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What are the different ways I can receive financial support?

A: The School of Natural Sciences Graduate Programs is proud to provide extensive financial support for graduate education. Most of our Ph.D. students receive full financial support in the form of:
-Teaching Assistants (TA)
TAs help provide instructional assistance which includes leading labs and discussion sections, help prepare instructional materials, and grade homework and exams.
-Graduate Student Researchers (GSR)
GSR positions assist with research work in a wide variety of ways, and some projects may provide opportunities for advanced students to leader certain efforts, with guidance and oversight of principal investigators.
Fellowships are awards made directly to graduate students to support advancement in their academic programs, research and careers and may be funded by the UC or an external agency, foundation or institution.
For more funding information, please visit

Are my tuition and fees covered through the financial support?

A: All graduate students must pay their campus-based fees by the established deadlines. If you hold a TA or GSR position and have a 24% GSR (or higher) or a 25% TA (or higher) appointment AND you are enrolled in 12 units minimum, your tuition, student services fee and health insurance fees will be paid via a fee remission as a benefit of your employment. If you have a fellowship that pays fees and you are enrolled in a minimum of 12 units, your tuition, student services fee and health insurance will be paid by your fellowship. If you do not have financial support through a TA/GSR appointment or fellowship, you are responsible for paying your tuition, student service fees, health insurance fee and non-resident supplemental tuition (if applicable) by the fee deadline.

What makes me eligible for a TA/GSR appointment?

A: TA must be a full-time UC Merced graduate student enrolled in at least 12 units during the semester of appointment and must be in good academic standing as defined in the Graduate Advisor’s handbook. Any graduate student seeking employment as a TA, they must submit an application for a position through the UC Merced employment website,

When do I get paid?

A: You will be paid on the first of the month, and you will always be paid for the previous month’s work.

How do I get my paycheck?

A: When you have completed your hiring paperwork, you have an option to do a direct deposit. If you choose direct deposit, you will need to pick up your first check as a new direct deposit can take up to one cycle to process. You can pick up paper checks (first check for direct deposit) in SE1 370 and will need to present an ID. You will be notified via email when paychecks are ready.


How do I know what courses I need to take?

A: Each Graduate Group have designated courses that each graduate student will need to complete. For a timeline and sample of course schedule for each graduate group, please visit

How do I register for Research Units?

A: In order to maintain 12 units in a semester, students can register for Research Units (295 courses) to reach 12 units. To register for research units (295) you must email your faculty advisor with the subject and course number (ie. CHEM 295) and the number of units you will need to reach 12 units. Once approved by your faculty advisor, forward the approval from your advisor to the SNS graduate support staff, Joy Sanchez-Bell for QSB & CHEM or Amanda Sargent for AMAT & PHYI. Once the approval is received the graduate group staff will send you the CRN to enroll online.

How do I select a Faculty Advisor?

A: Students could be assigned an initial advisor when they first enroll; if not they will need to select an advisor no later than the end of the second semester of study. Each student should discuss research interests and possible research projects with faculty members in his or her group as early as possible. The student and his or her faculty advisor will develop a research topic. Selecting an advisor requires students to make an honest assessment of their working style. To successfully complete your theses or dissertation, you need an advisor who complements your working style. To see helpful tips in choosing your advisor, Once selected you will need complete the “Change of Advisor” form and submit to Graduate Division.

Can I change my Faculty Advisor?

A:You can change your faculty advisor for the following reasons:

  • If your faculty advisor moves to a different university
  • Your research interests have changed
  • Your relationship has become strained

To change your faculty advisor you need to complete the “Change of Advisor” form and submit to Graduate Division.

How do I select a Faculty Committee?

A: The dissertation committee is a unique feature of doctoral education. The goal is to provide each student with the guidance and support with the guidance and support he/she will need to conduct an independent research project of the highest quality and relevancy. The graduate Faculty Advisor, normally in consultation with the student and other program faculty, recommends appointment of faculty members to advise on and supervise each student’s dissertation research as part of their examination committees. Final approval of committee membership rests with the dean of Graduate Studies. For questions to consider when selecting your committee,

When do I meet with my Faculty Committee?

A: Once you have assembled a faculty committee, the first Annual Meeting should take place in May of the first year. Schedule a faculty committee meeting with your faculty advisor and at least one other faculty member before the start of fall semester. The first meeting can be informal and a full committee does not need to be assembled, but should include at least one other faculty member who is not your faculty advisor. The qualifying exam, master’s thesis defense of dissertation defense may be counted as an annual faculty committee meeting. For more information about annual committees and working with your committee,


When is the graduate application deadline?

A: The deadline for receipt of applicants for all UC Merced Graduate programs is January 15th, except Quantitative Systems Biology QSB which is December 15th. These dates change per academic year, please refer to Graduate Division’s website for current application dates and deadlines. You can access the online application at UC Merced Online Application. Students are normally notified of admission between March 1 and May 1.

What is required to apply to Graduate Programs at UC Merced?

A: To see all requirements to apply for Graduate Programs at UC Merced, please refer to

What are the average GRE scores and the average GPAs of admitted students?

A: The satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. There is no average GRE scores as they change year to year, however the General GRE test is required for admissions.

Does UC Merced require a department code for sending GRE scores?

A: No, applicants do need a department code when sending GRE scores. The institution code for UC Merced, which is 4129, will be sufficient for sending GRE scores. Please not, your GRE scores are valid for up to 5 years after you complete the exam.

Does the School of Natural Sciences offer a master’s of science degree?

A: Yeas the School of Natural Sciences does have master’s of science degree’s. Please see to see the two different plans offered as well as which fields offer MA programs.

Can I apply to begin the program in the Spring rather than the fall?

A: Spring admission are by exception only. Contact faculty members to see which of them may be accepting new students for the spring.

Can I defer my admission for a year?

A: This is done on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, you would will need to re-apply to the program of interest. Please contact your graduate group admissions chair for further information.

Is undergraduate research needed for admission to the School of Natural Sciences?

A: Undergraduate research experience is a strong positive for applicants. It helps faculty members and the admissions committee determine if the candidate would be a good fit for a lab at UC Merced. However, candidates without research experience are also carefully evaluated for admission.

Who should my letters of recommendation be from?

A: Applicants are encouraged to submit letters of recommendation from faculty members who know them and are familiar with their potential for future graduate work. Letters of recommendation help an applicant’s candidacy most when they are detailed, refer to recent experiences and address how the applicant’s research interests would fit in at UC Merced.