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Student Opportunities

LuLing Osofsky and Maggie Wander at the opening of a Center for Archival Research and Training exhibit for which they did research, archival and curatorial work

We are committed to offering our students a range of professional development opportunities and other experiences that enhance their engagement with the UCSC community and the broader Bay Area. All these activities allow our graduates to develop skills and insights that can help them pursue purposeful and successful careers in the future, while also making a significant contribution to camps life during their studies in the program.

We are continuously working to improve and augment these opportunities as our program develops. Check back for updates!

Curatorial Practice

Although Visual Studies doesn’t offer a Museum Studies track, we provide several opportunities for relevant coursework and curatorial experiences to students who are interested in pursuing a career in the world of museums, galleries, and exhibitions. [More]


We recognize that many of our graduate students are interested in pursuing careers in academia, and therefore teaching experience is important as they prepare for the job market. Our program offers a number of teaching opportunities that range from invited course lectures to full courses during the academic year or summer session. [More]

Visual & Media Cultures Colloquia

The annual Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC), funded by the Arts Division, was started in 2010-11 in a collaboration between the Visual Studies and the Film and Digital Media graduate programs. For the Visual Studies events, each year two VS students are responsible for selecting, inviting and hosting speakers from a list of suggested names submitted by their peers and HAVC faculty. Together they share the unique challenge and opportunity of creating a program that brings to campus an array of cutting-edge scholars to speak on a broad spectrum of subjects. 

Refract: An Open Access Visual Studies Journal 

Refract is an online, experimental, non-canonical platform for the discussion of visual culture through an expansive lens. An initiative spear-headed and managed by our graduate students, Refract publishes annually and is peer-reviewed. All our students have the opportunity to submit their work for consideration and over the years select students are involved in managing the journal.

Graduate Student Peer-Mentoring

With the encouragement of our program, our graduate student representatives are developing a peer-mentoring program that matches students of different years as mentoring partners, to encourage the sharing of advice and experiences and the creation of a network of support. Both one-to-one and group mentoring interactions are encouraged in this initiative, which is developed in the spirit of community building and individualized support, in order to foster a richer and more successful student experience.  


The Division of Graduate Studies and other units across campus offer a number of programs that provide valuable professional development opportunities and other resources to graduate students at UCSC. Browse the links below for more information.

Graduate Horizons

The Division of Graduate Studies supports graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with professional development through group events and individual mentoring. Panel discussions, workshops, and other events during the academic year help students identify potential careers, within and without academia, and prepare for and transition into those careers. Speakers discuss a wide range of issues, including engaging research presentations, inclusive teaching, effective networking, successful grant applications and more.

Graduate Student Commons

A facility open to all graduate students, the Graduate Student Commons (GSC) provides a welcoming space as well as events and programs that foster a sense of community and offer supportive resources relevant to both academic and personal challenges. Programs include mindfulness meditation, writing sessions and women graduates groups. Spaces include small study rooms, computer terminals and a lounge. The GSC is managed by a board that includes representatives from the broader campus community and a majority of graduate students.

Graduate Research Symposium

The UC Santa Cruz Graduate Research Symposium takes place every spring and is open to all graduate students, offering them the opportunity to discuss their research with colleagues and the public. Presentation formats include: poster, audio/video media presentation, or 8-minute talk. Symposium awards are decided by a panel of judges made up of faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, alumni, trustees, and community members.

Grad Slam

The Grad Slam in an annual competition open to all graduate students, who are called to submit engaging 3-minute presentations of their academic research appropriate for a non-expert audience. The competition encourages students to clarify their research and make it relevant to and understandable by the wider public. It also provides sizable awards to the winners. Students submit 3-minute video presentations in the Fall. Finalists are selected to compete live in the Winter quarter. The winner of the UCSC Grad Slam receives $3,000; the runner-up receives $1,500; and the people’s choice winner receives $750. The UCSC Grad Slam winner goes on to compete in the UC-wide Grad Slam in the Spring Quarter.

Friday Forum for Graduate Research

This weekly colloquium series is organized by the Graduate Student Association. Graduate students in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences present their research and get feedback by peers and faculty, in an interdisciplinary, informal and collegial setting. Friday Forum provides snacks, coffee, and tea and participants can also bring their own lunch. Students who wish to present at the forum may contact

Leadership Academy

Every year, the Division of Graduate Studies offers graduate students a Leadership Certificate Program, consisting of a sequence of classes on leadership theory and practical skills. The program takes place every Friday of winter quarter, 1:00–4:30 p.m. Pacific Time, with the exception of one all-day class. Students selected to participate develop a range of personal and interpersonal skills that are relevant both in academic and non-academic contexts and support more empowered lives and careers. Participants gain both theoretical and practical insights into issues such as effective collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, communication, presentation, management and budgeting. Students regularly report that through this program they develop stronger self-confidence, valuable insights into other disciplines and points of view and vibrant networks with peers.

Graduate Pedagogy Fellowship

The Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL) offers the interdisciplinary, professional development Graduate Pedagogy Fellowship program. Students selected to participate in this program are trained in teaching pedagogies and then collaborate with their home departments to design Teaching Assistant training programs for their peers. This “train the trainer” model provides unique leadership pedagogy opportunities to the fellows and in addition supports all graduate students in their professional development and success as Teaching Assistants. In addition, CITL offers Graduate Certificate Programs in Inclusive Teaching and Teaching with Technology, and trains Summer Graduate Pedagogy Mentors to support graduate students who teach during summer session.

Creative Entrepreneurship Internship

The Creative Entrepreneurship Internship (CEI) is an initiative of the Arts Division at UCSC that provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to apply for paid internships in Californian art companies or organizations across a wide range of disciplines (including museums, libraries, archives and other institutions relevant to Visual Studies graduate students). For a full list of partners see here. In addition to a paid internship, successful applicants also receive funds to assist with travel, housing, and/or professional development expenses. Students can receive academic credit if partners agree to sign off on paperwork and students are able to secure a faculty member to sponsor internship coursework. For more information see the CEI FAQ page.  

PhD+ Workshop Series

Sponsored by The Humanities Institute, PhD+ is a monthly workshop series focused on issues of interest to all graduate students. Workshops expand graduate student training and provide space for asking questions you might not know to ask.