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.