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A Full Guide to the University of California, Merced

A Full Guide to the University of California, Merced

Experience the unique blend of academia and adventure at UC Merced. Immerse yourself in innovative research and natural wonder. Team


3 min read

July 18, 2023

The University of California, Merced, colloquially known as UC Merced, stands as a beacon of academic opportunity and research in California's San Joaquin Valley. Located in the city of Merced, the university boasts a sprawling campus spanning over 7,000 acres, a substantial portion of which is dedicated to preserving the local environment.

Opened to its first students in 2005, UC Merced is the youngest member of the University of California system but holds its own with a vibrant community and a commitment to diversity and sustainability. Its contemporary campus, embedded in a stunning natural setting, provides students with a conducive environment to grow academically, personally, and socially.

History and Excellency of UC Merced

UC Merced's inception was fueled by a vision to serve the historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities of California's Central Valley. Its establishment was approved by the UC Board of Regents in 1988, making it the first American research university built in the 21st century.

The university is recognized for its interdisciplinary and research-oriented curriculum that nurtures innovation. Although relatively young, UC Merced already enjoys a remarkable reputation for its research in environmental sustainability, solar energy, and climate change. It's particularly well-known for its School of Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering, which rank among the top public school programs nationwide.

UC Merced also excels in its commitment to accessibility and diversity. As a designated Hispanic-serving and Minority-serving institution, it offers a welcoming, inclusive environment. As of 2023, it has one of the highest percentages of first-generation college students in the UC system.

Merced might not be the most well-known city in the Golden State, but it is definitely a gem.

Student Life at UC Merced

UC Merced is not just about academics and research; it provides its students with a comprehensive college experience that balances studies with lifestyle and entertainment. The city of Merced, with its blend of urban amenities and rural charm, offers students a wide array of activities and attractions.


Transportation at UC Merced is designed to be as sustainable as the institution itself. The university offers the CatTracks bus system, providing free local transportation for students around campus and the city of Merced. For those looking to explore beyond the local area, the university is located near the Amtrak station, connecting students to cities like Sacramento and Fresno.


For food enthusiasts, UC Merced and its surrounding community do not disappoint. On-campus dining options are diverse, with several cafes and restaurants catering to a wide array of palates. Local cuisine ranges from American comfort food to international dishes, with a strong presence of authentic Mexican eateries reflecting the region's cultural heritage. Many establishments prioritize locally-sourced ingredients, reflecting the university's commitment to sustainability.

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Top 5 Things to Do at and Near UC Merced

Discovering the magic of UC Merced is as much about exploring the local area as it is about immersing yourself in the vibrant campus life. Here are five must-do activities that capture the unique spirit of UC Merced.

Join the Bobcat Day

UC Merced hosts an annual Bobcat Day - an open-house-style event where you can learn about academic programs, meet faculty, and participate in tours and workshops. But it's not all about academics; the day is infused with fun, including food, games, and performances.

Explore Lake Yosemite

A short drive from campus, Lake Yosemite is a haven for outdoor lovers. Whether it’s renting a paddleboard, having a picnic by the lake, or simply soaking in the sunset views, this local treasure is a perfect place to relax and recharge.

UC Merced is close to some stunning outdoor locations.

Visit the Kolligian Library

This is no ordinary library. Apart from being an academic hub, it's known for its futuristic architecture, a roof garden, and breath-taking views of the campus. Take a study break and enjoy the tranquility of the scenic vista.

Attend the Yosemite Leadership Program Summit

This annual event, hosted by the Yosemite Leadership Program, is a wonderful opportunity to engage in discussions about leadership and sustainability while connecting with like-minded individuals.

Embark on a trip to Yosemite National Park

UC Merced's proximity to this national treasure is a unique perk. The university even runs a Yosemite Leadership Program, offering internships and environmental leadership programs at the park. From hiking the trails to witnessing the majestic El Capitan and Half Dome, a trip to Yosemite is an unforgettable experience.

Taking a trip through Yosemite National Park is a must when at UC Merced.

In conclusion, UC Merced is more than just an institution of higher learning; it's a place where academia, culture, and nature harmoniously intertwine. It offers a one-of-a-kind college experience that allows students to shape their academic journey while building a vibrant, memorable life in California's heartland.

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