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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Do I need a student visa (F1) to enroll in classes at UC Merced?

If you have been admitted to a full-time degree program at UC Merced and you are not a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident or in a status that permits full-time study, yes, you must obtain an F-1 student visa. Other visa categories that allow study: J-1, J-2, H4, E-2, TD. You may not study in B visa status or full-time in F-2 visa status.

2) Do I have to take an English Language Proficiency test?

Yes. UC Merced does require proof of proficiency in English for applicants whose native language is not English, and whose high school or college/university education was in a country where the language of instruction was not English.

  • Score 24 or higher on the ACT English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Score 31 or higher on Writing and Language in the SAT
  • Score 3, 4 or 5 on the AP examination in English Language and Composition, or English Literature and Composition
  • Score 6 or 7 on an IB Standard Level examination in English (Language A only)
  • Score 5, 6 or 7 on an IB Higher Level examination in English (Language A only)
  • Score 6.5 or higher on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)* examination: Internet-based test (iBT) or iBT
  • Home Edition or iBT Paper Edition: Minimum score of 80 or better
  • Duolingo English Test (DET): Minimum score of 115

3) Can I work in the United States during my studies?

Yes. You may work up to 20 hours a week on-campus during the semester. Full-time employment (anything more than 20 hours per week) is permitted during semester breaks. No special authorization is required for students in valid F-1 status to work on campus.

However, off-campus employment requires special authorization and is not easy to obtain. Speak with an International Affairs advisor about your options.

4) Is there any financial aid available to International Students?

Please visit our web page for information on the International Student Scholarship. Unfortunately, international students do not qualify for U.S. federal/state financial aid. There are few links to outside agencies that provide financial aid to International Students in the UC Merced Financial Aid website.  As noted in the FINANCES section above, students are required to have funding secured for at least their first year of study in the U.S. at the time of visa interview.

5) I am currently in the United States on an F-1 visa. What must I do to transfer to UC Merced?

If you are currently in the U.S. maintaining valid F-1 status, you may transfer that status and your form I-20 from your current institution to UC Merced. Request your current institution transfer your form I-20. The transfer date can be scheduled for a future date once your program at that institution is complete.

6) I am currently in the United States on another visa type, can I attend your institution?

Your visa type determines if you can register for classes without being in violation of your visa. It also determines the tuition rate you will be charged. If you require more information, contact the Office of International Affairs.


How much will it cost to attend UC Merced?

As an International Student, you will be required to register as a full-time student (minimum 12 credits for undergraduate students and 8 for grad students without TA or GSR credits). You will be charged out-of-state tuition, which is higher than the amount paid by California residents. You will not be eligible for California residency while in F or J visa status. Check the UC Merced Registrar's website or the Office of International Affairs website for a cost break down.

Can I leave the United States during school breaks?

Yes. If you plan to travel, contact the International Student & Scholar advisor to have your I-20 signed prior to leaving. Failure to have a recent signature might prevent you from re-entering the United States.

What kind of housing is available in Merced?

Undergraduate students in F-1 status are welcome to live on-campus. Visit the on campus housing website.

The Student Housing Office also can help connect students with many off-campus housing options. The Off-Campus Housing (OCH) website allows landlords to list properties (homes/duplex, apartments/townhouses) available for rent and renters to find properties to rent and/or to do roommate searches.