FAQ

1. What are the program benefits?
2. How do I know if I qualify?
3. What if my GPA is below a 3.0?
4. I’m new at USC, or I don’t know any professors — can I use a letter of recommendation from a community college professor, graduate teaching assistant, or academic advisor?
5. Does the Research Gateway program choose the research topic?
6. What if I’m planning on graduating in the spring and am already in the process of applying to graduate school?
7. I’m a senior. Is it too late to become a Research Gateway Scholar?
8. I’m a sophomore. Can I still become a Research Gateway Scholar?
9. What if I’m interested in a professional degree (JD, MD, MBA, etc.) and I still want to participate?
10. Can I do research outside of Los Angeles?
11. What is the Research Gateway schedule once I’m accepted?
12. How will the Summer Research Institute relate to my other summer obligations (e.g., summer classes, summer job, family responsibilities, etc.)?
13. Will participating in the program cost me anything?

1. What are the Program Benefits?

  • Research Experience
  • Graduate School Preparation
  • Faculty Mentorship
  • Receive Mentoring from a Ph.D. Student
  • $2800 Summer Research Stipend
  • GRE Prep Course
  • Publication Opportunity in USC Undergraduate Journal administered by the program
  • Professional Development
  • Fall Semester Group Travel Visit
  • Individualized, Comprehensive Advising: academic, career, personal
  • Workshops
  • Summer Housing
  • The Research Gateway Scholar Gear!
    • Polo
    • Tee-shirt
    • Backpack
  • Presentation Experience and Professional Development
  • Assistance in securing admission and financial aid for enrollment in graduate school programs

2. How do I know if I qualify?

Who can apply? What’s the program eligibility?

  • USC undergraduates enrolled full-time with sophomore, junior, or senior status (only seniors that will Not be graduating Spring/Summer 2018 are eligible)
  • Cumulative USC GPA of at least 3.0
  • All USC undergraduate majors are eligible
  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident status
  • Strong desire to pursue graduate-level studies, especially at the Ph.D.-level
  • Strong desire to learn about how to conduct formal research and to engage in a real-world research project
  • Participate during the Spring 2018 Semester in a Research Methods Course/Graduate School Preparation Seminar (Tuesdays, 12:30 – 1:50 p.m.)
  • Participate during Summer 2018 in an Institute with a focus on Research Training, Graduate School Preparation, & Professional Development (only three days per week from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
  • AND must meet one of the following criteria: (1) First-generation College Student (2) From a Low-income background (using federal income guidelines) (3) From an Underrepresented background in higher education
    • Please note that all students are eligible so along as they meet one of the aforementioned criteria.

First generation college is defined by the federal government as a student who has not resided with or received primary support from a parent who has received a BA degree or equivalent.

Low-income guidelines are established by the federal government. Please refer to http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/trio/incomelevels.html to determine if you meet this criteria.

The US Department of Education considers the following students underrepresented in higher education: Black/African American, Chicano(a)/Mexican American, Latino(a)/ Hispanic American, Native American, Native Alaskan, and Asian Pacific Islander.

3. What if my GPA is below a 3.0?

Graduate admission committees generally look for doctoral applicants to have minimum GPA of 3.00. Only grades earned at USC will qualify applicants for Research Gateway. Admission to the Research Gateway Scholars Program is competitive, but applicants are encouraged to contact the program staff to discuss special circumstances. Research Gateway Scholars must have a satisfactory GPA by the end of the Spring semester. If you are working on correcting a grade, or feel that your GPA will be above a 3.0 by the end of the Spring semester, you should apply for the Research Gateway Scholars Program and explain any special circumstances in a letter accompanying your application.

4. I’m new at USC, or I don’t know any professors — can I use a letter of recommendation from a community college professor, graduate teaching assistant, or academic advisor?

No. Letters of recommendation must come from a USC faculty member (tenure track, lecturer, adjunct professor). Research Gateway aims to equip the students it serves with the academic and professional skills needed to succeed as aspiring doctoral students. USC faculty are an important facet of the Research Gateway program and may serve as research mentors. Obtaining a letter of recommendation may be the first important step in establishing a mentoring relationship. Applicants are encouraged to review important materials available on obtaining a letter of recommendation(PDF). and consulting with the Research Gateway staff prior to approaching a potential faculty recommender.

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5. Does the Research Gateway Program choose the research topic?

No. Applicants to Research Gateway select their own research question and author a research proposal on their own. The Research Gateway Scholars Program is open to USC students in all majors and all academic disciplines. During the spring semester, AMST 392: Undergraduate Research Methods course, we will assist all Scholars through a series of workshops and classes that focus on drafting the research(PDF) proposal and selecting a faculty mentor to assist you in the research process.

6. What if I’m planning on graduating in the spring and am already in the process of applying to graduate school?

The Research Gateway Schools Program seeks to assist students with their graduate school preparation and would not be beneficial to graduating students in the spring of the current academic year. Research Gateway is a two-year program with the core component administered in the summer (the annual Summer Research Institute).

7. I’m a senior. Is it too late to become a Research Gateway Scholar?

No it is not too late! You can apply as long as you have the fall semester remaining in the next academic school year (the Fall semester following the annual Summer Research Institute). In other words, you will be finishing your studies in Fall 2018 or beyond. Scholars must be full-time students during the Spring and Summer 2018 to be eligible to apply.

8. I’m a sophomore. Can I still become a Research Gateway Scholar?

Yes! We highly encourage sophomores to apply as long as you will have completed 60 units (transfer or earned at USC) by the end of the Spring semester.

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9. What if I’m interested in a professional degree (JD, MD, MBA, etc.) and I still want to participate?

The aim of the Research Gateway Scholars Program is to diversify the faculty in U.S. institutions of higher education by reducing the barriers to the Ph.D. for underrepresented individuals in graduate education. Research Gateway recognizes that first-generation/low-income undergraduate students and undergraduates students of color have a number of career possibilities to consider outside of academia. However, individuals who demonstrate interest, motivation for doctoral study and the academic profession are likely to find the program satisfies their short and longer-term goals.

10. Can I do research outside of Los Angeles?

Maybe. Students who wish to conduct research away from Los Angeles must explain in their proposals why it is essential to travel for their research project and have it endorsed by a USC faculty mentor. We will review the possibility of travel on a case by case basis. Research Gateway Scholars are encouraged to remain in Los Angeles since a critical component of the summer research will be the Research Gateway Summer Research Institute and regular meetings with graduate students and other Research Gateway Scholars in the same discipline. Attendance and Participation in the Summer Research Institute is mandatory. Funds for travel are not provided by the Research Gateway Scholars Program.

11. What is the Research Gateway schedule once I’m accepted?

See the program structure.

12. How will the Summer Research Institute relate to my other summer obligations (e.g., summer classes, summer job, family responsibilities, etc.)?

The Summer Research Institute in an intensive, time-consuming program that requires dedication and a full-time commitment. Scholars are paid a summer stipend and provided on campus housing to offset the opportunity and financial costs associated with full time study. Research Gateway Scholars may not take summer classes. In order to give summer research the attention it needs, scholars are not advised to work at all (and definitely not more than 12 hours per week) during the summer research weeks. However, limited summer employment is allowed following consent from the USC Research Gateway Scholars Program staff. Research Gateway works closely with the USC Financial Aid Office to ensure participation in Research Gateway does not adversely affect student financial aid packages.
**Individual circumstances vary; all applicants and Research Gateway Scholars are strongly encouraged to consult with the program staff to discuss personal circumstances.

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13. Will participating in the Program cost me anything?

No, just some time and dedication! We will cover the costs of any Research Gateway required materials, you will not pay tuition dollars for Research Gateway seminars or courses, and we will even cover reasonable research costs during your summer project.  We are here to make academic life more enriching for you, not more expensive.

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