Competitive Edge

Five Competitive Edge participants smile in front of a brick wall

Benefits & Funding

  • Advanced introduction to UCI faculty
  • Advanced introduction to UCI campus resources
  • Early move-in to graduate campus housing
  • Acquisition of critical teaching skills through workshops and lectures
  • Early mentorship from UCI faculty and peer mentors
  • A community-like experience with support from a peer cohort and the UCI Graduate Division
  • Summer stipend of $5,000


  • Priority is first given to students receiving a Eugene Cota-Robles (ECR) Fellowship. 
  • Departments may sponsor a student’s participation in Competitive Edge for those who did not receive an ECR fellowship. Participants do not directly apply to the Competitive Edge program.  
  • All participants must be doctoral or M.F.A. students entering their first year of graduate study at UCI.
  • Participants must be meet the UC Definition of Diversity
  • Students must be U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident or AB540 eligible

Program Requirements

Participants must commit to a full-time, six-week summer research program over the summer prior to their enrollment as a doctoral or MFA student at UCI. The time commitment would be approximately 35-40 hours per week of research per week, workshops, lectures, and other preparatory events to be held throughout the duration of the program.

Peer Mentors

Peer Mentor Position Overview

Graduate Peer Mentors will support incoming doctoral and MFA students participating in the 2023 Competitive Edge Program. Peer mentors will assist with facilitating the participants’ acclimation to UCI prior to the start of their graduate programs in the fall. Peer Mentors should be prepared to support mentee(s) in the areas of professional development, effective communication, and health/wellness. In most cases, peer mentors are assigned one mentee but may be assigned up to two.

Peer mentors are required to commit for the full six-weeks of the program (TBD). There will also be a Peer Mentor overview prior to the program to discuss the roles and responsibilities of Peer Mentors in more detail.

Benefits and Compensation

  • Acquire mentoring skills and experience in supporting incoming graduate students on an individual and group basis
  • Expand opportunities for partnership and collaboration by developing relationships with scholars from interdisciplinary fields
  • Engage in opportunities to make a positive impact on the academic trajectory of incoming graduate students from diverse backgrounds 
  • Stipend of up to $600 is payable upon completion of duties and Mentoring Excellence Program (MEP)
  • Opportunity to serve as a writing peer reviewer, workshop facilitator or social mentor for additional compensation (limited positions available)
  • Please note: this Peer Mentor position is not a residential position and will not include compensation for housing.

Applicant Eligibility 

  • Doctoral or MFA students currently in their second year or beyond are preferred (first-year students will be considered)
  • Completion of the Mentoring Excellence Program (MEP) is required – If not yet completed, applicants must enroll and successfully complete the MEP certificate program this summer
  • Returning Peer Mentors must have the MEP series completed by the end of Spring 2024 to be eligible 
  • Must be in good academic standing
  • Past or current experience working with diverse student backgrounds is preferred
  • All candidates must be full-time UCI Doctoral or MFA Students who are eligible to receive fellowship support from the university

Responsibilities and Expectations

  • Check-in with mentee(s) throughout the program on a weekly basis. Check-ins should be structured with targeted questions to develop rapport and assess support areas
  • Provide feedback on Competitive Edge program assignments including but not limited to drafting fellowship applications and presentations
  • Provide support and guidance to mentee(s) on navigating grad life at UCI 
  • Share experiences to orient incoming student(s) into their first year of graduate school
  • Report any concerns regarding mentee(s)’ progress or well-being to Program Coordinator  
  • Willingness to serve as a Peer Mentor to mentee(s) beyond their summer in the Competitive Edge Summer Program

If selected, peer mentors will be required to complete the following: 

  • Attend 1 Peer Mentor Overview Session 

Attend and participate in the following programmatic activities in support of mentee(s) –dates, times, and activities are subject to change

  • Competitive Edge Participant/Peer Mentor Welcome
  • Community Building/ Professional Development Assignment (details to follow) 
  • Peer Mentor check-ins with Program Coordinator 

Application Deadline: TBD

  • Completed applications must be received by the deadline to be considered.
  • In addition to completing the application, please upload your resume/CV directly to the form.