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Graduate Education

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    Once students have completed their undergraduate career, they are eligible to apply to graduate school, this is the same for undocumented and D.A.C.A. recipients. Students are able to apply to law, medical, nursing, pharmaceutical, and Ph.D. programs within the University of California(UC) system and other institutions.

    Schools at UC Merced

    Where should I apply?

    According to the University for Educational Access and Diversity (uLEAD) Network, they separated each state into different categories depending on the rate of acceptance of undocumented students in that particular region and the resources that are available to them. They separated each state into different categories of restrictive, unstipulated, and inclusive (Immigration Law).

    Restrictive: States that deny eligibility for admissions and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

    Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and New Hampshire

    Unstipulated: States that do not state-specific policies for undocumented students.

    Montana, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine

    Inclusive: States that have specific state policies that grant in-state tuition and/ or financial aid for undocumented (Immigration Law).

    Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut

    link to access the map:  

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    What exams do I need to take for graduate or professional schools?

    Before applying to graduate school, students have to take entrance exams depending on the schools they are applying to. When applying to these exams students have to make sure to issue a U.S. identification to register, below there is a list of the different entrance exams the student may need to take.

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    Required Standardized Exams


    Depending on the graduate school, some may require students to take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE), while at other universities this could be an optional choice.

    The  applicant’s  ID must:

    • Be original
    • Be government-issued
    • Be valid 
    • Contain a recent photograph 
    • Have the students full name
    • Must include a signature 

    Example: US driver’s license or passport

    Link to register for the GRE:

    What if I am unable to meet the requirements?

    If you do not meet the identification requirements, “you must contact the ETS Office of Testing Integrity (OTI) at least seven days before registering to test. Afterward, you will receive an approval notification from them and/or they may request further documentation from the student. Once you have been approved, you will be eligible to register and take the GRE (Identification Requirements for the GRE® General Test).  

    ETS Office of Testing Integrity (OTI)
    Phone: 1-800-750-6991 (U.S. & Canada)
    1-600-406-5430 (all other locations)
    Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. ET
    Fax: 1-609-406-9709 



    The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required or applicable for business school, such as a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). For a valid identification, a passport is required.  

    GMAT’s contact information:
    Telephone (toll-free): +1 (800) 717- GMAT (4628), 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. CT
    Telephone: +1 (952) 681- 3680, 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. CT
    Fax: + 1 (952) 681- 3681

    Link to register for the GMAT:  

    If the applicant does not have a valid passport, they must call or email the GMAT, so their passport requirement gets waived due to the applicant’s undocumented status.

    GMAT contact information:
    Telephone (toll-free): +1 (800) 717-GMAT (4628), 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. CT
    Telephone: + 1 (952) 681-3680, 7:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. CT
    Fax: +1 (952) 681- 3681 



    The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is required for applicants that are applying to law school in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. The LSAT tests the students reading comprehension abilities, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning (Figure 2f from).

    Here is the link to register for the LSAT:

    Here is a facts sheet for candidates planning to take the LSAT:

    If the student is not able to obtain a valid identification card, then they must contact LSAC before the registration deadline.

    LSAC contact information:
    Phone: 215- 968-1001 then press 0 to speak to an LSAC candidate representative. 


    The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is required for Medical school. Applicants must provide a valid social security number (SSN) to obtain an MCAT ID number, applicants can also use their DACA SSN. If the applicant does not have a social security number they must contact the American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to issue them an alternative ID number (Valid Identification for MCAT Examinees.).

    Link to register for the MCAT:

    Link of a checklist for proper identification: 



    The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is required to attend dental school. DAT requires applicants to have two forms of identification. One with the applicant’s picture and full name and the second one with the applicant’s signature.

    Link to register for the DAT:

    If the applicant has more questions regarding valid identification, make sure to contact the Department of Testing Centers at 800- 232- 2162. 

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    Financial aid for graduate school or professional school:

    Undocumented students who qualify for the AB 540 are eligible for UC financial aid, this includes scholarships and fellowships. When applying to fellowships, they each contain different requirements, some might only be open to U.S. citizens or D.A.C.A. recipients, so make sure to apply to the right one.

    If the student does not qualify for AB 540, they can only obtain financial aid through private loans, scholarships, or fellowships.

    Here is a link of different funding resources for students who qualify for D.A.C.A. or AB 540: 

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    Employment opportunities

    • Research opportunities:

    Students who have D.A.C.A. and it does not matter if they qualify for AB 540, can obtain professional experience through different employment opportunities. This includes becoming a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR), Research Assistant (RA), Teaching Assistant (TA), or a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).

    • Employment opportunities after obtaining your college degree

    Students who qualify for D.A.C.A. are able to obtain an authorized work permit that allows them to work for a certain period of time t. But students who do not qualify for DACA can become “... self-employed as an independent contractor, starting a sole proprietorship, starting a limited liability company as a worker cooperative” (After UC: Graduate school and careers). 

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    How to prepare for graduate school:

    This link will direct you to a Grad School Planner: 

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    Undocumented Grad-Student Handbook

    A guide with useful resources!
    (New Version Coming soon).

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    FAQ - Graduate School Applications and Funding For Undocumented Students at UC Merced

    1.     Can undocumented students apply for admission to graduate programs at UC Merced?

      Yes, UC Merced welcomes applications from undocumented students.

    2.     Should undocumented students apply as domestic applicants or international applicants?

      Undocumented students should apply as domestic applicants. There is an option under “Citizenship Status” to select “Unclassified.”

    3.     Are application fee waivers available for undocumented students?

      Fee waivers are available for any domestic applicant who meets the eligibility criteria. 

    4.     Can undocumented students receive in-state tuition rates?

      Yes, with an approved AB540 application, which is available online.

    5.     What funding options are available to undocumented students?

      Typically, our undocumented students are funded similarly to any other graduate student.  Most Ph.D. students are awarded Teaching Assistantships and/or Graduate Student Researcher positions. You may need to request consideration for DACA in order to obtain work authorization.

      There are also fellowship opportunities available for undocumented students; visit our Internal Fellowships page for more information.  The fellowships are coded with a "1" after the title if they are open to AB540 students.  

      The Rose R. Ruiz fellowship is a particularly good opportunity to explore, as undocumented students are given priority for the award. 

    6.     Who can I contact for more information?

      Graduate Division:

    ​General Inquiries:

    Eric Cannon, Graduate Student Support Manager

    Phone: 209-228-4405


    Graduates Reaching A Dream Deferred (GRADD)

    Graduates Reaching A Dream Deferred (GRADD) is an organization founded by undocumented graduate students which aim to address the needs of immigrant students interested in pursuing graduate education. GRADD works to establish a national network of students, faculty members, and community leaders dedicated to bringing resources and attention to this underserved student population. Through the creation of an inclusive and safe environment, GRADD intends to reassure students that their academic and professional goals are achievable.

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    After UC: Graduate school and careers. (n.d.). Retrieved November 06, 2018, from
    “Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic Revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae,
    Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720. Https://” doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f.
    Identification Requirements for the GRE® General Test. (n.d.). Retrieved from
    Immigration Law, and Policy Practicum Projects Student Scholarship. Santa Clara Law Digital
    “The Defense.” Negotiating Graduate School: A Guide for Graduate Students, pp. 103–113.,
    “The Defense.” Negotiating Graduate School: A Guide for Graduate Students, pp. 103–113.,
    Valid Identification for MCAT Examinees. (2015, October 01). Retrieved from