Missouri Scholars Academy

Missouri Scholars Academy

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. The official MSA website describes the goals of the Academy to be as such: "The academy reflects Missouri's desire to strive for excellence in education at all levels. The program is based on the premise that Missouri's gifted youth must be provided with special opportunities for learning and personal development in order for them to realize their full potential."



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 ("goat milk 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

Coordinating Staff


  • Dr. Ted Tarkow (Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences)

MSA Alumni Association

  • Travis Thornhill, Executive Secretary


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, Terrorism & Counterterrorism, Education, Philosophy, Biology, Physics, The Constitution, current events, spelunking, creative writing, and art.


Participating scholars stay in assigned rooms at the Mark Twain Residence Hall. Scholars are separated by gender to different floors and given a room mate. An Residential Assistant is also assigned to monitor and work with Scholars (About 20 scholars per Residential Assistant). Nightly meetings occure every night between Residential Assistants and Scholars to discuss upcoming events and general questions scholars may have.

PSD Program

Another vital part of the Missouri Scholars Academy is Personal and Social Dynamics, or 'PSD'. PSD takes place for one hour with the "minor" class, and focuses on helping scholars build social skills, forge friendships with others, and express themselves artistically, verbally, and emotionally.

Other Offerings

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 is also an annual scholars' talent show.

Traditions and Customs

The Name Tag

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.


The opening icebreaker for MSA is Playfair, usually held the first night of the Academy. Students are grouped off where they introduce each other and play memory games to help memorize names.

A Chance to Soar

The official MSA anthem is entitled "A Chance to Soar" and was written by scholars in 1988.


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) will be 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]

<added at a later date> 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.

Other MSAs

The Missouri Scholars Academy should not be confused with a University of Missouri student group, the Missouri Student Association, which shares the acronym MSA with the academy.

Missouri Scholars Academy is one of many summer academies hosted for residents of individual states in the National Conference of Governor's Schools.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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