Graduate Student Resources

Everything you need to know to get started, get busy, and get it done.


Celebrate each step in your graduate school journey!
(and submit the right form at the right time)

The Degree Milestones and Forms page provides links to forms and an easy checklist of what needs to be done and by when. Each program also has specific information about its course of study and resources tailored for its students, so be sure to check in there as well.

Students talking with Professor

Get Started

Accept your admission (program level)

Most programs have application due dates early in the year and then make admissions decisions in early-late spring. When you are recommended for admission by your program, you'll be provided with information about how and when to formally accept your offer. Contact your program's coordinator or department administrator for specific questions about program admissions.

Accept your official offer from the Graduate School through SPIRE. Typically, the deadline for accepting admissions offers is April 15. Be sure to contact your program's coordinator or department administrator for official acceptance deadlines.

Visit Campus and plan your move to the Pioneer Valley

The University of Massachusetts Amherst serves over 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students and is located in scenic and historic western Massachusetts. Part of the Five College consortium (with Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), UMass offers a wide range of specialties, including several nationally recognized research departments. Western Massachusetts is a beautiful part of the country and an excellent place to live and be a graduate student.

Attend Orientation

New student orientations are held in the summer prior to your first fall semester. These dates are generally announced in April and posted on our website under News and Events. If you're unsure of when your orientation is, contact us at

The Graduate School also hosts a Graduate Student Orientation at the end of August for new graduate students and first-time teaching assistants.

New international students are required to attend International Student Orientation at the end of August.

Set up your accounts

  • Set up your UMass IT accounts. Your IT NetID is how you access your UMass email, SPIRE, Library resources, and other online services. The UMass IT New Student Guide gives you an overview of IT services and checklists of what you should set up right away.

  • Become familiar with SPIRE. This is the homebase for managing your student information. This is where you’ll register for courses, view grades, manage finances, and review assistantship appointments.

  • Get on UMail. Official communications will always be sent to your UMass email address, so remember to check it regularly if you typically use a personal account.

  • Get on the college email lists to receive updates about assistantships, courses, calls for conference proposals, and other news related to your degree program. Students should be automatically added to college-wide mailing lists when they are admitted. Send an email to if you have not been receiving updates. Contact your program's coordinator or department administrator about program-specific mailing lists. 

  • Get your UCard. The UCard is the official UMass Amherst campus picture identification card. It's designed to be the "one card" on campus. In addition to being your official campus ID, your UCard will also function as your PVTA bus pass, UMass Recreational Center access card, Dining Services meal card, door access card, library card, and more. 

Plan your course of study

  • Meet with your advisor to discuss your goals and how the two of you will work together. Be sure you both have shared expectations related to communications, responsibilities, and other practical matters. Your primary advisor will be listed on your student home page in SPIRE

  • Consider what courses you plan to take, check requirements, review how often certain classes are offered, and check with your program for special requirements such as practicums or student teaching.

  • By the end of your first semester, confirm your plan with your advisor and hand in your M1/D1/ES1 form.

First Milestone

By the end of your first semester: confirm your course of study with your advisor and celebrate by submitting the appropriate form: 

Masters (M1) Form 

Education Specialist (ES1) Form

Doctoral D1 Form

Students sitting in a group talking

Get Busy


Take classes

  • Find and register for classes in SPIRE. Classes become available for registration midway through the preceding semester (typically November for Spring, and March for Fall).

  • Find College of Education research classes to meet PhD degree requirements.

  • UMass Continuing and Professional Education offers online courses - just note these courses are not covered by an assistantship tuition reimbursement, but MA state employees are eligible for 50% tuition reimbursement.  

    • If you are taking Continuing and Professional Education classes, you need to create a non-degree enrollment appointment in SPIRE (found under “Student Admissions” in the Main Menu) before registering for classes.

  • Register here for Five College Courses.

  • Submit an Independent Study Contract to the Academic Affairs office when you have arranged independent study credits with an instructor.

  • Plan ahead with the tentative College of Education course projections.

  • Get to know the online platforms for classes:

    • Moodle is used for in-person undergraduate and graduate classes

    • Blackboard Learn is used for the fully-online classes offered through Continuing and Professional Education for certificates and Science Education Online

  • Know what’s coming up by consulting the academic calendar for class schedules, holidays, important deadlines, and exam periods.

  • Need help? The University Registrar has helpful information about registering, withdrawing, graduating, getting transcripts and more.

Do the work (these resources will help)


  • APA Style Guide is a quick online reference for APA formatting, but always refer to the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual for best reference!

  • UMass Writing Center tutors work with undergraduate, graduate, postdocs, staff, and faculty writers on any academic genre at any point in the writing process. They also have a great collection of writing and research resources.


Celebrate your progress (by submitting forms)

  • As you complete each key stage of your program, you’ll submit forms to confirm with the college that you’re progressing on your course of study..

  • After you set your course of study with your advisor, you’ll submit your M1/D1/ES form.

  • If you’re a doctoral students and your course of study changes,, be sure to fill out a D2A form for your program of study or D10 form for your committee membership.

  • Reach your key milestones, celebrate, and submit the appropriate forms for finishing coursework, exams, and dissertations.

  • When you've completed your course of study, hand in your final degree eligibility form

Get involved in the community

  • Students in the College of Education may become members of clubs and organizations such as:

    • Graduate Students in Higher Education (GSHE) hosts professional development, networking, and social opportunities for students interested in higher education.

    • The Outdoor Activities Club sponsors activities for students, faculty, staff and their friends and family. Past events have included ice skating, Zumba, and kickball.

    • Student writing groups will also pop up throughout the academic year and over the summer. Keep an eye out for writing group announcements on our News and Events page.

  • There are many other UMass Amherst Graduate Student Organizations:

    • The Graduate Employee Organization is the graduate employee union. Students can serve as GEO stewards for their departments and get involved with various caucuses and committees concerning the rights and well-being of graduate employees. 

    • The Graduate Students of Color Association seeks to build and sustain a supportive community for graduate students of color that contributes to their academic development, social growth, and well-being. Membership is open to all graduate students, regardless of racial or ethnic background.

    • Graduate Student Senate is the student-run, elected, and financed governance body at UMass Amherst for graduate students.

    • Graduate Women in STEM aims to advance the standing of women in the science and engineering fields through outreach, mentoring, and professional development initiatives.

  • There are also resources to help you plan an event:

    • Bookmark the UMass Amherst online directory: People Finder 

    • To request a space in Furcolo Hall for a department-related meeting or event, contact your department administrator. All other space requests can be sent to Nicole Cloutier.


Present and network at conferences

Take care of yourself

Publish your work

  • You may submit your work to one of the journals housed in the College of Education.

  • Scholarworks@UMass Amherst is a digital showcase of the research and scholarly output of members of the University of Massachusetts Amherst community.

  • Open Access, UMass has launched and participated in a number of initiatives aimed at increasing open access or more sustainable systems of scholarly communication.

  • Check your program's student resource page for suggested journals related to your area of study.

Student speaking into microphone

Get Done


Prepare to Graduate

  • Check in with your advisor to make sure you have met all of your program requirements.

  • Submit your final forms to the Office of Academic Advising. 

Present your final work

  • Each program has requirements for final projects, capstones, or dissertations. Check with your advisor or program coordinator to make sure you know exactly what you need to do. Good luck!

  • Support your colleagues by attending their final presentations! Look for announcements in the newsletter and through email lists. 

Celebrate Graduation

  • Check in with your program's coordinator for information about program recognition ceremonies. Congratulations!

  • The College of Education hosts a Graduation Celebration in May. Check the events page for details.

  • UMass hosts a university-wide Commencement in May. 

  • Consider in advance if family and friends may want to stay overnight to attend any ceremonies or commencement. Local lodging options tend to fill up in the months before commencement. 

Get your license

This page is made possible by contributions from students in the College of Education. If you know things that should be added, or (gulp) things that need to be fixed, send email to

Thank you!