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Who’s MARC?

MARC LogoMARC is not a person. It is the Maximizing Access to Research Careers, a competitive research program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

At UC San Diego, MARC prepares highly qualified and traditionally underrepresented undergraduates for success in advanced degree programs in biomedical research. The MARC Program allows students the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors on research projects that are related to students' interests. The program includes two summers of intensive research experience as well as continued research activity during two consecutive academic years.

MARC prepares UC San Diego students to become strong doctoral (Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. program) applicants.

Program basics

Students receive a stipend throughout the course of the program (see benefits listed below).

The program begins in the summer with a 10-week faculty mentored research experience at UC San Diego, which involves an immersive, full-time research program; this year's program runs from June 24th to August 30th. During this time, students are expected to contribute to the success of an ongoing research project.

Additionally, students complete a condensed GRE (Graduate Record Exam) preparatory course and attend workshops and seminars on research methods.

At the conclusion of the summer program, students present their findings at the annual UCSD Summer Research Conference.

During the second summer of the program, students participate in a research experience at another university.

Program eligibility

MARC fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to incoming transfer students and current UCSD students who meet all of the following requirements:

  • Cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Interest in the biosciences and scientific research, and in applying to a Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. program upon graduation
  • At least 90 units completed; incoming transfers students accepted into UCSD will automatically meet this requirement (freshmen and sophomores with less than 90 units completed are eligible for the Pre-MARC program rather than the MARC program.)
  • An anticipated graduation date of June 2016 (because this is a two-year program, students who will graduate in less than two years are not eligible to apply to MARC)
  • U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident

Underrepresented students, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.


  • The program is designed for students who are in their final two years of college. Students who anticipate a graduation date later than June 2016 are eligible for the Pre-MARC Program rather than the MARC Program.
  • The MARC Program is not intended for students who plan to pursue an M.D. degree only. See additional training opportunities for students who are interested in medical school
  • Contact us if you have any questions about your eligibility.

Program benefits

  • $988 / month stipend for 24 consecutive months
  • $5,317.75 / year for tuition and fees
  • $900 to be applied to student health insurance expenses
  • Up to $3,500 to support living and travel costs during a (required) second summer program at another university
  • Up to $1,000 to support travel costs to present relevant research at one or more conferences. MARC Fellows are required to attend at least one research conference per year.

Program responsibilities and expectations

There are a significant number of benefits to being in the MARC Program, as well as a number of responsibilities and expectations. By applying, you are indicating that you are familiar with the expectations below and agree to adhere to them if accepted into the program.

The MARC Program is a two-year commitment; students are appointed in June each year and are expected to remain in good standing for the remaining months.

In order to be in good standing, a student must (among other things):

  • Maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA
  • Attend weekly program meetings
  • Actively participate in research in a mentor’s lab
  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursing a Ph.D. in the biosciences (taking the GRE and engaging in professional development activities designed to enhance your chance of being admitted into a Ph.D. program are two of a number of indicators that you are committed to a graduate degree)

Summer programs

During their first summer in the MARC Program, Fellows participate in the 10-week UCSD Summer Research Program (SRP).

During the second summer in the program, MARC Fellows take part in a Summer Research Experience (SRE) at another institution (i.e., not UCSD). The SRE is typically 10 weeks long and requires a full-time commitment from each student.

MARC Fellows work with the Program Coordinator, the Program Director, and their mentors to find suitable placement for the SRE. Funding is available to offset the expenses associated with this unique opportunity.

Summer program activities are substantial, requiring a full-time commitment from each student. Students cannot work, take classes, participate in any other concurrent research program, receive funding from another source, or go on vacation.

Attendance at meetings, seminars and other program activities is mandatory.

Academic year

During the academic year, MARC Fellows are matched with a UCSD faculty member and are expected to participate in research-related activities in their mentors’ labs for approximately 8-10 hours per week.

Additionally, there are mandatory weekly MARC Program meetings, and Fellows are expected to participate in professional development and service activities throughout the year. Fellows may not receive credit (e.g., 199) or other compensation for the work they are doing in their mentor’s lab during the academic year.

Academic conferences

UCSD MARC Fellows are required to attend the SACNAS National Conference each year.

Students are also strongly encouraged to attend other research conferences during the course of the program, as well as to present their research at local or national venues.

Funding is available to offset the expenses associated with attending these conferences.

Apply to grad school

UC San Diego MARC Fellows are expected to apply to Ph.D. and/or combined M.D./Ph.D. programs in the biosciences during their senior year at UCSD.

If entering such a graduate program is no longer your goal at any point during your time in the MARC Program, you are required to contact the MARC Program Coordinator immediately to discuss your academic and professional plans and the possibility of withdrawing from the MARC Program. Failure to do so may have serious consequences, including the MARC Program and/or research mentor not providing letters of recommendation, as well as financial consequences.

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Dr. Kirsten Kung
(858) 822-3750
Student Center
Building B, 2nd Floor East (map)