Transfer Research Timeline

There are many great reasons to engage in research, and you do not need to have previous experience in research to do so! The Transfer Research Timeline outlines a basic plan of action for transfers who are interested in getting involved in research while they are at UCLA. 

If you are considering graduate school and would like to graduate in two years, it is best to start exploring your research options during your first couple of quarters at UCLA. You can adjust this timeline accordingly if you are planning to stay three years rather than two, and/or if you are planning to do research in more than one field. 

Research is going to look different in every major and in every lab. If you are unsure what research is, why to get involved in research, and/or how to get started in research be sure to visit the Undergraduate Research Centers, attend workshops and browse the online resources available through Powell Library, and explore other opportunities here and here.

Summer (before your first quarter) and Fall Quarter

Determine what your research interests might be

  • Most transfers have not done research before they transfer to UCLA, so it is important to familiarize yourself with what research is and why it might be important to get involved in it.
    • Check out the Undergraduate Research Centers websites, the online resources available through Powell Library, and explore other opportunities and information here.
    • There are many reasons to explore research opportunities at UCLA. Research can help to make your academic experience more meaningful, provide one-on-one mentorship, give you a resources for stellar personal letters of recommendation, provide exposure, experience, and skills for the workforce, and is a great addition to resumes, CVs, and grad school applications.
  • Brainstorm topics or areas of research that you may find interesting.
    • Make a list of topics you've found interesting in your coursework.
    • Think about issues or questions that interest you in your spare time.
    • Read academic journal articles in your major or an area of interest.
    • Look at the faculty profiles on UCLA departmental websites to learn more about faculty research projects.

Talk to your advisor to create a realistic plan of action

  • Be sure to talk to your departmental advisor and lay out a realistic plan of action. Create a timeline of your own, taking into account other activities that you would like to be involved in while at UCLA such as Travel Abroad, job opportunities, etc.
  • After speaking with a counselor you may find that you are on a three-year plan to graduate, this is not unusual especially for STEM majors. In this case, you can delay your start in campus research if you do not want to dive in during your first few quarters.
  • Do keep in mind, however, that generally at least two years of research experiences is considered proper preparation for graduate programs.

Contact the Undergraduate Research Centers

  • If you decide that you want to get involved in research contact the Undergraduate Research Centers and have a representative there review your situation, they will provide you with information regarding funding, support programs, how to contact labs for placement, and what the interview process might be like.

Talk to and ask professors, TAs, and other students

  • It is also smart to talk to your professors, TAs, and other students because more often than not opportunity may happen through word of mouth.
  • If there is a professor who is doing work you are interested in go speak with them. Ask for an informational meeting, express your interest in their research, you never know what might happen! The worst that could happen is that they are too busy to meet. More often than not, however, professors are over the moon to meet with curious and interested students. So do not be afraid to search out opportunity.

Contact the STEM transfer community

  • If you are interested in meeting other transfers interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research, a good place to start is by contacting the STEM Transfer Community.

Look into funding and scholarship opportunities

  • There are a ton of funding and scholarship opportunities for research (yep, you heard that right, you can get paid to do research as an undergrad! Funding for humanities/arts/social sciences, funding for STEM). Many of the programs are two year programs so if you are interested in graduating in two years it would be best to explore this options during your first quarter, there may be important deadlines that occur during your first of second quarters.

If you are on the two year plan or want to dive in right away…

  • Start reviewing UCLA faculty labs and making a list of labs whose work is of interest to you. Come up with ten to fifteen labs. This is necessary to increase your odds for lab placement because not all labs will need new researchers at the time you begin your search.
  • The process of being accepted into a lab (after email inquiries, setting up interviews and final selection) can take anywhere from two weeks to a month. Get this done as soon as possible so you can start in lab during your winter or spring quarters.
  • Apply to programs and grants that help students get started in research (STEM, Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences).

Winter Quarter

Pursue a research position

  • If you have not started researching your options yet please refer to the suggestions listed in the Summer/Fall Quarter section above. Do not worry if you have not already explored these options. You have time, however if you are interested in graduating in two years and/or applying to graduate school after graduating with your bachelor’s degree now is the time to pursue a research position.
  • Visit the Undergraduate Research Centers, attend workshops and browse the online resources available through Powell Library, and explore other opportunities here and here.
  • Contact the STEM Transfer Community if you are interested in meeting other transfers interested in STEM research.
  • Brainstorm topics or areas of research that you may find interesting and find professors who are doing this research.
    • Read academic journal articles in your major or an area of interest.
    • Look at the faculty profiles on UCLA departmental websites to learn more about faculty research projects.
  • It is also smart to talk to your professors, TAs, and other students because more often than not opportunity may happen through word of mouth.
    • If there is a professor who is doing work you are interested in go speak with them. Ask for an informational meeting, express your interest in their research, you never know what might happen! The worst that could happen is that they are too busy to meet. More often than not, however, professors are over the moon to meet with curious and interested students. So do not be afraid to search out opportunity.
  • If you have already applied for a position, you may start working in a lab this quarter.

Look into earning academic credit

  • You can earn academic credit for your research by enrolling in Student Research Programs (SRP) (STEM and Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences) course. There are two options SRP 99 and SRP 199, see an Undergraduate Research Center Advisor or a departmental advisor to find out which is the best fit for you.
  • Other upper division contract courses also offer both research opportunity and class credit. These are generally course numbered in the 190’s and they are contract courses so must be arranged with a faculty advisor before Friday of week 2 (see ‘Enrollment in Contract Courses’ on the Registrar’s Office Website).

Apply to programs and grants

Spring Quarter

Continue to pursue research opportunities

  • Continue to pursue research opportunities through a current lab you are working in, through a contract course with a professor, or through applying to new labs.
  • See ‘Enrollment in Contract Courses’ on the Registrar’s Office Website

Apply for scholarships

  • Some advanced student research programs award scholarships (e.g. MARC, UC LEADS). Apply for them!

Finalize your summer plans

  • What are you doing to do during the summer? Research opportunities, summer school, summer research/internships? Some ideas can be found here and here.

Consider extending your time at UCLA

  • If you are interested in doing research (or interested in applying to graduate schools that weigh research experience highly) and you have not gotten involved in research yet, consider either staying at UCLA for a third year or extending your time a quarter or two and taking a year off between graduation and applying to graduate school. Most competitive graduate programs like to see two years or so of research experiences. It may be worth taking the extra time to get some hands on experience.

General Transfer Tips on Research

Participate in student research experiences

  • Participate in student research experiences like summer research opportunities, volunteer work, etc. A good letter of recommendation from one of these sources will make you a strong candidate for university research positions and graduate schools.

If you are thinking about starting lab on your first quarter…

  • Most transfer students would be discouraged from starting lab in first term at UCLA since time is needed to get used to the new environment, the fast-moving ten-week quarter system, and the UCLA academic load.
  • The exception to this group would be someone who has research experience and/or has a high transfer GPA (3.5 and higher).

Maintain a high GPA

  • In order to stay competitive, especially in science and math courses, try to maintain a high GPA (minimally 3.0).

Try to get two years of research experience

  • Generally, at least two years of research experience is considered proper preparation for graduate programs.

Utilize the resources available at UCLA