Polygence blog / Research Opportunities and Ideas

A Guide to the UC Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program

7 minute read

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Research Mentorship Program is a highly esteemed and competitive summer program that offers high-achieving high school students a unique opportunity to engage in hands-on research experiences with accomplished faculty members.

Selected students are paired with a faculty mentor and then allowed to select from a large list of research projects offered across disciplines each summer. This program serves as a stepping stone for students aspiring to attend elite research universities, providing them with valuable skills, knowledge, and connections within their chosen fields. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits, application process, and key elements of the UCSB Research Mentorship Program.

What are the key elements of the USCB Mentorship Program?

The UCSB Research Mentorship Program is designed to foster research collaborations between high school students and faculty mentors across various disciplines. It allows students to gain insight into the research process, develop critical thinking skills, and explore potential career paths. Through this program, students have the chance to contribute to cutting-edge research projects and make meaningful contributions to their respective fields.

What are the Benefits of Participation?

Participating in the UCSB Research Mentorship Program offers numerous advantages for students. These include:

Hands-on research experience

Students engage in real-world research, working closely with faculty mentors on projects that align with their interests and goals. This experience helps students develop practical skills and a deep understanding of the research process.

Mentorship and guidance

Students receive personalized guidance and mentorship from accomplished faculty members who are experts in their fields. Mentors provide valuable insights, support, and encouragement throughout the research journey, and can become valuable sources of advice and recommendations for college applications.

Professional development

The program promotes personal and professional growth by enhancing skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and effective communication. These skills are invaluable for future academic pursuits or careers in research.

Networking opportunities

Students become part of a vibrant community of scholars, connecting with fellow participants, faculty members, and potential collaborators. This network can provide long-lasting connections and open doors to future opportunities.

GRIT Talks

Students who participate in the Research Mentorship Program get to attend Ground-breaking research innovative technology (GRIT) Talks where top researchers at UCSB introduce them to ground-breaking research and innovative technology.

Who is Eligible and What is the Application Process?


To be eligible for the UC Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program, high school students must be in the 10th or 11th grade, with a few spots going to very advanced 9th graders. Students must have a 3.8 weighted GPA minimum and be able to attend the 6-7 week program in its entirety (for reference, the dates of the  2023 program were June 20th through August 4th).

Application components

The application for this competitive program is rigorous. Along with a complete and up-to-date high school transcript, students must submit a 500 word personal statement and a three page writing sample to showcase their writing ability. Students also must answer three short essay questions and submit contact information for one recommender. If they’ve taken AP courses, there is also an option to submit these scores. The application fee is $75.


Admissions offers are made on a rolling basis and students can expect to receive their admissions decision three to five weeks after they receive an email confirmation that they’ve completed all components of the application

Program cost

Students can participate in this program as commuters or as residential students. All students pay $4,700 program tuition and fees, and residential students pay an additional $6,599 in housing and meal fees.


A limited number of scholarships are available, with priority given to California residents. Students should note that their guardians will have to submit the W2 forms and Federal tax returns in order to be considered for these scholarships.

What are the Program Expectations and Structure?

Once accepted into the UC Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program, students can expect to:

Devote time and effort to the pursuit of new knowledge

Participating in research projects requires a significant commitment of time and effort – students can expect to spend 30 to 40 hours per week on their project. Students are expected to work closely with their mentors, attend meetings, conduct experiments, collect and analyze data, and contribute to the overall research objectives.

Earn eight hours of college credit

All students enroll in two interdisciplinary research courses which will earn them a total of eight credit hours. The first course is an exploratory course on presentation techniques, in which students will learn how to share their research findings with a variety of audiences and in different formats including an oral presentation, a poster presentation, and an elevator pitch. The second course is an introduction to research, which helps students develop writing techniques specific to communicating research findings.

Participate in extracurriculars and social activities

The Research Mentorship Program organizes workshops, seminars, and presentations to foster a supportive community of researchers. Additionally, students have the chance to participate in a variety of mixers and organized social events with their like-minded peers, and have access to development workshops which will help them plan for their future undergraduate and graduate studies.

How Can You Make the Most of the Experience?

To maximize the benefits of the UC Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program, students should:

Set clear goals

Establishing clear research goals at the beginning of the program helps students stay focused and motivated throughout the research journey. Discuss these goals with the mentor to ensure alignment. Students attend the first four days of the program online, where they will have the time and space to pick the perfect research opportunity for them and set goals for their experience.

Embrace challenges

Research often involves obstacles and setbacks. It is important for students to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, learning, and problem-solving.

Seek feedback and learn from mistakes

Actively seek feedback from mentors and peers to refine research skills. Learn from mistakes and use feedback to improve experimental design, data analysis, and other aspects of the research process.

Network and collaborate

Engage with fellow program participants and faculty members to build connections and explore potential collaborations. Actively participate in discussions, seminars, and workshops to expand knowledge beyond the immediate research project.


The UC Santa Barbara Research Mentorship Program offers high school students an exceptional opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and develop invaluable skills and connections within their chosen fields. By participating in this program, students can gain hands-on experience, receive mentorship from esteemed faculty members, and lay the foundation for a successful career in research at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. The program's competitive nature and rigorous expectations ensure that participants are challenged and empowered to reach their full potential.

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