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All You Need to Know About UC Santa Barbara's Research Mentorship Program

Every summer for the last twenty-six years, the University of California, Santa Barbara has provided high school students the opportunity to participate in active research under the mentorships of the UCSB faculty, postdoc students, and advanced graduate students through its Research Mentorship Program (RMP). This is a competitive, six-week summer program that brings high-achieving high school students from around the globe to learn about interdisciplinary, university-level research. RMP’s acceptance rate typically ranges from 4-6% and students who attend this program typically end up at Ivy League or other Top 20 colleges, so it is considered prestigious.

If you’re looking for hands-on research opportunities that go beyond the classroom, and earn some college credit and major respect from admission officers - keep reading!


  • Who: For students from all over the world who are in 10th and 11th grade. Advanced 9th graders, who are interested in academic research outside the classroom.

  • What: A six-week, competitive summer program that engages students in interdisciplinary, hands-on, university-level research

  • When: June 20 – August 4, 2023

  • Why: Conduct university-level research on a topic of your choice.

Why RMP?

RMP provides a unique opportunity for students to experience the process of developing original research in a wide variety of disciplines.

At the start of the program, mentors pitch their own research to RMP participants and let the students choose which project they want to work on. Students are then paired up with a mentor based on their selections. There are usually 1-2 students per mentor. Students will work closely with their mentors and become an integral part of their research team. Students will be required to work for approximately 30-40 hours per week and learn about research techniques, data collection and analysis, writing a technical research paper, and how to present findings professionally in a variety of academic settings.

This program's research topics currently include but are not limited to:

Astronomy • Anthropology • Art • Biochemistry • Biology • Chemistry • Chicano Studies • Computer Science • Ecology • Economics • Engineering • Environmental Policy • Feminist Studies • Film Studies • Geography • Geology • History • Mathematics • Media & Technology • Music • Neuroscience • Psychology • Sociology

In addition to gaining a deep relationship with your mentor, you will also learn about research techniques. The UCSB research mentorship program includes two courses (4 credits each):

  1. Presentation Techniques in Interdisciplinary University Research: This course focuses on oral presentation methods, poster presentation structure, and elevator pitch techniques. Library and fieldwork are also part of this experience.

  2. Introduction to Interdisciplinary University Research Techniques: This course aims to help students understand the components of writing a research paper. Students will learn about what goes into an abstract, introduction, research goals and methods, discussion, and results. This course also provides a hands-on guided research experience in laboratories and libraries for all disciplines.

You can expect to have significant mastery over academic writing, communication, and presentation. Significantly, you’ll have an original research paper to your name which may even get published in a journal.

Another important takeaway is developing a sense of discipline while conducting research such as balancing laboratory and fieldwork time. This is encouraged through field trips, special lectures, workshops, and weekly student discussions.

Who is this program for?

Highly motivated and talented 9th*, 10th, and 11th-grade students who want to challenge themselves with university-level research. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.8.

Let’s break down how ‘highly’ motivated RMP needs you to be - In 2021, the RMP student cohort had an average grade point average of 4.34 and had collectively taken 55 university courses and 238 Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Nonetheless, some students found the program challenging on several levels.

*Only outstanding 9th graders are considered and accepted on a case-by-case basis.

All in all, participating students will get a chance to join UCSB researchers as they carry out their cutting-edge investigations in the field, laboratory, and library settings.


  • Commuter Option - around $5,000

  • Residential Option - around $12,000


Important dates

  • Program Dates: June 20 – August 4, 2023 (Students must attend the program in its entirety, including the virtual component June 20 – 23, 2023)

  • Application Window: Applications for the 2023 program open on December 15, 2022, and close on March 15, 2023. Admissions occur on a rolling basis

Application requirements

To apply for the UCSB Research Mentorship Program, you can expect to submit a detailed online application that includes the following information:

  1. Transcripts: Upload high school transcripts that show your entire academic history. It must include the first trimester or semester grades for the 2022–2023 academic school year.

  2. Personal Statement: A maximum of 500-word essay discussing goals, values, and reasons for wanting to attend the program.

  3. Short Responses: Answer these short questions in 150 words or less for each response:

    1. Tell us about an idea or experience that made you absolutely excited about learning or sparked a period of personal growth.

    2. Describe the most significant setback you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How do you think this experience will impact your RMP journey?

    3. Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing during RMP.

  4. Writing Sample: Submit a piece of writing from the current academic year. A science report, history paper, or English paper of up to three pages may be submitted.

  5. One Recommender: Provide the name and email address of one academic recommender. They will be contacted for a recommendation as soon student's application is submitted.

  6. AP Exams: Upload a copy of your official AP results, if taken.

International Students: TOEFL/English language proficiency exam scores are NOT needed for International applicants.

Important links

One other option – Lumiere’s Research Program

If you’re looking for a selective, structured research program that exposes you to university-level research and allows you to publish your work, check out Lumiere’s Premium Publication Research. This is an online program for students founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers, where the program pairs you with a full-time researcher (PhDs from top institutions) to develop your own independent research project, and has a publication team on board to help you publish your research! You can find the application form here.

Are you looking for more programs and opportunities? Check out some of our other blogs on 15 Research Competitions for High School Students, writing competitions, and programs like The Concord Review: The Complete Guide To Getting In!

Dhvani (the-one-e) is a program manager at Lumiere, in addition to being an entrepreneur, dialogue facilitator, and boxer. She graduated from UC Davis where she studied design, psychology, and sustained dialogue. She has a passion for all things education, inclusion, and empowerment!



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