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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 Ph.D. degree and successfully acquire a faculty appointment.

Eligibility Requirements & Standards

  • Doctoral graduate students are eligible for this award regardless of United States citizenship.
  • Preference will be given to PhD students who are not eligible for the Faculty Mentor Program due to citizenship status.
  • Continuing UC Merced doctoral students in any graduate program who will not be at the dissertation stage during the tenure of the award, but who are currently engaged in research with a faculty mentor, are eligible for nomination.
  • Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their graduate studies at UC Merced, and be enrolled full-time during the award period.
  • 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 will be required to submit an evaluation at the end of the academic year.

Financial Support

  • Up to two awards will be made each academic year.
  • Recipients will receive a fellowship of $20,700, paid monthly 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), excluding Campus Based Fees.
  • Recipients will also receive a summer award of $6,900 following the academic year of the award period.
  • 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.

Application Procedures

  • This application is open to all students who meet the eligibility criteria. Faculty advisors are encouraged to invite eligible students to apply on the basis of academic merit as well as contribution to program.
  • 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.  Please include the following items with your application:
    • Curriculum vitae (CV)
    • Unofficial UCM transcript, including current semester.
    • Statement – 2-4 pages describing the schedule of training goals and activities for the 9-month time period. The plan should include joint participation in meetings of professional societies, and/or unit committees, seminars or activities that provide professional development as faculty of the future. The statement should be written for a general academic audience, i.e. a faculty reviewer who does not necessarily have expertise in the specific area of study.
    • Estimated Financial Resources - 1 page list of estimated financial resources known to the applicant during the award term.  This includes, but is not limited to, savings/checking account estimated balance, stocks/bonds estimated balance, and any real estate investments.  Also include a list of known or estimated financial obligations.
    • Letters of Recommendation - Faculty advisor name and email must be provided under the Letters of Recommendation tab on the online application form.  Advisors will receive an email request for a letter of support for the applicant.  The letter of support should include 1) a description of the mentor relationship and the project that the student will complete during the 9-month period; 2) how the experiences, accomplishments and points of view of the individual contribute to the diversity of the graduate program; and 3) how the student’s academic research interest and degree goals relate to cultural, societal or educational issues, particularly in terms of educationally disadvantaged segments of society. Please note that the letter of support will go to the Graduate Division and the Graduate Council (GC), and will not be visible to the applicant.  

* 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.

Graduate Student Opportunity Fellows


Michelle Len
Mechanical Engineering
Mengjun Shu
Environmental Systems


Tayebeh Riahinasab
Megha Suswaram
Quantitative & Systematic Biology


Angel Fernandez Bou
Environmental Systems

Ameed Hashmi
Biological Engineering & Small-Scale Technologies


Lasith Adhikari
Applied Mathematics

Uma Shantini Ramasamy
Biological Engineering & Small-Scale Technologies