Undergraduate Research

At the best research universities, professors bring knowledge and creativity from their cutting-edge research into the classroom, integrating the canon of the discipline with its future directions. UC Santa Cruz takes this further with a special tradition of undergraduate research outside the classroom. UC Santa Cruz, its departments, and faculty offer undergraduates many ways to get involved in research and creative activities. These opportunities develop advanced skills and insights and provide an early introduction to the nature of graduate studies. Research projects can help students launch careers, secure admissions to top graduate schools, and truly make an impact on society.

Many majors incorporate research into their senior comprehensive requirement, with options or requirements of a senior thesis, capstone project, or other creative endeavor based on students’ individual research. Other opportunities for undergraduates include structured internships or research programs, joining ongoing faculty research or creative projects, or developing their own projects under faculty supervision. The following sections discuss a sampling of UCSC’s international education, field-study, and exchange programs, which enable students to deeply enrich their undergraduate experience and education as they learn by doing. For additional information, see Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


After being selected as UC LEADS Scholars, students begin a two-year program of scientific research and graduate school preparation guided by individual faculty mentors and program staff. Scholars are provided with an excellent opportunity to explore their discipline, experience a research environment, and improve their opportunities for future study in their chosen field. Each scholar is mentored by a member of the UC faculty who assists the student in designing a plan of research and enrichment activities tailored to his or her individual interests and academic goals. Scholars attend the annual statewide symposium, as well as are sponsored to participate in another STEM conference of their choice each year.

The UC LEADS program is headquartered in the STEM Diversity Programs office, along with MARC, IMSD and CAMP. To learn more about eligibility requirements and the UC LEADS program, visit the STEM Diversity Programs website or email STEM Diversity Programs Director at stemdiv@ucsc.edu. 

California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP)

CAMP is a statewide initiative that aims to support and retain underrepresented undergraduates to achieve their degrees in the biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

By integrating research and undergraduate education, CAMP creates a cohesive set of experiences that fully prepares undergraduates for graduate studies. CAMP motivates participants through cooperative learning, internships, faculty mentored research, and travel to professional conferences.

The CAMP program is headquartered in the STEM Diversity Programs office along with MARC, IMSD and UC LEADS. To learn more about eligibility requirements and the CAMP program, visit the STEM Diversity Programs website or email STEM Diversity Programs Director Yulianna Ortega at stemdiv@ucsc.edu. 

Koret Undergraduate Research

The Koret Scholars Program provides funding for a variety of undergraduate research projects and experiences, and supports scholarships for undergraduate research projects with faculty and graduate student mentors. Each year, 50 or more undergraduates pursue research and share their experiences at the Koret Undergraduate Research Slam during Student Achievement Week.