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Peer mentors

Targeted Learning Community


NSF S-STEM: Building a Chemistry and Biochemistry Targeted Learning Community - The Impact of Vertical Mentoring on STEM Student Outcomes.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is offering scholarships to academically talented, financially burdened students who intend to pursue a chemistry/biochemistry major.

The Application Portal to apply to the CBTLC Program is NOW OPEN!

Application Deadline
Deadline for applications is end of December 1, 2023, but spaces are limited and will be filled as qualified students are accepted.




  • What is the overall purpose of this project?
    This project aims to increase student success among CSUSM Chemistry and Biochemistry majors by linking scholarships with effective support activities. Key to this project is formation of a Chemistry & Biochemistry Targeted Learning Community (CB-TLC). Project activities include: (i) peer, faculty, and professional mentoring, (ii) academic and professional workshops, (iii) enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research, and (iv) priority enrollment status in chemistry courses.
  • What is a Learning Community?
    Formally, a learning community is simply “a group of people who share common academic goals and attitudes and meet semi-regularly to collaborate on classwork.” Research has shown that student who participate in learning communities have a higher success rate in their collegiate studies.
  • What are the benefits of being a part of the CB-TLC?

    First and foremost, membership in the CB-TLC, as in any learning community, increases a student’s probability of successfully completing their degree program. Some students will be eligible for scholarships, but even students who are not eligible for financial support will receive substantial benefits from participating in the program. Some specific benefits are:

    • eligibility for up to 4 years of scholarship funding (~$8,200 per year)
    • priority enrollment for chemistry courses
    • multi-faceted mentoring by peers and faculty
    • mentoring by industrial professionals, aimed at increasing employment potential
    • participation in professional skills workshops and seminar presentations
    • enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research
    • a planned pathway for 4-year graduation
  • Who is eligible for membership in the CB-TLC?

    To be eligible for membership in the CB-TLC students must meet the following criteria:

    1. have applied to/been accepted to CSUSM
    2. be a first-time college freshman
    3. declare a major in chemistry or biochemistry
    4. demonstrate mathematics and chemistry proficiency commensurate to enroll in General Chemistry and pre-Calculus or Calculus as assessed by CSUSM
    5. have attained an overall high school G.P.A. of 3.2 or higher
    6. submit a formal program application which includes a one-page personal statement describing academic interests and career goals

    Students wishing to receive consideration for financial aid must also meet the following conditions:

    1. hold U.S. citizenship, national, refugee, or permanent resident status
    2. file the FAFSA application and demonstrate current financial need
    3. provide one letter of support from a high school teacher addressing student motivation and academic potential to succeed in a STEM field
  • What are the responsibilities of CB-TLC members?

    There are certain expectations for students to participate in the CB-TLC. These include:

    1. maintain an overall CSUSM G.P.A. of at least 2.5
    2. earn a grade of B- or better in all chemistry courses
    3. follow the academic plan as set out by their faculty advisor to facilitate four-year graduation in Chemistry or Biochemistry
    4. meet with faculty (1/semester), peer (2/semester), and professional mentors (1/semester – starting in Year 3)
    5. attend four co-curricular activities out of ten offered per semester
    6. fully participate in evaluation surveys associated with this project
    7. demonstrate current year financial need (for students receiving scholarships) 
  • What are the research opportunities for CB-TLC members?
    Many of the faculty in the Department are active researchers who primarily have undergraduate students in their laboratories. CB-TLC students will be given priority in filling spots in the various faculty members labs. In addition, some students may wish to apply for summer research internships at other universities or national laboratories. The project leaders will assist CB-TLC members in applying for these summer positions.
  • Is the degree program different for CB-TLC members compared to other students?
    The degree requirements for CB-TLC members are no different than those for non-CB-TLC students. There are no extra courses to take, however, the grade requirements for staying in the program are higher than those for non-CB-TLC students. (See 1 & 2 under the Responsibilities section above). The required courses for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors can be found on the Major/Minor Worksheets page. Full 4-year roadmaps for Chemistry and Biochemistry students can be found on the Academic Programs Roadmaps page
  • How do I apply?

    Interested students are encouraged submit your on-line application via the Application Portal. Students will be accepted throughout the Fall semester and once all the spots are filled, no more students will be accepted, so get your application in early. 

  • What if I have questions about the program?
    Students considering applying to the program who have questions can email these to You will receive a response within 2 business days.
  • How can I get more information about this program?

    You may contact the project leaders directly, or through the project email


This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2029167

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