The Program

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for MURALS, you must be a Junior or Senior, with a GPA of 3.0, 90 units and be eligible for need-based financial aid, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • be a need-based financial aid recipient AND
  • be a first generation college student (neither parent achieving a BA or BS);
  • be a reentry student; or
  • be a previous participant in a "pre-college" outreach program (e.g., MESA, Upward Bound, EAOP, etc.)

How the Program Works

MURALS helps students identify a list of potential faculty to work with and the skills helpful when approaching faculty about research opportunities in order to conduct research in an area of interest.  Interested faculty are also encouraged to refer promising students to the program.

The research component of the mentorship varies according to the discipline and the instructor. MURALS students have visited archives, conducted oral interviews, engaged in field research, and gained computer and laboratory skills.

The mentorship may take two forms:

  • A collaborative project with the faculty member, as part of the professor's own research or
  • An independent student project developed in consultation with the faculty mentor.

Program Expectations

Students are expected to make a one-year commitment to the MURALS Program. Students are expected to enroll in a fall seminar and attend group meetings, in winter and spring quarters. They will present their own research in the spring quarter of the quarter.  Students are also expected to meet with faculty mentors for ½ hour a week (outside of student advising hours) to discuss the progress of their research projects.

Upon completing the MURALS Program, students must write an exit paper, including an abstract of their research project, the findings, outcomes and conclusions, as well as a statement explaining how participation in the MURALS Program was beneficial to their research experience and their future educational goals.

Program Benefits

Students have an opportunity to complete an independent research experience under the ongoing supervision of a faculty member. This experience becomes an asset when the time comes for the graduate school application process in that students not only gain research experience to draw upon, but the faculty mentor may provide a letter of recommendation. Additionally, students gain experience in giving research talks and in developing a writing sample for the application packet.

Students in the program receive academic credit and a $500 award for each quarter. Faculty mentors receive a $300 stipend, which is added to their research account for each quarter of participation. Travel funds are also available to MURALS students, as long as they present their research projects at the conferences they plan to attend. These funds are determined on a case by case basis. Students and faculty mentors attend an Annual Spring Banquet honoring their research accomplishments.

MURALS students also have access to related OEOES services, including the Pre-Graduate/Law School Advising Workshops offered each year and access to the Pre-Graduate and Pre-Law School Advising listservs. Finally, through participation in the MURALS Program, students ultimately are able to make an informed decision regarding future educational plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need a mentor before applying to the MURALS program?
  • While it helps to have already secured a mentor or to have a short list of potential mentors, it is not necessary to have one at the time of application.  However, be aware that regardless of whether you are accepted to begin MURALS in the fall or winter quarters, the MURALS Coordinator expects you to hit the ground running once you begin the program. Once the quarter begins you will be busy with your MURALS research, coursework, and many other obligations.  The LAST thing you want to be doing is trying to find a mentor.  For these reasons, you absolutely must have a faculty mentor prior to the start of your first quarter in the MURALS program. Please remember that professors are busy as well and may be less inclined to mentor you if they feel like you procrastinated.  Professors want to work with students who are going to take their research seriously so you don’t want to give them any reason to think you are not fully committed to your research. Finally, waiting until the last minute to find a mentor leaves you vulnerable to making a decision you wouldn’t otherwise have made had you taken the time to approach and interview faculty members. Again, your success in the MURALS program is a reflection of the kind of relationship you have with your mentor.
  • Why doesn’t the MURALS program select a mentor for me?
  • Please remember the goal of the MURALS program.  The MURALS program affords the opportunity for highly qualified juniors and seniors to obtain invaluable research experience under the guidance of a mentor professor.  In addition, the MURALS program gives the participants a taste of the graduate school experience and what it will demand from them before they take the plunge and make a commitment to graduate education. For most students entering a Master’s Degree program, and for all students entering Ph.D. programs, you will work very closely with a faculty member who will guide you through your thesis and/or dissertation project.  Writing a thesis or dissertation is a process that demands a strong working relationship with your mentor.  Once in graduate school it will be your responsibility to discern which faculty member is the best suited to your interests and working style.  While there will be no shortage of people giving you advice and offering their own suggestions to you, you alone will be responsible for choosing your mentor.  The MURALS program wants to mirror this selection process as closely as possible by allowing you the freedom and responsibility to evaluate potential faculty mentors at the undergraduate level.
  • Do I need to find a faculty mentor from my major or minor?
  • The easy answer to this question is no.  However, you will want to think about what it is that you would like to research over the two quarters of your MURALS participation.  Most students do in fact have a research interest within their chosen major or minor and choose a faculty mentor with an appointment in their respective departments. Remember that your research preparation is built on the knowledge you’ve gained in your major and minor fields. In addition, because faculty mentors expect that you have an adequate foundation to pursue your area of interest, they may be very reluctant to mentor a student who doesn’t have the requisite knowledge to pursue research at an advanced level. Starting over in a field you have little or no experience in will impede your progress in the program. 
  • Who can be a MURALS mentor?
  • MURALS mentors must hold a Ph.D. and be a faculty member on the UC Davis campus.  MURALS helps prepare students for the graduate school experience and therefore staff members are not eligible to be mentors. If you have any questions regarding a potential faculty mentor, please contact the MURALS Coordinator.
  • Can I have more than one faculty mentor?
  • No.  You are expected to maintain the same faculty mentor throughout your two quarters of MURALS participation. 
  • Can I do different research during my two quarters in the MURALS program?
  • No.  You are expected to maintain the same research focus throughout your two quarters of MURALS participation. 
  • Do I need to take units if I’m in the MURALS program?
  • Yes.  MURALS participants sign up for independent research units in the department of their faculty mentor.  For example, if your mentor is in the chemistry department, you will register for 199 or 194H units in the chemistry department.  Students in the MURALS program must be registered for 1-4 research units, and they register for these units through SISWEB; (the same way students register for listed courses). The MURALS Coordinator is happy to discuss this process further with any student.