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Graduate Student Opportunity Program

The Graduate Student Opportunity Program (GSOP) forms an important link in the continuum of support for academically promising graduate students. This award assists recipients in acquiring and developing advanced research skills that will result in a significant achievement for the student. It is designed to improve mentoring for UC Merced (UCM) doctoral students who will not be at the dissertation stage during the award period, but who are currently engaged in research with a faculty mentor.  The award is expected to increase the number of graduate students who complete their PhD degree and successfully acquire a faculty appointment.

Eligibility Requirements & Standards

  • Preference will be given to PhD students who are not eligible for the Faculty Mentor Program due to citizenship status.
  • PhD students regardless of United States citizenship.
  • Continuing UC Merced doctoral students in any graduate program who will not be advanced to candidacy during the tenure of the award, but who are currently engaged in research with a faculty mentor, are eligible for nomination.
  • Currently be enrolled in 12 units in one of the graduate programs, GPA ≥ 3.0 and good academic standing.
  • The student is expected to conduct research under the guidance of the faculty mentor during both semesters leading to progressively more independent work. Considerable efforts are to be focused on degree work and progress.
  • Fellows are expected to participate in activities designed by faculty mentors to improve research skills and preparation for an academic career.
  • Faculty mentors are expected to participate in mentoring sessions and assist student participants with their scholarly research leading to the development of a doctoral dissertation.
  • It is expected that the student mentee will develop substantial research skills and experience, resulting in a significant achievement or outcome such as a published research paper worthy of a scholarly journal by the end of the year in which the fellowship was awarded.
  • Both students and faculty mentors are expected to submit an evaluation at the end of the academic year.
  • Awardee information may be shared with donors, including but not limited to: name, award amount, UC Merced email address, application materials and/or summary of program/research interest.

Financial Support

  • Up to two awards will be made each academic year.
  • Recipients will receive a fellowship of $25,002 paid over a 9-month academic year period plus payment of Graduate Fees (Resident Tuition, Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (if applicable), Student Services Fee and Health Services Fee, and Campus Based Fees).
  • Fellows may not be employed during the tenure of this fellowship.

Student Loan Impact

  • Per federal guidelines, all fellowship and tuition support is taken into consideration when determining student loan eligibility.  If you will receive federal student loans during the same academic year as this award, please note that this award could, and most likely will, reduce your student loan eligibility.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used specifically for the pursuit of educational and graduate career goals.

Application Procedures

  • Apply by completing an online application.  Please note, the fellowship application is built within the admissions system, so you might see some items that reference admissions.
  • During the application process you will be able to select this fellowship among others, if it is currently open.
  • Please include the following items with your application:
    • General Statement - 1-2 pages that describe your research area(s) of interest, accomplishments to date and long-term academic goals.
    • Project Plan/Timeline - 1-2 pages that describe your academic goals that will be supported by the fellowship(s), including a plan for training and research activities for the time period of fellowship support. The plan may include professional meetings, courses, workshops, seminars, and professional development activities for pursuing an academic career.
    • For your statement and plan if applicable, write for a general academic audience, i.e. a faculty reviewer who does not necessarily have expertise in your area of research.
    • Unofficial up-to-date UCM transcript.
    • Curriculum vitae (CV)
    • One letter of recommendation from a UCM faculty member.
  • The fellowship committee will review all complete applications. Review criteria will include adherence to the fellowship guidelines, the academic qualifications of the applicant, and the letter of recommendation. Please note, incomplete applications will not be reviewed.



* The Graduate Division reserves the right not to make an award in any given year for which a call for applications/nominations has been issued.



See the Internal Fellowships page for current deadlines associated with this fellowship.