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About UC Merced

UC Merced Aerial Picture of Campus

couple walking around event booths

UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the campus significantly expands access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a special mission to increase college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced research, a model of sustainable design and construction, and a stimulus to economic growth and diversification throughout the region.

UC Merced offers a growing list of majors and minors, and graduate programs taught by more than 250 tenure-track faculty members, visiting professors and lecturers, who have come to us from some of the world's top-ranked universities.


Our Students

As of the 2019-20 academic year, UC Merced has more than 8,800 undergraduate and graduate students making up the Bobcat community.

They are some of the best and brightest students from around the country, and they are integral to the university’s mission of education, research and public service.

Since 2005, our students have formed 200 clubs and organizations, written their own constitution and created a thriving governing body. They serve internships at companies, nonprofits and in government, study abroad, contribute to the local community through outreach projects and pride themselves in having helped build the foundations of this campus.

In addition, our graduate and undergraduate students are conducting some of the most cutting-edge research of our time, including stem cells, artificial intelligence and renewable energy.

A Focus on Research

Just like at other UC campuses, academic research is a critical part of UC Merced's mission. The process of discovery provides our students with a deeper understanding of the world and its cultural, social, natural and engineered systems, but more, it solves issues and challenges that are critical to the growth, health and overall well-being of the region, the state, nation and world.

Our researchers are conducting groundbreaking work in diabetes, cancer, bacterial diseases, antibiotic resistance, solar energy, climate change, water quality and availability, ecology, engineering, archeology, cultures, history, political science, computer science and much, much more.

Special research institutes and centers established at the university include:

UC Merced has also entered into collaborative research partnerships with the:

UC Merced Leadership

Juan Sánchez Muñoz was named fourth chancellor and began his tenure July 1, 2020, succeeding Dorothy Leland, the visionary and architect of the Merced 2020 Project to expand campus, who served from 2011-2019. Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang was chancellor from 2007-2011. Founding chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey began in 1999, before the opening of campus, and retired in 2006.

A Member of the UC System

Like all University of California campuses, UC Merced operates under the direction of the UC president and is governed by The Regents of the University of California, a 26-member board established under the California Constitution.

UC Merced is the first new UC campus built since 1965. It was authorized by the California Legislature in 1988 to address the higher education needs of the state's fastest-growing region — the San Joaquin Valley, with a population of 4 million residents — and increase access to the UC system for the state's top achievers.

UC Merced’s presence in the Valley is helping address chronically low levels of educational attainment in the region.

Since the fall of 2004, the year before UC Merced opened, applications to UC campuses from Central Valley residents have increased 111 percent and admissions have risen 78 percent (as of September 2013).

UC Merced continues to experience increasing demand from throughout the state, with 99.6 percent of undergraduate students hailing from across California.

UC Merced leads the UC system in the percentage of students from underrepresented ethnic groups, low-income families and families whose parents did not attend college.

For more details of our campus’s demographics, visit our Fast Facts page.

A Strategic Investment

UC Merced strives to help improve the standard of education within the Valley through educational outreach centers in Bakersfield and Fresno. These centers offer:

UC Merced also contributes to the economic growth of Central California. In the San Joaquin Valley, where unemployment and poverty rates substantially exceed California averages, campus construction has supported thousands of jobs, stimulating new business development and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy each year.

So far:

Green From the Ground Up

Sustainability is a hallmark of the UC Merced campus, and everyone here  faculty, staff and students  takes it very seriously.

UC Merced is the only American university with every building on campus environmentally certified. As of summer 2016, we have 17 buildings with LEED certifications for new construction, two certified for operations and maintenance.

We are also pledged to a Triple Zero Commitment, an ambitious plan to consume zero net energy and produce zero landfill waste and zero net emissions on our campus by 2020. This means we will increase efficiency and renewable energy production, eliminate campus waste to landfills and prevent as many carbon emissions as we produce.

Many practices across campus enhance UC Merced's sustainability. Other initiatives include:

Also a part of our green campus goal: land conservation. Through a special collaboration with the Packard Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and the state of California, the campus set aside 25,000 acres of grassland habitat for permanent conservation, 6,500 acres of which comprises the new Vernal Pools-Grasslands Nature Reserve, open space adjacent to campus that will be used for research and community outreach, but never developed.

Philanthropic Support

Private support lies at the heart of our university's vital partnerships with the community. Our gracious donors have continued to show support for UC Merced's mission by contributing funds to fill the gap where public funding ends. UC Merced recorded $4.2 million in private gift and grant support in 2017-18.

This tremendous support ensures our university will continue research efforts that enhance the lives of Californians for years to come.

Institutional Research

For more information about our students, faculty and staff — including demographics, persistence and graduation statistics — visit the Institutional Research and Decision Support site.