Welcome International Students
At the University of California, Merced, international students have the opportunity to be part of a vibrant culture and gain world-class education and research experience. Our international students participate in cutting-edge research and discovery while getting personalized attention and mentorship from respected, award-winning faculty. International students from more than 28 countries comprise a quarter of our graduate student population. At UC Merced, we are committed to our international graduate students and offer a variety of services to support their success. We look forward to your application.
Requirements for International Students
International applicants should hold a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. The Graduate Admissions Office will determine the equivalence based on the academic record submitted by the applicant. All academic records must show dates of enrollment, courses taken, class rank (if applicable), description of grading scale used, and degree awarded or expected date of conferral.
Students with foreign academic work are required to submit official copies of academic records directly from their school, college or university, along with a certified English translation. Please check the Academic and Application Requirements page for more details.
English Language Testing
In addition to the university admission criteria, international students are required to submit the following:
TOEFL or IELTS Scores: Applicants whose primary language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in English for admission consideration. Any applicant who spent the majority of their primary and secondary education in a nation/territory where English is not the primary language must take an approved English proficiency examination prior to admission. Proficiency in English may be demonstrated by passing one of two standardized, internationally administered tests: TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Please note that TOEFL and IELTS scores expire two years after the test date. The applicant should take one of these tests at the earliest available date to ensure that the scores are reported in time to meet application deadlines. Applicants will not be admitted if they lack an acceptable proficiency score. Passing scores are defined below:
- TOEFL: 550 on the paper test or 80 on the TOEFL iBT (internet-Based Testing)
- IELTS: a score of at least 6.5
- UC Merced's TOEFL iBT score requirements for admission consideration is an overall minimum score of 80. The minimum scores on each section are as follows:
- Writing: 19
- Speaking: 26 (see * below)
- Listening: 17
- Reading: 18
- UC Merced's IELTS score requirements for admission consideration is an overall minimum score of 6.5. The minimum scores on each section are as follows:
- Writing: 5.5
- Speaking: 8 (see * below)
- Listening: 6
- Reading: 6
Some programs may require higher scores. Please check individual program websites for specifics.
NOTE: International and U.S. Permanent Resident graduate students who are not citizens of countries where English is either the primary or dominant language MUST pass an approved oral English-proficiency examination to be considered for appointment as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate. There is NO EXCEPTION to this requirement.
For admission purpose only, the TOEFL may be waived for an applicant who has received an advanced degree from a U.S. institution or from a country where English is the language of instruction. This DOES NOT exempt the applicant from the English-proficiency examination for Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate appointment. For more information regarding the English-proficiency examination, please visit the Teaching Commons website.
*Under special circumstances a TOEFL Speaking score below 26 may be accepted towards admission as long as an overall score of 80 is maintained. Similarly, under special circumstances an IELTS Speaking score below 8 may be accepted as long an overall score of 6.5 is maintained. This DOES NOT exempt the applicant from the English-proficiency examination for Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate appointment. At least one semester of teaching is required for graduation from most Ph.D. and some Masters programs.
UC Merced also accepts scores from the Academic Modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) designed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and administered by the British Council worldwide. You are responsible for providing us with an official Test Report Form (TRF) of your IELTS. We do not accept official IELTS reports via email or electronic reporting at this time. Remember to order the TRF when you register to take the test. Your most recent overall BAND score must be at least 6.5 on a 9-point scale. To register for the IELTS, consult the IELTS website, contact the office of the center where you plan to take the test, or contact the British Council.
Resources for International Students:
We are dedicated to providing specialized services and resources for our international students to successfully make the transition to UC Merced. The graduate community at UC Merced fosters a strong commitment to supporting the social, academic and professional development of our international students. The following links provide additional information you may find beneficial as you prepare for admission:
Helpful Tips for International Students
We urge international students to complete all paperwork well in advance of deadlines. Given the U.S. consulates' more comprehensive review of individual student histories and situations, it can take a long time for you to obtain your student visa and process related paperwork critical to your travel and study at UC Merced.
Please consider ways that you can have paperwork completed and contacts identified weeks in advance. For example, consider paying your visa fee in advance so that you have your receipt available for the day when you can officially submit your visa to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country.
Similarly, make sure you have all required documents and that you complete your passport application, Financial Verification form, and other required forms in advance of when you think you might need them. This way, if you don't have the information requested on the forms, you will have extra time to obtain needed information. Make yourself aware of all U.S. Immigration rules and regulations that will affect you as a visiting student. Planning will save you precious time.