The YSDE Academic Program consists of the following components:
- Lecture: The Youth Science Discovery Experience includes a lecture series that introduces science careers, highlights scientific methods and principles, and exposes students to topics they may not encounter in the typical classroom curriculum.
- Seminar: Each afternoon the staff and teachers of YSDE offer a variety of informal presentations in arts, science, and recreation. Seminars are required, but students have their choice of topics. Seminars serve to balance the focused research element of YSDE with exploration of new ideas and activities. Topics may be academic, artistic, recreational, or interdisciplinary.
- Research: The research project is the focal point of the YSDE program. Each team works on a unique project throughout the program. A scientist provides guidance and technical assistance, but the team ultimately makes its own decisions on project strategies and conducts its own research.