Graduate Studies

Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics involves the use of analytical and computational mathematics to solve real-world problems. Its core is based on modeling, analysis and scientific computing. The Applied Mathematics graduate emphasis offers opportunities for students interested in multidisciplinary mathematics projects at the interface with life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and social sciences. Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with emphases in Applied Mathematics emphases are offered. The coursework provides training in the fundamental tools of applied mathematics, including ordinary and partial differential equations, asymptotic and perturbation methods, numerical analysis and scientific computing. An explicit goal of applied mathematical sciences is to contribute significantly to another discipline. Hence, the objective of applied mathematics is to foster multidisciplinary research and education.

Biological Engineering and Small-Scale Technologies

The engineering sciences are undergoing a vast and fundamental metamorphosis from isolated disciplines to more integrative and multidisciplinary topics. Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with emphases in Biological Engineering and Small-scale Technologies (BEST) are offered. Research projects are available on topics ranging from fundamental characterization of materials to tissue engineering, and coursework will provide a background in the tools and integration of modern materials.

Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Chemistry and Chemical Biology is a research-based graduate program focused on interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research. We offer Ph.D. degrees in four emphasis tracks: physical chemistry, organic chemistry, computational chemistry and chemical biology.

Cognitive and Information Sciences

The Cognitive and Information Sciences (CIS) Ph.D. program offers students interdisciplinary training in cognitive science with an emphasis on computation, technology and applications. This emphasis distinguishes it from other cognitive science graduate programs. UC Merced researchers view intelligent behaviors not just as emerging solely from neural processes, but from interactions between brain, body and environment. Thus intelligent behaviors may also emerge from group and social interactions situated in their economic and technological milieu. The word “information” in CIS denotes the program's multiscale perspective on cognition and emphases on computational approaches and applications towards developing technologies that foster, and even aspire to emulate, intelligent behavior.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Graduate studies in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) offers individualized, strongly research-oriented courses of study. The EECS graduate emphasis area is organized to allow students to pursue cutting-edge research in modern fields of electrical engineering and computer science, emphasizing research and preparing students for leadership positions in industrial labs, government, or academia. Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with emphases in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are offered. The EECS graduate emphasis area is highly cross-disciplinary with connections to faculty from all three schools at UC Merced. In particular, strong collaborations with the graduate programs in environmental engineering and cognitive sciences are possible.

Environmental Systems

The Environmental Systems graduate program trains students to tackle the most challenging problems facing our planet -- water, soil, climate, energy and resources. Through understanding the Earth as an integrated system of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere that intersects human society, ES students are uniquely poised to address critical research needs of the environment and its sustainability. Graduates are prepared for careers in academia, research, government and industry that integrate expertise from across engineering, natural sciences and social sciences.

Mechanical Engineering

The Mechanical Engineering (ME) graduate emphasis engages in individualized, research-based programs of study. ME faculty members strive to provide students with a comprehensive research experience based on the latest developments of the analytical, numerical and experimental tools available in the field. Judicious application of the fundamentals principles of mechanics allows specialized mechanical engineers to impact virtually all fields of science and technology. The goal of ME at UC Merced is to provide its graduate students with a solid foundation in mechanical sciences and a strong and comprehensive exposure to modern research techniques.


Research in Physics graduate studies spans the traditional disciplines of physics, as well as related interdisciplinary areas. Emphases include atomic, molecular, and optical physics, condensed matter physics, biophysics, materials physics, nanoscience, and energy science. Physics graduate students are trained in 1) a broad foundation in the fundamentals of physics, 2) experimental, theoretical, and/or computational skills necessary to conduct independent research, 3) new, interdisciplinary research areas, and 4) communication of physics concepts and scientific results for expert and non-expert audiences. Most students are admitted to the Physics program to work toward a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, but applications from students whose goal is a Master of Science (M.S.) degree will also be considered.

Psychological Sciences

The Psychological Sciences Ph.D. program emphasizes a strong base of coursework, including methods, statistics and a one year professional seminar covering the breadth of psychology; this base is then supplemented by more specialized work in one or more of these three areas: developmental psychology, health psychology and quantitative psychology. Students are actively engaged in research from the start of their graduate training through to the end of their doctoral work. This research emphasizes close work with a faculty mentor, with increasing independence over the years of training.

Quantitative and Systems Biology

Advances in techniques and theory that bridge molecular and ecosystems scales, have greatly enabled the potential for integration across the life sciences. Biologists' ability to gather and process large amounts of quantitative data in field and laboratory settings, is advancing hand-in-hand with theory and modeling that better explain the diversity of life on Earth. Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees are offered.

The QSB doctoral degree at UC Merced provides individualized, research-based courses of study. Research projects are available on diverse topics including:

  • Biomolecular interactions
  • Genomics and proteomics
  • Cellular interactions and signal transduction
  • Organ systems and whole animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate)
  • Comparative ecology, evolution and organismal biology
  • Computational biology

Social Sciences

The graduate emphasis in Social Sciences offers students individualized training and the opportunity to help build a unique, interdisciplinary research community. Graduate study is currently organized in five tracks:

  • Economics
  • Political science
  • Sociology

Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with emphases in Social aScience are offered.

World Cultures

The graduate emphasis in World Cultures offers individualized, research-based courses of study that explore cultures in both their local manifestations — by focusing on the rich cultural and historical heritage of California, the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada — and in a global context. The program pays particular attention to world cultures in their historical, political, material, and literary manifestations, and to the effects of immigration and migration on society and cultural change. Students explore and apply the methods by which historians, literary scholars, anthropologists, artists, philosophers, scholars of cultural studies, and other humanists and social scientists examine societies and cultures. The emphasis offers concentrations in history, literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, literatures and cultures of the English-speaking world, and world heritage. Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with emphases in World Cultures are offered.