Social Sciences Division

Social Sciences Undergraduate Research

In keeping with the University of California's three-part mission: research, teaching, and public service, the Division of Social Sciences has a strong history of integrating undergraduates into the research endeavor (from Social Science Research).

Students in the Division of Social Sciences experience a comprehensive and rigorous education that prepares them for productive careers and further academic pursuits. Faculty conduct leading-edge research, working with students in research clusters linking departments and research centers. A recent study ranked the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz 1st in the nation among public universities for the quality of its research productivity.

Preparing for Undergraduate Research

Finding an Opportunity

The Independent Study Option

Funding Your Research

Communicating Your Research- posters and papers

Student Organizations 


Finding a Research Opportunity

Finding a research opportunity is a process that may take a considerable amount of time and commitment.  The suggestions below may help.

Consider your interests

  • What classes have engaged your imagination?
  • What causes or topics are you passionate about?

Evaluate your goals and consider practical issues

  • What do you hope to gain from undergraduate research?
  • Do you need a position to help you get a job after you graduate or To help you get into graduate school?
  • Do you need a paid position? Do you need academic credit? (You can't get paid and get credit for a position.)
  • Does the position require transportation?

Explore your options

Use your resources

        • Talk to other students, including graduate students, who are doing research and ask how they got started
        • Go to office hours and ask your instructors about their work
        • Visit your Department's or Division's Academic Adviser
        • Look into the Environmental Studies Internship Program
        • Visit the Career Center
        • Investigate other online resources, such as WebGURU, guide for undergraduate research
        • Join a student group

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Funding Your Research

Check with the UCSC Financial Aid Office to see if you qualify for specific funding opportunities.

There are many options to help fund your undergraduate research, including external funding,  funding for UC students, and departmental and college grants.

External Funding

National Organizations and Clubs/Societies

Check the funding opportunities for undergraduates at any organization you belong to.  Conferences and meetings often provide travel grants for students.

Council on Undergraduate Research Social Science Division Travel Award for funding to present at a national conference. To qualify for these funds, your faculty mentor and/or your college/university must be a member of CUR and your school must provide funds that match the CUR travel award.

UCSC Funding

The Division and Department

The Dean's office may provide funding for some projects- contact them for more information. Some departments also provide funding, so check with the department manager, the department webpage, and your academic adviser.  If you are working with a professor, ask if there is funding for research expenses, conference travel, or other costs before starting your project.

See:  Awards by Name

See: Environmental Studies Awards

Selected award examples:

  • The Joel Frankel Memorial Fund awards small grants, known as Joel Frankel Memorial Scholarships, to assist UCSC undergraduate students with the expenses of field study projects focusing on social change in Latin America or in Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. Priority is given to Merrill College students and LALS majors.
  • The Nancy Pascal Field Study Scholarship is open to any undergraduate student who is planning a field study through a campus department or program. The deadline for applications is mid-February. For more information, contact Veronica Lopez-Duran at 459-2371.
  • The Keeley Coastal Scholars Summer Award is for undergraduate students with unmet financial need who are working in the area of coastal sustainability.  The award will support underrepresented students from California with an unmet financial need doing summer research and policy work connected to Coastal Sustainability.  Scholarships will range from $1,000 to $4,000 per student with an associated $1,000 in support of the sponsoring faculty member.  These funds can be used by students for any expenses incurred during the summer months.   For more information, contact Pamela Dewey,  Applications are due May 1.

UCSC Colleges

Below are some links to college pages that list funding opportunities for undergraduates in that college.  Be sure to check with your college adviser, since not all opportunities are posted online.


Many national and regional conferences welcome presentations from undergraduate students.  Your best resource for more information on this is your mentor or professor.

Presentation Opportunities by the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUR) lists many conferences that present undergraduate research in the Social Sciences.

Selected Conferences that Feature Undergraduate Research

UC Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Research Conference (BIRC)
The Berkeley Interdisciplinary Research Conference (BIRC) is dedicated to empowering undergraduate students by providing them with the opportunity to present their research through oral and poster sessions. In addition to featuring original research by undergraduate students across the nation, the conference will also focus on exciting new ideas in the field presented by distinguished professors. Anyone with an interest in neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, integrative biology and/or education is strongly encouraged to attend and participate. The conference is in early May.

SACNAS National Conference
SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists. The conference is in October and deadlines for abstracts vary.

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society
The Student Research Conferences highlight outstanding research by graduate, undergraduate and some high school students.  The Conference is held in the fall.  A virtual conference/showcase may be held in spring.

Spartan Psychological Association Research Conference (SPARC)
All graduate and undergraduate students involved in psychological research or related fields are encouraged to apply. The conference is held at Sna Jose State University. Abstracts are due in March and the conference is in early May.

Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference (SUPC)
Sponsored in part by the Department of Psychology and the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, SUPC is a showcase for high-quality undergraduate research. It also provides an opportunity for participating students to exchange ideas and to make valuable contacts. The conference is in May.

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Communicating Your Research- posters and papers

Consult Your Mentor

Your mentor is the best source of information because s/he understands the culture of the discipline and how and when it is best to present your results.

Effective communication of your work is a skill you will learn and improve during your entire career. How you communicate your work will depend on your audience and your discipline.  Before you begin, review any guidelines you've been given for content, format, length, etc.  Make a draft, get feedback, practice and revise.  

The internet has a vast array of resources.  Below are a selection.  If you find another that is especially helpful, please email

Scientific Posters

Writing Scientific Papers for Publication

Again, your best resource on this issue is your mentor.  S/he can guide you to choose an appropriate journal and guide the writing, submission, and response to reviewers. Every journal has its own specifications on audience, length, figures, tables, etc. Listed below are a few online resources that can assist you.

Journals that Accept Papers Authored by Undergraduates

If the journal is open-access (provided to all readers with no fee), the UCSC library may be able to help with publication fees.  Click here for more information.

Journals that accept undergraduate papers in Psychology:

The Yale Review of Undergraduate Research in Psychology

Sites that list journals that accept undergraduate papers in all disciplines:

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Student Organizations

Cognitive Science Student Association

Psi Chi, Psychology Honor Society

SACNAS- The Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Latino and Native American Students (includes some Social Sciences, such as Psychology)

Sociedad Estudiantil de Psicólog@s Avanzando (S.E.P.A.)
S.E.P.A. is a collaborate effort between graduate and undergraduate students who are devoted to generating academic empowerment through social action, community investment, and academic excellence for first-generation college student in the field of psychology. 
Contact: Elizabeth Gonzalez,

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