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Academic and Application Requirements

Admission decisions are based on a combination of factors, including academic degrees and records, the statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, test scores, and relevant work experience. We also consider the appropriateness of your goals to the degree program in which you are interested and to the research interests of the program's faculty. In addition, consideration may be given to how your background and life experience would contribute significantly to an educationally beneficial blend of students.

Please check the information provided by each graduate program for any additional admission requirements applicants must meet.

Applicant Admissions Criteria:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution with a major appropriate to the proposed graduate program. This degree must represent the completion of a program equivalent both in the distribution of academic subject matter and scholarship achievement comparable to that offered at the University of California.
  2. Have a satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) is required.
  3. Provide TOEFL or IELTS test scores (international students only). Please visit our International Application Information page.
  4. Individual Program Requirements: Please review below any additional requirements imposed by the graduate program you are applying to (GRE test scores, Writing Samples).

General Application Requirements:

The following is a list of materials required to complete the UC Merced Graduate application for M.A./M.M./M.S. and Ph.D. programs:

  • Application Fee: The application fee of $135 for domestic applicants and $155 for international applicants, must be submitted when you apply. Applications will NOT be processed or reviewed until an application fee has been received. The application fee is not refundable under any circumstances. You may pay using a credit card when applying online
  • Fee Waiver: Graduate Division application fee waivers are available to eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents based on financial need or eligible program participation.
  1. Demonstrated Financial Need: Click here to submit a financial need-based waiver request. You must submit your request at least two business days prior to your program's application deadline.
  2. Program Participation: If you have participated in any of the eligible programs listed HERE you may qualify for an application fee waiver. Please review the instructions on page 2 to claim your fee waiver and submit your application. Be prepared to upload proof of participation.

Learn more about application fee waivers here.

  • Transcripts: For the initial review process, upload a scanned copy of all college-level academic work including community college, summer session, and study abroad, onto your application. If recommended for admission, official transcripts of all academic work must be submitted in a sealed envelope issued by the originating institution. Transcripts can be mailed to: 

University of California, Merced
Attn: Graduate Division, SSB 230
5200 N Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343

Official transcripts from domestic universities may be sent electronically if the originating institution provides that option. Please have them delivered to All academic records submitted to our office become the property of the University, and cannot be returned.

  • Three Letters of Recommendation: Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. On the admissions application, you will be asked to enter the email addresses of three recommenders. Your recommenders are asked to give their personal impressions of your intellectual ability, your aptitude in research or professional skills, your character, and the quality of your previous work and potential for future productive scholarship. Applicants may waive the right to inspect their letters of recommendation on a voluntary basis. We reserve the right to verify the authenticity of any and all letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of Purpose: A statement of purpose is required to help determine whether your academic objectives can reasonably be satisfied in the graduate program to which you seek admission. The statement of purpose should be used to describe your scholarly and research area(s) of interest, and your future occupational and/or professional plans. Include your academic background and experiences that have prepared you for advanced scholarship, and any other information that may help reviewers understand your academic goals, and evaluate your preparation and likelihood to achieve those goals in general, and at UC Merced in particular.
  • Personal History Statement: The personal history statement is required and provides admission committees insight into an applicant’s background, accomplishments, achievements, or contributions. It may also provide context for an applicant's desire to pursue graduate studies at UC Merced. You may discuss the educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities pertinent to your academic journey. Please also address how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity at UC Merced and in your academic discipline, and how your studies might help to serve the common good, including underserved or disadvantaged populations if applicable.

Individual Program Requirements:

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores: Please review below which graduate programs required the GRE for the FALL 2023 admissions cycle. If required, applicants should arrange to have their GRE scores sent to the UC Merced Graduate Division Office. The GRE institution code for UC Merced is 4129. GRE scores are valid for five years after the testing year in which you tested. You may self-report scores but official test scores are required if advised by your graduate program. If your graduate program is not listed below, then you are not required to enter GRE scores.

 The following Graduate Programs REQUIRE the GRE:

  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (M.S.)
  • Political Science

The following Graduate Programs accept the GRE as an optional requirement:

  •  Chemistry & Biochemistry
  •  Materials and Biomaterials Science and Engineering
  • Physics

Writing Samples: The Interdisciplinary Humanities and Sociology program requires a writing sample of all applicants. Please Note: Although not a requirement for most programs, all applicants may submit examples of their prior academic work, writing samples, or statements about research experience.


International Applicants:

Students applying from foreign countries should also refer to the requirements and regulations for international students for additional information.

  • TOEFL or IELTS ScoresApplicants 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). 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. All graduate applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English, must show evidence of having taken the TOEFL or TOEFL-Internet Based Test or the IELTS examination within the past two years.

Per a decision made by UC Merced Graduate Council in October 2021:

  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition scores will be accepted for the 2023-24 application cycle.
  • IELTS Indicator scores will be accepted for the 2023-24 application cycle. 

Verification of test scores will need to be provided to the Graduate Division

  • TOEFL: Request scores through ETS using code 4129
  • IELTS: Request scores to be officially mailed to the Graduate Division:

University of California, Merced
Attn: Graduate Division, SSB 230
5200 N Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343

Please refer to our International Applicants page for test score requirements. Note some programs require higher test scores, please also review program standards.