The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Advising FAQs

Contact the Office of Student Affairs (413) 545-2035 or stop by 126 Marston Hall for all your undergraduate advising questions. The office is open M-F 8:30AM - 5:00PM.

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Engineering Resources and Opportunities


Who is my "Academic Dean"?

For engineering majors and PR-ENGIN majors, your academic dean is Jim Rinderle. To make an appointment to see him, please go to the Office of Student Affairs in Marston Hall, Room 126 or call 413-545-2035.


Who is my Advisor?

To find out who your advisor is, check on SPIRE or come into the Office of Student Affairs, located in 126 Marston Hall.


Who is the Chief Undergraduate Advisor/Undergraduate Program Director in my department?

The names of the Chief Undergraduate Advisors/Undergraduate Program Directors are as follows:

Chemical Engineering: Wei Fan,
Civil & Environmental Engineering: Sergio Brena,
Electrical & Computer Engineering: Bill Leonard,
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering: Bernd F. Schleimann,

You may also call the department directly:

Chemical Engineering: (413) 545-2507
Civil & Environmental Engineering: (413) 545-2508
Electrical & Computer Engineering: (413) 545-0962
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering: (413) 545-2505

For questions about Biomedical Engineering courses, contact Natalia Kolk,


How do I withdraw from a course?

During the first five days of fall and spring semesters, students can add or drop courses in SPIRE with no record. Between the end of add/drop and the mid-semester deadline (viewable at the Registrar website) students can use SPIRE to withdraw from a course (with a W on their transcript). To do so, log into SPIRE and at the top of the page select Main Menu > Enrollment > Drop Classes - W/DR grade.

After the mid-semester date, students must submit a Late Withdrawal Petition in order to appeal to withdraw from a course. There must be extenuating circumstances to justify your request, e.g. severe illness, family emergency, etc. Students must provide verification of circumstances. Poor performance in a course is NOT a reason to request a late withdrawal.

The COE Academic Dean's Advisory Committee will review all requests for late withdrawals and will notify the student of the final decision via UMass email. The committee meets once a week during Fall and Spring semesters, and on an as-needed basis in the Summer, to review requests. We make every effort to respond within 2 business days. Students must continue to attend class and complete all coursework until notified if a late withdrawal was approved. Filing a late withdrawal petition does NOT mean you are withdrawn from a class.

PLEASE NOTE: There are several factors to keep in mind when withdrawing from a course that will bring your enrollment total below a full-time load of 12 credits:

  • If you are an International Student you must check with the International Programs Office as this may affect your visa status.
  • If you are currently under your parents' health coverage, you may become ineligible. Most health insurance carriers require these students to remain full time in order to continue benefits.
  • If you are receiving financial aid and you change your status, your aid may be reduced. Please check with the Office of Financial Aid.


How many credits can I take in a semester?

To be a full time student you must take 12 credits in a semester. Most students take 15-19 credits a semester. If you wish to take more than the maximum credit load of 19 in the fall or spring semester, more than 7 credits during one summer session, or more than one course during winter session, you must submit an Credit Overload Request. Requests will be reviewed the first day of classes for the relevant semester and IF approved, students can register for additional credits at the beginning of the semester.


Can I take a course during the summer at another school?

Yes, but you must complete a Prior Approval for Transfer Course Work, which must be signed the Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering. If the course you are taking fulfills a general education (social world elective) requirement, you should consult the general education FAQ page, and you will need Registrar’s Office (213 Whitmore) approval. 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 unless the course has a “C” or better requirement for the College of Engineering. Remember your grade will not be factored into your GPA.


Can I take a course Pass/Fail?

Engineering, Math, Science, and General Education courses cannot be taken Pass/Fail if they are to be used to fulfill university and major requirements. If you have taken a course Pass/Fail and wish to use it toward one of those requirements, follow the Registrar's instructions for revoking pass/fail via your SPIRE account.

Students may elect to take one course per semester with pass/fail grading. The change can be made in SPIRE before the mid semester deadline. See the instructions on the Registrar's website.


How can I find out about scholarships at the college?

All full-time engineering students may apply annually for engineering scholarships. Click here for the scholarship information page, the application and the deadline to apply. Entering freshmen are not eligible to apply for these scholarships.


How can I find out about advising and registration?

Visit the College registration page.


How do I get into an Engineering course if I am not an Engineering major?

Students should contact the engineering department overseeing the desired course to request an override:

  • Chemical Engineering: Tami Paluca (
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: Jodi Ozdarski (
  • Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering: Use the ECE override request form
  • Mechanical and Industrial Engineering: Dorothy Adams (
  • Biomedical Engineering: for ECE 122 please fill out the ECE override request form linked above. Comp Sci 121, the alternative course, is managed by the College of Information and Computer Science and may be available in SPIRE.


How can I find out if my schedule is correct?

Check on SPIRE. If you have questions about class selection, contact your advisor. You should follow your Department's curriculum flowchart and review your Academic Requirements Report to ensure you are taking all required courses.


How do I change my major to Engineering?

See Admission to the Major for details on changing your major to Engineering.


How do I change out of Engineering to another major on campus?

Students who wish to change their major should consult with the department they wish to join regarding major-specific requirements and processes. The department you wish to join is responsible for processing the change of major request. To see a summary of departmental/college majors and processes, please visit the UMass Majors Guide.


Is it possible to switch majors within the College of Engineering?

Before changing your track or Engineering major within the College, it is best to talk with your advisor or the department you wish to join regarding how classes you have already taken will count toward their requirements. If you decide to change Engineering tracks/majors, you should fill out this form.


Where do I go for academic support and tutoring?

Engineering and University-wide tutoring and academic support resources are available. Detailed lists can be found on the College tutoring page and the UMass Academic Resources page.


I am struggling financially. Is there anyone who can help?

A list of offices and tools to assist those struggling financially is available here.


I feel lost and need support. Where do I go?

The Engineering Office of Student Affairs is a wonderful resource for anyone in need of help. We are here for you! Depending on your needs, we might refer you to one of the many offices and departments providing support to UMass students.


How do I access the College of Engineering Computer Labs?

The computer labs use your OIT NetID and password. See Engineering Computer Services for more info »


Who can help me write my resume?

The College of Engineering has a Career and Student Development Center to help you with your resume. Visit their page or 114 Marston Hall for office hours and to make an appointment. This center also provides information on career fairs, co-op positions, career planning, and placement.


I am interested in studying abroad, where do I start?

See our page on Study Abroad for Engineers