Undergraduate Majors

Anthropology, B.A.

Anthropology is dedicated to understanding our diversity and what makes us uniquely human. Our Anthropology program distinguishes itself by focusing research and teaching on a select group of common research themes relevant to our local, state and global communities. It emphasizes how topics and issues central to the human experience such as migration, gender, power, health, kinship, race and identity are examined and understood through diverse anthropological methodologies. In upper division courses, students explore particular socio-cultural, archaeological and biological perspectives on such issues in greater depth, and these courses may specifically engage perspectives from two or more sub-fields.

Anthropology majors develop critical skills in thought, written and oral expression, the application of knowledge and a valuable understanding of human cultural diversity. In an increasingly globalized world in which interaction with people of diverse cultures is becoming the norm, developing a cross-cultural understanding about the complexities of human societies past and present makes Anthropology an ideal education for the 21st century.

Applied Mathematical Sciences, B.S.

Mathematics is an essential part of scientific development. By itself, mathematics is a subject of great depth and beauty. However, mathematics is also crucial in the development of natural sciences, engineering and social sciences.

A Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematical Sciences prepares students in the fundamentals of applied mathematics: modeling, analysis and scientific computing applied to real-world problems.

Bioengineering, B.S.

Bioengineering is an interdisciplinary field in which the techniques, devices, materials and resourcefulness of engineers are used to address problems in biology and healthcare; and lessons from biology are used to inspire design and inform progress in engineering. This synergy between biology and engineering has led to a wide range of implantable materials, diagnostic devices, sensors and molecular characterization techniques, and it has produced tools that greatly expedited the sequencing of the human genome. Along with these practical innovations has come a rapidly increasing need for personnel with the necessary hybrid skills to capitalize on them, and undergraduate bioengineering programs have proliferated alongside the continued growth of bioengineering research.

Biological Sciences, B.S.

The Biological Sciences major provides students with a solid foundation in the life sciences, ranging from the molecular mechanisms of biological processes to the emerging understanding of the genomic instruction book of life. Biology is presented as a modern multidisciplinary science, reflecting the increasing trend for the life sciences to bridge across scientific disciplines and to integrate multiple types of information for a comprehensive understanding of biological systems. These concepts are taught with a strong emphasis on real-world applications of this knowledge in understanding health and disease and complex biological systems.

Chemical Sciences, B.S.

Chemistry is often known as "the central science" because of the key position it occupies in modern science and engineering. Most phenomena in the biological and earth sciences can be described in terms of the chemical and physical behavior of atoms and molecules, and chemical principles also underlie much progress in medicine and engineering. In addition, chemical systems are fascinating and often beautiful in their own right. The Chemical Sciences major is designed to meet the requirements for American Chemical Society certification while providing the flexibility to pursue increasingly important interdisciplinary areas.

Cognitive Science, B.S.

Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary study of thinking. Our Cognitive Science major integrates theories and methods from neuroscience, linguistics, psychology, computer science and philosophy, and provides hands on experience in laboratories or in the field. It is ideal for students interested in how humans and machines think, perceive, act and interact. Both the B.S. and the B.A. prepare students for a wide range of careers, including positions in high tech companies and medical settings. They also provide excellent training for graduate study in fields as diverse as information sciences, neuroscience, medicine, law, management, psychology, computer science and engineering, industrial engineering and communications.

Computer Science and Engineering, B.S.

The Computer Science and Engineering major is designed to provide students with breadth and depth in the exciting and rapidly expanding fields of computer science and computer engineering. Computer scientists and engineers have the opportunity to work with advanced computer and information technologies that impact virtually every aspect of society. Computers have become a vital part of all industries including design and manufacturing, entertainment, communications, transportation, health care, scientific research, education, as well as public, private and governmental services.

Earth Systems Science, B.S.

The Earth Systems Science major is designed to prepare students to meet the challenges of environmental and ecological research in the 21st century. Students who study Earth Systems Science will gain a quantitative understanding of the physical, chemical and biological principles that control the processes, reactions and evolution of the Earth as a support system for life. The major emphasizes a highly interdisciplinary approach, incorporating field studies, laboratory experiments and computations. Complementary coursework in the social sciences will expose students to the political, economic, and societal implications of human interactions with the environment. A unique aspect of the major is its flexibility — students can select upper division classes in areas that reflect their individual interests within Earth Systems Science.

Economics, B.A.

Economics is often called the study of how to allocate scarce resources. The most important thing you'll get from studying economics is learning to "think like an economist," developing your skill for identifying essential elements of a problem and the analytical skills for finding solutions. This way of thinking and analyzing can be applied to a remarkable range of problems in many different fields, such as:

  • How to make good individual decisions and good business decisions
  • How to take account of strategic considerations
  • How to explain human behavior
  • How to address public policy issues such as unemployment, inflation, pollution, and international trade and politics

Consequently, studying economics gives you a superb preparation for many careers in business, law, government, education and consulting.

English, B.A.

The basis of the English major is to help students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to read deeply and write fluently. These skills are critical to professional success, regardless of field or industry. Literature and literary criticism are significant parts of an ages old, continuing conversation about the meaning and value of human society. Unlike scientific or social scientific approaches to this conversation, literary discourse emphasizes the particular in the dialogue between particular and universal. The study of literature enables one to engage this conversation richly, both for personal development and for the ability it gives one to be a responsible agent in the many societies each person inhabits.

Environmental Engineering, B.S.

The study of Environmental Engineering provides students with quantitative understanding of the physical, chemical and biological principles that control air, water and habitat quality, and sustainability. Students majoring in this exciting field will be prepared to study and help solve important problems in all areas of water, air and land resources management including watershed restoration, groundwater remediation and protection, hydrologic modeling and engineering, air resources monitoring and assessment and contaminant mitigation.

History, B.A.

The Greek historian Thucydides wrote many centuries ago that, the study of history is of value to any "who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future…" History, with its focus on research, writing and argumentation, as well as knowledge about the past, is well known as an excellent preparation for law school and other professions. History majors may also find employment related to their degrees in schools, museums, editing and publishing, archives, historic preservation, federal, state and local agencies, and as consultants and contractors. Students can choose a field of concentration in either United States history or world history. By applying classroom learning to research problems outside the classroom, students contribute to expanding public knowledge and awareness of cultural issues. This major also trains students to understand and use methods for examining human activities in the past. Students may explore environmental history, the history of science and technology, the history of migration and cultural intersections, and issues of world, national, state and local history.

Management and Business Economics, B.S.

The Management and Business Economics major will respond to the general needs for graduates with education and training in business management. Using a multidisciplinary approach, this major prepares the students for a variety of management-related careers.

The curriculum will include a foundation in economics, organization, business, finance, accounting, communication, statistics and management theory. It focuses on analysis and problem solving across a wide spectrum of management activities.

Materials Sciences and Engineering, B.S.

Since the beginnings of civilization, technological progress has always relied on the behavior of materials. Wood, stone, metals, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, liquid crystals and nanomaterials all have unique properties that enable — but also limit — what humans can make and do.

Every single object that we use, the construction of safe dwellings, the conveniences of rapid travel, the efficiency of telecommunications, the calculating and archiving power of computers, the life-prolonging gift of surgical implants, and the dazzling performances of athletes; all require dependable materials. The pace of future technological progress of any kind will continue to depend on innovative materials.

Materials Science and Engineering (MS&E) embraces skills from Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. It is therefore especially appealing to anyone who enjoys interdisciplinary studies and who seeks to apply such knowledge to solving practical Engineering problems. MS&E graduates are highly versatile in the job market. Employers appreciate the ability of MS&E graduates to relate to people across a wide spectrum of expertise.

Mechanical Engineering, B.S.

The Mechanical Engineering program at UC Merced provides a broad education that prepares students for the technological challenges of the 21st century. The core areas include dynamics, materials, solid mechanics, thermal/fluids, design and control. Current research areas in this field include energy, bioengineering, nano/micro-technology, computational modeling, complex systems and intelligent systems.

The innovative curriculum at UC Merced provides hands-on education and the students are exposed to engineering fundamentals with the use of computational tools to solve realistic engineering problems.

Physics, B.S.

Physics seeks to reduce complex phenomena to elemental principles: What causes an object to fall? What makes molecules stick together? What is light? What causes electricity? Is there a speed limit in the universe? What is the fundamental nature of matter? Far from being purely academic questions, these inquiries have revolutionized our society. It is nearly impossible to imagine an area of science or engineering that has not been profoundly affected by fundamental developments in physics.

The physics major at UC Merced provides a strong foundation in the fundamental physical properties of the natural world, while recognizing the interdisciplinary role that physicists play in the scientific and technological community. This is reflected in the core plus emphasis tracks model of the major. The core is a rigorous grounding in fundamental physical principles, including electricity and magnetism, quantum and classical mechanics, and thermodynamics.

Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, Biophysics, Earth and Environmental Physics, Mathematical Physics

Political Science, B.A.

Political science is the social-scientific study of political institutions and political behavior. Students in the interdisciplinary political science program at UC Merced will develop a strong, substantive understanding of both political institutions and behavior. Students will also learn the theories that help us better understand the political world and the methods by which these theories are tested and refined.

Students will examine such topics as the effects of the design of electoral systems on the quality of representation in government; the formal and informal elements of the legislative process and their implications for making law; and the impact of domestic political institutions on the incidence of international conflict.

Under the rubric of political behavior, political scientists study how and why people choose to participate in politics, the determinants of vote choice, and the nature of public opinion.

The knowledge and skills acquired with the political science major should provide a strong foundation for graduate training in law, political science or other social sciences. However, graduates can pursue a wide variety of other careers, such as public administration, campaign management or consultation, grassroots political organization, corporate governmental affairs, foreign service, journalism, lobbying or teaching.

Psychology, B.A.

The Psychology program at UC Merced is a central discipline in the social sciences. At any UC campus, psychology is almost always the largest major. Demand is high because it's an intrinsically interesting subject. Psychology requires critical scientific thinking, writing and research skills that prove useful in a variety of careers.

UC Merced's interdisciplinary approach ensures graduates have a well-rounded educational background, and the school offers many opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research projects with professors.

Public Health, B.A.

Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of the public through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research regarding disease- and injury-prevention. Public Health professionals analyze the effects of genetics, personal choice and environmental forces in order to track the spread of diseases, understand health-related behaviors, and develop programs and policies that protect the health of families and communities. Overall, Public Health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations, from those as small as a local neighborhood to those as large as an entire country or region of the world.

Sociology, B.A.

Sociology is the scientific study of society, social institutions and social relationships. A key contribution of the discipline is that social factors matter; our lives are not only shaped by personal psychology, but also by our place in the social world. Sociology's areas of inquiry range from intimate family relationships to ties between nation states; from divisions by race, class, gender and sexuality to shared ideas of common culture; and from understanding the influence of broad-scale social movements to analyzing how adolescents become productive adults.

Sociologists help develop theories to understand how the social world works and also use analytic tools to craft policies and create programs that address important social issues, such as neighborhood and educational inequality. Few disciplines offer such a broad scope of relevance for understanding individual and collective relations in society.

The substantive breadth and skills in conducting and analyzing research that sociology majors obtain can be useful for a range of career paths including: business and marketing, criminal justice, education, environment and technology, graduate school, law, public health, leadership in faith communities, non-profit and social service organizations, public policy, social welfare and social work. Students will leave the major with research skills developed in conjunction with knowledge of substantive material relevant to a variety of social service and non-profit research positions. They also will have an excellent basis for pursuing graduate studies in law, sociology and other social and cultural studies programs.

Spanish, B.A.

The major in Spanish at UC Merced will provide students with the linguistic skills and necessary cultural background to communicate their ideas in Spanish in different professional contexts, to think critically, and to analyze literary works. In doing so, the major in Spanish will help students to face the demands of an ever more globalized society, one that requires and values linguistic and cultural competence in more than one language.

The major in Spanish at UC Merced will provide students with the linguistic skills and necessary cultural background to communicate their ideas in Spanish in different professional contexts, to think critically, and to analyze literary works. In doing so, the major in Spanish will help students to face the demands of an ever more globalized society, one that requires and values linguistic and cultural competence in more than one language.