Please review the following commonly asked questions when you are organizing your classes and before your advising appointments:

Joining BCT:

BCT Major Requirements:

  • Which courses are currently required for the BCT major? We keep an updated list here. Please note that we sometimes drop courses that are not offered anymore but may still appear on your Spire account as required classes.
  • Which writing courses do I need to take? You need to take college writing (ENGLWRIT 112) and Junior Year Writing (NATSCI 397A). For college writing, a placement exam or ENGLWRIT 111 may be required. Junior Year Writing cannot be substituted with any other course or waived.
  • Do I have to take a 300-level course in my Junior year? Course numbering in BCT is not as strict as you may know from other programs. While the number roughly means that this course should at the earliest be taken in your Junior year, you are actually free to take it whenever you like. We organized our courses this way realizing that students often transfer into our program.
  • How can I get rid of the advisor hold on my record? This hold is there to make sure you meet with your advisor once a semester to check on your progress. Just sign up for an advising appointment during advising week. This is typically the week before the first students can register for classes.
  • What happens when I re-take a course? You cannot re-take a course where you received a C or better. All others can be repeated max. twice. All enrollments and grades will appear on your transcript but only the last grade will go into your GPA. Please note: Therefore, repeating a course can have negative consequences.
  • Can I take courses as pass/fail? You can take one course per semester as pass/fail. Gen-Ed courses, required writing courses and BCT major requirements cannot be taken as pass/fail.
  • Can I drop a course after the “last day to drop with W” day? All adds and late withdrawals at that point require a Dean’s signature. Late withdrawals are based on extenuating and documented circumstances; poor performance does not constitute an extenuating circumstance.
  • Can I only take BCT 494BI to fulfill the Integrative Experience (IE) requirement? Although we prefer you take the BCT-specific capstone course BCT 494BI, with approval of your advisor you can take any other, approved IE course instead. Some examples are: NRC 490S, NRC 494ED, or ENVSCI 445.
  • How many credits have I taken? You can always check your Academic Requirement Report (ARR) on Spire but only the official transcript will have the accurate credit count.
  • What is meant by the 60-credit CNS requirement? All courses from CNS majors count toward the 60 science credit count plus those courses from non-CNS majors with a Gen-Ed designation of BS, PS or R2, as well as a few others. There is a list of non-CNS courses that count toward the requirement on the CNS web site.
  • When do I get to register for courses during the registration period? The university bases registration priority on your academic level, which in turn is based on your credits. The following list breaks this down and shows you who gets to register in which order. The actual registration dates vary by semester, however, and you can find your “registration appointment” date in your SPIRE account.
    1. Seniors (87 credits and above)
    2. Juniors (57 – 86 credits)
    3. Sophomores (27 – 56 credits)
    4. Freshmen (26 credits and below)

Course Enrollment:

  • How Does SPIRE Work? OIT has put together a great video (included above) on how you can enroll in classes on SPIRE. More OIT videos are here.
  • What should I do if I can’t get into a BCT class? This sometimes happens – especially for freshmen or sophomores. As juniors and seniors, you will have an earlier enrollment appointment and it will get easier to get into classes (this is based on your number of credits). There is no need to panic – check with your advisor when you can and should take a specific class. Every BCT major is typically able to take all required classes in the 4-year time frame. If you are a senior, also check with the course instructor and ask them to override you into the class.
  • What happens if I get onto a course’s waitlist? When a course is full, try to get onto its waitlist (you might have to uncheck the “open classes only” search box on Spire when you are searching for the class). Up to the first day of classes, you will then advance into the course once a spot opens up. Important: Once classes start, the waitlist will NOT auto-enroll you into the course anymore. Therefore keep looking for open spots and register yourself. Many students drop classes during the first week of classes.
  • How can I get an override form? The link to the form is on this page. Fill it out and bring it to an instructor (any faculty member). Please remember that it is left to the instructor’s discretion if he/she will give you an override.
  • Can I take more than 19 credits a semester? Yes, but you will have to appeal for a credit overload here.
  • How do I sign up for an independent study or practicum? The link to the form is on this page. Talk to the instructor who you want to do this with and get their okay before filling out the form.

Minors, Double-Majors and Honors College:

  • Which minors work well with BCT? The ECON , RES-ECON and IT minors have a good number of overlapping courses. You can find the links here. There are many other minors at UMass, though. A list is here.
  • How do I sign up for a minor? Check out the minor’s description. You typically have to do the required courses (15-18 credits) and afterwards get someone in the offering department to sign off on your completion. Prior authorization is typically not required (unless it is necessary to take certain courses).
  • What are the requirements if I want to double-major? You can specify a second major using the Change of Majors form, which you can get from the main ECO office. Double majors are required to identify one major as primary, making the other one secondary. You still have to satisfy the requirements of both majors, but the choice of primary major determines in what department or college you will fulfill some of those requirements. For example, you may have to complete the university-wide Junior Year Writing requirement in your primary major. Double-majors must be completed in ten semesters.
  • What is the Commonwealth Honors College all about? As a current UMass Amherst student you are eligible to join the honors college if you have completed at least one full semester at UMass and earned a 3.4 or higher GPA. You can then choose between two study options that consist of honors coursework and/or an honors thesis. You can learn more about this opportunity here.

Internships / Jobs:

  • Where can I find internships and jobs? Make sure you are on the BCT email listserv. Whenever we get a job announcement, we immediately send it out through those channels. All of the posted jobs can be reviewed anytime on the BCT Jobs Board. There are also some general links and tips on our Careers/Employers page.
  • How can I do an internship and get credit for it? Check out this Career Services page. If you want to get credit for your internship, contact your BCT advisor and set this up with them.
  • Who can help me with jobs or career questions? Career Services at UMass is a great resource. Alternatively, feel free to meet with the CNS Career Services person, Nessim Watson. You can make an appointment here.

Studying Elsewhere and Abroad:

  • Can I take courses at the Five Colleges? Yes, UMass Amherst full and part-time students who meet some minimum criteria are eligible to enroll in Five College classes. Find out more here.
  • How can I spend a semester abroad? It is a great idea to do this and will provide you with tremendous experience for your personal life and career. Check out our study abroad page or the International Programs Office site to learn more.

Still Having Questions?

  • 2014-01-29_11-37-59Who is my academic advisor? You can find your academic advisor’s name on Spire on the Student Center page (at the bottom right-corner of the page). If no name is mentioned there, then you need to contact the BCT Program Director or the BCT Chief Undergraduate Advisor.
  • Check out the CNS College’s FAQ page or browse their webpage.
  • Who do I contact if I need to talk to the Academic Dean? Associate Dean Martha Baker or Associate Dean Jack Wileden will be happy to help you. You can find them at 220 Morrill II Science Center. Make an appointment online or call them: 545-1969
  • Is there more specific guidance for all of this? Yes, there is the official Academic Regulations handbook. You can also always check with your advisor or the Registrar’s office.
  • How come I keep missing official emails? Official emails are sent only to your account. Either check UMail regularly or set up email forwarding to your regular address (e.g. GMail) in the UMail Post Office.

PLEASE NOTE: While we took care to assemble this list, please be aware that official university and program regulations always have precendence over what has been presented here.

There’s more!

Check out these recent blog posts by the UMass Advising folks:

    And good luck with Finals!
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