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University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM)

 UC San Diego was designated a University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) through a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2015. UC San Diego is committed to being fully inclusive and supportive of all students and believes that a diverse graduate student body enhances the quality of the educational experience for all students.

The UCEM program provided financial and professional support to accelerate and catalyze the success of doctoral students  in the School of Physical Sciences and the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Questions about the UCEM program may be directed to

Sloan Scholars

Hear from some of our Sloan Scholars about what the fellowship has meant to them and how it has empowered them to succeed in graduate school. 

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Aims & Objectives

  • To recruit and admit underrepresented graduate students in physical sciences and engineering.
    • URM applications are 20% of domestic applications 
    • URM offers of admission are  20% of domestic offers in both divisions
    • New URM students are 20% of new domestic students 
  • Time-to-degree and completion rates are equal to non-URM domestic students within their departments.
  • 30% of our scholars entering an academic track within three years of receipt of their PhD.

Collaborative Structure

We leveraged existing resources such as the IDEA Center at the Jacobs School of Engineering for Sloan Scholar professional development. Examples of Grad Talk topics included:

  • Effective Teaching Strategies
  • Telling a Scientific Research Story
  • Academic Career Panels. 

The mission of the IDEA Center is to foster an inclusive and welcoming community, increase retention and graduation rates, and promote a sustainable culture of academic excellence among all engineering students at UC San Diego. 

The UC San Diego UCEM also collaborated with the Physical Sciences Student Success Center. The Center aims to support the success of physical science graduate and undergraduate students.

Goals of The Center include:  

  • Foster a supportive and inclusive academic environment for all students within the Division of Physical Sciences.
  • Cultivate relationships with industry professionals for the purposes of connecting students to experiential learning opportunities like internships and full-time employment.
  • Increase retention and graduation rates among our diverse physical sciences student population.
  • Develop future leaders who are civic-minded.

UCEM Successes

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  • 13 Scholars were NSF Awardees
  • 1 Scholar was a Ford Fellow


  • 28 Sloan Scholars have graduated with their PhD degree since 2020
  • Average Time to Degree 5.25 years
  • Retention Rate of Sloan Scholars is 80%










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UCEM provided Grad Talks, Sloan Scholars lunches, and individual meetings with coordinators to promote mentoring from faculty and peers.

Community Building

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Multiple Scholars spoke about the strong sense of community in the program, and the importance of being part of a diverse student group.

Sloan Funding

Scholars report that Sloan funding was critical to their persistence in the doctoral program. The Sloan Scholars Fellowship included a stipend over and above departmental support. In addition, Sloan Scholars received mentoring and professional development opportunities throughout their graduate program. 


Candidates for the fellowship were selected based on the responses to  short answer questions found under the Additional Educational Experiences section of the online application for admission.

Candidates were selected based on their potential to enhance diversity to the benefit of the entire campus community as evidenced by having overcome social, educational or economic backgrounds and/or demonstrating a commitment to diversity or increasing educational access for disadvantaged populations.

All qualified applicants were considered without regard to age, ancestry, citizenship, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status.


The Sloan Scholars Fellowship included a $40,000 award which was to be used over four-five years. In addition, Sloan Scholars received mentoring and professional development opportunities throughout their graduate program.