Skip to content Skip to navigation

Prospective Students FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions


About UC Merced

Why is UC Merced's School of Natural Sciences the best choice for graduate studies?

"Because our campus is still small, my principal investigator isn’t the only professor who knows me or my skills. I’ve been plugged in to a variety of networks simply because the professors in my school know me well enough to introduce me to their contacts.”
-Heather Thompson, Quantitative Systems Biology

Where do most graduate students live in Merced?

UC Merced graduate students choose from a variety of neighborhoods to live in. 

If you plan on starting in Summer there is on-campus housing available, please follow this link for information: http://summersession.ucmerced.edu/resources/housing

For off-campus housing options during the summer and the academic year, please follow this link: http://housing.ucmerced.edu/

  • Once you click on this link, you may click on “Students” (highlighted in blue), this will take you to the UC Merced Login.
  • After you login with your UCM Net ID, you will be taken to the home page of “Off-Campus Housing Menu”, please click on any tabs available under the “Search” section to choose housing options most convenient for you.

What is there to do in the Merced area?

Merced offers many cultural and recreational activities. Possible sources of event information include:

How can I visit the School of Natural Sciences?

For more information about campus tours, contact the Visitors Center.


Application and Admissions

What are the average GRE scores and the average GPAs of admitted students?

The satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (B) is required. There is no average for GRE scores. The average for the both the GRE and GPA scores change year to year. However, we also consider the appropriateness of your goals to the degree program in which you are interested and to the research interests of the program's faculty. In addition, consideration may be given to how your background and life experience would contribute significantly to an educationally beneficial blend of students as well as work experience.

How many applications are received per year and how many of those are admitted?

For the year of 2013, almost 500 students applied UC Merced's graduate programs. Out of those, 200 students were admitted to UC Merced.

Does the School of Natural Sciences offer a master's of science degree?

Yes the School of Natural Sciences does have a master's of science degree. There are two different plans to reach that goal.

When will I be notified if I have been admitted?

Students are normally notified of admission between March 1 and May 1.

Is a subject Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required for admission?

No. Applicants are only required to take the general GRE test. GRE scores are valid for five years after the testing year.

Does your university require a department code for sending the GRE scores?

No, applicants do not need a department code when sending their GRE scores. The institution code for UC Merced, which is 4129, will be sufficient for sending in GRE scores.

Can I apply to begin the program in the spring rather than the fall?

Spring admissions are by exception only. Contact faculty members to see which of them may be accepting new students for spring.

Can I defer my admission for a year?

This is done on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, you would need to re-apply to the program of interest. Please contact your graduate group admissions chair for further information.

Is undergraduate research needed for admission to the School of Natural Sciences?

Undergraduate research experience is a strong positive for applicants. It helps faculty members and the admissions committee determine if the candidate would be a good fit for a lab at UC Merced. However, candidates without research experience are also carefully evaluated for admission. 

Who should my letters of recommendation be from?

Applicants are encouraged to submit letters of recommendation from faculty members who know them and are familiar with their potential for future graduate work. Letters of recommendation help an applicant’s candidacy most when they are detailed, refer to recent experiences and address how the applicant’s research interests would fit in at UC Merced.


International Students

I am an international student, but I am from a country where English is the most commonly spoken language or I am currently attending a university in the U.S. Can the TOEFL requirement be waived for me?

Please consult the Graduate Division policies for international applicants.

Do all international students receive financial support for the full duration of their Ph.D. programs?

As much as possible, the School of Natural Sciences is committed to financially supporting its students for the duration of their doctoral programs.


Program Questions

What kinds of classes are offered to take through the department for credit toward my Ph.D.?

Please consult the website for the program you are interested in.

How long does it typically take to complete the Ph.D. program at UC Merced?

This depends on individual program policies. Please refer to the policies of the program you are interested in.

What kind of job opportunities are available to me upon completion of my Ph.D.?

Obtaining a Ph.D. can lead to many fulfilling professional opportunities. Our graduates have gone on to teaching appointments, research labs, consulting positions and more.


Financial Support

Is the stipend provided to incoming students sufficient for maintaining a decent standard of living in Merced?

Merced is fortunately an area with a modest cost of living. Most graduate students find their stipends as teaching assistants and researchers are sufficient for maintaining a comfortable standard of living.

Do all graduate students receive financial support for the full duration of their Ph.D. program?

UC Merced is proud to provide extensive financial support for graduate education toward doctoral degrees. More than 80 percent of our Ph.D. students receive full financial support each semester in the form of teaching assistantships, graduate student research assistantships and/or fellowships. Also, the large majority of our Ph.D. students receive support used for research, educational and living costs during the summer.

Do I need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Please contact the Office of Financial Aid in regards to the FAFSA.


Still have questions?

I have read through all the frequently asked questions, but I was unable to find the answer to my question. Where else should I look?

For more information on visiting the School of Natural Sciences and meeting with our faculty and staff members, please contact them directly. For more general information please contact us.