University of Massachusetts Amherst

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There are a number of steps you'll need to take on your own to prepare for your orientation session and the semester ahead. Most steps can be completed before you come to orientation, so let's get started!

Before NSO: Choose Your Date  |  Ask Your Parents to Sign Up Too  |  Hold a Spot in a Residential Academic Program | Explore the Residential Life  | Get Familiar with SPIRE  | UMass Google Email  |  Math Placement Exam  | Writing Placement Exam | Foreign Language Placement Exam  |  Test Scores and Transcripts

Before the Semester Begins: Paying Your Bill  |  Immunizations   |  Health Insurance  |  My Student Body  |  UMass Amherst Alerts  |  Get Involved  |  Jobs  |  RefWorks  |  Books  |  Parking  |  Luggage

Before NSO

 Choose Your Date

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis so make sure you sign up as soon as possible. Choose a date that doesn’t conflict with work, graduation, prom, vacation or any other prior commitments.

  Ask Your Parents to Sign Up Too

Encourage your parents to attend our parents program and register online ahead of time.

 Hold a Spot in a Residential Academic Program (RAP)

Students admitted as fall freshmen should explore the exciting living and learning opportunities available to you through RAP. If RAP is right for you, hold a spot starting in May.

  Explore Residential Life

If you are entering in the spring or RAPs are not for you, check out the many residential options UMass has to offer on campus.

Off Campus Housing Referrals are also available to help students who wish to pursue housing off-campus. Check out their website for more details.   

  Get Familiar with SPIRE

SPIRE is the student information and registration system and it will be a major part of your life at UMass! During orientation, you will use SPIRE to register for classes. Spend some time learning to use it before you come to orientation. Browse the course catalog and check out the search for classes feature to explore the course offerings at UMass Amherst, so you can jump right into the registration process during orientation.
You can learn more about SPIRE on the IT website.

There are also several video tutorials to help you get started with SPIRE Be sure to watch the tutorials before orientation:
Getting Started
Searching for Classes
Enrolling in Classes

  UMass Google Email

Starting in mid-May for students entering in September and in November for spring students, IT will send you information about your UMass Google Email account. Email is the official mode of communication between the university and its students. It's a good idea to get in the habit of checking your UMass Google Email account on a daily basis.

  Math Placement Exam

All incoming students must take the Math Placement Exam online before attending orientation. This exam will help you and your advisor identify the right math/science courses for you.  Ready to take a placement exam? Click here to read the directions and get started.

Writing Placement Exam

Before attending an orientation session, incoming students must take the online Writing Placement Exam. This exam will inform the conversation you and your advisor have about what courses you need to take to fulfill the First-Year Writing Requirement. Ready to take the exam? Click here to read the directions and start your exam. 

  Foreign Language Placement Exam

Students who have studied French, German, Latin, or Spanish for two or more years and will continue with the same language at UMass Amherst, must take the Foreign Language Placement Exam online prior to orientation. Ready to take a placement exam? Click here to read the directions and get started.

  Test Scores and Transcripts

First-year students, please make sure that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has received an official copy of your final high school transcript with graduation notation.

Any student who is taking college course work must send an official transcript to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. You should also bring a copy of your fall schedule and/or grade report with you to your orientation session. This will help your advisor recommend the appropriate courses for your first semester. The mailing address for admissions is:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
Mather Building
37 Mather Drive
Amherst, MA 01003

In order to receive credit for AP or SAT II testing, the university must receive official copies of your score report(s). You may have already requested this when you took the test. If not, please go the College Board website and request an official report be sent to UMass. Our CEEB # is 3917.

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Before the Semester Begins

  Paying Your Bill

UMass Amherst uses a paperless billing system—bills will not be mailed home. Instead, bills for the semester will post to the “Finances” section of your SPIRE account.  Bills will be due before the start of each semester. For more information about billing, please visit the Bursar's Office.

    FERPA Waiver: If someone is helping you pay for your education, they must have a FERPA  PIN number to ask questions about your account. For more information on the FERPA waiver, visit the Office of the Bursar.

    Excess Express: If you want to receive excess funds via direct deposit, make sure you sign up for Excess Express


Massachusetts law requires that all college students have certain immunizations before coming to school. The New Student Immunization Program (NSIP) at University Health Services oversees these requirements.

Go to the NSIP web page, for information on required immunizations and to download a copy of the Massachusetts Required Immunization History form. This form must be completed and returned to the NSIP before your first semester on campus. If information is not received by the end of the Add/Drop period, a registration hold will be placed on your record. It’s best to complete all required immunizations before beginning school. For more information, go to the immunizations website or call the NSIP, 413-577-5275.

  Health Insurance

Massachusetts law requires full-time college students to have primary health insurance. If you don’t already have insurance, or if the plan you have won’t meet your needs while at school, you can take advantage of the university-sponsored Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP).

Students taking five or more credits are automatically enrolled in the SHBP; charges will appear on the semester tuition bill in SPIRE. Depending on your insurance coverage and student status, you may be eligible to waive the plan.

For information, visit the UHS website or call UHS Patient Services, 413-577-5192.

  My Student Body

All new students are required to complete and pass MyStudentBody – an online alcohol and health education program before their first semester.  MyStudentBody offers a lot of interesting and useful information just for students. Once you’ve finished the course, bookmark the site and visit anytime!

If you don’t complete this requirement, you won’t be able to register for your next semester classes. If you have any questions or concerns about passing the course by the deadline, e-mail the MSB Coordinator,, to set up a time to take and pass the course.

  UMass Amherst Alerts

Sign up to receive emergency text messages and learn more about emergency preparedness through UMass Amherst Alerts.

  Get Involved

Log into and explore Campus Pulse our online community that lets students find out about campus events and clubs (known at UMass as Registered Student Organizations or RSOs).


Are you looking for a job in the area? The Student Employment Office lists work study and non-work study jobs available both on and off campus. Auxiliary Services also posts a number of student jobs on their website.


Sign up for a RefWorks account today and make your research easier. RefWorks keeps track of your references and creates bibliographies in the correct style that your professors will require. Go to the Library's homepage, click on RefWorks then click on Sign Up for an Individual Account. Choose a username and password that is easy to remember as you'll be using RefWorks often.

To find out how to use RefWorks, visit the library or go to the library website to speak with a reference librarian. Librarians are eager to help you. "Every single freshman should learn how to do this early on!"


A list of required course materials can be found on your SPIRE account. The Campus Bookstore offers the opportunity to rent, buy used or buy new textbooks. There are also several local bookstores in town as well as ways to find your books online.


If you choose to bring your car to campus, make sure you purchase your parking pass as soon as possible. There are many different options for students. Visit Parking Services for more information.


Coming from far away? International and out of state students that live in the residence halls may have luggage shipped to UMass Amherst before their arrival on campus. Residential Life will store your luggage at an off-campus storage facility at no cost to you. The Luggage Program guidelines are available on the Residential Life website.

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