropriate behavior.

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What will residence hall life be like?

The official telephone number of the current Missouri Scholars Academy will be determined in the spring and will be provided to all scholars. It will be staffed every day from 6:30 AM – 10:30 PM. Emergency telephone information will be distributed on opening day, as scholars check in.

MSA scholars will be housed in Mark Twain Residence Hall, a modern facility very near classrooms and auditoria used by MSA. Most of the academy classes and extracurricular activities will be held nearby. Male and female participants will be assigned to separate floors and will usually share a room with another participant. Academy officials will make room assignments, and will reside on each floor during the Academy. Supervision of the residence hall will be provided by a hall coordinator and several resident assistants (RAs), each of whom will work closely with about 20-25 scholars. In addition, regular University security procedures will ensure a safe environment for participants.

With very few exceptions, MU residence halls do not have individual land-phones. Scholars who bring cell-phones will be allowed to use them on their residence hall floors only. In most cases, this will mean after the day’s activities are over and before “Light’s Out!” Scholars who do not have cell-phones will be able to make collect or credit-card calls from the few land-phones that are on each residence hall floor.

For those who want a longer version of the Cell Phone and Other Technology Policy, click here.

It is important for everyone to recognize that MSA allows making new friends while maintaining appropriate contact with family. Over-dependence on cell-phones and other electronic devices will inevitably and negatively affect the quality of a Scholar’s experience at MSA.

Family members will receive clear instructions on how to contact their children should unforeseen events occur.

MU Residence Halls are also equipped with vending machines.

Laundry facilities are available in the residence hall. Scholars must bring their own detergent and quarters. There is a “Laundry Alert Web Interface” that lets scholars know what machines are available. The University will supply fresh bed linens each week and fresh towels periodically. A blanket and pillow for each bed will also be provided. Since the hall is air-conditioned, scholars are encouraged to bring a light blanket.

Scholars will be expected to keep their room neat. Room inspections will be conducted periodically. There is to be no cooking in the rooms, but small amounts of food may be kept in closed containers. Participants will be served three meals each day, and one nightly snack in the dining hall; multiple menu selections will be offered at every meal, thereby meeting the needs of most special diets. Scholars with special dietary or other health needs should indicate these on the survey they will receive at notification of selection. The MSA medical office maintains a refrigerator for medications which require refrigeration. Refrigerators are neither needed nor allowed in individual rooms. Periodic “care packages” from home with cookies and other light snacks that can be shared with scholars’ house members are always welcome!

Daily mail service (Monday through Friday) will be provided. The scholars’ mailing address while at the Academy will be:

Missouri Scholars Academy
University of Missouri
Mark Twain Hall, Room___,
515 S. Fifth Street
Columbia, Missouri 65201

Each scholar will receive his/her residence hall room assignment, along with the name and address of his/her roommate. The Academy strongly encourages roommates to contact each other prior to the academy in order to coordinate arrangements for special equipment and personal furnishings.

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Will family members be allowed to visit scholars?

Families may arrive as early as 8:00 am on Family Day to sign their scholars out or visit with their scholars in the residence hall. Special activities will be planned by the academy staff between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Afterward, family members will have the opportunity to visit with the scholar’s teachers and experience different activities at MSA. Family visits are not allowed at other times during the academy since the scholars have busy schedules, and activities are planned for almost every minute. Scholars will be permitted to leave the academy only on Family Day, and then only with parents or legal guardians.

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Will participants be allowed leaves of absence?

The Missouri Scholars Academy is concentrated and intensive. Classes and enrichment activities are scheduled throughout the three weeks, including weekends. Participating scholars are expected to register at the beginning of the program and remain in residence for the duration, except on Family Day as noted above. Scholars will not be permitted to spend the night off-campus or to have overnight guests.

Participants will not be excused to attend conventions, conferences, camps, workshops, competitions, pageants or family vacations. Leaves of absence are not permitted except in emergency situations. Academy officials should be consulted as soon as possible if an emergency arises.

The Missouri Scholars Academy considers it unethical and unfair to other candidates for a student to accept a nomination, knowing in advance that permission will be sought at a later date to be absent during the program. If accepted, both students and parents will sign a permission agreement which includes a commitment to remain at the academy for the three-week period. Students who do not complete the entire program will not receive a certificate of commendation and will not be considered alumni of the Academy.

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Will participants be allowed to bring vehicles?

Scholars are not allowed access to automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles and other kinds of vehicles during the three weeks of the Academy. Safety and insurance concerns as well as additional costs for university parking permits make having a vehicle on campus prohibitive. Only in emergency situations will a scholar be permitted to drive him/herself to the Academy. This exception is permitted only with prior approval from the co-directors.

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What recreational facilities will be available?

Some recreational facilities will be available to scholars, all of these are described in the official student handbook distributed on opening day. Supervised activities (evening seminars and tours) in which all scholars will be expected to participate also will be part of the program. Sports activities will be noncompetitive and limited to non-contact sports. University insurance regulations preclude scholars from having access to any weightlifting equipment or use of any campus weightlifting facilities.

The Missouri Scholars Academy encourages scholars to enjoy healthy physical activities and sports. We offer organized opportunities to play basketball, volleyball, jog, and make use of limited sections of the Student Recreation Center. MSA furnishes appropriate supplies for many of these SRC activities. During their free time, scholars may also play games on their own, but to preserve the safety of all members of our community, we will strictly enforce the following guidelines.

  • Tackling or punching is not allowed.
  • Games that risk high-speed contact, either incidental or intentional, are prohibited (including Ultimate Frisbee, “touch” football, soccer, tag, “keep away” and kickball).
  • Games during which items are thrown at players are prohibited (including but not limited to kickball and dodge ball).
  • Scholars may play catch outside with soft items approved by staff, such as frisbees, hackey sacks, tennis balls, wiffle balls, or foam balls. Prohibited items include footballs, baseballs and bats (including wiffle ball bats). PLEASE DO NOT BRING THESE PROHIBITED ITEMS WITH YOU TO THE ACADEMY.
  • Scholars must wear shoes during all activities.
  • There are no tennis facilities available for MSA participants.

We hope that in the spirit of these guidelines scholars will always practice caution and good sense. Any sport or activity deemed inappropriate or dangerous may be be prohibited at the discretion of the staff.

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What entertainment and cultural activities will be provided?

Academy participants will be able to take advantage of a wide range of cultural activities including concerts and drama productions. Each scholar will receive a daily calendar of events including those for which he/she must sign up in advance.

Interested in what a day at the Academy looks like? Check out an example of a daily schedule here.

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What health services will be available?

In addition to the academy medical personnel, University Student Health Services will be available to participants. Any consultation with private physicians for illnesses, prescription medicine or major medical expenses will be the family’s responsibility. If a scholar has special health or dietary needs and medication requirements, Academy officials must be notified prior to the start of the Academy. Scholars are asked to provide the Missouri Scholars Academy with exact information on personal medical insurance. A copy of relevant medical insurance policy in effect for each scholar is required.

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Will scholars have an opportunity to participate in religious services?

Yes! Arrangements will be made for optional attendance to a wide range of religious services in the city of Columbia. Transportation will be provided. Scholars are encouraged to attend services of their choice.

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Will scholars have unscheduled time?

Scholars will have some unscheduled time in late afternoons and evenings and on weekends. Numerous activities will be scheduled at these times; scholar attendance will be voluntary, but highly encouraged, in most cases.

Interested in what a day at the Academy looks like? Check out an example of a daily schedule here.

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What personal items should scholars bring?

  • Personal clothing to include: casual dress for daily classes (see “What is the appropriate dress?” below); dress clothes for religious and formal activities; a jacket, sweatshirt or sweater; gym shoes; rain gear; bathrobe; bedroom shoes; a watch; and personal items. Each scholar will receive an Academy t-shirt.
  • Personal items to be included at the discretion of the student: laundry bag, laundry detergent, bathmat, hand soap, quarters, postage stamps, radio, alarm clock, clothes hangers, hair dryer, extension cord, camera, chess set, other games, musical instruments, etc. Scholars are not allowed to bring roller blades, skateboards or weights.
  • Students should also bring a photo ID, such as a drivers license or school ID. Some academy classes will take a tour of the research reactor and a photo ID is required for those who attend.
  • Basic classroom needs, such as pencils, paper, notebooks, etc., will be the scholar’s responsibility (These can also be purchased at the campus bookstore).
  • The residence hall is air-conditioned, so students are advised to bring a light blanket.
  • Scholars should not bring smart watches, laptop or desktop computers, DVD players, televisions, large stereos, gaming consoles, or walkie-talkies. Scholars will have access to computers and other electronic equipment as a part of their Academy activities, and should not bring these items with them. Small stereos, iPods, and other small music players are allowed.
  • Cell phone use will be limited to the residence hall floors.
  • MSA provides each scholar with clean sheets, a pillow, a blanket, two towels, and a washcloth. Scholars may exchange their bedding for freshly laundered sheets once each week, and they may exchange towels and washcloths twice each week at the free linen exchange in the Residence Hall. Scholars may bring their own linens to supplement those provided.

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What is the appropriate dress?

There is no dress code. Scholars should wear clothing appropriate for the weather and the activity. Clothing that displays offensive, unhealthy, or inappropriate logos or language is prohibited.

Other guidelines:

  • Every scholar is required to wear his/her academy name tag, prominently displayed on the upper torso, for the duration of the academy. Name tags may not be altered without the approval of residential life staff.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times when a scholar is away from his/her assigned floor in the residence hall.
  • Pajamas and/or sleepwear may not be worn anywhere other than the scholar’s assigned floor in the residence hall.
  • The opening ceremony and closing convocation are semi-formal events requiring scholars to dress nicely.

For those who want a longer version of the Dress Code, click here.

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What behavior is totally unacceptable and would likely result in immediate expulsion?

  • Possession or use of tobacco, illegal drugs and alcoholic beverages
  • Possession or use of firearms, other weapons, or fireworks
  • Destruction of property
  • Breaking of any other state or federal law, including but not limited to theft, sexual harassment and assault, and threats of violence
  • Breaking of Academy rules and regulations
  • Refusal to comply with directions from Academy officials
  • Contact sports such as football

MSA holds all members of its community to high standards of behavior.

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Will participants have any input regarding extracurricular activities?

Each day at MSA allows scholars to choose from a wide range of extracurricular activities. These will allow scholars to sample study a broad range of topics and to investigate numerous future possibilities for personal, professional, and academic goals.

Interested in what a day at the Academy looks like? Check out an example of a daily schedule here.

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What is the schedule for the first day of the Academy?

Scholars should plan to arrive at the University campus between 8:45 and 11:30 a.m. on opening day. This will allow time for registration and moving into the residence hall before the opening convocation at 1:30 p.m. (A detailed schedule of opening day activities and suggested arrival times will be e-mailed to participants in late May-early June. This schedule will include all aspects of arrival, unloading, and parking.) Tours of those parts of the campus to be used by the Academy will be conducted during the morning scholars arrive.

Scholars and their families should plan to have lunch at one of the fabulous restaurants within walking distance of campus. We will provide a map and list of restaurants upon arrival. Should you wish to eat lunch in Mark Twain, please note that lunch costs ~$11.50/person.

The opening convocation, for which dress casual clothing is recommended for scholars (but not for families), will be in the Jesse Hall Auditorium on the Francis Quadrangle. After the convocation, a scholar/parent orientation will be held in Jesse Auditorium. Scholars are required to attend both the convocation and orientation. Parents are also encouraged to attend both events.

Accessibility Information for Jesse Hall: The entrance under the portico on the south side of Jesse Hall is accessible with two elevators servicing the building. Wheelchair areas are located throughout the auditorium, including in the balcony.

The first meal served at the Academy will be dinner at 5:00 p.m. After dinner, scholars will have informal meetings with the teaching faculty, resident assistants, program coordinator and other support staff members. After these meetings, a social activity will be held to introduce scholars to one another and to the faculty and staff, and partake in a large group photo.

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What is the schedule for the last day?

Scholars can be checked out by their guardians any time between 7:30 AM and 9:30 AM on Saturday, June 29th. Parents and scholars are responsible for the move-out process. Breakfast will be the last meal of the Academy served to scholars. Scholars must pick up any medications from our Med Staff, check out with their RA, and have all their belongings moved out of Mark Twain before the Closing Ceremony begins.

The Closing Ceremony for MSA 2024 will begin at 10:00 AM in Jesse Auditorium. It is expected that all scholars will attend the Closing Ceremony. Scholars and families will NOT be allowed back in the Mark Twain Residence Hall after the Closing Ceremony ends.

Accessibility Information for Jesse Hall: The entrance under the portico on the south side of Jesse Hall is accessible with two elevators servicing the building. Wheelchair areas are located throughout the auditorium, including in the balcony.

If your scholar will be checked out by someone other than a parent or guardian, you must email to grant permission. Please include the name of the individual who will be checking out the scholar, along with a phone number where they can be reached if necessary.

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