ISEF FAQ

When and Where is ISEF?

ISEF 2020 will be held in Anaheim, California, May 10-15, 2020.

Who enters Regeneron ISEF?

Students in grades 9-12 or equivalent must compete in a Regeneron ISEF affiliated science fair and win the right to attend Regeneron ISEF.  Each affiliated fair may send a pre-determined number of projects to ISEF (as calculated by participation and high school population) to compete in 21 different categories. For a complete set of rules and guidelines on eligibility to compete at Regeneron ISEF, please review the International Rules for Precollege Science Research.

What is the timeline for Regeneron ISEF and when should I start my research?

Students may present work that includes no more than 12 months of continuous research, and they may not include research performed more than 18 months before the Regeneron ISEF in which they will be competing. Local, regional and state affiliated fairs take place throughout the year, but all conclude by early April.

What is a Regeneron ISEF-affiliated science fair?

A Regeneron ISEF-affiliated science fair is a research-based, high school competition that is a member of Society for Science & the Public’s affiliated fair network. These competitions exist in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 75 countries, regions, and territories. To affiliate, science fairs agree to follow basic guidelines for fair operations and Society rules governing student research, but are ultimately responsible for their own management. Fairs are conducted at local, regional, state and national levels. Find a Society-affiliated fair in your area.

How do I find an affiliated fair in my state or country?

Fairs are conducted at local, regional, state and national levels. Find a Society-affiliated fair in your area. For more information about a specific fair in your area, click on the fair name in the directory, which will direct you to the fair’s website.

What if my state or country does not have a Society-affiliated fair?

This is where you can be an advocate for science! Contact your local school officials and make them aware of Regeneron ISEF. If your school district is interested in affiliating, you can find more information about New Affiliations here.

General requirements for a fair to affiliate include:

  • The fair must serve a geographic territory that is not covered by another affiliated fair, except in cases of state or national fairs.
  • The fair must operate under Regeneron ISEF Rules and Guidelines and ensure that students and teachers are aware of these requirements as they begin research projects. New fairs should have at least one year’s experience with ISEF rules.
  • The fair director must agree to hold the affiliated fair by the given deadline in early April.

Fairs will be granted affiliation status based on meeting these requirements, as well as the overall benefit the fair offers to the students and schools in the proposed territory.

Why can’t I enter Regeneron ISEF directly?

Students cannot represent themselves at Regeneron ISEF because this competition is a closed event.  Finalists who make it to Regeneron ISEF have gone through many levels of competition.  Students can generally start at a local school science fair and then progress on to the upper levels of competition, in which a Regeneron ISEF-affiliated fair may be the last tier. We also want to make sure that all students who compete at Regeneron ISEF have unique ideas and inventions and follow our guidelines for safe and appropriate research; both of these requirements are ensured through participation in affiliated fairs.

I want to start my research but I have an question about the rules. Who can answer my inquiry?

Each affiliated fair has an established Scientific Review Committee (SRC) to answer your inquiries before experimentation. Additionally, the Regeneron ISEF SRC is available year-round to answer any rules inquiries. Questions about the International Rules and Guidelines, especially pertaining to the use of vertebrates, human subjects, or potentially hazardous biological agents can be addressed to the ISEF SRC directly at SRC@societyforscience.org.

What are the most common reasons a project fails to qualify?

You can find a report from Regeneron ISEF addressing the most common reasons why some projects fail to qualify here.

What are Regeneron ISEF awards?

More than 600 individual and team awards are presented every year at the Regeneron ISEF. Each entry is judged at least four times with category awards given in first, second, third and fourth place. Awards are $3,000, $1,500, $1,000 and $500 respectively in each of the 21 categories. The top winner of the Regeneron ISEF receives an award of $75,000, with the next top two winners each receiving $50,000. Additional awards worth approximately $4 million are provided through the Regeneron ISEF Special Awards program, and include tuition scholarships, summer internships, scientific field trips, and laboratory equipment. They are provided by about 70 corporate, professional, educational and government sponsors annually.

Who are the judges at ISEF?

Each year about 1,000 science, engineering, and industry professionals serve as judges for Regeneron ISEF. All judges have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree and/or six years of relevant experience. Judges volunteer their time and pay their own travel and accommodation expenses. Learn more about becoming a judge.

What is Society for Science & the Public?

Society for Science & the Public is a non-profit organization based on Washington, D.C. The Society has managed the International Science and Engineering Fair for more than six decades, including the application process, judging, recruitment of volunteers to contribute 2,000+ hours of work each year, a week of activities for domestic and international finalists, processing awards, and keeping in touch with alumni.