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BISP 197: Biology Research Internship Program

The Biology Research Internship Program is a partnership between UC San Diego Biological Sciences, Academic Internship Program and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).  The program provides opportunities for students to gain academic credit for internships in approved labs at The Scripps Research Institute.


BISP 197: Biology Internship Program

  • Minimum 2.5 cumulative UC GPA.
  • Minimum of 90 units completed (including units successfully transferred to UC San Diego, i.e. AP, transfer).
  • Minimum one quarter commitment.

Faculty sponsor/instructor of record must have an active appointment with UC San Diego in an approved teaching title. The instructor of record is required to adhere to the Faculty Guidelines for Undergraduate Mentoring.

Complete application must be submitted by the stated deadline.  Application and subsequent enrollment are subject to approval of the Division of Biological Sciences.

Completion of mandatory safety training and any other training related to the research you are conducting, as determined by your faculty sponsor/instructor of record.

Course Information/Major Applicability

BISP 197: Biology Internship Program

  • Earn upper-division credit.
  • One quarter of BISP 197 (if taken for 4 units) may apply to biology major requirements as an elective or a biology laboratory (select majors). Please send a message to Biology via the Virtual Advising Center to determine if BISP 197 can apply toward your biology laboratory requirement.
  • Any additional quarters of special studies courses (196, 197, 198, 199) will result in upper-division university credit.
  • Academic credit can be earned a maximum of 3 times.
  • Variable unit course (2 or 4 units) graded on pass/no pass basis.

Criteria for Internship Opportunities

In addition to the Guidelines for AIP Internships, the Division of Biological Sciences expects that a student’s work in a research laboratory will meet the following criteria; the student must:

  • participate in the design of the project; must contribute to a coherent/self-contained project; must be intellectually engaged and have an intellectual foundation allowing him or her to make intellectual contributions (rather than just work as a technician).
  • learn concepts, methods and gain experience with finding, reading and applying primary literature to his or her research project.
  • acquire data analysis experience; at the end of the research experience  the students should be able to analyze and manipulate data in more than one way.
  • develop communication skills in presenting scientific work.
  • at the end of the research experience, students should be able to give a coherent presentation and/or write a report/paper.

Furthermore, the division expects the research internship mentor and UC San Diego faculty advisor to evaluate the overall quality of a student’s work and discusses the evaluation with the student. The overall evaluation should address:

  • effort
  • ability to communicate the research project (research question, experimental approach, data and data analysis)
  • overall  work

Safety Training

The industry faculty is responsible for ensuring students receive appropriate safety training. Student and faculty acknowledge they will discuss and complete the training within the allowable time.  Industry faculty agrees that appropriate safety training records are kept and may need to be provided upon request.

How to Apply

  • AIP, Biology specific, Orientations are mandatory for all students applying for an academic internship.  Orientations cover the application and enrollment process as well as course requirements.
  • Students must have a minimum of 90 units completed and a minimum 2.5 UC GPA to access InternLink.  Any exceptions require a manual override by AIP staff.
  • Students can register with AIP via InternLink, and indicate their intention to participate in the Biology Internship Program by selecting it from a list of AIP Special Programs.
  • Students may search for approved internships by selecting the Biology Internship Program from a drop-down list in the InternLink search functions.
  • Students upload their resume, cover letter and other required documents to InternLink, and apply via the system by clicking the “Apply” button or following instructions provided by the internship organization.
  • Internship organization contacts students directly for interview, and selects preferred candidate(s).
  • Throughout process, an AIP counselor is available to meet with students to assist with finding appropriate internships, resume/cover letter preparation and the application and interview process.  One AIP counselor is assigned to work with all Biology students to ensure continuity and create a constant point of contact for students, the Biology department, and the internship host sites.

Required Documentation

  • Learning Agreement: Students complete Learning Agreement form in InternLink, and obtain signature from Internship Supervisor, designated Biology Faculty Advisor, and AIP.

Learning Agreement includes:

  • Internship dates and hours
  • Description of internship activities
  • Supervisor and designated Biology Faculty Advisor contact information
  • Students must address the following:

    Proposed Research Project

    • What research question(s) will you attempt to address in your specific project?
    • What background knowledge is necessary (course work, literature reviews, etc.) before you begin your project?
    • How might your project contribute to the larger research goal(s) of the laboratory?

    Proposed Experimental Design

    • In broad terms, describe your research approach.  Describe methodologies, procedures, and tools/techniques you plan to use.
    • Describe any substantial collaboration with other individuals (e.g., graduate students, other undergraduates, lab staff, faculty).


    Analysis and Communication

    • How will the experimental data be analyzed?  What methods will be used?
    • How will the results of your project be communicated to lab members and to external audiences (if applicable)?


    • How many hours per week will you participate in independent research?  Four units of academic credit requires approximately 12 hours/week.
    • How will you be evaluated (i.e. earn a final grade) for your independent research?

  • Biology will enroll students in BISP 197 prior to, or at, the beginning of the quarter.  Approved students will be notified via the VAC and must verify their enrollment.
  • AIP will send final evaluation form to Internship Supervisors via InternLink
  • Students submit final program evaluations via InternLink

Student Participation Requirements

  1. Final Paper/Project/Presentation: A critical aspect of the BISP 197 experience is the requirement that students complete a final component  which may be in the form of a presentation or project or an academic research paper. If completing a paper, the paper must contain substantive academic content with a strong analytical focus.  The paper is written independently by the student under the supervision of the TSRI and UCSD faculty advisor.  
  2. Reflection Component: Students are expected to conduct a reflection assignment: Internship Progress Report via InternLink, a Final Self-Evaluation and Program Evaluation.
  3. Supervisor Evaluation: The internship supervisor will complete an evaluation of the student performance via InternLink.  Students are encouraged to ask the supervisor for his/her feedback during and prior to the end of the internship.  The supervisor evaluation:
    1. Verifies that the student completed the required internship hours
    2. Provides feedback on the student’s internship performance

Important Dates and Deadlines

Summer 2016

  • Deadline to secure internship, confirm faculty advisor, and submit signed Learning Agreement:  June 3, 2015
  • Internship dates: June 27-September 3, 2016
  • If approved, enrollment in BISP 197 (via department): July 8, 2016

Fall 2016

  • Deadline to secure internship, confirm faculty advisor, and submit signed Learning Agreement:  September 19, 2016
  • Internship dates: September 26 – December 2, 2016
  • If approved, enrollment in BISP 197 (via department): October 7, 2016

Winter 2017

  • Deadline to secure internship, confirm faculty advisor, and submit signed Learning Agreement:  December 2, 2016
  • Internship dates: January 9 – March 17, 2017
  • If approved, enrollment in BISP 197 (via department): January 20, 2017

Spring 2017

  • Deadline to secure internship, confirm faculty advisor, and submit signed Learning Agreement:  March 17, 2017
  • Internship dates: April 3 – June 9, 2017
  • If approved, enrollment in BISP 197 (via department): April 14, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm interested in applying to the Biology Research Internship Program, but my current major GPA is less than 2.5. Am I still eligible?

Unless your overall UC GPA is a 2.5+ at the time of application, you will not be eligible to participate in the Biology Research Internship Program.

If I finish the program and earn a passing grade in BISP 197, does that count toward my major requirements?

As a biology major, the BISP 197 will automatically count as an upper-division elective.  For select biology majors, one quarter of BISP 196, 197 or 199 may be used to satisfy one upper-division biology laboratory course.  Please send a VAC message to Biology to determine if BISP 197 can apply toward your biology laboratory requirement.  Note that only one quarter of BISP 196/197/199 may apply to biology major requirements.

I plan to study abroad during the time I want to participate in the internship. Can I still participate?

No, you would not be able to participate. In order to be eligible, you must physically be present and working in the lab at TSRI.

How many times can I enroll in BISP 197?

Students may apply and earn credit up to three times in BISP 197.
Questions? Contact Madhvi Acharya, Internship Counselor via email macharya@ucsd.edu or by phone at (858) 534-4355.

Questions about the Biology Research Internship Program? Contact Jillian Payne (Academic Internship Program) or Biological Sciences via the VAC.