The New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences (NJGSS) has several objectives. The first is to broaden the scholars’ appreciation and knowledge of science through exposure to a range of scientific topics and scientists. The subject of career exploration and choice is woven throughout the program. The second objective is to introduce scientific research to the scholars via hands-on research experience in a student’s area of interest. Resources from New Jersey’s industrial, governmental, and academic science establishments are used.

Program Components

Program Components

The program at Drew consists of a number of components designed to accomplish the objectives. These are:

  1. There is a core curriculum in a variety of different areas of science and mathematics (neurobiology, cell biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, anthropology). Offered four times a week, these courses address aspects of these fields not normally seen in either high school or first year college. Each student takes three of these courses. Homework is assigned, although no grades are given for the courses.
  2. Students participate in a laboratory course on two afternoons each week. In 2014, the laboratory courses were biology, organic chemistry, computer science, archaeology, biochemistry, and physics. Each offers innovative experiments. Each student takes one lab course.
  3. Three afternoons a week are set aside for work on team projects. Students work in small teams under faculty guidance on mini-research topics. The final day of the school is devoted to a scientific meeting at which teams report their results to the entire group. Students also work on team projects during free times on weekends.
  4. Evening colloquium speakers present views of modern science from both industrial and academic viewpoints. This allows a glimpse into doing science and provides a discussion of real-world considerations related to work in science.

During free evenings and weekends, there is time for study, as well as for recreation on the campus and in Madison. Entertainment on campus includes films and the Shakespeare Festival. Special events include a Career Day and Talent Show. Students can attend local churches.

Closing ceremonies are held at a farewell banquet for all scholars, faculty, counselors, and visiting dignitaries.

The faculty for the Governor’s School in the Sciences includes science faculty from Drew, as well as from other local colleges and high schools, and industrial and governmental laboratories.

Free of exams, grades, or any form of AP or college credit, the experience of scholars spending an intensive three weeks working, learning, and living together always has proved to be productive, satisfying and memorable for all concerned.

Selecting Candidates

Criteria for Selecting Candidates

The following general criteria are used to help identify gifted and talented students who will be particularly benefited by this program:*

First, the student must be interested in the nature of the school. The student should expect to be immersed in an intensive and enriching program in the sciences. We expect him or her to have an ongoing interest in science and a strong desire to pursue this interest.

Second, the student must be willing to attend the full session. Saturdays and Sundays make up part of the program, hence there will be no weekend leaves of absence.

Third, the student must have primarily “A” grades in honors math and science classes, and should rank at least in the 90th percentile on any standardized tests he or she has taken. High ability in mathematics must be demonstrated by strong scores in the PSAT/SAT examination. In other words, students should have demonstrated by their achievements that they can hold their own in interactions with the most ”academically talented” students. The most creatively gifted and talented students will not always devote their gifts solely to earning the highest grades, and will divide their time between school and other creative and scientific activities. Such students can be appropriate candidates for the Governor’s School.

*In drawing up these criteria, we gratefully acknowledge the use of materials stemming from the experience and work of the Governor’s Schools of North Carolina and South Carolina.

The Application

The Application Process

The application process for the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences consists of 3 steps.

Step 1: Fall of the Junior year: The student must be nominated by his/her high school. This is typically handled by the school Guidance office. Interested students should speak with their Guidance counselor or science and math teachers to indicate interest. Each school is allowed a specific number of nominees based on the school’s population. If the high school’s junior class contains at most 325 students, only one student may be nominated for each Governor’s School program. If the high school’s junior class has between 326 and 650 students, two students may be nominated for each Governor’s School program. Three students may be nominated only if the junior class comprises more than 650 students.

Step 2: Mid-November to mid-January: The applications of nominees are submitted to the NJ Governor’s School in the Sciences.

Step 3: Mid-January to the end of March: Applications of candidates are reviewed by the Governor’s School in the Sciences using criteria including grades, number and level of science/math courses, demonstrated interest in science, and teacher recommendations. Final selections are based on these criterion with students from all over New Jersey. The number of scholars each year is determined by available facilities as well as the amount of funding. Candidates are notified of final decisions by email in early April.

The Application

Some general rules to follow when filling in the NJGSS application (please see the Application for more detailed information):

  • Application Cover Sheet (this is Page 1 of your application packet):
    • Print your name, email address and school name clearly.
    • Complete and submit the Online Student Application Information Form, as per the instructions provided on the Application Cover Sheet.  
    • After submitting the form, you will receive a confirmation email.  Print ALL the applicant data that you entered and ATTACH it to the Application Cover Sheet.
    • Important Note:  Application packets received that have NOT completed the Online Student Application Information Form, or missing the PRINTED applicant data from the online form will be deemed incomplete and will NOT be considered.
  • Awards and Activities:
    • When listing science and math awards and extracurricular activities, attach additional pages if needed.
    • For each extracurricular activity – including school, community, and work – give a general idea of how much time you spend each week in that activity. If you are a member of a club, indicate the extent to which you participate, including all responsibilities and any offices you hold. If you do volunteer work, include how many hours you spend and what kind of training you needed to be able to do this work. If you have a job, explain what you do and how many hours you work each week.
    • Be complete. If you don’t mention an activity, the reader will not know about it.
  • Teacher Recommendation Letters: Be sure that you ask science and math teachers who know you WELL to write your recommendation letters.  Please see Guidelines for Teacher Recommendation Letters for important information. Letters from teachers of other subjects will not be considered.


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The following list is a compilation of frequently asked questions about NJGSS. This list will grow and you are encouraged to email us if you have a question that is not answered here.

How do I apply to NJGSS?
All applicants must be nominated by their high school. School guidance counselors are notified when applications are available, which is typically in the late fall. Speak with your guidance counselor early in the fall of your junior year to indicate that you are interested in applying. If your counselor is not receiving notification, he or she should contact Barbara Pepe, Governor’s School Coordinator at (609) 984-2684 or

Who is eligible to apply to NJGSS?
All applicants must be residents of New Jersey and must be in their junior year of high school.

I attend a private school in NJ. Can I apply to NJGSS?
Yes. Your school guidance office should have application forms. If they do not have these documents, they should contact Barbara Pepe, Governor’s School Coordinator at (609) 984-2684 or

I live in NJ, but I attend school in another state. Can I apply to NJGSS?
Yes. Applicants must be residents of New Jersey, but may attend high school in another state.

I am home-schooled. Can I apply to NJGSS?

I have special dietary requirements. Are vegetarian and kosher meals available?
Yes. Vegetarian options are always available and kosher meals are available on request.

Can I bring a musical instrument to Governor’s School?
You may bring an instrument. However, you are responsible for safeguarding this and any other valuable items.

Will a piano be available for practice?
We will make every effort to provide a piano for student use.

Can I leave campus on the weekends?
Students are allowed to leave for occasional off-campus weekend activities. However, due to the nature of the program, students are required to stay on campus and participate in all NJGSS planned special events and activities. Special circumstances can be brought to the attention of a Co-Director and approved by a Co-Director.

How do I send and receive mail while I’m at Governor’s School?
Scholars’ mail is delivered daily to the Governor’s School Office where it is placed in a mail cart for pickup. Stamped, outgoing mail may be left at the Governor’s School office.

How do I know what to bring with me to Governor’s School?
Detailed information is provided to scholars in the NJGSS Handbook and on the NJGSS website.

Can I have visitors while I am at Governor’s School?
Parents are encouraged to visit on Sundays. Visits by friends are not allowed.

I am involved with a sport that requires practice. Can I leave Governor’s School to practice with my team?
No. Students must be willing to fully participate in the NJGSS program. Leaves of absence are not allowed, unless  discussed with, and approved by a Co-Director.

One of my friends is coming to NJGSS. Can we room together?
Specific roommate requests cannot be honored.

Is there any cost for the Governor’s School program?
Tuition, room, board (breakfast, lunch and dinner on campus, in the University Commons dining hall ONLY), books, and extracurricular program expenses are provided to participants by our corporate and individual sponsors, and by the State of New Jersey.  Scholars are responsible for their personal expenses, such as laundry, phone (phones are not provided in the dorm rooms), snacks and all other foods (not included in the “board” stated above), and personal shopping.

What do I do if my school does not receive the NJGSS application?
Contact Barbara Pepe, Governor’s School Coordinator at (609) 984-2684 or