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BISP 197: Biology Research Internship Program

Special Studies research projects have returned to in-person instruction. However, if it is determined by the Division of Biological Sciences or campus that instruction must be fully remote, then all research projects are expected to be done remotely as well.

The Biology Research Internship Program is a partnership between UC San Diego Biological Sciences and the Academic Internship Program. The program provides opportunities for students to gain academic credit for research-based internships in approved labs at various institutes/organizations in the local area.


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

Complete Learning Agreement must be submitted by the stated deadline. The Learning Agreement and subsequent enrollment are subject to approval of the Academic Internship Program and the Division of Biological Sciences.

Safety Training

The internship site is responsible for ensuring students receive appropriate safety training and that appropriate records are maintained. Student and internship supervisor acknowledge they will discuss and complete the training within the allowable time.

Course Information/Major Applicability

  • Earn upper-division credit.
  • One quarter of BISP 197 (if taken for 4 units) may apply to biology major requirements as a biology laboratory (select majors). If not used to satisfy a lab requirement, one quarter of BISP 197 may satisfy major elective units.
  • 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.

How to Apply

  • Register with the Academic Internship Program (AIP) via InternLink.
    • Students must meet minimum eligibility criteria to access InternLink. If you are unable to login to InternLink, reach out to AIP at, or through the VAC
  • Upload your resume, cover letter, and other required documents via InternLink.
  • Search for approved internships using the keyword "BISP 197" and apply for positions.
  • If interested in your application, the internship organization will contact you directly for an interview.
  • If selected for an internship position, complete the Learning Agreement via InternLink. Please see Learning Agreement section below for more information.
Throughout the 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.

Learning Agreement

Once an internship has been secured, the student must complete the Learning Agreement via InternLink.

The Learning Agreement must include:

  • Internship dates (start and end dates must align with the dates of the term: Week 1 – Week 10)
  • Internship schedule and hours
  • Internship supervisor contact information
  • Faculty advisor contact information.
    • If you do not have a faculty advisor, the designated UC San Diego BISP 197 Faculty Advisor will be assigned, and you may leave this section blank.
  • Detailed description of internship project and responsibilities. Students must address the following:
    • What research question(s) will you address in your independent project? Include background information (existing knowledge) that you research question(s) build on.
    • How will you address these questions experimentally? Describe the methodologies, procedures, and tools/techniques you plan to use.
    • How will the experimental data be analyzed? Include any software or other tools to be used for data analysis not described above.
  • Means of Evaluation: Based on discussion with your internship supervisor, indicate and describe the nature of the final paper, report, presentation or project you will produce for evaluation at the end of the term.

Once the Learning Agreement is complete:

  • Submit the Learning Agreement to AIP via InternLink
  • AIP will review your Learning Agreement and, if no revisions are needed, will provisionally approve your application.
  • Upon AIP’s approval, your Internship Supervisor will receive an email requesting their electronic approval of the Learning Agreement.

EASy Request

Upon approval by AIP and your Internship Supervisor, you may begin your enrollment request via the Enrollment Authorization System (EASy). You will need:

  • Your proposed BISP paper/project topic.
  • A PDF of your approved Learning Agreement. (Check approval status in InternLink. Once approved by your Internship Supervisor, your Learning Agreement status should say "Approved," and the Employer Approval Date will be indicated toward the bottom of your Learning Agreement.)

Your request will be electronically routed to your Faculty Advisor, and the Biology department for approval.

Student Participation Requirements

  1. Final Assignment: A critical aspect of the BISP 197 experience is the requirement that students complete a final assignment. Assignment options include, but are not limited to a:
    • Presentation - examples include presenting at a lab meeting, presenting to an affiliate lab, presenting at a research conference
    • Project - examples include a completed lab notebook, a research poster
    • 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 internship supervisor.
  2. Internship Hours
    • All internships must last the entire duration of the 10-week term.
      • 4 units: 120 hours total (approximately 12 hours per week)
      • 2 units: 60 hours total (approximately 6 hours per week)
    • Student interns should track internship hours on a weekly basis using the “Track Hours” tool via InternLink. The internship supervisor verifies hours worked via the Supervisor Evaluation at the end of the internship.

      All missed hours must be made up before the end of finals week in consultation with the internship supervisor, including hours missed due to a late start date. Students experiencing difficulty fulfilling the required hours should contact their AIP counselor immediately for assistance.

      Note: Internships must take place in a supervised professional setting. Internships hours may not be completed virtually/from home.

  3. Reflection Component: Reflection is essential to the experiential learning process. Several reflection assignments are incorporated into this course.
    • Check-In Meeting with AIP Counselor (Week 5 or Week 6)
    • Reflection Assignment AND Informational Interview Assignment via InternLink (Due Friday, Week 7)
    • Self-Evaluation AND Program Evaluation via InternLink (Due Thursday, Week 10)
  4. Supervisor Evaluation: The internship supervisor will complete an evaluation of the student’s performance via InternLink. Students are encouraged to ask the supervisor for their feedback during and prior to the end of the internship. The supervisor evaluation:
    • Verifies that the student completed the required internship hours.
    • Provides feedback on the student's internship performance, including but not limited to, engagement, ability to communicate the research project (research question, experimental approach, data and data analysis), and effort.


Deadlines are strictly enforced and no late applications will be accepted.

Below are the deadlines to submit the application via EASy. The Learning Agreement must be approved and attached to the EASy application when submitting.

*Note - The Learning Agreement must be submitted to AIP at least one week in advance of the EASy deadline to allow time for review and approval. Questions regarding the Learning Agreement should be directed to the AIP office.

For participation in: Application Opens Application Closes/Deadline
Summer 2023 Monday, April 3, 2023 Friday, June 9, 2023 @ 4 p.m.
Fall 2023 Monday, April 3, 2023 Friday, September 8, 2023 @ 4 p.m.
Winter 2024 Thursday, September 28, 2023 Friday, December 8, 2023 @ 4 p.m.
Spring 2024 Monday, January 8, 2024 Friday, March 15, 2024 @ 4 p.m.
Summer 2024 Monday, April 1, 2024 Friday, June 7, 2024 @ 4 p.m.
Summer Session deadlines pertain to all Summer terms and a separate application is required for each Summer term for which credit is requested.

How to Enroll

If the Learning Agreement is approved:

  • AIP will forward the approved Learning Agreement with a credit verification letter to the internship site/lab.
    • Internships at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI):
      • TSRI Human Resources Department will contact you to schedule a check-in to complete on-boarding paperwork and issue you a TSRI badge and parking permit.

        *Please note, you may only start your internship in the TSRI Lab after completing the on-boarding process with TSRI's HR Department. International students will be required complete additional paperwork with TSRI's International Office once internship is secured.

  • The student will be automatically enrolled in BISP 197 during the first or second week of the quarter in which the research is to be conducted. In Summer terms, enrollment will occur prior to the Summer Session Fee Payment Deadlines. Applicants will be contacted via the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) if there are problems with the application and/or enrollment.

Enrollment Verification

If the student or another individual, organization, or institution requires enrollment verification, the following options are available:

  • If a lab requires the student provide proof of application approval, the student may print a copy of his/her approved application by visiting their application portal
  • If a lab requires the student to provide proof of enrollment, the following options are available:
    • Official - Request Enrollment Verification from the Registrar's Office.
    • Unofficial - Provide a print-out via TritonLink Courses & Waitlists screen, which lists the course, instructor, section ID, grading option, etc.


At the conclusion of the term, the UC San DIego Faculty Advisor, in consultation with the internship supervisor, is responsible for assigning a final grade (pass or no pass) via the University eGrades System.

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.

What are the criteria for an internship to be eligible for BISP 197 credit?

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.

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 designated lab.

How many times can I enroll in BISP 197?

Students may apply and earn credit up to three times in BISP 197.

Questions? Contact the Academic Internship Program (AIP) Office via email at or by sending them a VAC message.