GEARS Professional Development Course

In Fall 2017, the Graduate Division is offering a formal, cross-listed, 1-credit graduate course.

The course will be a weekly seminar that covers academic aspects of graduate professional development that generalize across disciplines.  Topics will include 1) acclimating to the academic rigors of graduate school; 2) academic writing skills, including fellowship proposal writing, literature search and review, journal writing, and publishing; 3) preparing for the academic job market, including postdoctoral fellowships and both teaching-intensive and research-intensive professorships; and 4) teaching or assisting in teaching undergraduate courses.

The course is designed for students at any stage of their graduate training.  Students will be able to focus on topics most relevant to their stage of development, and coursework will include seminar participation and brief exercises designed to engage students in topical material.  The workload will be commensurate with one course credit.

With approval from their advisor, students are welcome to register for the course to receive credit for attendance and engagement in seminar exercises. Alternatively, they may attend any of the seminars and workshops individually without registering, and they will still benefit from the information and discussion in those sessions. 

The course is cross-listed under the following graduate program listings (in some cases, the title is a special topics course instead of graduate professional development, but the course is the same):

CHEM 290-01  *  PHYS 290-01  *  QSB 290-05  *  PSY 290-11
ES 290-01  *  MATH 290-01  *  COGS 290-01  *  ME 290-01  *  POLI 289-01

The following sessions are part of the professional development course. Students are welcome to register for the course to receive credit for attendance and engagement in seminar exercises. Or, students may attend any of the seminars and workshops individually without registering, and benefit from the information and discussion. The two-part workshops are designed to be most beneficial when students attend both parts.

9/5 | Adjusting to Graduate School
Graduate studies are very different from undergraduate studies, and the transition to graduate school can be challenging. In this seminar, we will discuss these differences and how to navigate the process of becoming a graduate student.

9/12 & 9/19 | Applying for Pre-Doctoral Fellowships I & II
Graduate fellowship funding is one of the best ways to support your research and education. This workshop will review the most common sources of graduate fellowship funding, provide tips and advice on how to prepare a successful application, and feedback on fellowship application writing for those who enroll in the course.

9/27 & 10/3 | Applying for Academic Jobs I & II
Getting ready for the academic job market can be daunting. These workshops will review the different types of academic career paths, how to get started on each of them, and how to prepare for the application process, including CVs, cover letters, research and teaching statements, and interviews.

10/10 | Academic Writing Basics
Graduate students learn to write research and review articles, qualifying exam essays, dissertations, and various other academic documents. This workshop will review some of the more common styles, techniques, and organizing principles for crafting academic papers.

10/17 | Literature Search & References
Scholarship makes contributions to literatures, ongoing debates, and unresolved issues. Graduate students need to learn their literatures in order to make impactful contributions. This seminar will provide tips and advice on how to get up to speed in a given literature, and build a list of references that cover a chosen topic area.

10/24 | Finding and Applying for Postdoctoral Positions
In many fields, it is common for graduate students to become postdoctoral researchers after obtaining their Ph.D. degrees, as a useful or necessary step towards an academic career. This seminar will review different types of postdoctoral positions and fellowships, how to find and apply for them, and what it is like to be a postdoc.

10/31 | Advisor/Advisee Relationships
Your relationship with your graduate advisor is one of the most important of your graduate and academic career. This seminar will review the spectrum of advisor/advisee relationships, and provide some tips and advice on how to manage communications, expectations, and issues that might arise between advisors and advisees.

11/7 & 11/14 | Being an Effective Instructor I & II
Teaching and research are the two pillars of academics, and most graduate students will be supported as teaching assistants at some point in their graduate careers. This workshop will review basic principles and techniques of college-level instruction, and demonstrate some current trends in pedagogy.

11/21 | Team-Based Science & Engineering
Research in academia, as well as government and industry labs, is becoming more interdisciplinary and collaborative. These modes of research require scientists and engineers to work together in teams. This seminar will review recent trends in tools and techniques for managing and participating in team-based research projects.

11/28 & 12/5 | Giving Effective Presentations I & II
Research must be well-communicated to have an impact on other researchers and stakeholders. Writing is typically the primary mode of dissemination, but oral presentations are indispensable for rapid communications and networking. This workshop will review current tools and techniques for creating slides and posters, and will provide a forum for students to practice oral presentations.


Contact Us

Graduate Admissions:
Phone: (209) 228-4723
Graduate Funding:
Phone: (209) 228-4622
General Inquiries:
Phone: (209) 228-4723
Fax: (209) 228-6906
Mailing Address:
University of California, Merced
ATTN: Graduate Division
5200 N. Lake Road, SSB 310
Merced, CA 95343
University of California, Merced
The first new American research university in the 21st century, with a mission of research, teaching and service.
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
T: (209) 228-4400
University of California
Go to top