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Academic and Application Requirements

Graduate Admissions at UC Merced

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 Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Most UC Merced graduate programs require only the general test, but some programs do require subject-specific exam scores as well (see Program Specific Requirements for more information). 
  4. Provide TOEFL or IELTS test scores (international students only). Please visit our International Application Information page.

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 $120 for domestic applicants and $140 for international applicants, must be submitted when you apply. Applications will be 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 application fee waivers are available for eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents based on program participation or demonstrated financial need. To verify if you qualify for through program participation, please visit our list of fee waiver participating programs.  You may contact to request a financial-need fee waiver application. Verification of participation will need to be uploaded onto your graduate application. Click here for instructions on how to claim your fee waiver. For more information please contact:
  • 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 admissions, 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 310
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

  • Graduate Record Examination Scores: The general test of the GRE is required for admission to graduate study at UC Merced. Applicants should arrange to have GRE scores sent to the UC Merced Graduate Division Office. GRE scores are valid for five years after the testing year in which you tested. The GRE institution code for UC Merced is 4129. You may report self-reported scores on the application; however, official scores are required to complete your application. See Program Specific Requirements to review programs that require a GRE subject test.
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores: All graduate applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English, must show evidence of having taken the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or TOEFL-Internet Based Test or the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) examination within the past 2 years. Verification of test scores will need to be provided to the Graduate Division. TOEFL test scores must be verified through ETS using code 4129. Official IELTS test scores must be mailed to:

University of California, Merced
Attn: Graduate Division, SSB 310
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.

  • 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.
  • Personal History and Achievement/Contributions: The Personal History and Achievements/Contributions statement is required and provides admission committees insight into an applicant’s background, accomplishments, achievements or contributions that are important in evaluating the applicant for graduate study. Relevant information includes educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities pertinent to the applicant’s academic journey.

Individual Program Requirements:

Subject-specific GRE tests:

  • Physics requires that applicants take the Physics GRE as well as the general exam. This requirement can be waived under special circumstances.

Graduate Management and Admissions Test (GMAT): 

  • Management of Complex Systems and Masters of Management Professional Degree accept the GMAT in exchange for the GRE test score. Please use the code Z9H-CF to submit your scores to UCM Graduate Division.

Writing Samples:

Please Note: Although not a requirement for most programs, all applicants may submit examples of prior academic work, writing samples, or statements about research experience if they wish.

International Students:

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