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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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Guide to UCSD Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Located in sunny Southern California right next to the Pacific Ocean, the UC San Diego is one of 10 public research universities in the University of California System. The popular school was home to nearly 31,000 undergraduates in Fall 2019. 


With an acceptance rate hovering around 30%, UCSD is one of the more selective universities in the UC System. Although it’s particularly known for its engineering, math, and science programs, the university draws students of a wide range of talents and skills across its six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions, and five graduate and professional schools.


As a research university, UCSD is a standout, offering numerous research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students alike. 


Want to learn more about UCSD research and how to find opportunities? Check out this livestream clip, where real students discuss research at UC San Diego and offer tips for getting relevant research positions. 


UCSD Undergraduate Research Opportunities


The undergraduate research opportunities available at UCSD are listed and described below. For more, visit the Research Experience and Applied Learning Portal (REAL), where students can learn about research, internship, international, service learning, leadership, and other related opportunities, post a profile, and connect with faculty and staff at the university.


Academic Internship Program (AIP) 


Through AIP, students apply theory to practice and gain real-world research and professional experience while earning academic credit. There are many types of internships available, from service-learning opportunities to work in corporate settings. All participating students must enroll in a special studies course and have a certain minimum GPA and number of units completed, depending on their lower- or upper-division status.


California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) in Science, Engineering and Mathematics


This 10-week research program is supported by the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics grant from the National Science Foundation. The goal of this program is to equip minority students with skills they will need to pursue careers in research or graduate-level studies. Participants receive a stipend of $3,500 and free on-campus housing or housing allowance for the fellowship’s duration. They’ll also  get training for the GRE, and the opportunity to attend professional development seminars and present research at Summer Research Conference and the CAMP Statewide Symposium.


To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a junior or senior, and of one of the following ethnicities: African American, American Indian, Chicano, Latino, Pacific Islander, or Alaskan Native. You must also be majoring in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, Cognitive Science, or Earth Sciences and have a 2.7 or higher GPA. You will need to secure a faculty mentor as well.


Conference for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)


CRASSH is hosted quarterly to underscore research in the arts, social sciences, and humanities. It is also meant to encourage undergraduates to pursue research in these disciplines and fields. Students must register to participate.


Faculty Mentor Program


Through the Faculty Mentor Program, students interact with and establish relationships with faculty in their field, no matter what their major is. Students build research skills by working with academic experts on their research or designing their own projects. Throughout the year, they will receive feedback on their work.


To participate, you must be a junior or senior and have a minimum 2.7 GPA. International, visiting, and transfer students are also eligible to apply. Students are expected to secure their own mentors but may receive assistance from the program coordinator. 

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The McNair Program


The McNair Program invites low-income, first-generation undergraduates to participate in research under the mentorship of a faculty member while receiving independent study credit. In effort to prepare students for doctoral study, the program also offers workshops on writing, research, and applying to graduate school. Participants receive a paid fellowship, along with free on-campus housing.


Thirty scholars are chosen yearly. You must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a junior or senior with an interest in pursuing a Ph.D., and be a first-generation and low-income student or a member of an underrepresented group in graduate study to apply.


Summer Research Program (SRP)


To encourage underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation students to gain research skills and pursue graduate school, UCSD offers six 8- or 10-week programs, each with its own cohort and coordinator. All of these programs pay students a stipend. 


Some of the programs on this list, including CAMP, The McNair Program, TRELS, and URS, are part of SRP. Additional programs include Converge Incubator, aimed at upper-division undergraduates with a passion for entrepreneurship, and U.S. Scholars & Genentech, which is open to students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in any discipline.


Summer Research Conference (SRC)


All SRP participants must present their research at the Summer Research Conference. Any undergraduate conducting research in the Southern California region during the summer is welcome to participate in the conference as well. 


Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS)


This eight-week academy is an opportunity for community college students, undergraduate students, recent college graduates, and masters students in any discipline to gain hands-on research experience with UCSD faculty. While working on a faculty mentor’s research, they will also participate in a GRE preparation course, transfer and graduate school preparation workshops, and social activities, as well as present their work at the UCSD Summer Research Conference.


In order to take part, you must be at least 18 years old and have a GPA above 3.0. You must also demonstrate an interest in research through the completion of relevant courses, and have strong writing skills.


Triton Research & Experiential Learning Scholars (TRELS)


TRELS is a program sponsored by the Colleges and Academic Enrichment Programs that provides funding and mentorship through four initiatives: quarterly awards, the summer research program, the study abroad scholarship, and travel funding. 


Each initiative has different requirements for participation, but for most, you must have at least 2.5 GPA. The awards are of different amounts depending on the specific program. For example, quarterly awards are $1,000 each, while Summer Research Program participants receive a $5,000 stipend.


Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS)


UCSD offers a number of research scholarships, including:


  • Chancellor’s Research Scholarship for Arts and Humanities
  • Chancellor’s Research Scholarship for Social Sciences
  • David Marc Belkin Memorial Research Scholarship for Environment and Ecology
  • David Jay Gambee Memorial Research Scholarship for Governance and Social Impact Projects
  • Doris A. Howell Foundation Research Scholarship for Women’s Health
  • Eureka! Scholarship for Biological Sciences Majors
  • Springboard Eureka! Scholarship for Biological Science Majors (Kyoto University)
  • HIV Institute – Transgender/Gender Non-Binary Community Health Research Scholarship
  • Julia Brown Research Scholarship for Health and Medical Professions
  • Ledell Family Research Scholarship for Science and Engineering
  • NEW Scholars Program for Undocumented Students
  • Philip and Elizabeth Hiestand Scholarship for cross-disciplinary research in SIO and Engineering
  • Research Scholarships for Physics
  • Starbucks Sustainable Solutions and Learning Opportunities Research Scholarship


Any UCSD undergraduate pursuing any major who will be enrolled the following school year may apply for these scholarships. You may not be part of a dual bachelor’s-master’s degree program. Individual scholarships have additional requirements.


Undergraduate Research Conference (URC)


With the aim of encouraging undergraduates to pursue doctoral degrees and careers in research and academia, URC allows students to present scholarly work and meet faculty at the research level. (Note: In 2020, the conference was replaced by the Online Undergraduate Research Symposium [OURS]. Students were able to participate without a faculty nomination.)


UC Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (LEADS)


This program is aimed at preparing economically disadvantaged undergraduates who are likely to succeed in graduate school for advanced study in STEM disciplines and leadership positions after graduate school. During the two-year program, students participate in scientific research under the guidance of a faculty mentor and prepare to pursue doctoral degrees in their chosen field. Students receive research funding, research support, graduate school advising, membership to a professional society, the opportunity to present posters at the UC LEADS Research and Leadership Symposium, and more.


To participate, you must be a STEM major and a current UC sophomore or rising junior. You should have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and interest in scientific research and pursuing a Ph.D. Students who are underrepresented in STEM-related graduate fields of study are strongly encouraged to apply.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.