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Office of Information Technologies

Graduate students have access to a wide range of computing resources designed to enhance their day-to-day experience and support their academic endeavors. The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) is the central IT department at the University and is responsible for most computing and phone services on campus.

OIT provides the wired and wireless networks, telephone service, the email system (UMail), free and discounted software, the online student information system, and access to computer classrooms and other tools for teaching and learning. Advice and assistance with software and hardware problems and questions are also offered. For a full list of services, visit the OIT website (

OIT Account NetIDs and passwords are required to access most computing services on campus. OIT Accounts are available at no extra charge to all students. All graduate students are required to activate their OIT Accounts.

High-speed Internet Access is available in all residence halls, publicly scheduled classrooms, and computer classrooms. Wireless access is available in an ever-growing number of indoor and outdoor locations. To access the campus network from off-campus, use OIT’s 56K dial-up service.

UMail, the campus email system, is accessible via the web and via email software (e.g., Mozilla Thunderbird, Netscape Communicator). All graduate students are required to use their UMail address to receive official UMass communications, such as messages from the Graduate School, Bursar’s Office or professors.

SPIRE provides online access to the student information system. Students use SPIRE to register for classes, access grades, check their Bursar account and financial aid, and view housing assignments. SPIRE gives everyone, including prospective students, access to the online course schedule and catalog.

Computer Classrooms are operated in eight locations on campus, including the Learning Commons in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Windows and Macintosh computers are installed with word processing, desktop publishing, statistical analysis, spreadsheet, and web development software. The Assistive Technologies Center is open to any member of the University community who has a disability defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and requires an accommodation such as scanning assistance, screen readers, text enhancements, and text enlargers.

SPARK is a Learning Management System used by many university faculty to make syllabi, calendars, grades, and other course content available online. To access SPARK, students need an OIT account and to be enrolled in a course that has a SPARK site associated with it.

Web Hosting and Blogs are available to all University of Massachusetts Amherst students. Personal websites and blogs are typically used in conjunction with courses and school-related events or for posting opinions and ideas.

UDrive is a Web-based file storage and sharing system that allows students to access their files from anywhere they have an Internet connection, thus eliminating the need for CD-ROMs, floppy or zip disks, and USB drives.

Computing support is available from OIT Help Services. The OIT Help Desk is the first point of contact for students with computer-related questions or problems. Hardware Support provides repair, maintenance, and installation services for campus computers and peripheral equipment. Software Support provides assistance with select Windows and Macintosh software applications and operating systems, and oversees the distribution of free and discounted software. To contact the OIT Help Desk, call (413) 545-9400 or visit