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Students: How to Apply

Group of students at FMP Symposium 2016

Undergraduate students, learn more about the Faculty Mentor Program and take the steps needed to apply.

Depending on the needs of individual faculty mentors and the standards of specific departments, FMP students may develop their own research interests, help a professor with his or her own research, or work in a laboratory on campus. Transfer students, international students, and freshmen/ sophmores who have completed 90 units are also welcome to apply!

Learn more about FMP:

Important dates:

Register during fall quarter to participate in FMP, a 2-quarter program that runs during winter and spring.

  • 2019–20 applications: The application is due by midnight on January 31, 2020.
  • See the FMP timeline and calendar for information sessions and other important dates and deadlines

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1. Make sure you are eligible, then fill out the online FMP application.

Eligibility for the FMP program is contingent on the following requirements. You must:

  • Be registered as a UC San Diego student for winter and spring (international and visiting students are fine, so long as you are here both quarters)
  • Have at least a 2.7 GPA by the beginning of winter quarter
  • Have at least 90 units by the beginning of winter quarter (typically junior standing)
  • Be able to commit to 10 hours a week for 2 quarters


2. Start looking for a mentor.

Start with the list of available mentors, which will be provided to you after your application is accepted.

When you write a cover letter to your preferred mentor, the professor will be most interested in why you want to work with him/her. It is true that some will just look at your GPA (do not lie about your GPA — they will check), but most people want someone passionate about their research. So, read a few papers, look through the faculty member's information on their department page, read their web page, etc.

Other things to keep in mind when requesting a mentor:

  • Make sure to provide up-to-date contact information
  • Double-check your spelling and grammar; always use correct, standard English in your emails
  • Refer to the professor as “Professor” or “Dr.” and then their last name
  • Keep it short and direct, but include all necessary information

Apply to just one position at a time. Then wait a week, and if you hear nothing, then you can apply to work with someone else. If you really want to work with a particular professor, you may write an email explaining that you’re following up on your previous email, and wanted to know if you should start applying to other positions.

If you can’t find anyone on the FMP list, you can contact a professor on your own. About half of the FMP students usually find their mentors on their own. Any UC San Diego professor, including those in the School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy, and the Rady School can supervise a 199. A few affiliates, such as the Preuss School, VA hospital, and Sanford Burnham Research Institute have some researchers who have teaching privileges at UCSD, but not everyone at these institutions will, so be sure to check. The professor does not need to be tenured or tenure-track. Lecturers who are under contract (who have what is called “security of employment” (SOE) or senior lecturers) might also be able to be your mentor, but you will need to check with their department. Graduate students and industry partners cannot serve as a mentor. See the sample email shown in our Guide to Getting Started with the FMP (PDF) to use as a model.

If you still have trouble finding someone, there are a few things you can do. 

  • If you’re getting no response, look up the professor’s office hours, and offer to come by at a specific day and time.
  • Try contacting the department’s undergraduate representative/ adviser. They usually know who takes undergraduate assistants.
  • Try the Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) Portal: It has listings for all of the departments.
  • Finally, you can always contact the FMP Coordinator who will help you look to see who has mentored undergraduates in the past.

The faculty member will most likely want to interview you before deciding on the mentorship. In the interview, be sure to clarify your hours, duties, and the professor’s expectations. Ask how much independence you will have and what you will be expected to produce (a paper, report, etc.) beyond just FMP’s requirements. If you do not think you can fulfill the expectations, you can say “no.” Remember that you are making a big commitment and the professor is counting on you. Once you agree to work in the lab or engage in the project, you are committed.

If you get more than one offer, please remember that you can only choose one. Be sure to respond to both professors.

3. Once you have a mentor, fill out the paperwork.

  1. First, fill out the student/faculty contract form.
  2. Then sign up for a 199:

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