New Graduate Student Checklist

This check-list will help you get ready for your graduate education at UMass Amherst. 


If you have questions about or problems with any of the accounts listed in this section contact Information Technology (IT).

  • You should have received information from IT about your UMass Google Email account. Verify you can access your UMass email, then check it regularly, as email is the official mode of communication between the university and its students. 
  • Learn your NET ID and set your password. Your NET ID serves as the primary user name for your IT Account and gives you access to the campus network, SPIRE, email, and more. 
  • SPIRE is UMass’s online system to manage all student information. Log on to SPIRE to:
    • Update your contact info
    • Designate an emergency contact
    • Select your pronouns (look under My Personal Information/Pronouns) (What’s this?)
    • Review your Bursar Bill (under Finances/Account Summary) and plan your finances for the semester.
  • Investigate whether any of your courses will use Moodle, Zoom, or Blackboard and verify you can access that platform using your NET ID. Moodle and Blackboard provide user instructions within the platform; Zoom has compiled a series of video tutorials to help you learn the basics.


Academic Services and Student Support

  • Engage with Welcome to UMass Graduate School (WUGS) orientation materials: content videos, welcome videos, and resources!
  • Get to know your department! Learn your departmental contacts, especially your Graduate Program Director, the staff member who manages the program (referred to as the Graduate Program Manager, Administrator, or Coordinator), and any academic advisors who work with graduate students. Participate in departmental orientation or welcome activities. 
  • International students should check the International Programs Office website for helpful information on starting at UMass, including details on IPO’s orientation for international graduate students
  • Get Your UCard, your official UMass Amherst picture identification card. (For students on campus only, as the UCard Office needs to take your picture and you must pick up your completed UCard in person.)
  • Familiarize yourself with UMass’s Code of Student Conduct, the Graduate Student Handbook, and FERPA guidelines on sharing your academic information or information on your students (if you are a TA/instructor).
  • Verify your enrollment in the Student Health Benefit Plan, if you elect for this health insurance plan. Students taking five or more credits are automatically enrolled (check your Bursar Bill for the Student Health Benefit Plan as a line item). If you are registered for fewer than five credits or elect to use the Family Plan you must enroll directly with University Health Services (and you must re-enroll each semester). 
  • Complete the Student Immunization Record (required for any student taking courses on campus). 
  • Students with a documented disability should complete the online intake form with the Disability Services Office for assistance on securing appropriate accommodations. 
  • If you plan to park your vehicle on campus, investigate permit or metered parking options with Parking Services. Graduate students employed in a GEO-benefited position qualify for a reduced parking rate--show your signed graduate appointment form to get the discounted rate. 
  • Still need housing in the Amherst area? Check the Off Campus Housing website. 
  • If you are traveling to campus, consult these directions for details on how to get here from nearby transportation hubs. 
  • Open a bank account, if necessary. 
  • If you will be employed as a TA, RA, or in another position at UMass, check with your employer on what paperwork or other requirements you need to complete.


(Return to the WUGS homepage or check out our resource page!)