Registering for Classes FAQs

When is academic advising and registration?    Each semester, students can select courses for the following semester. Registration for Spring semester courses begins in November, and Fall semester registration begins April 1, 2013. Each Pre-Vet and AnSci major is assigned an academic faculty advisor and must meet with their advisor prior to the start of registration. One week prior to advising week, all students receive an email reminder and instructions to sign up for a 20-30 minute advising appointment. Prior to the advising appointment, students should review their Academic Requirements Report in SPIRE (menu at center left of student center), which details progress toward university and graduation requirements.  Students should come to their advising appointment with their proposed course schedule and any academic or career planning questions. After meeting with the student, advisors remove the registration hold.

Who is my advisor?    Your advisor is listed at the lower right of your SPIRE student center. Contact Mary Schneider (mschneider [at] vasci [dot] umass [dot] edu) if you need an advisor assigned.

Why should I register as soon as my enrollment appointment opens?    Prompt registration is the best way to ensure that you get the courses that you want. Every semester, some courses fill up early, especially classes that can’t be expanded, such as labs. On the other side of the coin, some less popular courses may be canceled if too few people register. A good strategy is to place your courses in your shopping cart before your enrollment appointment starts, so that you can register as soon as your appointment opens.

What is the date and time that I can register?    Check your enrollment date and time by clicking the “More details” link under “Enrollment Appointment” on the lower right side of student center in SPIRE. Access begins first for seniors (87 credits and above) and on various dates and times thereafter for juniors (57-86 credits), sophomores (27-56 credits), and freshmen (less than or equal to 26 credits). Class designations are based on total number of credits earned, including those in the current semester, not upon years at UMass Amherst. If you fail to register as soon as possible, you may find that you cannot get in your required courses or preferred sections.

Why can’t I register?    Check your Holds status on the right hand side of your SPIRE student center. Your advisor should remove your advising requirement hold after you meet, but there are also holds blocking registration that are placed on your account by the academic dean’s office, health services, or the bursar’s office. You will have to contact the office responsible for the hold in order to have it removed.

Why can’t I register for some courses using SPIRE?

-You really haven’t met the prerequisites for the course you’re trying to register for or you’ve met the prerequisites, but SPIRE doesn’t recognize it.

-You need instructor permission for the course.

-The course is restricted to RAP/TAP groups, other majors, or upper classmen.

In all of the above situations, you need to contact the instructor listed for the class with your name, SPIRE ID number, five digit class number for lecture and discussion/lab section, if applicable, and reason why you should be manually enrolled in the class. If your prerequisite class is not recognized by SPIRE, explain the materials covered in that class that are equivalent to the prerequisite class in SPIRE. If the course is restricted to other groups, explain why taking the class or that particular section is particularly important to you (e.g. class required by vet school or it won’t fit into your schedule in any other semester). You may be enrolled if there is space available after the other group has had a chance to register. This could happen as late as the beginning of the next semester. Make sure that there is space available for that class in your schedule.

What are my University General Education (Gen Ed) requirements?

Most AnSci/Pre-Vet majors who started in the Fall of 2010 or later as freshmen will have to choose classes to fulfill the following Gen Ed requirements:

-1 (4 credit) AL or AT Arts and Literature

-1 (4 credit) HS History

-1 (4 credit) SB Social & Behavioral Sciences

In order to minimize the number of Gen Ed classes taken, two of the three Gen Ed classes above should also have the U (United States) and G (Global) diversity designation, so that two Gen Ed requirements can be fulfilled with one class (e.g. ALG fulfills AL and G requirements).

-ANIMLSCI 260 Domestic Animal Care and Welfare is a 4 credit SI Gen Ed and is also a graduation requirement for AnSci and Pre-Vet students.

-ENGLWRIT 112 fulfills the College Writing (CW) requirement.

-R1, R2, BS, and PS are fulfilled by classes already required for AnSci and Pre-Vet graduation requirements.

-NATSCI 397A fulfills the Junior Writing requirement. If you want to fulfill this requirement with another class, your advisor can approve of its substitution because it is a major requirement.

-1 Integrative Experience (IE)

The IE GenEd is specific to each major. You can check your requirements by looking in your Academic Requirements Report, available on the top of the menu at the center left of your SPIRE student center. The IE requirement is listed just after the Diversity “U” and “G” section of your Academic Requirements Report. If you are a freshman or sophomore, you should wait. Most seniors do not have the IE requirement. If you are graduating early and can’t fulfill the IE requirement, you will need to apply to Dean Baker for a waiver. If you are a junior or a transfer student, you have three options. You only need to take one of these options to fulfill the IE requirement:

1) If you are in Commonwealth Honors College, wait until the fall of your senior year, when you are taking 499Y (first semester of your honors thesis). Sign up for both 499T (second semester of the honors thesis) and the 1 credit AnSci 494 TI. The combination of 499Y+499T+AnSci 494 TI will fulfill your AnSci/Pre-Vet IE requirement; you do not need to take any other class.


If you are not in Commonwealth Honors College and you are a junior or senior who needs to fulfill the IE GenEd requirement, you can choose from two different classes. You do not need to take both. There are no other classes from other departments that will fulfill AnSci/Pre-Vet IE requirement. If you are a double major or double degree student, consult with your advisor.

2) AnSci 494 GI Good Intentions meets Tuesday & Thursday 2:30-3:45 pm 3 credits


3) NATSCI 494I  Global Issues/Applied Biology meets Tuesday 3:30-6:30 pm 3 credits: prerequisite Bio 151. (This will soon appear in your SPIRE academic requirements report as an option and is the same class as that previously offered by the PLSOILIN department.)

How do you find General Education courses on SPIRE?    If you need a Gen Ed course in a particular category, go to SPIRE “Main Menu”, then “Course Guide”, then “Search for Classes” page.  Leave the “Subject” box blank, set the “Course Number” to “greater to or equal to 100” and change the “Session:” box to “*University”. Then scroll down to the “Gen Ed Category” box and choose the category you need (e.g., HS for History Gen Eds that include HS, HSU and HSG courses or HSU for only History, diversity United States courses). Make sure you consider the credits of the course you choose, since 3 credits Gen Ed course are still offered, but will not fulfill 4 credit Gen Ed requirements. There are no 1 credit Gen Ed courses.

What are some electives offered in the Fall of 2013?

AnimlSci 290F - Fundamental Veterinary and Biomedical Laboartory Techniques

AnimlSci 298D - Dairy Calf Management I

AnimlSci 298E—Dorset Sheep Management I

AnimlSci 298M—Belted Galloway Management I

AnimlSci 298S—Boer Goat Management I

AnimlSci 298W—Poultry Management I

AnimlSci 432 - Advanced Animal Nutrition

Independent Study and Practica courses are also suggested

Can I change my schedule, even after the semester starts?    Once the registration period begins, you can change your schedule any time, from any computer with internet access, until access ends about two weeks after the beginning of the semester. Attend the lectures and keep up with the material and any assignments or quizzes during this period. If you are unable to make a desired change because a course is full, keep trying. Students are adding and dropping continually, so spaces can open up briefly at any time. Persistence often pays off.  Always add before you drop. Or better yet, use the “swap” function to replace one class with another or the “edit” function to change labs while remaining in the same lecture. The moment you drop a course, someone else can take your spot; thus, make sure you’re in the course you want before you drop anything. If you drop the lab section of a course with a lab component, you’ll automatically be dropped from the lecture, too. If the course is full, you may be unable to get back in.

How do I sign up for independent study?    Independent study projects are a great opportunity to learn scientific reasoning and techniques and to work closely with a faculty sponsor. You should start thinking about what type of research you would like to do as a freshman or sophomore, since most faculty will not take students starting independent study projects as seniors. You can discuss this with your advisor and look at faculty research interests on the VASCI and UMass websites. During the semester before that in which you want to start, email faculty members to ask if they have space available for an undergraduate and to arrange a meeting to discuss how you might fit into their research projects. To register for ANIMLSCI 196, 296, 396, or 496, obtain an Independent Study Contract form, available outside ISB 427Z.  The sponsoring faculty and the student decide the course number and number of credits that are appropriate, as well as composing a project title and description of project goals and expectations. One credit is equivalent to three hours of work per week x 13 weeks per semester so a student signing up for three credits should be working on the independent study nine hours per week (in lab or barn and reading) for the entire semester. An abstract or poster/oral presentation detailing the results of the research project is required by Science Day in May of the year in which the student is registered for the independent study project. The student makes two copies of the independent study project, gives one to the faculty sponsor and submits the original to Mary Schneider in ISB 427Z before the end of add/drop.

Can I add a class after the registration period is over?    Once the registration period ends, it’s no longer possible to change your schedule using SPIRE. You can still add courses, but you must use a “late add” form, which must be signed by the course instructor and by your academic dean (located in the Undergraduate Deans Office, 220 Morrill, 545-1969).

Can I add a course if I’ve reached my credit limit of 19 credits?    If you want to take more than 19 credits per semester, you will need to submit a credit overload petition, which you can access at

It can take up to five working days to process, so it is in your interest to start the process well before the beginning of the semester. Applications will be judged based on the total number of credits requested and the GPA of the applicant.

How can I withdraw from a course after the registration period is over?    You can withdraw from a course through the mid-semester “W” date, which is noted on the academic calendar for each semester. A “W” will show up on your transcript indicating that you were enrolled in the course after the add/drop period. You have to fill out the course change request form, have it signed by your instructor, and bring it to the Registrar’s Office by the mid-semester date.  The form does not require a dean’s signature. Just be sure you remain a full time student with at least 12 credits, so that your financial aid and housing are not affected.

I am not doing well in a class. Can I withdraw from it after the mid-semester “W” date?    You can withdraw from a class by the “W” date for academic reasons, but withdrawal from a course after the mid-semester date is possible only with verifiable and extenuating circumstances (e.g. extended illness, family emergency, work schedule change). You should discuss your situation with your academic advisor. If you decide to petition for a late withdrawal use the Late Withdrawal Petition form. Your petition will be reviewed by the CNS Advising Committee and you will be notified of the decision.

Another option if you encounter a crisis that keeps you from taking an exam or handing in an assignment at the end of a course if to ask the professor if you can take an Incomplete (INC). Be prepared to present documentation to the professor to verify your statements. An INC on your transcript will be counted as an F in your GPA. The work necessary to change an INC to a grade must be completed by the end of the next semester; otherwise, an INC will automatically convert to an F.

How does the pass/fail option work?    The pass/fail option is designed to let you take challenging courses without worrying about their impact on your GPA. However, you can’t take a course required for your major or a general education course pass/fail. Only one elective course per semester can be taken pass/fail—if two or more pass/fail options are taken in one semester, SPIRE will convert one of them back to a letter grade basis without informing you. You must choose the pass/fail option by the mid-semester “W” date. The professor will still assign you a grade. If you get a good grade in the course that will improve your GPA; the grade will appear on your transcript. If the grade does not increase your GPA, it will not be used in computing your GPA and a P or F will appear on your transcript.

How do I change my major?
Change of major forms are available from the rack outside ISB 427Z or from the Registrar’s office.
If you would like to:
1.  change from Animal Science to Pre-Vet - complete the PreVet GPA form and bring it to Mary Schneider, ISB 427Z. 
2.  change from Pre-Vet to Animal Science - see Mary Schneider, ISB 427Z
3.  change from Animal Science to another major/department –
      -Complete the change of major form
      -Bring the completed change of major form to the department you are entering, your new department/major will keep the pink copy
      -Bring the signed change of major form to VASCI and ask an advisor to sign it
      -Leave the gold copy of the form with Mary Schneider, ISB 427Z
      -Bring white copy of the form to the Registrar’s office
      -You keep the yellow copy
4.  change from another major/department into Animal Science
     -Complete the change of major form
     -Bring the completed change of major form to VASCI, Mary Schneider, ISB 427Z.
     -VASCI will keep the pink copy
     -Bring the signed change of major form to the department you are leaving and ask an advisor to sign it
     -Leave the gold copy of the form with the department you are leaving
     -Bring white copy of the form to the Registrar’s office
     -You keep the yellow copy

What happens if my GPA goes below a 2.0?    To be in academic good standing you must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0. If you go below a 2.0 you will be placed on academic probation and will need to see the Academic Dean in 220 Morrill II Science Center and your academic advisor to develop a strategy to improve your academic performance. If in any subsequent semester, your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, you will be suspended for a semester but then allowed to return to the University. If your GPA is below a 2.0 for a third semester, you will be dismissed from the university.

What do I need to graduate from UMass?    You must earn 120 credits; complete your general education, college and major requirements, earn a 2.0 GPA in your major and a 2.0 GPA for all your courses. These requirements can be tracked in your Academic Requirements Report (left side of SPIRE student center). Click “Expand all” at the top to see all of the details.

Can I take a course at another school and have it count towards my graduation requirements?    Yes, but you must first complete a Prior Approval for Transfer Work or Prior Approval for Senior Year in Absentia form. If you wish the course you are taking to fulfill a university requirement or a major requirement taught by another department, you should submit the form to the Registrar’s Office in Whitmore. In many cases, the course will have been previously approved as the equivalent of an UMass Amherst course. If it has not been previously approved, you will have to submit documentation such as a course description or syllabus. In some cases, the course will not be judged to be the equivalent of an UMass Amherst course, but the credits will transfer in as a generic transfer course. If your advisor approves, generic transfer courses can be directed to substitute for a major requirement, either before or after they are transferred to UMass Amherst. You must earn a “C-” or above for a course to be transferred – remember your grade will not be factored into your GPA nor will a transferred course grade replace a grade of C- or below in a UMass Amherst course.

Should I repeat a course?    If you are planning to apply to veterinary medical college and you have a grade of C or C+ in a freshman or sophomore class, unless the vet school to which you plan to apply has a requirement for a minimum grade in all prerequisite classes, it is better to focus on getting high grades in upper level classes rather than retaking earlier classes.

You can repeat a course to replace a grade of C- or below once.  However, if you wish to retake it another time, even if the grade is a C- or below, you must request permission from the academic dean. It is now likely that permission to take a course a third time will be denied. If you have failed a course required for graduation or can’t progress in a Biology or Chemistry series because you don’t have the minimum grade required, then you should change your major.

Where do I go for help in writing my resume or getting ready for an interview?

Mary Ellen Liseno (meliseno [at] acad [dot] umass [dot] edu) specializes in working with CNS majors at UMass Career Services. Her office is in 512 Goodell; 545-2224.  You can also access and search resume or interviews.

How can I appeal a suspension or a dismissal?    If you have been suspended or dismissed from the university, you may appeal your case to the Committee on Admissions and Records. Appeals are accepted in writing only and must go through a CNS Academic Dean first. Download this pdf for more information.

Can my advisor talk with my parents or others about my academic record?    Because of federal privacy laws, advisors can only speak to students about academic records. If you would like your parents (or other individuals you designate) to have access to your academic record, then you must complete the academic information release form. This form is linked below. The signed academic information release form must be on file with your advisor before we can speak to anyone other than the student about academic information.

How do I study abroad?

National Student Exchange for UMass Students – The on-campus UMass-Amherst Domestic Exchange is part of the National Student Exchange of about 160 colleges across the United States.  With the assistance of your academic advisor, courses can be selected to meet Veterinary & Animal Sciences and University requirements so that you graduate with your class.  You may also find courses not offered in UMass-Amherst that would enhance your educational experience.  Students normally select an exchange for their junior year.  Applicants must be in good standing (GPA of 2.5) and make application for an exchange through the UMass-Amherst Domestic Exchange Office, 614 Goodell (413-545-5351) in the year prior to the exchange.  Exchanges can be for one or two semesters at the same or different schools.  The National Student Exchange web site is  Prior approval is required for students wishing to take credits at another institution and transfer them to UMass to meet degree requirements. The Prior Approval for Transfer Course Work Form is found at

International Student Exchange for UMass students – International exchange programs through UMass-Amherst can be arranged throughout the world.  Exchanges involve over 80 college programs in 25 countries.  International exchanges most often occur in the junior year.  A grade point average of 3.0 and foreign language proficiency (in non-English speaking countries) is desired.  Most courses taken (but not the grades) are transferable to our program and count towards residency credit requirements.  Apply at the W.S. Clark International Center, Hills South, 4th floor (413-545-2710) and see  Prior approval is required for students wishing to take credits at another institution and transfer them to UMass to meet degree requirements. The Prior Approval for Transfer Course Work Form is found at