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!

Check out what students say about their experience!

**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. You can review the full list of Gen Ed courses offered through 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. Refer to the RAPs by Location document.

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!

Answer: 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 11 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.

There are two general scenarios:

Scenario #1: You are in a roommate-restricted RAP.
There are a few RAPs that require students to room with another student in the same RAP:

  • All Honors RAPs (except Engineering Honors RAP)
  • Bio Pioneers RAP
  • BioTAP
  • Isenberg School of Management Fellows RAPs
  • Emerging Scholars RAP
  • Performing & Visual Arts Majors RAP
  • Veterinary & Animal Science Majors RAP

If you are in one of these RAPs, you may request to room with someone in your RAP. In order to see who is in your RAP,

  • Log into the RAP Placement System
  •  Click "Update my sharing preferences" > Choose "I agree to share my information with others in my RAP" > "View my RAP Classmates"
  • and 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 your Housing Preference Application using your full name or Student ID #.

If you don’t request a specific roommate, housing will assign you a roommate in your RAP based on your housing profile.

Scenario #2: You are in a RAP that does not have a roommate restriction (any RAP NOT listed above).
It is possible to request your roommate in any of these three cases:  

  • You want to room with someone in your RAP (In order to see who is in your RAP, log back into your RAP log-in page and click “see others in my RAP”) OR
  • You want to room with someone in a different RAP that is located in the same residence hall as yours OR
  • You want to room with someone not joining a RAP

In any of these cases, follow this procedure:  On your Housing Preference Application on Spire, both students must request each other. You can enter their full name or Student ID. Please know that this does not guarantee that you will be assigned together.

It is NOT possible to live with someone who is in a RAP that is located in a different residence hall. 

For additional questions about roommates please visit the Housing Assignment website.

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

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

For Fall 2022, 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. Use the RAPs by location document to see which programs are in these halls, and the RAP Public Site to see which programs still have spaces.  

If you join a RAP in Gorman Hall or James Hall and need break housing: email and let Residential Life Student Services 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 Student Services strongly recommends not joining a RAP and instead applying for break housing on the Housing Preference Application (available June 1 – July 15, 2022) in Southwest or Central residential areas.   

RAP aims to be inclusive and accessible to students of all gender identities. For the 2022 – 2023 academic year, Webster Hall in the Orchard Hill Residential Area will have gender inclusive rooms available. Several RAPs are located in residence halls with full gender-inclusive bathrooms: 

  • Southwest Residential Area: Cance Hall and Moore Hall 
  • Northeast Residential Area: Knowlton Hall 
  • Orchard Hill Residential Area: Webster Hall 
  • Central Residential Area: Van Meter Hall 
  • CHCRC: Oak Hall and Sycamore Hall 

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

For more information about Gender Inclusive housing visit the Living at UMass website
Please reach out to Living at UMass if you have specific questions about gender-inclusive housing/roommate options and process. 

Absolutely! In order to access these accommodations, you must first register with Disability Services (413-545-0892). Disability Services and the Student Services Office will work with otherwise qualified students to accommodate your needs. Please note that requests for housing accommodations must be made within the housing/student services timelines.


Yes, almost all RAP courses fulfill a UMass requirement:

  • "Gen Ed RAPs" include a General Education course which fulfills a University level requirement (necessary for all students).
  • All seminars associated with RAP 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.

NO. You can only join ONE RAP.  Participation in a RAP is a "package deal" which includes specific courses and a designated residence hall.  Carefully review all elements of the packages to determine which RAPs could be a good fit for you. 

You do NOT need to take any placement tests before you can hold a spot in a RAP.
(In the past we required students to take the Math Placement Test before being able to hold a spot, we no longer require that.)

Refer to the NSO website for details regarding information about placement tests.

MAYBE.  Courses affiliated with your RAP may be in the hall where you live, or they may be in another building within the same residential area.  A few RAP courses may meet on the main campus. 

So, don't be alarmed when you register for your RAP course if it is not in your Residence Hall. 

Some RAP courses may be added to your schedule shortly after you join a RAP. If your RAP course was not added to your schedule before your on-line Academic Advising appointment in the summer, you will enroll when you meet with your advisor to register for your fall courses.  

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 welcome to join the Transfer RAP. Check out the details on the Transfer RAP page.

Transfer students may NOT join the First-Year RAPs.

Students can join RAP "programs" in the fall semester only - this means the package of specific courses for students living together in a designated residence hall. 

In the Spring semester, we offer "RAP Courses" which are open to ANY first-year student, regardless of if you participated in a RAP for the fall semester. Although the courses may be taught in residential classrooms, there is no residential component to the spring courses - meaning as long as you are living on or near campus you can enroll in RAP face-to-face classes in the spring semester. 

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 read the course descriptions to find a RAP that is a good match for you. And be sure to be mindful of the steps required to hold a spot

Unfortunately, students admitted into the 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.