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Frequently Asked Questions


What is 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.

Why take a PAL class?  By taking a PAL course you can:

  • Make a positive difference in the local community;
  • Work with underserved youth in San Diego’s diverse communities;
  • Gain valuable work experience for your resume;
  • Earn course credit and fulfill UCSD DEI and other college requirements (requirements fulfilled vary by course - please check here for details);
  • Fulfill EDS major and minor course requirements.

Who can enroll in a PAL class?  PAL courses are open to all UCSD undergraduates who have 2nd year standing and above. Qualifying local community college students may also cross-enroll in PAL courses.

Do I have to have any teaching experience or want to be a teacher to take a PAL course? No - students from all majors and minors take PAL courses for a variety of reasons. No previous tutoring or mentoring experience is necessary. However, if you are thinking about being a teacher or pursuing a career in education, PAL courses are a great way to gain classroom experience and fulfill course requirements for the EDS major and minor.

What university and college requirements do PAL courses fulfill? Most PAL courses satisfy the university DEI requirement and count toward EDS major and minor requirements. They also fulfill a variety of different college requirements.


What courses are offered and when? PAL courses are currently offered every quarter during the regular academic year. See the Courses page for a detailed description of our courses and current PAL offerings. 

Are there any prerequisites?  No.

How do I enroll? Do I need preauthorization to enroll? All students who would like to enroll in a PAL course must first submit a Preauthorization Request. Please allow up to 2 business days for your request to be processed. Once you are approved to enroll, an email notice will be sent to your UCSD email address. Detailed enrollment instructions can be found under Courses.

Do I need to complete the Background Check form before I enroll? The background check form should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the start of class. If you enroll after that point, please submit your form ASAP. Completed forms should be emailed to Sheila Keegan,

Is a Covid-19 vaccine required to participate in PAL? All PAL students must be fully vaccinated (including a booster dose) against Covid-19 in order to participate in PAL practicum courses.

Do I need a TB test to participate? Where do I bring the results?   Yes, a TB test is required. Test results should be brought with you to your first day of class. This test can be completed at the Student Health Center, but it can sometimes take several weeks to get a test appointment. 

I submitted my preauthorization form but need to change some of the information I submitted. How do I do that?  Please contact Sheila Keegan at

PAL Placements

Will I be working at a school site or remotely? For the upcoming Fall 2022 quarter, PAL is currently planning for in-person placements at our local school and partner sites. However, depending on the needs and requirements of our partner sites, it is possible that some individual placements may shift from in-person to remote status during the quarter.

When will I find out my placement information? Students receive their placement information on the first day of class.

How many hours per week will I be working at my site? All PAL students must complete at least 40 hours of service by the end of the quarter or, for classes taken during the summer, during the end of the 5-week summer session. Generally this translates into ~4-6 hours per week during the regular academic year and ~8-10 hours per week during the shorter summer sessions. You will work with your host teacher to set up and maintain a consistent weekly schedule throughout the ten week quarter or five week summer session. If your regularly scheduled day(s) falls on a holiday, you are responsible for making up those hours.

Do I need a car to participate in PAL?  No, students without cars can still participate in PAL courses. If you don't have transportation we will place you at a school near public transportation (bus or trolley) or help you find a carpool. Zipcars are also a transportation option:

What communities does PAL serve? PAL serves high-needs schools and communities throughout San Diego. Expect to travel 20-30 minutes from campus to your placement site.

Continuing with PAL

I loved my placement – can I keep going after the quarter is over?  Yes! If you’d like to continue volunteering, you can enroll in EDS 139 for Continuing PAL students. This 2-unit course allows you to receive additional course credit while working at your school. Interested continuing PAL students also have the option of working at a different school or with a different age group from their original placement. 

Once you’ve taken an initial PAL class you also have the option to continue in the PAL action research sequence or participate in PAL-related projects.

What is a PAL Paid Tutor? How do I become one? Continuing PAL students enrolled in EDS 139 who have completed an initial PAL course with a B+ or better and who have a federal work-study award and do not have any other on-campus job may apply to become a PAL Paid Tutor.

Continuing PAL students who meet the requirements to become a PAL Paid Tutor but who do not have a work-study requirement, may apply to be a paid PAL CYT Tutor (limited positions available). CYT Tutors work specifically with refugee youth and youth experiencing homelessness. If you are interested in becoming either a PAL Paid Tutor or a CYT Tutor, please contact Sheila Keegan at for additional information.


More questions about PAL? Please contact Sheila Keegan at