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The UCLA Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS) is an intensive program committed to promoting academic excellence and professional development for students dedicated to careers in the life or physical sciences or mathematics. The primary objective of the program is to increase the number of students who develop a strong foundation in the sciences and make teaching and/or research a part of their life’s work.
PEERS is a two-year program that serves newly admitted STEM majors during their freshman and sophomore years. PEERS is designed to facilitate the transition to UCLA, prepare students to excel as science majors, and promote undergraduate research.
A major goal of PEERS is to increase retention of underrepresented and under-served student populations. To achieve this goal, PEERS students (1) are enrolled as a cohort into core courses in math, physics and chemistry, (2) participate in collaborative learning workshops that complement courses in their core science curriculum, (3) receive counseling and career planning advice from dedicated academic counselors (4) attend seminar courses focused on for academic success strategies, science career options and importance of undergraduate research, and (5) attend research colloquia presented by leading scientists at UCLA. Through these activities, PEERS students earn higher grades in their science classes, have higher overall GPAs, and graduate faster than their PEERS. This academic success combined with integrated program activities that foster a sense of community results in PEERS students having significantly higher retention rates in science and participation in undergraduate research.
How to Create a PEERS-like Retention Program for Freshmen and Sophomore Science Majors at 4-year Institutions