University of Massachusetts Amherst Course Numbering System:

  • 100 - 199 Introductory lower division, undergraduate (first year)
  • 200 - 299 Other lower division, undergraduate (sophomore)
  • 300 - 399 Upper division, undergraduate (junior/senior)
  • 400 - 499 Upper division, undergraduate (junior/senior);
    graduate credit may be awarded only to candidates outside the department's own graduate program, when taught by a member of the Graduate Faculty.
  • 500 - 599 Combined graduate/undergraduate
  • 600 - 699 Master's or first-year graduate
  • 700 - 899 Doctoral or advanced graduate


Graduate students are eligible to enroll for any regularly scheduled university course, graduate or undergraduate, provided they meet all course prerequisites and space is available. Permission of the course instructor may be necessary. Courses that will be offered, with meeting times, places, and names of the instructors, are listed each semester on SPIRE. For course descriptions, refer to the current Graduate School Bulletin and/or department/school literature.

Five College Interchange:

Graduate students enrolled in degree programs are eligible to register for most courses offered at Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges through the Five College Consortium. Each student must enroll for at least one three-credit University of Massachusetts Amherst course to be eligible to take courses at the cooperating colleges. Note: Most courses offered by the area colleges are undergraduate level and, therefore, are not necessarily applicable toward graduate degree credit at the university. You may register for Five College courses using SPIRE. Each semester there are two registration periods for Five College classes. You can find these dates listed on the Five College Online Academic Calendar. To search for courses, visit the Five College Course Catalog.

Online Courses:

Review the course and program offerings on the University Without Walls website.

Off-Campus Students:

Students enrolled in an approved off-campus program will receive course and registration information through their program's off-campus office. An "off-campus" student is generally not permitted to register for on-campus courses without being formally admitted to the on-campus degree program; for further information, contact your off-campus program office or the Graduate Student Service Center at gradrec@grad.umass.edu.

Maximum Course/Credit Load:

A graduate student in a full-time degree program may routinely register for up to sixteen (16) credits each fall and spring semester, nine (9) credits during the summer session, and eight (8) credits during the six week winter session. Any student who wishes to register for an additional course in the fall and spring semesters (maximum of 18 credits) must secure the endorsement of their Graduate Program Director.  Graduate students in part-time degree programs may routinely register for up to nine (9) credits each fall, spring, and summer semester, and four (4) credits during the winter session.

Audited Courses:

A graduate student may audit any class; however, such a course does not count towards enrollment status and cannot be used to complete any degree or certificate requirement.  Students are assessed full tuition and fees for audited courses, and these courses do not count when calculating status for loan deferment purposes.

A student may register as an auditor through SPIRE. A grade of Audit (AUD) is recorded for students who register for and successfully complete the course requirements for auditing students. The instructor determines what constitutes successful completion. The deadline for registering as an auditor is the tenth class day of the semester. A student may convert an otherwise passing course to an audit up to the last day of classes. The instructor must be willing to make this change and must signify that the student was passing the class at the time of the change. A student may not switch from audit to credit after the end of the add/drop period. 

Course Changes:

A graduate student may make course changes (both add and drop) during the first ten class days of the semester without penalty or any indication on the transcript. Such changes are made using SPIRE. Courses may be dropped following that deadline; however, the grade of Drop (DR) will be recorded from the third to the eighth week of the semester. A grade of Withdraw Passing (WP) or Withdraw Failing (WF) will be recorded after the eighth week of the semester. Course changes from the third week until the end of the semester require the instructor's approval and the date last attended for any course withdrawal.


Any student writing a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation must register for thesis (699) or dissertation (899) credits prior to filing for the degree. Most graduate programs require a minimum of six (6) thesis and ten (10) dissertation credits. The maximum number of thesis/dissertation credits for which a student can register per semester is ten (10) credits of master's thesis (699) or nine (9) credits of doctoral dissertation (899).  These credits will be graded IP (In Progress) until the thesis or dissertation has been accepted by the Graduate School at which time these credits will be converted to SAT (Satisfactory).

Independent Study/Special Problems:

Independent work may receive credit as Independent Study or Special Problems courses provided that the work is performed under the guidance of a graduate faculty member and the course is properly recorded as part of the student's registration. Grading of such courses follows the standard Graduate School Grading Policies. Students may register for whatever number of independent study courses their advisor recommends; however, a maximum of six (6) credits (12 credits for M.F.A. students) may be used to fulfill master's degree requirements if the student writes a thesis (see also Master's Degree Requirements).

Retaking Courses:

Unless otherwise noted a course may be taken more than once but may be offered only once toward degree requirements.  All enrollments and all grades will appear on the transcript and will count in the grade point average.



University Tuition and Fees:

Graduate students pay tuition on the basis of credits of enrollment. Audited courses are charged at the same rate as courses taken for credit. The per-credit tuition rate for courses offered through the University session is determined by dividing the maximum resident or non-resident tuition (set by the Board of Trustees) by 12. Graduate students who register for 12 or more credits pay the maximum tuition; those registering for less than 12 credits pay at the per credit rate.

For a schedule of current University tuition and fees refer to the Office of the Bursar website.

UWW Fees:

Class fees for UWW session classes are charged per credit.  Costs per credit vary based on course and program.  Exact cost per credit and course fees can be found in the Restrictions/Notes section on the class in SPIRE.

See the University Without Walls, website for UWW course costs and class information.

Mailing and Due Dates:

Notification of graduate student tuition/fee bills is generally sent by email several days after the add/drop deadline. The due date for payment is normally the end of the fifth week of the semester. Student charges can be viewed on SPIRE. You are responsible for paying the bill by the deadline indicated even if you do not receive a bill; therefore, you should check SPIRE regularly and pay your bill by the due date indicated.

Off-Campus Fee Reduction:

Students completing their thesis, dissertation or internship at an "off-campus" site may be eligible for a reduction in mandatory fees (Graduate Service Fee, Graduate Student Senate Fee, Student Health Fee). Contact the Graduate Student Service Center for more information.

Residency For Tuition Classification Purposes:

University tuition is assessed based upon the student's residency classification. Residency classification is determined at the time of application, based upon information provided in the admission application.  All applicants applying as a Massachusetts resident or for the New England Regional Student Program must complete and sign a Residency Statement for that application to be fully processed. The Certification of Residency form is automated into the signature process for the application.

A person shall be classified as a Massachusetts resident only if they have resided in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for purposes other than attending an educational institution for twelve months immediately preceding the student’s entry or reentry as a student.

Note: Residency classification usually only matters when enrolling in courses offered through the University session. Students enrolled in courses offered through University Without Walls usually pay the same rate regardless of residency status.

Reclassification of Residency:

Residency for tuition classification purposes is not acquired by mere physical presence in Massachusetts while a person is carrying on a course of study at the University or other school. Residence in Massachusetts must be established for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to entering or re-entering as a matriculating student. The Tuition Classification Rules & Regulations should be read in full before submitting a Residency Reclassification Request.

Contact the Graduate Student Service Center if you have questions about your residency classification.

Enrollment Status

Enrollment Status

  • The Graduate School defines full-time graduate student status as enrollment for nine (9) or more credits; part-time graduate student status is defined as eight (8) or fewer credits; and for financial aid and loan deferment purposes, half-time is defined as six (6) credits in a semester.
  • UMass graduate degree candidates working full-time on research for a required thesis or dissertation may be considered full-time graduate students regardless of the number of credits for which they register provided their Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair certifies that they are working full-time on research.
  • UMass master's and doctoral candidates legally employed for at least 40 hours a week at a University-approved co-operative education experience (Co-op) may be considered full time students regardless of the number of credits in which they are enrolled, provided the major department certifies the work experience is directly related and integral to the curriculum of the student's academic program.
  • Audited courses do not count toward enrollment status.
  • Working on incomplete courses from prior semesters cannot count toward enrollment status.
  • Immigration law requires that foreign students be enrolled at full-time status.
  • To satisfy the residency requirement for a doctoral degree, doctoral students must spend the equivalent of at least one continuous academic year of full-time graduate work (nine credits per semester) in residence at the university. A semester in which a department certifies a student as working full-time on research, without the student registering for credits, does not count towards the residency requirement.

Continuous Enrollment

UMass degree-seeking graduate students are required to maintain continuous enrollment by registering every fall and spring semester until their degree is awarded.

If you are not registering for any courses or credits in a fall or spring semester and you are not filing for your degree, you must enroll in the Continuous Enrollment course, also known as Program Fee.  You can enroll in the Continuous Enrollment course in SPIRE prior to the end of add/drop each fall and spring semester.  The Class Number for Continuous Enrollment is found in the Schedule of Classes under GRADSCH 999.

  • An incomplete course from a previous semester does not maintain your enrollment.
  • First semester students and non-degree students are not eligible for Continuous Enrollment. 
  • The cost for Continuous Enrollment/Program Fee is $285.00 which will be billed by the Bursar's Office.
  • Students on Continuous Enrollment are also assessed half of the Graduate Student Senate Tax.

Statute of Limitations / Expected Graduation Term

Expected Graduation Term

The Expected Graduation Term is the last term during which a student is allowed to register before their Statute of Limitations expires. Students who submit a Degree Eligibility Form will see their Expected Graduation Term adjusted to the actual expected graduation term. For example: Expected Grad Term of Summer 2022 means that you are eligible to register through the Summer 2022 semester, and that your Statute of Limitations expires at the end of summer 2019 (August 31, 2022).

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations (SOL) is the period within which all degree requirements must be completed. It is determined during the acceptance process using the following guidelines:

Master's degrees for students admitted starting Summer 2015

  • SOL's are set to four (4) years with the exceptions noted below;
  • for an M.F.A. degree, the SOL is five (5) years;
  • for all part-time off-campus programs, the SOL is five (5) years;
  • for dual master's degrees, the SOL is five (5) years unless otherwise noted in the program description.

Master's degrees for students admitted prior to Summer 2015

  • SOL's are set to three (3) years with the exceptions noted below;
  • for an M.F.A. degree, the SOL is four (4) years;
  • for part-time off-campus programs in engineering, labor studies, management, music education, nursing, nutrition, and public health practice, the SOL is four (4) years;
  • for dual master's degrees, the SOL is four (4) years unless otherwise noted in the program description.

Doctoral degrees for students admitted starting in Summer 2009

  • for new doctoral students starting in Summer 2009, the SOL is set at six (6) years prior to achieving candidacy and five (5) years once candidacy is achieved.

Doctoral degrees for students admitted starting Summer 2004 and prior to Summer 2009

  • prior to achieving candidacy, the SOL was set as indicated below;
  • after achieving candidacy, the SOL is re-set to five (5) years.

Doctoral degrees for students admitted prior to Summer 2004

  • for doctoral students without an earned master's degree in their major field, the SOL was set at six (6) years;
  • for doctoral students with a related master's degree, the SOL was set to four (4) years.

Candidacy for Doctoral Students

Candidacy is recommended for doctoral students by the academic department upon satisfactory completion of coursework and passing the qualifying examination.

Statute of Limitations Extensions

A graduate student may be granted additional time to complete their degree program by the Graduate Dean provided the student's Graduate Program Director makes such a recommendation and provided satisfactory and reasonable progress is being made.

Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence

Personal Leave of Absence:

Registration for Continuous Enrollment and payment of a Program Fee does not constitute a leave of absence. A student must formally request a leave of absence by petitioning their Graduate Program Director who, in turn, provides justification for the request to the Graduate Dean. If the Dean grants a leave of absence, the student's statute of limitations will be appropriately increased. Graduate students on a leave of absence must maintain continuous enrollment by registering for the Continuous Enrollment course and paying the program fee every semester during their leave. A student on a leave of absence is not considered to be actively completing a degree program; therefore, loan deferments cannot be signed during this period of time.

Health Leave of Absence/Withdrawal:

When a student's physical health or mental health precludes successful completion of their academic course work, the student may receive a health leave of absence or withdrawal from the University, upon recommendation by the appropriate physician or therapist of the University Health Services. Normally, the leave of absence/withdrawal will result from the student's voluntary efforts. In exceptional circumstances involving life-threatening behaviors, a student may be asked to leave the university involuntarily until those serious circumstances have been controlled. During the period of a health leave of absence, the student must maintain their status by registering for Continuous Enrollment and paying the program fee. Accordingly, the Graduate School will adjust the student's statute of limitations for the duration of the leave of absence. The full policy is available in the Graduate School Bulletin and from the Office of the Graduate Dean or the Graduate Student Service Center.

Course Drop / Withdrawal

  1. To add, drop, or change a course, students must use the online student information system, SPIRE.
  2. Up to and including 10 academic days from the beginning of a semester, degree-seeking graduate students may add, drop or change courses without penalty; that is, no entry will be made on the student’s permanent record. No courses may be added after this date.
  3. Courses dropped after period (2), but within eight calendar weeks from the beginning of a semester will be recorded with a grade of DR (Drop) on the student's transcript.
  4. During periods (2) and (3) a student may withdraw from the university without academic penalty. Grades of DR will be noted on the record. After eight weeks, grades of WF (Withdraw Failing) or WP (Withdraw Passing) will be entered unless special permission is obtained from the Dean of the Graduate School. No student may withdraw from courses after final examinations begin.

Withdrawal / Dismissal

Withdrawal / Dismissal

Voluntary Withdrawal

Graduate students voluntarily withdrawing from the university must send a letter to the Graduate Dean, via their Graduate Program Director, indicating the reasons for the request. The student's Graduate Program Director must endorse the request and attest to the student's current academic standing. The student, or Graduate Program Director on their behalf, must still complete Add/Drop forms for all courses in which the student is enrolled.

Failure to Enroll

Graduate students who have not enrolled will automatically be withdrawn from the university for failure to maintain continuous enrollment (see Penalty for Late Registration).

Administrative Withdrawal

Graduate students may be administratively withdrawn from the university, after due notice, for failure to satisfy overdue financial obligations or to comply with administrative requirements of the university. See the "Policies and Regulations" section of the current Graduate School Bulletin for further information.

Academic Dismissal

A graduate student who in any two semesters, consecutive or otherwise, has semester averages of below 2.8 is subject to academic dismissal upon recommendation of the Graduate Program Director and approval by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Unsatisfactory or Unreasonable Progress

Graduate students who are not making satisfactory or reasonable progress toward the completion of their degree program are subject to termination. Upon the recommendation of the Graduate Program Director and the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School, students will be notified of any formal termination by the Graduate School.

Absences for Religious Reasons

Absences for Religious Reasons

Chapter 151C of the Massachusetts General Laws as amended guarantees that "any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in an examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section."

Need More Information?

You can find more in the online, searchable version of the Graduate School Bulletin.