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University of California-Merced

University of California-Merced Rating: 3.4/5 (17 votes)

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With its first classes convened in fall 2005, the University of California, Merced, represents the newest member of the UC system. The campus holds the honor of being the first true research university constructed in America in the twentieth century and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. As early as the 1980s, the Regents of the University of California foresaw the need to construct a tenth campus to handle the steady climb in enrollment. The Central Valley was targeted as the ideal location, as a huge number of citizens stood to benefit from a new UC campus. In May 2009, Michelle Obama gave the commencement address to the first graduating class at UC, Merced.

The curriculum at the University of California, Merced, is organized into three schools: the School of Engineering, the School of Natural Sciences, and the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts. Most undergraduates pursue a course of study in the life sciences, engineering or psychology.

Students in the School of Engineering can work towards five distinct bachelor’s degrees, from bioengineering to computer engineering. Beyond the baccalaureate level, graduate students pursue one of four master’s or doctoral degrees. High-end facilities such as the Environmental Analysis Lab support student and faculty research projects.

Biology majors pursue “emphasis tracks” rather than traditional majors. The mission of the School of Natural Sciences is to prepare students for cutting-edge, twenty-first century science. Genetic engineering, climate change and the evolution of disease in the modern world are just a few of the topics that life scientists may actively engage with.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Unique Programs

Sierra Nevada Research Institute

The Sierra Nevada Research Institute brings students and faculty from various disciplines together to address the most serious issues facing the world today and in the future. These issues include rapid population growth, especially in the Third World, global climate change, natural resource management and biodiversity. A field station in Yosemite National Park allows researches to do some hands-on work investigating some of these challenges.

UC Merced Energy Research Institute

The Energy Research Institute seeks ways to improve renewable and sustainable energy technology. Faculty from all three UC, Merced, colleges participate in research initiatives. A solar energy plant completed in 2009 currently supplies 20 percent of the campuses energy needs throughout the year.


The average high-school GPA of admitted freshmen at UC, Merced, stands at over 3.4. The university sets a high bar for all students and has already earned a reputation as an academically rigorous institution.

High-school Admissions

In addition to completing a core group of 15 courses throughout their high-school careers, prospective students must maintain a minimum GPA and score well on either the ACT or SAT exam. The Admissions Office at Merced will place each student on a UC Eligibilty Index based upon a combination of grades and exam scores. Intangible factors such as the applicant’s character and interest in the school will also be considered by admissions officials.

Students graduating in the top 4 percent of their class are automatically eligible to attend any UC campus. The only requirement is that they complete the application and submit all transcripts and test scores. Superior ACT or SAT scores will also automatically qualify a student for admission, regardless of performance during high-school.

Transfer Admissions

Applicants with at least 60 credit hours earned at another institution are eligible for admission, provided they hold a GPA of at least 2.4. Students must have completed at least seven general education courses in specific disciplines. Freshman and sophomore transfer applicants must meet the same strict admission requirements as high-school applicants.

Graduate School Admissions

Prospective students must first submit a graduate school application along with the non-refundable application fee. One official transcript of all college work should be forwarded to the graduate school at UC, Merced. Applicants must submit score reports from the Graduate Record Exam, three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose essay. Individual programs within the graduate school may have additional requirements.

Financial Aid

Nearly all incoming freshmen at UC, Merced, apply for some kind of need-based aid. The first step in that process is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after the first of the year as possible. Information provided on the FAFSA will be the primary factor in calculating each student’s financial aid package. Grants, scholarships and loans are the three main types of financial aid available to all students. The average need-based financial aid package for students is more than $15,000 per academic year.


The federal government administers both the Pell Grant and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. These awards are based on financial need. Academic Competitive Grants and SMART Grants are likewise federal programs, although these awards entail a certain level of scholastic achievement.

The state of California administers Cal Grant funds. Only California residents can receive these awards, which include both financial need and academic merit as part of the eligibility requirement.


The University of California, Merced, makes available over 30 scholarship opportunities for high-achieving students. Some of these scholarships require separate application procedures. Academic merit is the largest discriminating factor in the awarding of scholarship funds. Like grants, scholarships represent free money that will not need to be repaid.


Loans include the Federal Direct Loans, PLUS Loans for parents and private loans. Students should explore all other avenues of funding before applying for loan monies. After leaving school, most loan programs allow a grace period of six months to a year before repayment must begin.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 5596th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Total enrollment at UC, Merced, stands at over 4,000. The campus is ethnically diverse, with nearly three-quarters of students identifying as members of minority groups. Campus housing has recently been expanded with the addition of Tuolumne and Mariposa Residence Halls. Most first-year students choose to live on-campus, though only about a third of all undergraduates occupy dorms or other university-affiliated housing options. There are no restrictions on vehicle ownership, so students are free to explore the rural Central Valley, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks, or San Francisco.

The Office of Student Life fosters involvement both on the campus and in the local community. The Civic Engagement Program offers students a way to apply their classroom learning to real-world problems. Students can volunteer their services to any number of worthy local and national organizations.

Clubs and organizations are an integral part of student life at UC, Merced. Fraternities and sororities have a strong presence on campus, and membership involves living up to high standards as both student and citizen. Numerous clubs are organized around academic disciplines, such as the Merced Pre-Law Society, the Business Society and the Society of Women Engineers.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Many of the faculty at UC, Merced, are well-known experts in their respective fields. Faculty members have received numerous accolades, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement, the Young Investigator Award and the New Faculty Award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.


  • The College Board. University of California: Merced. 2011. Web. 29 July 2011.
  • Petersons Four-year Colleges 2011. New Jersy: Peterson, 2010. Print.
  • University of California Regents. University of California-Merced. 2010. Web. 29 July 2011.

Information Summary

Ranks 39th in California and 455th overall
See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list

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Campus Crime Statistics

Ranks 0th in California and 244th overall on StateUniversity.com‘s Safe School Index
  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 1 0.02
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 1 0.02
Robbery 1 0.02
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 1 0.02
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 2 0.04

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 326 0.41
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter 8 0.01
Forcible Rape 20 0.03
Robbery 149 0.19
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 802 1.00
Larceny 2,044 2.56
Vehicle theft 313 0.39

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District616

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 139th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $11,220 $11,220 $34,098
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $1,940 $1,940 $1,940
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A N/A
FT Graduate Tuition $11,220 $11,220 $26,322
FT Graduate Required Fees $1,609 $1,609 $1,609
PT Graduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A N/A
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $33,499 $33,499 $56,377
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $26,731 $26,731 $49,609
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $24,253 $24,253 $47,131

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $13,070(N/C) $13,070(N/C) $35,948(N/C)
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,385 $1,398
On-Campus – Room & Board $13,720 $14,272
On-Campus – Other Expenses $3,763 $3,872
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $7,040 $7,109
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $4,512 $4,629
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $9,128 $9,283

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$70
Graduate Application Fee$80
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 14,056 (6,635 male / 7,421 female)
Admitted 10,613 (5,015 male / 5,598 female)
Admission rate 76%
First-time Enrollment 1,492 (760 male / 732 female)
FT Enrollment 1,490 (759 male / 731 female)
PT Enrollment 2 (1 male / 1 female)
Total Enrollment6,195

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /  N/A / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NAIA
NAIA Basketball Conference California Pacific Conference
NAIA Track & Field Conference California Pacific Conference

ACT Test Admission

953rd for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 45%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 17 / 23
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 19 / 25
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 18 / 24

SAT Test Admission

691st for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 94%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 440 / 550
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 460 / 590
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 900 / 1140

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity1,681
Meals per WeekN/A
Room FeeN/A
Board FeeN/A

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 837th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $78,009 ($84,827 male / $65,100 female)
Number of FT Faculty 269 (153 male / 116 female)
Number of PT Faculty 328
FT Faculty Ratio 0.8 : 1
Total Benefits $9,997,000

Josh Rahn+

Josh is a full-time professional writer and organic farmer who lives in rural Kentucky.

5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343-5603
p. 209-228-4400
w. www.ucmerced.edu

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