Why consider our program?


UCSD is a top research university. We create, innovate, inspire, and transform.


Participants take part in the STARS program as part of a larger summer research community and experience.

Grad prep

Receive free GRE training and graduate preparation to take your career to the next level.

UCSD faculty

Learn about the faculty that are committed to the program.


Check out our schedule, which follows the STARS program.


Participants are paid a stipend, and all of their travel expenses and lodging are fully covered.


Students must be enrolled at Xavier, have good standing, be a sophomore or junior, have ≥3.0 GPA, and wish to pursue graduate school.


Participants are part of the STARS program, check out these commonly asked questions.

We immerse students in scientific training and offer them a taste of life as a graduate student. Each summer for three years, we bring in six students from Xavier University of Louisiana to the University of California San Diego to participate in the Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS) program and partner them with UCSD faculty and graduate student mentors. Our program includes eight weeks of daily lab research, student development workshops, graduate record exam (GRE) training, teambuilding physical exercises, career workshops and social activities. At the end of the program, each student gives a presentation at the UCSD Summer Research Symposium.


If admitted to a Ph.D. program at any UC campus, UCSD Xavier participants will receive financial support coordinated between the UC Office of the President and the UC campus.

A critical goal of the Initiative is to have more HBCU alumni complete UC PhD programs. Thus, increasing awareness about and access to UC and its incredible research enterprise is important. To facilitate this goal, UC will waive the application fee for UC-HBCU Initiative alumni who apply to any of UC’s over 700 academic graduate programs at any or all of our 10 campuses. If admitted to a UC PhD program, they will receive competitive funding packages offering at least four years of funding (tuition and fees and stipend/salary support). Funding rates and number of years depend on the department norms of the relevant degree program; some department packages are for more than four years. The funding is cost-shared by the UC Office of the President and the relevant campus (with UCOP contributing up to 2 years of support). For funding eligibility students must apply within 5 years of completing their current HBCU degree. 

XULA student experiences

Selena Gray

Selena Gray

2017 participant

My experience at UCSD was wonderful! I am so happy I was able to attend this program because it not only exposed me to a wider range of research, but I also acquired a greater comfort with applying to graduate school. Everyone that I met throughout my 8 weeks was welcoming and helpful. I was able to network and learn about the various research fields that are being conducted at UCSD. I think this program is an amazing opportunity that has helped me expand my knowledge on what I initially thought graduate school was

LaMiah Hall

LaMiah Hall

2017 participant

My experience in the STARS Program at UCSD was amazing. I made many friendships and everyone I encountered was very nice and accepting. I was in Dr. Kim Cooper’s lab and it was like a big family. Everyone welcomed me into the lab immediately, therefore going to lab never seemed like work. You also have the freedom to explore the city and go on field trips. I had an amazing experience!

Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson

2017 participant

The STARS Program at UC San Diego provided the opportunity to participate in research at one of the top facilities in the country while also enjoying all that the beautiful coast of Southern California has to offer! The free GRE prep course, the workshops and panels for graduate applications, and researching in the lab supplied me with experiences that were vital to my decision to pursue graduate school. Through activities in the program, it was easy to learn how to reach out and network as well as find answers to every question I had about the graduate school application process. Researching fin whale behavior at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life!

Jessica Ray

Jessica Ray


My experience in the STARS program was incredible to say the least. I met life-long friends, got the opportunity to be apart of an incredible research team, and received a lot of guidance for the next steps of my career. The program funded a GRE class for us and our books for the graduate exam as well. The graduate team at UCSD were willing to help us with absolutely anything, and for that I am beyond grateful. During the program they even provided food and snacks for anybody that needed it due to financial restrictions. Though I was only in San Diego for 8 weeks I really felt like I was a part of a larger community. I would love to have the opportunity to attend any of the thirteen colleges in the University of California system.

Starr Villavasso

Starr Villavasso

2018 participant

I really enjoyed participating in the UCSD - STARS program over the summer. This program allowed me the opportunity to join a well-known and credited neuroscience research lab for 8 weeks. Within this time, I learned the skills needed to conduct and present a complete research project under a great group of mentors. Through this experience, I was able to solidify my decision to pursue a PH.D. in neuroscience. In addition to the wonderful research experience, I had a great time exploring San Diego and enjoying its wonderful weather! The STARS program planned many enjoyable events that were both fun and informative. The program provides free GRE prep, a graduate student advocate, graduate school information seminars, and fun activities! I would definitely recommend this program to all young scientists interested in conducting summer research with the intention of pursuing a career in science!

Tyra Ivory

Tyra Ivory

2018 Participant

The STARS Program at UCSD was truly amazing! The opportunity rewarded me with a new cutting-edge research experience, life-long friendships, and an enhanced knowledge about graduate school. In addition to the endless resources, the beautiful coast of Southern California afforded me the chance to overcome my fear of heights and go skydiving. Each day I felt myself elevating as a scholar and as a person.

Alexavier Reeves

Alexavier Reeves

2019 Participant

My time at the University of California San Diego was nothing short of spectacular. The experience was much more than research, it was a time where I was able to reflect and refocus. The campus is a space that promotes creativity, with the resources to bring dreams to life. The STARS program provided me the opportunity to grow not only as a student but as a person. Here, I was introduced to life-long friends and a strong networking foundation that could propel me into my field. It’s a great graduate school life simulation, which enhanced my confidence in my abilities to not only gain acceptance but to excel. The UCSD-STARS program is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am blessed to have be able to experience it.

What's new?

Amazing location

UCSD is in an amazing location, next to the beach and the culture and excitement of San Diego and Southern California. Give it a try!

Don’t forget the fun!

Our students put in a tremendous amount of hard work, but the progam and UCSD is also a fun place! Here is a photo-booth image from the program closing ceremony.

UCSD-HBCU programs

Did you know that there are multiple other UCSD-HBCU programs? As a part of STARS, you will participate with students from the UCSD Morehouse-Spelman Physics program and with students from the UCSD-Howard Partnership for Graduate Success.

UCSD Xavier Press Release

Professor James Nieh with Xavier students Lamiah Hall, Emily Wilson and Selena Gray The University of California-Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative (UC-HBCU) recently approved funding for an innovative UC San Diego program designed to Read more…

Contact us!

Professor Nieh is the Program Director. He can answer all questions about the program.

LaMiah is the student coordinator for the program and participated in 2017. She really knows how it all works and is happy to share her experiences. 

Professor Harris (XULA) can answer questions about the Xavier side of the partnership and is particularly interested in talking to interested Xavier students.
(504) 520-5011


University of California San Diego

UC-HBCU Initiative

Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS)  

How many students are accepted every year?

  • 6 students will be accepted each year.

How do I select a project to work on?

  • Please review the Research Project Descriptions on the STARS website to learn more about the faculty, departments, and projects you might be interested in. Our program is open to multiple STEM disciplines, but our primary focus is in the Biological Sciences.

Will I be guaranteed to work with the faculty member I select?  

  • If the project or faculty mentor you select is not available, you will be assigned to a faculty mentor in a similar area.

What are some of the benefits of participating?

Benefits include:

  • An 8-week mentored summer research experience at UC San Diego
  • Faculty mentored research
  • Waiver of the graduate application fee to a University of California campus.
  • If admitted to a Ph.D. program at any UC campus, UCSD Xavier participants will receive financial support coordinated between the UC Office of the President and the UC campus.

How does the application fee waiver work?

  • The application fee will be waived automatically once you submit your application.  The fee waiver will be associated with your record of participation in the UCSD Xavier Partnership for Graduate Success. 

Where is UC San Diego?

  • UC San Diego is located in Southern California in the city of La Jolla.

What graduate programs and degrees are offered?

Why is the HBCU-Initiative important?

  • The University of California recognizes the unique and important contributions that Historically Black Colleges and Universities make to the academy, our nation and the world. By recruiting students from HBCUs, the University of California will be strengthened, enriched, and better able to complete our mission of teaching, research and public service.

What is STARS and how does it relate to the UCSD Xavier program?

  • STARS is an 8-week summer research program administered by the Graduate Division at UC San Diego. Participants of the UCSD Xavier Partnership will attend many of the STARS activities as well as activities designed specifically for the UCSD Xavier program.

Where will I live?

  • All STARS students will live in housing facilities located on the UC San Diego campus.

What are the program dates?

  • Program dates change from year to year, but generally begins in late June/early July and ends in August.

Can my family visit me during the program?

  • Guests are permitted to visit if research and programmatic obligations are also being met.

General Questions