Student Checklist

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

Before NSO: Designate an Emergency Contact in SPIRE | Choose Your Date | Ask Your Family to Sign Up Too | Hold a Spot in a Residential Academic Program | Explore Residential Life | Get Familiar with SPIRE  | UMass Google Email | Math Placement Exam | Writing Placement Exam | Foreign Language Placement Exam | Test Scores and Transcripts UMass Amherst Alerts  | Upload Your UCard Photo

Before the Semester Begins: Residential Life | Paying Your BillGuide to UHS | Immunizations | Health Insurance | Consent to Treat Minor Patients | Common Experience | AlcoholEduYIS: Your Intervention Strategies | Get Involved | Jobs  | Books | Parking | Get Your Computer Ready

When the Semester Begins: Attend Welcome Events | RefWorks

Before NSO

  Designate an Emergency Contact in SPIRE

Add an Emergency Contact to the My Personal Information section of your SPIRE account to identify the individual(s) who should be contacted on your behalf in case of an emergency.

 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, vacation or any other prior commitments.

  Ask Your Family to Sign Up Too

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

 Hold a Spot in a Residential Academic Program (RAP)

Students admitted for the fall semester should explore the exciting living and learning opportunities available to you through RAP.

  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.

There are also options available to students who wish to pursue off-campus housing.

  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.

  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.

 Take Your Placement Exams 

You will be automatically enrolled for placement exams the next business day after your nonrefundable enrollment deposit has been processed by the University. 
  • After that, you will be able to log in using your UMass "NetID" and password.
  • Enrollment is updated every night except for weekends; and students will be able to take the exam the following business day.  You can check your SPIRE Admissions Center page to confirm that your nonrefundable enrollment deposit has been processed. If your deposit is processed successfully, the page will say "Received - Thank you".
  •  Math Placement Exam

All incoming first-year 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.  Transfer students should consult the "UMass Amherst: Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation" email message from Admissions to determine whether or not they need to take the Math Placement Exam. Ready to take a placement exam? Click here to read the directions and get started.

  •   Writing Placement Exam

Before attending an orientation session, incoming first-year 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.  Transfer students should consult the "UMass Amherst: Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation" email message from Admissions to determine whether or not they need to take the Writing Placement Exam. Ready to take the exam? Click here to read the directions and start your exam.

Students admitted for the spring semester, be sure to take the writing placement exam by before coming to orientation. Students who complete the exam by Sunday, December 8; will have their results emailed by December 11. Students who complete the exam Friday, January 10; will have their results emailed by January 13.

  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 most recent 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.

  UMass Amherst Alerts

Sign up to receive emergency text messages and learn more about emergency preparedness through UMass Amherst Alerts. When you log into SPIRE a reminder will appear that contains a direct link to the enrollment screen for alert messages. This page will appear each time you log into SPIRE until you have either enrolled or opted out from receiving text alerts. You can also enter a secondary email and cell phone number into your account to receive alerts.

  Upload Your UCard Photo  

When you upload your own photo, you get to choose the photo used on your ID card; you can avoid waiting in line during orientation; and you'll be qualifed for a $50 drawing. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time before the deadline in case you need more than one attempt to get your photo approved.

  • New students attending Winter NSO can upload their own photo to the UCard (campus ID) website starting November 6, 2019. Please make sure you upload your photo at least 2 business days before your orientation session.
Your NSO Date UCard Photo Deadline
Tuesday, January 14 Friday, January 10
Wednsesday, January 15 Monday, January 13
Thursday, January 16 Tuesday, January 14
Friday, January 17 Wednsesday, January 15
  • Incoming students participating in a Summer NSO session can pload their own UCard  picture to the UCard web site starting in the spring. 

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Before the Semester Begins

  Residential Life

Students living on-campus need to complete a housing preference application and plan carefully for move-in.  Complete the following in SPIRE:  

  • Your Housing Preference Application.
  • Roommate Search- Looking for a roommate? Fall admits can use the Roommate Search tool to find compatible roommates.
  • Make your Move-In Reservation and print your Boarding Pass.

You can find important information such as video tutorials for how to pack and information on the Luggage Program for out-of-state families on the Residential Life website.

  • If you're planning on shipping items through the Luggage Program, send them during the stated time.
  • Contact your roommate(s). Begin to get to know each other and decide who will bring or rent the refrigerator/MicroChill and other shared items. 
  • Consider getting involved in your residence hall community by joining House Council and the Residence Hall Association.  Visit Getting Involved for more information.
  • Download the My UMass app from the App Store or Google Play for all up to date information about Move-In and living on campus.

  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 post in mid-July for fall semester and early December for spring semester. An email will be sent to your UMass email address when your bill is available to view. For more information about billing, please visit the Bursar's Office.

  • FERPA Waiver: If you want UMass staff to be able to discuss your financial records (tuition bill, financial aid, and residential life account) with parents/guardians, you need to give permission by completing the FERPA waiver available mid-May for fall admits and  mid-November for spring admits. 
  • Authorized Payer: If someone is helping you pay for school, sign them up as an authorized payer for billing purposes.  
  • UPay Payment Plan:  Enroll in UPay to pay your bill in monthly installments.
  • Excess Express: If you want to receive excess funds via direct deposit, make sure you sign up for Excess Express

   A Student's Guide to University Health Services (UHS)

Created by the Center for Health Promotion's Student Wellness Advisory Board and University Health Services A Student's Guide to University Health Services provides step by step details on how to make the most of the resources available at UHS. Read through the guide for a checklist of items to complete before you get to campus. 

  Submitting Immunization Records

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. Submit your immunization information before your first semester on campus.The deadline is the end of the add/drop period. If you miss the deadline, a hold will be placed on your student record and you'll be unable to register for classes.

  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.

The waiver site opens in mid-July for new fall semester students and mid-December for new spring semester students. Waivers submitted in the fall apply to the entire academic year. Waiver requests must be completed by the end of the Add/Drop period. Otherwise, you will remain enrolled in the SHBP and charges will be assessed on the semester’s tuition bills.

If you're staying on your current insurance plan, be sure to bring a copy of the front and back of your insurance card when you move to UMass.

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

  Consent to Treat Minor Patients

If you are enrolling at UMass Amherst before your 18th birthday, have your parents/guardians complete the Consent to Treat Minor Patients form.

   Common Experience

  • Each year entering students participate in a common experience to unite their class. Check back for more details. 


AlcoholEdu is an interactive evidence-based online program designed to reduce the negative consequences of alcohol among students.  AlcoholEdu covers two of the most significant behavioral risks new college students face as they transition into a new community: alcohol use and illicit and prescription drug use. This program delivers a personalized experience to all types of students dependent on their current drinking choices.  This is a required program and students who don’t complete this requirement, won’t be able to register for classes for the following semester. AlcoholEdu takes about 60 minutes. You can take the course in shorter segments and your progress will be saved. You must complete and pass the post-test with a score of at least 80%. Don’t worry, you have chances to try again if you don’t pass the first time! 

  • Students entering Spring 2020: In mid-December, you will receive an email directing you to access your Intro to UMass Community Values and Resources course on Moodle where you can complete AlcoholEdu. 
  • Students entering Fall 2020: After you attend Summer NSO, you will receive an email directing you to access your Intro to UMass Community Values and Resources course on Moodle where you can complete AlcoholEdu. 

  YIS: Your Intervention Strategies. Preventing Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence and Stalking.

This interactive graphic novel is an online module designed to meet federal mandates of the Campus Sexual Violence (SaVE) Act, which requires all new students receive primary prevention programming to prevent sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.  It includes an overview of available campus resources, expectations and  policies and can take up to an hour to complete.  It is designed to be done in one sitting, please avoid closing the window and returning.   All entering students must complete this course prior to the start of the semester. If you don’t complete this requirement, you won’t be able to register for classes for the following semester. If you have any questions or concerns please email:

  • Students entering Spring 2020: In mid-December, you will receive an email directing you to access your Intro to UMass Community Values and Resources course on Moodle where you can complete YIS. 
  • Students entering Fall 2020: After you attend Summer NSO, you will receive an email directing you to access your Intro to UMass Community Values and Resources course on Moodle where you can complete YIS. 

  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).

Explore Campus Recreation options and consider joining an intramural team.


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. If you plan to work on campus, there are forms you must complete before you can be hired and paid. All new employees, including student employees,  must bring original documents as valid forms of identification. Photocopies and faxed documents are not acceptable. Refer to the I-9 form for more information.


eCampus @ UMass is the official course materials provider of UMass Amherst. Order course materials via SPIRE. Ordering instructions are found here. eCampus @ UMass offers a dynamic pricing model with multiple purchasing options, including new, used, rental, eBook, and Marketplace. Receive free shipping on all orders, excluding Marketplace purchases.


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.

  Get Your Computer Ready

To help ensure that your computer meets our minimum standards and will be able to connect to the UMass wireless network review the new students computing "To Dos".

When the Semester Begins

  Attend Welcome Events

  • Students Entering Spring 2020: More information about Winter Welcome will be posted in Fall 2019.
  • Students Entering Fall 2020: More information about more about Fall Welcome events will be posted in the summer. 


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.

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