Science + Health

Uncover Your Curiosity

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Do you find yourself drawn to inquisition with a strong urge for innovation towards advancements towards analytical resolution? Does the thought of being engaged in life and global improvements excite you? Perhaps you are on the path towards becoming a scientist!

With the world at your fingertips, UCSB presents you with a number of opportunities, resources, and experts to help you build your career in Science + Health. Whether your interests lie in the life and physical sciences, health professions, biotechnology, environmental studies, physical geography, or other areas that ignite you, a career in Science + Health can put you at the forefront of humankind's greatest discoveries and advancements.



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Explore Grad School: Science + Health

For complete information on graduate school search strategies and the application process, review our starter tips to Explore Grad School in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Is Graduate School Necessary?

In the Science + Health field, graduate school can be a common requisite. However, there are many instances in which it is unnecessary. For example, if you enjoy research, but are not ready for, or interested in graduate school, you can research for private laboratories. In addition, you can pursue public health jobs through the government, or nonprofit organizations. Environmental Science degrees are highly valued in private organizations throughout California and abroad. ​Beginning your career in Science + Health can often start with your bachelor's degree and your career progression can potentially reveal whether an advanced degree is required. Take a look at the organizations and sectors that interest you, and see what you can do with your bachelor’s degree first before jumping into graduate school.


Although there is both pressure and benefits to continue your education, we recommend that you do not pursue it until you know what you want to pursue as a career, and that graduate school is a feasible option in getting there. 

Oftentimes, you will find positions that recommend graduate degrees, but do not require them. If there is a position like this that interests you, apply! Graduate school is a big commitment, thus if you can land a position without it, you will save yourself years. 


Gap Years

Gap years are a strategic way for you to enhance your candidacy for graduate school programs, and your overall career. These are beneficial for students who hope to gain experience, explore additional options, or save money for graduate school. However, it is important to remain on track during your gap years. To do so, we recommend that you pursue programs and positions which align with your end goals. If you are uncertain what your end goal is, this is the time to exhaust all options until you determine the best path for you.

Some productive paths to pursue during your gap years include:

  • Certification programs
  • Paid research positions
  • Extra coursework to fulfill graduate school prerequisites
  • Humanitarian programs 
  • Industry-specific positions

As long as you continue to pursue Science + Health-related opportunities, you will be enhancing your resume/CV and candidacy for graduate school. 


If you know that you will be taking gap year(s) after graduation, ask your TAs and professors for letters of recommendation before leaving the university. It will be more difficult to get in contact with them, or for them to write about you, years after you graduate. Check out Interfolio's Dossier Service for confidential letter storage.

Preparation for Graduate School

Many career paths in Science + Health require graduate-level education. For example, to be a physician, a MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) is essential. Many technical fields in Science + Health are similar in that graduate-level education is mandatory.

During your undergraduate career, take the time to thoroughly analyze the options that interest you. Pursue the steps discussed on our Gain Experience and Get Hired in Science + Health pages to better understand the ins and outs of the career path as well as similar options that may interest you. Once you decidedly know what you want to pursue, apply for the programs that best align. It is important to be confident in your decision, because unlike undergraduate universities, graduate programs do not let you change your area of study.

After you have spoken to professionals in your field of interest about education requirements, you should have a strong understanding of how the specific degree will help you fulfill your Science + Health career goals. With this understanding, you can begin to research the best programs for your interests, and how to prepare yourself for them. 

Here are a few things to do while you prepare for graduate school:

  • Complete the prerequisite coursework. Look for programs that interest you and what those require, as requirements may vary. Also make sure that the prerequisites are attainable through UCSB and your current degree. If you lack anything, talk to an advisor about how to obtain the coursework. For graduate degrees in Health, refer to Pre-Health Tracks.
  • Build research experience. Graduate schools of all disciplines look for undergraduate research experience, but especially those in the Science + Health fields. Look for RA positions, talk to instructors about spearheading your own, and learn about other research happening around UCSB and other campuses. If presented with the opportunity, attend conferences and presentations, as all of these will enhance your candidacy for graduate school.
  • Maintain a respectable GPA. Science + Health graduate programs are rigorous, thus it is important that you showcase to them that you can handle the challenge. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA while pursuing other relevant experiences at UCSB showcases your ability to keep up with the demands of graduate school.
  • Prepare for entrance exams. Entrance Exams vary by discipline. Determine which one is required for your track, and how much you will need to prepare for it. Plan in advance to ensure you obtain a competitive score.

Learn More 

To further prepare yourself for graduate school, read our full Explore Grad School section.


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