Missouri Scholars Academy

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Missouri Scholars Academy, or MSA, is a three-week residential summer program held on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Missouri for 330 of Missouri's top rising high school juniors. It should not be confused with the Missouri Student Association, with which it shares an acronym. MSA is a member of the National Conference of Governor's Schools.


The Academy started in 1985, and has been held every year since. Each year has had a different set of two colors to uniquely identify its participants. Many of the colors have acquired informal nicknames, often inspired by comments made by director Ted Tarkow.

The flags of each MSA year (1985-2006).
  • 1985 - White and maroon
  • 1986 - White and navy
  • 1987 - Teal and white
  • 1988 - Red and white
  • 1989 - Green and white
  • 1990 - Blue and white
  • 1991 - Teal and white
  • 1992 - Fuchsia and white ("a sea of Pepto Bismol")
  • 1993 - Purple and white
  • 1994 - Green and gold
  • 1995 - White and crimson
  • 1996 - Grey and blue
  • 1997 - Ecru and green
  • 1998 - Black and grey
  • 1999 - Navy blue and putty ("putty is pretty")
  • 2000 - Lime and cerulean
  • 2001 - Yellow and grey ("yak's milk yellow and slate")
  • 2002 - Silver and red (not from the color, but was known as "the year of the palindrome")
  • 2003 - Orange and blue
  • 2004 - Green and silver
  • 2005 - Red and gold ("ketchup and mustard")
  • 2006 - Khaki and brown ("chocolate chip cookie")
  • 2007 - Pink and teal ("bubble gum and watermelon", "pepto-bismol and watermelon")
  • 2008 - Light blue and navy blue ("Facebook colors")
  • 2009 - Maroon and silver (maroon to honor the first year, and silver for the 25th anniversary)
  • 2010 - Green and light green ("Go Green")
  • 2011 - Purple and light purple
  • 2012 - Yellow and blue ("Sun in the Sky")
  • 2013 - Tangerine and charcoal ("On the Road to Success", "Traffic cone")
  • 2014 - Maroon and teal
  • 2015 - Red and black ("the young volcanoes" also known as "the year of the illuminati" although not for the color.)
  • 2016 - Purple and light green ("the year of memery", with the light green labeled as "Highlighter Yellow")
  • 2017 - Tiffany blue and milk chocolate brown (year of the kitchen appliances)

Coordinating Staff[edit]

  • Prof. Steve Keller and Jenelle Beavers, J.D., Co-Directors
  • Frankie Synovec, Coordinator of Residential Life


Participating scholars attend a "major" and "minor" class for three hours and one hour per day, respectively, during the program. These classes are usually college level or experimental, and meant to stimulate gifted students. Past MSAs have featured unique classes dealing with Japanese language and culture, Intelligence & Counterintelligence, Game Theory, Time travel, Infinity, Terrorism & Counterterrorism, Education, Philosophy, Biology, Physics, The Constitution, Censorship, current events, spelunking, creative writing, and art.


Participating scholars have in years past stayed in assigned rooms at the Mark Twain Residence Hall. Due to Mark Twain renovations, the academy was held in Wolpers and Johnston halls in 2012, and Hawthorn and Galena halls in 2013. In 2014, Scholars were moved back into Mark Twain after renovations were completed the previous fall. Scholars are separated by gender to different floors and given a room mate. Students are not allowed on floors of the opposite gender. Residential Assistants are also assigned to monitor and work with 14-18 scholars each. Meetings occur every night between Residential Assistants and Scholars to discuss upcoming events, rules reminders, and general questions scholars may have.

Other Offerings[edit]

In addition to classes, scholars attend numerous informational, educational, social, and entertainment programs, including swing dance lessons, current events debates, college fairs, seminars, performances, and motivational speakers. There are usually three dances per academy, a street dance, square dance, and an alumni dance.

There is also an annual scholars' talent show.


The Name Tag[edit]

For safety reasons, scholars are required to wear their name tag at all times when they are not on their floor of the residence hall. Name tags must be displayed on the upper torso.

Normal Schedule[edit]

Scholars attend a morning major class, lasting for 3 hours, and then eat lunch. Afterwards, scholars report together to an auditorium to attend "Big Group." Big Group is where faculty will present afternoon and evening activities for the day. Scholars immediately attend their minor class for an hour, along with a period dedicated to the betterment of scholars’ social skills, before being able to either go back to Mark Twain or attend an optional afternoon activity. Dinner is served afterwards, and then everyone must attend the evening activity. Scholars would then have House Meetings at 10:30 pm.


Missouri Scholars Academy is supported by grants from the Missouri General Assembly, and was kept free for the scholars throughout the 2009 Academy in order to ensure an equal opportunity basis. However, due to the economic crisis, funding was limited to partial state funding for the 2010 Missouri Scholars Academy. A complete funding plan for MSA XXVI is still, however, being finalized. Despite the cutback of funds, the same number of scholars (330) were accepted into the Academy. However, the past policy of free attendance has been changed to include a "Student Activity Fee" of $500 per scholar. The cost of attendance being contrary to the spirit of MSA, the Academy said in a statement that "MSA expects that for some scholars, schools or civic clubs will cover this fee" and that "In situations where neither schools nor civic clubs can cover the fee for a student from a family with economic hardship, steps will be taken so that the fee is covered or reduced."[1] In 2011, the Student Activity Fee mentioned above was raised to $700, due to complete loss of state funding. The academy also benefits from support of the Gifted Association of Missouri, the Missouri Scholars Academy Alumni Association, and tax-deductible contributions made by alumni and parents to the Missouri Scholars Academy Development Fund.

In the year of 2015, MSA was covered completely by the state.



External links[edit]