The goal of the University of California's Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program is to educate California's future leaders by preparing promising students for advanced education in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM). The program is designed to identify upper-division undergraduate students with the potential to succeed in these disciplines, but who have experienced situations or conditions that have adversely affected their advancement in their fields of study.
UC LEADS at UC Merced
Once chosen as UC LEADS scholars, students embark upon a two-year program of scientific research and graduate school preparation guided by individual faculty mentors.
Scholars get excellent opportunities to explore their disciplines, experience research environments and improve their opportunities for future study in their chosen fields. Each scholar gains valuable educational experience, the university gets a better prepared and more diverse graduate applicant pool, and the state, nation and world get well-educated future leaders.
Each scholar is mentored by a faculty member who assists in designing a plan of research and enrichment activities fitted to the scholar's individual interests and academic goals.
Please be sure to review all application instructions and eligibility requirements below.
UC LEADS achieves these important aims by providing faculty mentoring, experiential learning in summer and academic-year research programs, involvement in professional and scientific societies, exposure to the UC graduate environment and participation in key academic enrichment programs, including leadership development activities.
1. Undergraduate Mentorship Experience
Scholars are matched with UC faculty members who serve as mentors. Mentors assist scholars in developing and completing educational action plans that include structured research, graduate school preparation, and exploration and participation in professional and/or scientific society meetings. Each action plan should a) clearly describe the expenses associated with the scholar’s research activities that will be supported by UC LEADS, and b) be approved by the scholar, mentor and campus coordinator. Mentors also provide academic counseling related to challenges encountered in implementation of the educational plan.
2. Academic-Year Research
The scholars participate in organized research programs during each academic year, under the direction of their faculty mentors.
3. Campus Academic Enrichment and Leadership Development Opportunities
Scholars participate in academic enrichment programs providing special training in areas critical to academic and professional success, such as scientific writing, preparing and making academic presentations and development of specific research or research-related skills.
By the end of the second summer, scholars will have participated in Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation training activities.
During the second academic year of the program, scholars prepare graduate academic admission applications and appropriate fellowship applications.
4. Annual University-Wide Symposium
All UC LEADS scholars participate in the annual Koret UC LEADS Research and Leadership Symposium. The event features:
- All scholars present their research results and methodologies to get feedback from their peers, graduate students and faculty members;
- Opportunities to network with fellow scholars, graduate students, graduate program administrators and faculty members;
- Scientific and academic presentations by leaders in the STEM fields of study, covering such topics as diversity in science, leadership in academia and industry, laboratory ethics, financing graduate education, and balancing family and graduate school;
- Presentations by national leaders in government, business or industry addressing issues of leadership in an increasingly diverse STEM environment; and,
- Opportunities to learn about mentoring future generations of students who may face obstacles to participation in higher education similar to those that current scholars might have experienced in their own lives.
5. Summer Research Program Experience
UC LEADS scholars participate in two summer research experiences. The first takes place on the scholar’s home campus. Scholars must commit to working full time on a research project during the summer (40 hours/week). They receive a minimum summer stipend of $3,000 and housing or housing compensation.
The second summer research experience occurs at other UC campuses. Scholars must commit to working full time on a research project during the summer (40 hours/week). They receive a minimum summer stipend of $3,000 and housing or housing compensation.
6. Involvement in Professional and Scientific Societies
Scholars are encouraged to participate in national or regional professional or scientific society meetings. UC LEADS provides financial support for registration, travel and accommodations.
7. Scientific Research and Presentations
In addition to the Koret UC LEADS Research and Leadership Symposium and their summer presentations, scholars will present their research at least one time per year. UC LEADS encourages scholars to present their work at national or regional scientific meetings.
8. Travel to Other UC Campuses for Training and Exposure to Campus Graduate Study Opportunities
Scholars are expected to travel to at least one UC campus each year (in addition to second summer research travel). Scholars have opportunities to meet with graduate students and faculty, and participate in campus tours designed to acquaint scholars with various aspects of campus life and graduate programs. These visits help scholars make informed decisions about their second summer placements as well as learn about graduate programs of study within the University of California.
Program Eligibility and Requirements
To be eligible for selection, each applicant must:
- Be enrolled in or about to be enrolled in a UC Merced undergraduate degree program in the sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics;
- Be on track to receive a bachelor’s degree at the conclusion of the second year of the UC LEADS program (i.e. should apply before junior year or before the fourth year if on a five-year plan);
- Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; and
- Be able to demonstrate potential for success in a graduate program
How to Apply
The UC LEADS program identifies students who have:
- Experienced educational barriers to their academic progress, or who express a commitment to address the barriers that prevent participation of students from underrepresented groups in graduate academic programs;
- Experienced situations or conditions that impacted their advancement or ability to advance in a STEM field (e.g. the absence of a role model in the STEM field, absence of a family member who received a four-year college degree or graduation from a high school with poor financial or curricular support);
- Leadership potential to address the issues of underrepresentation of domestic minorities in the STEM fields;
- The potential to gain the personal and multicultural competency skills necessary to address the needs of a diverse state and global community through science and technology.
The following materials are needed to complete the UC LEADS application:
- UC LEADS online application form
- Statement of purpose and personal essay, as described in the online application
- One letter of recommendation from a UC Merced faculty member
- One unofficial transcript from the my.ucmerced.edu portal
- Resume or CV
This opportunity is for UC Merced students who meet minimum eligibility requirements.
Undocumented students are eligible for this program.
Application period for the Summer 2018 Scholar Cohort is Feb. 1 - March 15, 2018
Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center
University of California, Merced
Student Services Building, 230
5200 N. Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
Phone: (209) 228-4245