Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change my schedule once the semester starts?

Yes, you can change your schedule during the add/drop period. Be sure to go onto SPIRE on the last day of add/drop to check your schedule to be sure it is correct.

How can I withdraw from a course?

You can withdraw from a course through the mid-semester date.  A "W" will show up on your transcript indicating that you were enrolled in the course after the add/drop period. You just 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--carrying 12 credits.

I am not doing well in a class. Can I withdraw from it after the mid-semester date?

The only way you can withdraw from a course after the mid-semester date is if you have verifiable and extenuating circumstances. You should discuss your situation with your academic advisor. If you decide to petition for a late withdrawal use the Late Withdrawal Petition. Your petition will be reviewed by the CNS Advising Committee and you will be notified of the decision.

Can I take a required course for my major or a general education course pass/fail?

No, you can only take elective courses pass/fail. You must choose this option by the mid-semester date (same date as the last day to withdraw from a class). The faculty member does not know if you have chosen the pass/fail option. Remember...if you get a good grade in the course and it helps your GPA, the grade will appear on your transcript. However, if you earn an F in a P/F course, this F will be used in calculating your GPA

What happens if my GPA goes below a 2.0?

To be in academic good standing you must maintain a 2.0 GPA. 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 you again earn below a 2.0 GPA, 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.

I have taken a course two times and earned a grade of C- or below both times. Can I take a course for a third time and how can I do this?

In terms of course repeats, a W (withdrawal) does not count as a grade. A course may be repeated a second time, for a total of three times, only with prior permission of the undergraduate dean of the school or college in which the student is enrolled. Taking a course for a third time is often an indication that the major you are pursuing is not a good fit for you. Receiving permission to take a course for a third time is rare. In order to request permission to take a course for a third time, you must submit a Course Repeat Petition - Three Peat form

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 minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

How do I find out more about the General Education Requirement?

This list of General Education Requirements defines the requirements and indicates the courses that you can take to fulfill the requirement.

How do I get on the Dean's List?

You must earn a 3.5 GPA and be a full time student.

How many credits can I take in a semester?

To be a full time student you must be enrolled in 12 credits in a semester. Most students take 15-16 credits a semester. CNS allows students to register for 19 credits in the fall and spring semester. It is possible to request to take more than 19 credits, but students must submit a Credit Overload Petition. Requests will be reviewed and IF approved, students can register for additional credits at the beginning of the semester.

I was not able to complete a final assignment in a class—what should I do?

Speak to your instructor immediately! It is possible to take an 'incomplete' in the course which will allow you to make up the work during the following semester. You must complete an Incomplete Grade Form - you can get this from your instructor or from the Academic Dean in 220 Morrill II. Remember, an incomplete counts as an "F" until you complete the work and a grade is submitted. You only have one semester to complete the work or the "INC" becomes an "F".

Can I take a course at another school and have the credit transferred to UMass?

Yes, but you must complete a Prior Approval Form which must be signed by your academic advisor. If the course you are taking fulfills a general education requirement, you need to get a signature from an admissions evaluator. The form must be submitted to the Registrar's Office in 209 Whitmore. When you have completed the course(s), forward an official transcript to the Registrar's Office. You must earn a "C-" or above for a course to be transferred – remember your grade will not be factored into your GPA.

How can I be sure my schedule is correct?

You should be sure to log onto the SPIRE system to check your schedule. You want to be sure that your schedule is all set by the last day of add/drop.

I am not getting mail from the University—what should I do?

You need to be sure that the University has your correct address. You can update your address by going onto the SPIRE system and make the necessary corrections.

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.

How do I know who my academic advisor is in my major?

Contact the chief undergraduate advisor in your department to find out who is your assigned faculty advisor. Be sure to visit your faculty advisor often, especially during counseling period.

How can I find out about scholarships offered by the college?

CNS and individual departments offer a variety of scholarships. For more information and an online application form, see the CNS Scholarship Program page.

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.

How can I declare a CNS major?

All of the majors within the College of Natural Sciences are open majors and a student may declare the major at any time. For more information, go to How to declare a CNS major.