The University of Massachusetts Amherst

RAP Frequently Asked Questions

Students report that when they live and study together they do better academically, form lasting friendships, and have a more satisfying college experience!

At UMass Amherst, RAPs have the following benefits: 

  • Making Connections: Develop meaningful and lasting relationships with RAP course instructors.
  • A Smooth Transition:  You can build a solid foundation on which to begin your academic and social exploration of the university by enrolling in common classes with students in your RAP and attending classes within your residential area.  
  • A Supportive Community:  You can learn how to form study groups and work cooperatively with peers who share similar interests and are in classes with you. Students report that they can also help each other in informal ways like waking each other up for class, sharing class notes and working on homework together.
  • Ease of Registration:  Start the registration process for your first semester in college with one or two built-in classes!

**Transfer students are only eligible to join a Transfer RAP**

There are THREE BASIC questions you should ask yourself – IN ANY ORDER:

ONE: Determine which TYPE of RAP is best for you. RAPs are organized in “types” that determine the basic structure of the RAP (who can join and the courses included). Consider these questions:

  • Do you want to connect with a group of students around a common interest – academic and or personal? Gen Ed RAPs  are open to any/all first-year students.
  • Are you interested in having a course and living with students who are in the same school/college as your major/exploratory track? Connect RAPs are restricted to the students within the specific school/college - this includes declared majors as well as students in that particular Exploratory Track.
  • Is there a RAP offered for students in your major? Look at the list of Majors RAPs to see if your department offers one.
  • If you are an Honors student, would you like to live with other honors students? Consider an Honors RAP.

TWOFind courses that appeal to you. Explore the large selection of courses that are associated with the various RAPs. The core of the RAP is usually built around the Gen Ed course that is part of the RAP. The Honors RAP courses are listed on the individual Honors RAP program pages.

THREE: Determine if you have strong feelings about which area of campus you live during your first year. There are RAPs located in every first-year residence hall and many of the programs are offered in more than one location (for example; Investigating Politics RAP is offered in Central and Southwest residential areas - each with a specific course affiliated to it.) Explore the specific RAPs within the location you have identified.

NO. Participation in a RAP is completely voluntary, but all entering first-year students are encouraged to explore the RAP opportunities. You can read about the specific programs on this website. Feel free to send us questions.

Please remember that joining a RAP does not exclude you from being able to participate in other academic and non-academic opportunities at the University. You are encouraged to explore various ways to get involved academically and socially at UMass Amherst.

*Some students are not able to join a RAP based on the complexities of the requirements in their major or participation in a sport that has team living and/or schedule requirements.

There are more than 1,700 RAP spaces for incoming first-year students.

RAPs are available in all the residential areas on campus that have first-year residence halls: Central, Northeast, Orchard Hill, and Southwest. Honors RAPs are located in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community.  Refer to the RAPs by Location chart to see where each specific RAP is located. The different residential areas at UMass Amherst have unique characteristics, which you can read more about on the UMass Residence Life website

Most of the Gen Ed RAPs are for 30 or fewer students. Connect RAPs have 19 or fewer students. Majors RAPs and Honors RAPs vary in size.

YES.  While a RAP is intended to foster a sense of community among its participating students, it is not designed to isolate you from other students at the university.  In fact, there are many opportunities to connect with other students at UMass Amherst -including students who live in your residence hall but are not affiliated with your RAP, as well as students you meet in your classes on the main campus.  

You are encouraged to explore different ways to get involved academically and socially at UMass-talk with your Resident Assistant (RA) or a Peer Mentor to find out about the many opportunities that UMass offers!

The Occupancy License "is a legally binding enforceable agreement, which will remain in force for the duration of residency and includes financial responsibility for the entire contract period." All students must sign the contract before they can hold a spot in a RAP and before they can apply for housing.

The Housing Preference Application is a process in which new students rank the different residential areas on campus and can request a roommate. The application will be available June 1-July 14 and can be completed after holding a spot in a RAP.

For RAP students, instead of ranking the residential areas, they will confirm they are securing a room in the residence hall where the RAP is located. RAP students will also have the opportunity to request a roommate when completing the preference application. See question #9 for information on RAP and roommates.

Most RAPs do not have a roommate restriction, meaning you can request a roommate who is: 

  • Not in any RAP  
  • In a different RAP with no roommate restriction located in the same residence hall  
  • In the same RAP as you 

However, the following RAPs do have a roommate restriction:  

  • Animal Science Majors RAP 
  • Bio Pioneers RAP  
  • BioTAP  
  • Emerging Scholars RAP 
  • Isenberg School of Management Fellows Connect RAPs  
  • Performing & Visual Arts Majors RAP  
  • Vet Tech Majors RAP 

Students in the RAPs listed above must live with another student in the same RAP. You can request a specific student as your roommate, or the Residential Life Assignment Office will assign a student to the room.  

To find the contact information for other students in your RAP: 

  1. Log into the RAP Placement System 
  2. Click "Update my sharing preferences"  
  3. Choose "I agree to share my information with others in my RAP"  
  4. "View my RAP Classmates" 
  5. Click "see others in my RAP"

If you wish to live with one of these students as your roommate, you must mutually request each other on the Housing Preference Application. Review instructions to request a roommate here

We encourage international students to join a RAP.  Please carefully read the steps and timelines on the How to Join page.  

If you will need break housing, please see the information in question 11 below.

For Fall 2023, two first-year residence halls will have break housing options for first-year students: Gorman Hall in Central Residential Area and James Hall in Southwest Residential Area.  

Students who need break housing and want to join a RAP should aim to join a RAP they are eligible for and has space in either Gorman Hall or James Hall. View the RAPs by location to browse the list of RAPs located in these halls, and visit this link to browse RAPs still have space available.

If you join a RAP in Gorman Hall or James Hall and need break housing: email and let Residential Life Assignments know that you are a RAP student in one of these residence halls who needs break housing. RAP Students cannot request break housing on the Housing Preference Application.  

If you cannot join any of the RAPs located in either of those halls, Residential Life Assignments strongly recommends not joining a RAP and instead applying for break housing on the Housing Preference Application (available June 1-July 14) in Southwest or Central Residential Areas.

At this time, we do not offer RAPs in residence halls with Gender-Inclusive Housing. However, we do offer RAPs in residence halls with Gender-Inclusive Restrooms. These first-year residence halls with RAPs all have Gender-Inclusive Restrooms:

  • Cance (Southwest)
  • Moore (Southwest)
  • Knowlton (Northeast)
  • Webster (Orchard Hill)
  • Van Meter (Central)
  • Oak (CHCRC)
  • Sycamore (CHCRC)

Review this page for more information about Gender-Inclusive Housing and Restrooms at UMass.

Refer to the RAPs by Location document to see which RAPs are in the residence halls listed.

Yes. In order to receive accommodations, you must first register with Disability Services. You are only able to receive accommodations that are documented through Disability Services.

You can only join one RAP. Participation in a RAP is a package deal which includes enrollment in specific course(s) and a room assignment in a designated residence hall.

Yes, almost all RAP courses fulfill a UMass requirement:

  • Gen Ed RAPs fulfill a General Education course which fulfills a University level requirement (necessary for all students).
  • All first-year RAP Seminars fulfill a college/school requirement.
  • Some Majors RAPs include a course that fulfills a requirement for that major.
  • Most Honors RAPs include a course that fulfills an Honors College requirement.

Refer to RAP program pages for details on each RAP.

You do not need to take any placement tests before you can hold a spot in a RAP.

Refer to the NSOT website for information about placement tests.

Most RAP courses are held within the residential area where you live, either in the hall you live in or in another nearby residence hall within your residential area. A few RAP courses may meet on the main campus.

You will enroll in your RAP course(s) when you meet with your Academic Advisor during your advising and course registration appointment over the summer.

Note: if the meeting time of your RAP course conflicts with the time a course that meets a major requirement, you will need to drop the RAP. Your advisor will assist you if this occurs. 

Transfer students are eligible to join a Transfer RAP. Check out the details on the Transfer RAP page.

No, RAPs are not offered during the spring semesters since RAPs are a first-semester experience. However, during most spring semesters, any first-year student has the opportunity to enroll in a General Education course sponsored by Student Success Academic Programs. Enrollment in a spring course does not depend on where a student lives on campus and will not change their housing assignment. Before registering for your spring courses, check in with your Academic Advisor about enrolling in one of these Gen Ed courses.

Students admitted into a Bachelor of Science (four-year) degree program are eligible to join a RAP. Interested students should explore the variety of Gen Ed RAPs offered. Be sure to review the course descriptions to find a RAP that is a good match for you. Also, be mindful of the steps required to register for a RAP

Unfortunately, students admitted into an Associate of Science (two-year) degree program are not eligible to join a RAP. Students in these programs have such a tight course schedule that they do not have space to add a course that would be required when joining a RAP.