Faculty Mentoring

All students are required to meet with a faculty mentor.

Faculty mentors can provide mentoring, recommend courses for your major, help you refine your education goals, advise you on graduate school possibilities and research opportunities.

Prepare for your faculty advising meeting.

Be sure to bring a copy of your academic plan and transcript to the meeting.

If you have passed physics 5A,B,C with 2.7 GPA and you are meeting your faculty mentor to declare your major, please make an appointment to meet your mentor here.

Questions you might ask your faculty mentor.


What is the applied physics major, and when might I want to major in that instead of physics?

Which of the majors is right for me if I want to go to industry? Teaching? Research?

If there is a second major that really interests me, should I double major, or would it make more sense to leave time for undergraduate research and take a minor? Or even just pick a couple of classes from the other program that give me specific knowledge or skills I want?


Mostly, the undergraduate adviser will help you set up your schedule and deal with changes later on, but sometimes you might have questions better handled by a faculty member, like whether you can and should substitute one course for another, take a graduate course as an elective, etc. After your mentor has discussed this with you, if there is an exception to the catalog required, it will go to the chair for approval. For questions about study abroad, contact the physics advisor and if necessary they will refer you to a faculty member who specializes in articulating courses -- but of course you can discuss this with your mentor as well.

If you are having trouble in classes, or would just like to do better, your mentor can go over with you how you study and prepare for classes, and then offer some customized suggestions. Don't be afraid to discuss this, we are here to help, not judge!


How do I approach faculty to get involved with their research projects?

When can I get paid for research, and when can I get units of credit?

How much time should I leave aside when starting a research program?

I'm interested in <MY TOPIC>, who would be the best faculty to talk to?

How do I find summer research opportunities off campus, particularly in <MY TOPIC>?


When should I start thinking about my senior thesis? (hint: ask well before your last year!)

How do I choose a topic?

How do I approach a faculty member to supervise my senior thesis?

How much time should I expect to leave to work on my senior thesis, and how long does it take?

What kind of careers do physics (astrophysics, applied physics, science education) majors go into?

Do you know any faculty members who have connections to a particular industry that I can talk to?

How do I choose my courses to prepare myself for a particular career?

How and when do I approach employers to see what kind of preparation they want, and what kind of jobs they have for physics majors?

What is the difference between the kind of jobs you get with a bachelor's in physics compared to what you get if you add a 2-year master's degree in engineering, computer science, or applied physics?

How many years does it take to get the PhD and postdoctoral work that are required for a faculty position or research scientist position?

What are the chances of landing such a position, and what careers do PhDs pursue who do not choose to become faculty/researchers or who do not end up getting the position they wanted?

Whom should I ask for references / letters of recommendation?

Can you look over my résumé / curriculum vitae / grad school application for me?


Can you tell me about the cool research you do?

What's the deal behind that big discovery I read about online last week?

I have a problem with another faculty member / student / etc., or another problem that impacts my time here at UCSC. Where on campus should I go for help?


To learn more about the physics faculty, click here.