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About Partners at Learning (PAL)

The PAL program, part of the Department of Education Studies, is UC San Diego's largest service-learning program. PAL provides opportunities for UC San Diego’s undergraduate students to work with underserved P-12 students and schools while earning upper division course credit and fulfilling graduation requirements.

PAL service-learning courses provide students with an introduction to theoretical and practical issues in P-12 education by incorporating both academic work and fieldwork components into the course structure.

Every year, PAL works with thousands of P-12 students on an individual basis to provide mentoring and tutoring at more than forty area schools, contributing over 20,000 volunteer hours.


When PAL began in 1991, the program was housed in UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College and consisted of one class and about a dozen students. Today, PAL has 9 classes and about 500 UCSD students enroll in PAL classes each year.

The PAL Program and various PAL faculty, staff, and student leaders have won awards for their outstanding work and service.  A commitment to building relationships and working as colleagues helps PAL continue to be a valued collaborator and innovator in local schools and communities.


  • Provide college role models and academic support to P-12 students in underserved schools
  • Inspire local youth to pursue lifelong learning and a college education
  • Help UC San Diego students to engage with issues of equity and access through service-learning experiences

PAL Students

UC San Diego’s PAL students are highly motivated in their commitment to serve local communities as role models to San Diego’s youth. Students come from all majors and colleges. They may or may not be considering careers in education. The PAL classes fulfill many college and university-wide graduation requirements so they are taken by a diverse cross-section of UC San Diego students.

PAL Schools

PAL schools are typically located in lower income neighborhoods. PAL schools include “traditional” P-12 schools as well as charter schools and alternative/continuation high schools in districts such as San Diego Unified, Oceanside, National City, Chula Vista, Cajon Valley, and Sweetwater.


Meet some of our PAL students and community partners



PAL Student Leaders discuss their experiences


"It's been a great source of motivation for my young students to see college students continuing in their learning process." 

— Principal, Montgomery Middle School