How does the UC system work?

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How does the UC system work?

Postby P2C2E » Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:53 pm

Hey, I'm curious about the University ofCalifornia system. I'm considering applying to one of their campuses, but I'm wondering if it's possible for a graduate student at one campus to take up mentorship or research with faculty at one of the other campuses. Are research and mentorship administered centrally, or by the specific campus you end up going to?

Could anyone at one of these campuses tell me anything about this?

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Re: How does the UC system work?

Postby cwr » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:31 pm

UC undergrad here.

I think that, while collaboration and ties between people at different campuses are strong, this sort of thing is not common at all. Since California is such a big place, while it might sound like having 9 universities (omitting UCSF, since they don't do Physics) in one state is a lot, the campuses are all really spread out.

The cluster in southern California (with UCLA, UCSD, UCI, and UCR) is probably the most densely packed, but even here, it's very difficult to imagine a student doing this. Even for UCI, which is centrally located relative to the other three, you're at least 50 minutes to 1 hour away from the nearest campus. The point I'm making is that, regardless of the willingness of faculty at the various campuses, logistically this is very hard if you need to commute between campuses.

If you're able to work remotely (e.g. for a theorist or someone in HEP-ex), then this comes down to willingness of faculty. I'm not aware of anyone who sits on the committee for students from other UC's, let alone takes them on as their own student, but that's not to say this is impossible.

Hopefully someone who has done this or knows someone who has done it will chime in, because otherwise I'm afraid the answer is that it'll be a case-by-case basis.

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Re: How does the UC system work?

Postby TakeruK » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:19 pm

I'm a grad student in California (but not in the UC system). Just want to add that I know the departments at the UC schools have individual budgets as well, so if you are at, say, UCLA, you are being paid by UCLA to do work with them, not to work for another school. That is, I would say there is as much of a connection in the sense you're asking between UCLA and UC Irvine as there are between UCLA and University of Washington (i.e. none).

And, unlike undergraduate admissions to the UC system, there is no single centralized UC grad admission system. You apply to each graduate program separately. In fact, they don't even use the same application software (when I applied, UCSC used "embark" and UC Berkeley had its own customized system).

In essence, for the purposes of the question you're asking, I would recommend that you treat each individual UC school as completely separate schools that just happened to begin with "UC". Of course, collaborations across UC campuses are still possible, just like you might expect to find collaborations between researchers at MIT and Harvard (both being in Boston area). However, this is less likely due to the fact that they are "UC" schools and more likely due to the fact that they are in close proximity to each other. As cwr pointed out, there is a nice cluster of UC schools around UCLA area (don't forget UCSB too!) and there are often cross-campus events. For example, there was a recent mini-conference on exoplanets for southern California, and we had people from all of these UC schools, as well as other schools in the area, like Caltech and CSU Northridge. In other fields, USC is another good school in the area that could participate.

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Re: How does the UC system work?

Postby cwr » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:34 pm

TakeruK is dead-on with his note about the UC campuses being, effectively, separate universities. UC Office of the President (UCoP) has a couple initiatives that aim to lessen the divide between the campuses (cross-campus research programs for undergrads, cross-campus online enrollment in classes, etc.), but for all intents and purposes they are different universities.

I didn't include UCSB in that list because it's around 3 hours from UCI (about 2 from UCLA), but no one should forget about it! (It's one of my top three targets, by far my favorite within CA!)

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Re: How does the UC system work?

Postby Rapunzel » Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:42 pm

I'm looking at the timelines here and between schools, and these are best case scenario numbers. Traffic is Socal is horrendous at best. These are definitely not peak travel times, which you may have drive in.

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