preparing students for the top university math & science programs in the world.

Simply put, the goal of Math Academy is to develop middle-school and high-school students with the passion, skills and insight to excel in the honors math and science programs of the most elite universities in the world.


What is Math Academy?

Math Academy is a Pasadena Unified School District program aimed at radically accelerating the learning curve of its mathematically gifted students by providing a curriculum that matches their abilities. The goal of Math Academy is to prepare these students to excel in the honors math and science programs at the most elite universities in the world. 



In the 6th grade, Math Academy students begin learning algebra, geometry and trigonometry and complete everything up through AP calculus by the end of 8th grade. The standard high-school topics are supplemented by competition-level problem solving and rigorous proof-writing techniques. The high school program will consist of undergraduate-level pure and applied mathematics with a particular focus on individual research projects. Math Academy classes are University of California-approved sequenced courses that students take on site and during normal school hours in place of their grade-level math classes.


Qualification & Enrollment

Candidates are identified at the beginning of their 5th-grade year based on their performance on a standardized mathematics test taken by all students in the school district. Families are informed of the opportunity and are invited to participate. Slots are made available at Math Academy middle schools and communication is initiated well before open enrollment begins.


School Locations

Math Academy currently exists at three middle schools within the Pasadena Unified School District:

  • McKinley School (6th, 7th & 8th)
  • Sierra Madre Middle School (6th & 7th)
  • Washington STEAM Magnet Academy (6th & 7th)

The high school program will be housed at Pasadena High School.



Math Academy courses are taught by instructors with extensive training in mathematics and a deep love of the subject. The current instructors all have undergraduate or graduate degrees in math and physics, with two of the classes being taught by an active research mathematician. 



At the end of the 2016-2017 pilot year, the twenty Math Academy 6th-graders from McKinley and Sierra Madre Middle School took the MDTP (Mathematics Diagnostic and Testing Project), which is used by the University of California to place incoming students into the appropriate math sequence. If these 6th graders were entering freshman at UC San Diego, four would have been placed directly into calculus for engineering majors, eight would have placed into calculus for life science majors and the remaining eight into precalculus.


“Math Academy is hands-down Sophia's favorite class in Middle School. Her teacher is fantastic with his students. She is very proud of the advanced work she is doing. We are so pleased and appreciative that this opportunity has been offered to her.”

- Jennifer Gutierrez

“I have been thoroughly impressed with the instruction provided by the program and astounded by my son’s ability to master such advanced material. The teaching methods are very engaging, and as a result Math Academy is my son’s favorite class.”

- David G. Wortham, M.D., MBA

“Our son Apor was fortunate enough to be taken into the program. His teacher Dr. Maharaj is a highly trained mathematician but also an excellent pedagog who made math very enjoyable to our son. Within a few weeks Math Academy became our son's most exciting subject. The fast paced, dynamical approach challenged him and made him excited at the same time.”

- Sandor Volkan-Kacso, PhD California Inst. of Technology

“I continue to be very excited that my daughter, Nicole Kwan (currently in 7th grade), has the opportunity to participate in McKinley’s Math Academy. It still amazes me to see the ongoing development and advancement capabilities of these children in the math academy.  I have spoken with individuals and have heard of advanced mathematics being encouraged in other countries but I in no manner would have ever imagined that this type of program was a possibility for such young individuals through our Pasadena school system.”

- Dr. Chris Kwan