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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of programs does the school offer to help me succeed?

There are many resources on campus to help a student develop as an individual. Some programs include the STEM Resource Center and the Excel! Program. The STEM Resource Center provides natural science and engineering students free, student-run tutoring in popular science and math courses throughout each semester. They also provide students with internship and research opportunities. The Excel! Program is designed to help students not only connect with other faculty and staff to help them achieve their goals, but also provides outlets to improve and develop a strong foundation in their study techniques.

What is the largest and smallest class size this school has to offer?

Our class sizes range from 377 students to eight students. These class sizes range depending on major and if the class is lower or upper division.

Besides being a small campus, what else is good about UC Merced?

The culture of research at UC Merced is very different compared to the other UCs. Other UCs have labs full of graduate students, typically wanting to fill any vacant spots with more graduate students or not having room for additional students in general. Our graduate population is extremely small, with about 1 to 4 graduate students per lab, providing lots of opportunities for undergraduates to join the research groups to help out. Undergraduates are seen as committed and can dedicate 2-3 years of research when they stay in their research group. Undergraduates provide help with research projects, and faculty members know that if a student really enjoys research, they are more likely to be interested in pursuing graduate school to contribute even more to the world.

Will I graduate in four years? How long will it take to graduate?

Yes. All of the majors within the School of Natural Sciences are designed to be completed within four years, not including summer sessions. Students are allowed up to nine semesters (fall and spring) to complete their degrees as stated in the Normal Progress to Degree Policy. Most students either take summer school to lighten their next semester class schedule or to get ahead in their degree.

If I decide during my college career that I want to switch into the School of Natural Sciences, can I do that?

Yes, students can switch their majors before they reach 90 units. The given student’s cumulative GPA — among other requirements — will be reviewed to determine if the student is eligible for changing their major. Students can also add or change a minor before 90 units following similar application guidelines.

How many math classes do I have to take for my major?

Students that major in the School of Natural Sciences have to take two to five mathematics courses, depending on their major (except Applied Mathematics majors, where the majority of their major is mathematics courses).

What are some research opportunities for undergraduate students?

Many of our undergraduate students are involved in research. One of the most common ways students participate in research is by reaching out to faculty. Students can find faculty research interest in our Faculty Directory. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) provides students with research opportunities and programs such as the California Alliance for Minority Participation program (CAMP), the Maximizing Access to Research Careers program (MARC), and the UC Leadership Excellence Through Advanced Degrees program (UC LEADS).

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Resource Center at UC Merced can also assist undergraduate students interested in research opportunities. 

Can students who are in the School of Natural Sciences study abroad?

Yes! Students can visit the UC Merced Education Abroad office to discuss all the possible study abroad options.

I’m interested in becoming a teacher in science or math. Is there a teaching credential program?

Yes, through the CalTeach Program there are a couple different ways to pursue a teaching credential program. We offer the Natural Science Education Minor (NSED) and the Natural Science Education Minor with Teaching Credential (NSEC). For more information about these programs, you can visit the CalTeach website.

Will I be able to handle the course load?

In order to be successful in courses, it is recommended that students study outside of class for three hours per unit. We have various resources through departments such as the Bright Success Center and the STEM Resource Center to help you manage your course work and succeed.

How do I know which major to choose?

We encourage students to choose their major based on their interests and career goals. The School of Natural Sciences has five majors, and their descriptions can be viewed here.

I took AP classes in high school. Will the units count towards my degree?

UC Merced will accept credits for AP classes with a score of 3 or higher on the AP exam. A score of a 4 or 5 may result in an exemption from certain introductory courses.