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UC Merced: Another Double-digit Rise in Applications

March 11, 2024
Current students holding signs welcoming new students
UC Merced saw a double-digit rise in applications from first-year students as well as all residency categories including the Central Valley, out-of-state and international.

Nearly 33,000 prospective first-year and transfer students applied to UC Merced for the fall 2024 semester — a 12% increase from last year’s applicant pool.

“It is clear that the word has spread far and wide about UC Merced’s culture of innovation, our world-changing teaching and research, and all the exciting opportunities we offer students and families,” said Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz.

The number of first-year applicants was 29,351, representing a 14% increase over last year. Out-of-state numbers also saw a significant rise of 21% compared to 2023, with 1,539 students applying. The biggest increase, however, came from international applications, which at 4,121 reflected a 58% increase over last year.

Across the University of California system, UC Merced received the highest percentage of first-year applications from low-income students (51%), first-generation students (53%) and students from underrepresented groups (53%) — particularly Hispanic applicants, who made up 46% of UC Merced’s prospective student body, also a systemwide high.

“At less than 20 years old, we are a top-30 public university and among the top-ranked for creating social and economic mobility for our students,” said Muñoz. “It is no surprise that more and more young scholars see their paths to brighter futures running through this amazing campus.”

Erika Escalante, a senior from Santa Cruz who is featured in the UC Merced episode of “The College Tour,” said prospective Bobcats “will find a university that supports them in every way and a community that gives them every opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The vast majority of students who applied (81%) are California residents, with a sizable percentage from the Central Valley. Applications from students in the region rose by 12.7%, with the biggest increases coming from Fresno, Tulare, San Joaquin, Kern and Madera counties. Applications were also up in Stanislaus and Merced counties.

Northern California applicant numbers rose substantially, particularly from Santa Clara, Alameda and Sacramento counties helping drive an 8% gain over last year. Southern California numbers experienced an increase of 5% with the bulk coming from Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

UC Merced Director of Admissions Dustin Noji attributed the overall increase in applications to new academic majors and initiatives such as the campus honors program, as well as the work done by the admissions team, the Center for Educational Partnerships and the university’s school district partners. 

He said the application numbers represented “a convergence of several long-term initiatives to increase enrollment at UC Merced and encourage students to apply to the University of California.”

“The growth in our international and out-of-state applications shows our growing reputation, but we’re also excited to see such strong growth in California, especially in the Central Valley,” Noji said.

UC Merced’s graduate programs also experienced a significant increase in student interest, with applications rising over last year by 15%. The 1,210 applications submitted represent a record number for the graduate division.

“Our graduate programs provide outstanding opportunities for graduate students to learn from nationally and internationally renowned faculty,” said Hrant Hratchian, vice provost and dean of graduate studies. “The continued growth in applications speaks to the outstanding scholarship our faculty are pursuing and the impacts our graduate alumni have in their professional and personal communities.”

Graduate student prospects were welcomed on campus March 1 with a series of events and receptions.

Prospective undergraduates began receiving acceptance letters March 1. Those who wish to enroll have until May 15 to file statements of intent to register.

The university will hold admitted-student receptions in Los Angeles (April 7), Visalia (April 10), Modesto (April 12) and Santa Clara (April 14). Applicants and families are also invited to campus April 20 for Bobcat Day, featuring information sessions, tours, music, food and other fun activities

Alyssa Johansen

Alyssa Johansen HeadshotPublic Information Officer

Office: (209) 413-9330