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Competitive Edge Fellowship Program

The Graduate Division offers the Competitive EDGE summer research program as a transition program for selected incoming graduate students. The program is designed to give selected graduate students an opportunity to begin research in their UC San Diego academic department the summer prior to the start of their graduate program. The program is motivated by the campus's commitment to be fully inclusive and supportive of all students, and by the belief that a diverse graduate student body enhances the quality of the educational experience for all students.


  • Applicants for the fellowship must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or AB 540-qualified applicants only.
  • Only new incoming students are eligible.
  • Each applicant must respond to the Fellowship questions within the online application; the questions pertain to personal background and contributions to diversity. Responses to these questions will help the admissions committee assess your accomplishments to date as they relate to the Competitive Fellowship selection criteria.
  • Must be recommended for admission to a program leading to a Ph.D. at UC San Diego.
  • Have demonstrated high academic aptitude and achievement.
  • Have an interest in beginning research in the summer to the start of the academic program, fall quarter.
  • Be available to participate in the eight week summer program prior to the start of the fall quarter. Typically the program begins at the end of June and ends in the first week of August.

Fellowship Questions

  • What significant and unusual educational, social, cultural, economic, or other barriers have you overcome in pursuit of your education? Describe, in sufficient detail, the challenge as well as any unique insights, perspectives or skills you gained while overcoming this challenge. Describe how overcoming the aforementioned challenge will enable you to contribute to the campus community in a unique and positive manner that enhances campus diversity.
  • How have you demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the past, and how would you work to increase campus or departmental diversity at UCSD? Describe personal experiences, contributions, commitments, and impacts that demonstrate your commitment to improving educational access or quality of life for diverse groups.


To be considered for the Competitive Edge program, applicants must respond to the two fellowship questions contained in the online application. Departments will nominate incoming graduate students based on their responses to these two questions. Competitive Edge Fellowships will be awarded based on applicants' eligibility:

  • having overcome social, educational or economic barriers and/or demonstrating a commitment to diversity or increasing educational access for underrepresented students
  • merit (based on academic preparation and potential)
  • availability to participate in the eight week research experience prior to the start of fall quarter. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

Award information

The award consists of the following:

  • Eight week research experience in the summer before the start of fall quarter.
  • $3000.00 stipend during the program.  The stipend is paid by the Graduate Division and the department to which the student is admitted.
  • Weekly readiness workshops during the eight week program.
  • Guaranteed spot in graduate student housing through normative time to degree plus one year.

Program Content

In addition to the research experience, participants are required to attend workshops to acclimate them to the university environment. Workshop facilitators are members of the UC San Diego community and serve as faculty, staff or continuing graduate students in various academic fields. In addition to the workshops, participants are expected to attend an orientation and a luncheon at the conclusion of the program Sample workshop topics include:

  • Ethics in Research
  • Public Speaking for Graduate Students
  • Transitioning into Graduate School
  • Career Paths for Graduate Students
  • Funding and Fellowships

Summer Faculty Mentorship

Each Competitive Edge student is expected to work with a summer faculty mentor from their respective departments. The faculty mentor will provide guidance on a research project, new or existing. The project does not have to be completed during the 8-week program, which allows the scope of the project to span the entirety of the summer quarter, through the Fall quarter, or beyond. At minimum, meetings between Competitive Edge Fellows and their respective mentors should occur every other week. Ultimately, this depends on the nature of the project, the amount of oversight each student requires, and the level of mentorship the faculty member is able to provide. In addition to research, the faculty mentor can provided an introduction and guidance to the department, as well as any tips on how to make the most of the summer, first quarter, and first year of their graduate experience.

Contact Us

Please direct questions to:

Mayra Estrada