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UC Merced Grad Programs See Uptick in U.S. News Rankings

March 29, 2022
Most ranked graduate programs see progress in the 2023 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings.
Most ranked graduate programs see progress in the 2023 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings.

Twelve of UC Merced’s graduate programs and one of its schools are among the best in the country in the U.S. News & World Report 2023 Best Graduate Schools rankings, according to results released March 29.

“It is exciting to see that our graduate programs continue to gain national recognition; it is a testament to the impact of our faculty in teaching and research,” interim Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Chris Kello said. “Our rankings progress shows our growing reputation for offering graduate students exceptional opportunities for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research training.”

Four graduate programs in the School of Natural Sciences rose in the rankings. The largest jump is biological sciences (part of the Quantitative and Systems Biology (QSB) Graduate Group) ranked No. 144, up 31 spots from 175 last year. QSB is the campus’s largest graduate program.

The other ranked programs are chemistry (Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Group) at 115, up seven spots from 122; mathematics (Applied Mathematics Graduate Group) at 132, up 12 spots from 144; and Physics at 138, up eight spots from 146.

“The impressive uptick in science program rankings is a testament to the hard work and focus of our faculty, students and staff,” School of Natural Sciences Dean Betsy Dumont said. “It is exciting to see these programs get the recognition they deserve, and I am certain that they will continue to rise further in the rankings with each passing year.”

Some recent SNS faculty highlights include

  • Professor Xuecai Ge, a developmental neurobiologist, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for research to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms that direct brain formation.
  • Professor Ajay Gopinathan was elected the next vice-chair of the Division of Biological Physics of the American Physical Society, the world's largest organization of physicists.
  • Physics Professor Linda Hirst was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society at its most recent meeting.
  • Theoretical chemist Professor Aurora Pribram-Jones was named a Cottrell Scholar, winning one of only 24 of the prestigious $100,000 grants for her proposal entitled “Reframing Interaction in Quantum Mechanical Ensembles and Across Chemistry Learning Communities.”
Professor Sachin Goyal, front, with several of his students.
Professor Sachin Goyal, front, with several of his students.

The School of Engineering is ranked No. 116 in the nation by U.S. News, up three spots from 119 last year, after debuting at No. 140 in 2015.

Computer engineering (part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Group) ranked 94, up from 97; computer science (also part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Group) ranked 115, up from 119; materials engineering (part of the Materials and Biomaterials Science Engineering Graduate Group) ranked 91, up from 97; and Mechanical Engineering ranked 122, up from 127.

Biomedical engineering (Bioengineering Graduate Group) ranked 118; electrical engineering (part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Group) ranked 128; and environmental engineering (Environmental Systems Graduate Group) ranked 84.

“I am pleased that our graduate engineering programs in the School of Engineering continue to rise overall in the U.S. News and World Report rankings,” School of Engineering Dean Mark Matsumoto said. “This steady rise, from being unranked just a few years ago, is directly linked to the talent and tenacity of our faculty to pursue excellence.”

Faculty highlights for the School of Engineering include

  • Mechanical engineering Professor Sachin Goyal received a CAREER award for his research into how the arrangements of atoms and interatomic bonds affect the deformability of biological filaments such as those that control gene expression.

  • The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering elected founding faculty memberProfessor Kara McCloskey into its College of Fellows for outstanding contributions to biomaterials for cell and tissue engineering, and meritorious commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Engineering Professor Ming-Hsuan Yang has been elected one of the 71 new fellows recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery ─ the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

Our rankings progress shows our growing reputation for offering graduate students exceptional opportunities for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research training.

Chris Kello, Interim Vice Provost and Graduate Dean

UC Merced’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) made the rankings again with Psychology (Psychological Sciences Graduate Group) ranked No. 88, up from 90.

“We’re a new campus and there are hundreds of programs out there to compare us to, so our ranking in the top 100 is tremendous,” School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Dean Jeffrey Gilger said about the program’s steady rise. “Psychological Sciences, one of the campus’s earliest ranked graduate programs, is quite a powerhouse and becoming more so over time. Health psychology and quantitative psychology are the largest stand-alone psychology programs in the UC system.”

Recent psychology faculty highlights include

  • Psychological Sciences Graduate Group Chair and health psychology Professor Martin Hagger was awarded Paper of the Year Award in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports for an article testing his trans-contextual model in the context of sport injury.

  • Health psychology Professor Jennifer Howell will be awarded an Early Career award from the Health Decision-Making Special-Interest Group of the Society of Behavioral Medicine next month.

Last year, the Political Science Graduate Group ranked No. 63 and the history discipline of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate program ranked No.127. Gilger said he is confident more SSHA graduate programs will reach the national rankings soon.

U.S. News surveyed graduate programs at more than 2,100 schools that grant doctoral degrees, and the rankings are based on a variety of criteria.

U.S. News ranks business, education, engineering, law, nursing and medicine graduate programs annually, while other disciplines and specialties in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and other areas are ranked periodically.

See a list of other campus rankings online.