Students at tide pool

MCS Undergrad Research

UC Davis has many opportunities for undergraduates to participate in high-quality, hands-on research – and the marine sciences are no exception.

MCS Research or Internship Major Requirement
The Marine and Coastal Science major requires three units of Research or Internship. Your Research project or Internship must be:

  • Upper Division: Done after you have completed 90 units.
  • Marine-related: This is defined broadly as anything affecting the marine or coastal environments.
  • Educational: There must be learning happening during your research or internship experience.

The major requires 3 units by the time you graduate, which is equivalent to 90 total hours.

It is UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences Department policy that paid research, senior thesis, or internship positions can also give unit credit.

How to find Research or Internship positions
Students wanting to know basic information about undergraduate research at UC Davis are encouraged to visit the Undergraduate Research Center. They provide information to get you started, funding, opportunities for publishing, and the annual undergraduate research conference.

Marine and Coastal Science advisors and faculty advisors are one of your best resources for finding research opportunities. Faculty advisors can provide excellent guidance, and are a great place to start networking in order to find research positions.

The best way to find a research opportunity is to ask faculty who you are most interested in working with. Learn a little about what they do online, then ask if they have opportunities for undergraduates to join their lab or project. A full list of faculty working in the marine sciences can be found at the Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute faculty page.

For internships, visit the MCS Internships and Careers page.

Advice: Start looking for research positions early; don’t wait until the start of your Senior year to search for opportunities.

After you have found Research or an Internship
To request unit credit:

  • Find a faculty sponsor. This will most likely be the Principal Investigator, or faculty member in charge, for your lab. For an off-campus research project or internship, you can ask an MCS Faculty Advisor to be your sponsor.
  • Identify this faculty member’s home department. This is the course code you will sign up under (for example: WFC 199 for someone in the WFC department).
  • Work with that department’s academic advisor to sign up for the 199 units for that quarter. They may need to see permission from the faculty sponsor, such as an email you can forward.
  • Register for the course. Each 3 hours of work per week is equivalent to 1 unit. Schedule Builder defaults 199s to 1 unit, so you will need to change this manually by the fifth week of the quarter if applicable.

You may decide not to register for a course, for example, if you are participating in research as part of a summer experience or study abroad program. In this case, have your project supervisor email the MCS major advisor with verification that you have completed a research project or internship. Be sure to include whether the project was marine-related, educational in nature, and list how many hours you completed.