College of Engineering classroom

TOPS Academy 

WELCOME to our 2021 - 2022 TOPS Academy!

The University of California, Davis is committed to improving the quality and diversity of the student body, as the campus responds to the changing population and educational needs of California and the nation. The Towards Outstanding Postgraduate Success (TOPS) Academy exists to facilitate the academic career development of students who show potential to become excellent faculty or researchers in institutions of higher education, as well as to foster multi-faceted diversity in graduate education at the University of California.

The primary objective is to create a cohort-style program open to incoming PhD students in the College of Engineering that serves as a future faculty/researcher development program. The program aims to assist new doctoral candidates through advising, mentoring, professional development, and social interactions with other students.

Jeoh lab

Program Elements

  • Cohort model of 15 first-year PhD students from the College of Engineering.
  • Participants in the TOPS Academy will be awarded a $10,000 stipend paid in three quarterly installments in their first-year.
  • Participants will be invited to ongoing seminars and workshops that will form the basis of cohort-building. Discussion and topics will include the following:
    • Skills inventory and development
    • Personality assessment
    • Time management
    • Guest speakers
    • Build community
    • Dissertation topic/writing support
    • Finding a research adviser
  • Participants will have access to up to $1,500 in reimbursement for travel-related expenses to academic conferences.


Nominations for the TOPS Academy are made at the time of admission. Due to availability of resources, a maximum of 15 participants will be selected each year.


For inquiries, please contact:

Alin Wakefield

Research & Graduate Studies Development Coordinator