North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

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North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Current logo debuted April 2015.
1219 Broad Street
Durham, North Carolina 27705
Type Public boarding school
Motto Maius Opus Moveo
(Accept the Greater Challenge)
Established 1980
School district University of North Carolina system
Chancellor Dr. Todd Roberts
Grades 1112
Enrollment 680
Campus type Suburban
Color(s)           Blue and gray
Athletics conference NCHSAA
Mascot Unicorn
Nickname Unis, Narwhals (swim)
Accreditation AdvancED[1]
Newspaper The Stentorian
Tuition Free
Communities served State of North Carolina
Affiliations NCSSSMST
University of North Carolina
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is located in North Carolina
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Location of NCSSM in North Carolina

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) is a two-year, public residential high school located in Durham, North Carolina, US, that focuses on the intensive study of science, mathematics and technology. The school accepts rising juniors from across North Carolina and enrolls them through senior year. Though NCSSM is a public school, enrollment is limited, and applicants undergo a highly competitive review process prior to admission. NCSSM is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST) and a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system.


Watts building, which houses humanities classrooms and offices, business offices, and the math department

Since its inception, NCSSM has been fully funded by the state, meaning no student is required to pay any tuition, room, board, or other student fees. This funding is supplemented by the NCSSM Foundation's private funding, which supports NCSSM's academic, residential, and outreach programs as well as providing funds for some capital improvements. In the past 25 years, the Foundation has raised in excess of $25 million in private support from corporations, foundations, alumni, parents and friends of NCSSM. A tuition fee was considered for the 2002–03 school year in the midst of a state budgetary crisis, but it was never implemented. In 2003, the NC Legislature approved a bill granting tuition costs for any university in the University of North Carolina System to all graduates of NCSSM, starting with the class of 2004, as an incentive to encourage NCSSM's talented students to stay in North Carolina. That bill was amended in 2005 to allow students to use additional tuition monies awarded to cover "costs of attendance." However, the tuition waiver has been phased out in the Appropriations Act of 2009 in the North Carolina Senate in order to balance the budget. The bill states that "No new recipients shall be funded after June 30, 2009." [2] NCSSM has served as a model for 18 similar schools, many of which are now members of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).


Cupola atop the 1908 Watts building, used in the school's logo until 2015.

NCSSM students are not given a class rank and are encouraged to strive for their best rather than competing against other students. Although students previously were not given grade point averages (GPAs), the school currently provides GPAs on transcripts to simplify the college application process. The school consistently appears near the top of American high school rankings, most recently being ranked the 23rd best high school in the United States and the second best in North Carolina by Newsweek[3] and being listed among The Washington Post's 2014 "top-performing schools with elite students."[4] NCSSM students have consistently done extremely well in national academic competitions, and NCSSM's SAT scores are among the highest in the state of North Carolina. In 2013, it was 2034, second to the Early College at Guilford's 2051.[5]


During the 2013-2014 school year, NCSSM housed approximately 680 students. There were 346 seniors enrolled in the class of 2013. Currently, there are more females than males due to the larger number of female dormitory spaces. Approximately 56% of students are Caucasian, 26.6% are Asian American, 8.1% are African American, 5.5% are Hispanic, and 0.3% are Native American.[6] The student population of NCSSM is designed to be a demographic reflection of the population of North Carolina as a whole; additionally, a certain number of slots are reserved for each congressional district.

Notable alumni[edit]

Grace Han Wolf, '82, First Korean American woman elected to office in the Commonwealth of Virginia [7]
Adam Falk '83, President of Williams College[8][9]
Maya Ajmera '85, Founder and President of The Global Fund for Children
Matt Welsh (computer scientist) '92, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and author of several books
Rhiannon Giddens '95, member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops[10]
Scott Jacobson '95, comedy writer (Bob's Burgers) and four-time Emmy winner
Christina Hammock '97, NASA astronaut candidate of the class of 2013.[11]
Hao Zhu '95, cancer researcher and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern.[12]
B. Scott '99, Internet Celebrity, TV personality and blogger
Jud Bowman '99, President/CEO of Appia, Chief Technology Officer of Motricity[13][14]

External programs[edit]

NCSSM also offers a variety of external programs focused on educating teachers and students outside of the school across North Carolina. The school offers workshops for strengthening K-12 math and science education. The programs focus on "teaching the teacher."[15] These workshops focus particularly in science and mathematics education.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

NCSSM regularly does well in terms of academic events and certain sports. The school is known to place upwards of ten students a year in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. In 2006, Nicholas Tang and Sagar Indurkhya became national finalists in that year's Siemens Competition. NCSSM also regularly produces semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search and Intel Science and Engineering Fair.

In 2010, NCSSM won first place at the 2010 National DOE Science Bowl Competition,[16] and the students on the team got to meet Michelle Obama.

In 2011, for the first time in the school's history, all of the NCSSM varsity sports in the fall season won regional championships. Men's cross-country and men's soccer were state champions, while women's tennis and women's volleyball were state runners-up and a member of the women's diving team placed second at the 1A/2A state meet. Two girls from the women's golf team were also sent to the state championships match. The NCSSM men's cross-country team has won three straight state championships, and has boasted two straight individual state champions, Nicholas Walker and William Francis Kenny.

In 2016, music instructor Phillip Riggs was nominated for and won the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. [17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-11
  2. ^ Appropriations Bill of 2009, 2009
  3. ^ "America's Top High Schools 2014". Newsweek. Newsweek Company LLC. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Mathews, Jay. "Top-performing schools with elite students". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  5. ^ |SAT Performance by Students in North Carolina's Public School Systems and Schools, 2006–2008
  6. ^ |NCSSM Residential Program Profile, 2013-2014
  7. ^ Town Of Herndon - Council Bios. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Office of the President. (2013-06-20). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  10. ^ A Modern Take On A Traditional Sound. Carolina Chocolate Drops. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  11. ^ "NASA announces eight new astronauts, half are women". 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  12. ^ "Hao Zhu, M.D. - Faculty Profile - UT Southwestern". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  13. ^ Leadership — Appia. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  14. ^ Jud Bowman buys Motricity’s smart phone division -TechWire Insider :: WRAL Tech Wire. (2008-06-04). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  15. ^ "NCSSM External Programs – Workshops & Special Programs". Retrieved January 18, 2007. 
  16. ^ DOE National Science Bowl
  17. ^

External links[edit]