About the Scholarship Opportunities Program

Ayala Science Library
Ayala Science Library
Our office is on the first floor inside the Writing Center.

Known as the SOP, our office advises competitive undergraduate UC Irvine candidates in applying for 15 prestigious, nationally or internationally-competitive merit scholarships, all funded by outside agencies. Our staff manages the campus-level application evaluation and endorsement (nomination) processes for 11 of these scholarships (students cannot apply directly to the funding agency).

Our staff perform outreach to to students; advise students on application processes; provide content advice and editorial suggestions for statements of purpose, research or creative project proposals, personal statements and Curriculum Vitae; present workshops; facilitate campus-level candidate evaluation committees and convene mock interviews to prepare finalists for national competitions.

Students who win these prestigious scholarships or fellowships have outstanding academic records as well as other distinctive accomplishments. Some scholarship programs look for evidence of leadership on campus or in the larger community. Often winners have established their credentials by engaging in and successfully completing a substantial intellectual or creative project. Strong, detailed faculty letters of recommendation are essential; to get this level of support, students must develop an academic relationship with faculty outside the classroom.

It takes time and effort to build the sort of college career that a successful application reflects. We urge students to prepare for these awards early by building relationships with faculty whose work interests you; pursuing research, community service, and leadership opportunities; and documenting these interests – in the form of a Curriculum Vitae, personal statement, proposal for future study/research, and faculty letters of recommendation.

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.

About Merit Scholarships

  • Prestigious scholarships emphasize excellence in academic, leadership, or community service realms. Although some may incorporate a financial need component, it is not the primary selection criterion.
  • They fund future research and academic or career endeavors rather than immediate monetary assistance.
  • Applications often require a thorough statement of proposed study or research, a personal statement, and several letters of recommendation from faculty.
  • Developing a strong application involves weeks — sometimes months — of planning and drafts. Begin the process early!

Funding agencies generally ask for:

  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty
  • A project proposal or plan of study
  • A personal statement

Some scholarships may also require:

  • An interview
  • Additional letters of recommendation
  • Attaining institutional endorsement of your application

You can find out about scholarships sponsored by UCI and the UC system by contacting the Office of Financial Aid at (949) 824-8262 or finaid@uci.edu. Please note that the scholarships managed by SOP differ significantly from those managed by the Office of Financial Aid.

If you are a currently enrolled undergraduate working on a scholarship, internship, or graduate school application that is not supported by SOP, but want assistance with your essays, please visit the Center For Excellence in Writing and Communication.