MARC-U*STAR Required Courses and Activities


Nicolas Diaz

MARC-U*STAR Students complete coursework and participate in activities that are designed to enhance their educational experience and improve their chance of gaining admission into premiere doctoral programs. MARC-U*STAR trainees are from a number of fields, but all are required to gain an understanding of basic biological concepts and how their field intersects with the biological or behavioral sciences. The major program activities are included below.


Required Activities

Coursework  |  Thesis  |  Seminar/Lunch  |  Research  |  Leadership  |  Conference  |  Other



  • Biology I or Biosciences for non-majors
  • Two semesters of Honors Research credit (similar to Independent Study) in their major (6 credits total): BIO 4993, CHEM 4993, CS 4993, EGR 4993 (for BME unless BME 4993 is developed), MAT 4993, PHY 4993, PSY 4993, or STA 4993
  • BIO 4953: Research Careers and Professional Skills Development (1 semester of a 3-credit course; counts as upper division Biology elective)
  • University Sponsored Responsible Conduct in Research, Laboratory Safety, and Compliance activities

In addition, all trainees should complete:

  • Statistics or equivalent
  • Upper division courses pertinent to the focus of their laboratory (Biophysics, Biochem, etc.)

We believe that these additional courses will enhance student preparation for doctoral programs in the biological, chemical, or biologically-oriented computational sciences, without creating an overwhelming burden on students who are already carrying a heavy course load. Most, if not all, of these courses will be counted towards the individual student’s degree program.


All MARC-U*STAR students are required to complete a MARC thesis. Briefly, this will involve the creation of a manuscript that describes the student's research project. The format will be identical to that of an Honors Thesis and can also be used for College of Science Honors (for other Colleges, check their requirements). The thesis is extensively described here. Receipt of the final stipend check is conditional on submission of the thesis.


All MARC-U*STAR students will attend the MARC/RISE Seminar and Lunch with the speaker. The seminar meets from 12 - 1 on Friday and is followed by a one-hour lunch.

presenter and audience


All students are expected to work at least 16 hours during the school year and full time (40 hours) in the summer. Limited summer classes are allowed subject to permission by the program director and your research mentor. In summer, if you will be taking two courses, please take one non-lab class during the day and one in the evening/weekends...or both in the evenings. Do NOT take horribly difficult courses in the summer. At least once, prior to graduation, students must attend an off-campus Summer Research Program, preferably one that is at a graduate school that the student may wish to attend. Click here for more information.


Because they are expected to develop into leaders in their fields, all MARC-U*STAR students participate in The Leadership Challenge, led by Dr. Barea-Rodriguez.

Conference Attendance

All MARC-U*STAR trainees attend at least two conferences prior to graduation. The first is either SACNAS or ABRCMS, two student-oriented conferences where participants have the opportunity to learn additional professional development topics, are introduced to a variety of fields of interest for graduate study, and network with graduate schools/summer program managers. The second is a professional conference with their research mentor. In addition, MARC-U*STAR trainees participate in a variety of on-campus opportunities to present, such as the UTSA COS Research Conference.


There are a number of other activities in which MARC-U*STAR students participate, including but not limited to graduate school application, mock interviews, GRE preparation, taking the GRE, StrengthsQuest assessment, and various evaluation activities.