Preparing for Undergraduate Research

Undergraduates do research in every division and department at UC Santa Cruz. Since UCSC is a research university, active participation in research should be an integral part of your education. For examples of UR in each division, see student profiles.

To get involved in UR, you need to be well prepared.  The following suggestions apply to all students.  A handout version of this page is here.  For information specifically for transfer students, click here.

If you are transfering to UCSC STEM field, consider attending WEST. Workshops for Engineering & Science Transfers (WEST) is designed to give students transferring from other institutions a jump-start on entering UCSC science and engineering majors.

Get good grades.

  • Many programs have a GPA requirement.
  • Take advantage of academic support programs, like Learning Support Services
  • Study in groups.
  • Start to read the professional materials for your discipline.  If you are in STEM, there is a great webinar on reading scientific literature here.

Go to office hours regularly. 

  • Ask questions about the class or the instructor’s research or career path. 
  • You need to build relationships so that you can learn about opportunities and get good reference letters.

Find professors who are doing research that interests you and talk to them now.  Look at department webpages to learn about professors’ research topics

  • Email the professors or go to office hours and ask the professors about their research and what they look for in an undergraduate research assistant.

Take advantage of campus services.

Start researching summer opportunities the previous fall and winter.  Many summer programs have application deadlines November-February.

  • You need time to learn about the program and prepare your application.
  • Summer mentors can provide a reference letter.

Join a student organization.

  • Clubs provide a community of like-minded peers.
  • You can learn about many research opportunities from friends.

To find out additional information for your field of study, go to the related webpage for the division/school: