RAP Frequently Asked Questions

For Fall 2014:

  1. Will my roommate be another student in the same RAP?
  2. Can a transfer student join a RAP?

 You may also create your own question.


1. What is a RAP?

A RAP is a community of students with similar academic interests or majors who in their freshman year:

  • Live together in a residence hall all year
  • Have one or more classes in common
      • always in the fall
      • sometimes in the spring
      • often taught in the residential area

2. How does participation in a RAP ease transition to college?

        Joining a RAP enables students to:

  • Be part of a small community on a large campus
  • Live and study with a group of students who have a common  major or interest
  • Develop relationships with faculty and instructors
  • Connect easily with classmates for study groups and class projects
  • Receive support and assistance with academic decisions

3. What are the benefits of joining a RAP?

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: 

  • Ease of Registration:  Start the registration process for your first semester in college with a few built-in classes! Since each RAP includes specific courses, by joining a RAP you are guaranteed enrollment in between 4-10 credits. During Summer NSO, you will meet with your Academic Advisor - after enrolling in your RAP classes, your Academic Advisor will help you to choose the additional classes on Main Campus which will complete your course load (full load is 12-15 credits). 
  • 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, getting the homework assignment if they forgot it and getting clarification about information that was presented in class.
  • Additional Academic Opportunities:  You can choose a RAP that offers added features, such as faculty teaching RAP classes, a RAP seminar or help finding a major.

4. What is a RAP seminar?

A RAP seminar is a one-credit (usually pass/fail) class that is designed specifically for the students in a particular RAP. In the RAP seminar students discuss the topic of the RAP together and explore ideas and opportunities relevant to the specific RAP.

Many RAP seminars:

  • Are taught by faculty or have faculty come as guest speakers
  • Include introductions to academic departments
  • Provide opportunities to participate in special projects
  • Include transition to college and college success activities
  • Have advising components built in

5. Which RAPs include RAP seminars?

For Fall 2014 the following RAPs have required seminars:

  • Animal Science Majors RAP
  • BioTAP
  • Careers in Education RAP
  • Careers in Law RAP
  • Communication Majors RAP (spring semester)
  • Computer Science Majors RAP
  • Connecting Science & Society RAPs
  • Connecting Self & Society RAP
  • Cultural Explorations RAPs 
  • Emerging Scholars RAP
  • Exploring the Arts RAPs
  • IMPACT Service Learning RAP
  • ISOM Fellows RAPs
  • Focus Connections RAPs
  • Focus Enterprise RAP
  • Focus STEM RAP 
  • Global Opportunities RAP
  • Literary Studies RAP
  • Nursing Majors RAPs
  • Partners in Education RAP
  • Performing & Visual Arts Majors RAP
  • Politics Today RAPs
  • Scientific Connections RAP
  • Social Justice & Activism RAP
  • Sustainability RAP 
  • Many Honors RAPs

 6. Which RAPs have faculty as instructors?

The following RAPs have faculty teaching one of the classes or as leaders of the seminar:

  • BioTAP  
  • Careers in Law RAP
  • Connecting Science & Society RAP (2 of 3)
  • Computer Science Majors RAP
  • IMPACT Service Learning RAP
  • Nursing Majors RAP
  • Scientific Connections RAP


7. Which RAP can I join?

Most RAPs are open to any 1st-year student.  Some RAPs are restricted to students who are admitted to UMass Amherst in specific majors, or as undeclared students.  Additional RAPs are available to Honors students and to certain students based on an invitation or application process.  

8. Am I required to join a RAP? 

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 or post questions on the Class of 2018 Facebook Page.

9. Can I join more than one 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.  If you are attracted to more than one program, carefully review all elements of the packages to determine which RAP is the best fit for you. 

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.

10. Why are there so many choices? 

RAP recognizes that UMass Amherst students come from diverse backgrounds and with a wide range of interests.  We offer a variety of options so that students have opportunities to choose a program that best fits with their academic interests, lifestyle goals, and on-campus living preferences. 

When considering which RAP is the best match for you read the descriptions of the different RAPs to get a sense of what is offered.  Think about your own interests and goals e.g.:

  • What did you enjoy studying in high school? 
  • What types of majors are you interested in learning more about? 
  • What is important to you, what are you passionate about, what interests you?
  • Look carefully at the additional features that accompany different RAPs.  For example,
      • Do you like the idea of a first-year seminar and the opportunity to work closely faculty or with an academic advisor?

      • Do you want to connect with a group of students around a common interest or are you just interested in having a class with students who live in your residence hall?

  • Once you have selected a RAP that interests you, check out where the RAPs are located, as many of the programs are offered in more than one residential area, presenting you with several options about where to live. 

11. Where are RAPs located?

RAPs are available in four of the residential areas on campus-Central, Northeast, Orchard Hill, and Southwest.  Most are located in Residential First-Year Experience halls. Honors RAPs are located in the new 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.

12. Why are Focus RAPs the best choice for students who enter the university without a declared major?

There are a number of reasons that we suggest undeclared students look closely at the Focus Enterprise, Focus STEM and Focus Connections RAPs:

  • Focus RAPs have the special feature of the OASIS First-Year Seminar taught by the advisors in Undergraduate Advising.
  • Students in OASIS work closely with an academic advisor to explore how their personality, interests, and abilities match with possible majors and careers.
  • Students learn to improve academic success strategies (i.e. study skills and time management) and navigate the people and offices on the UMass Amherst  campus.
  • Students have an opportunity to connect with other students who are exploring majors, small group activities enable students to learn from and assist each other.

13. Will my roommate be another student in the same RAP?

Yes, students enrolled in the following RAPs are required to be roommates with others in their program:

  • All Honors RAPs
  • All Isenberg School of Management Fellows RAPs
  • Animal Science Majors RAP
  • Computer Science Majors RAP
  • Emerging Scholars RAP
  • Engineering Majors RAPs
  • Global Opportunities RAP
  • IMPACT! Service Learning RAP 
  • Nursing Majors RAPs
  • Performing & Visual Arts Majors RAP
  •  PiE RAP

MAYBE, students who join the following RAPs may request to room with another student in the same RAP or a student in a different RAP in the same residence hall, or a student not joining a RAP. If the student does not request a roommate he/she will likely be assigned a roommate from the same RAP. 

Please know that although you are not required to room with another student in your RAP, the rooms for RAP students are clustered together in the residence halls. If you request and are assigned a room with a student from a different RAP, or a student who has not joined a RAP, you may not live on the corridor with the other students in your RAP.

  • Careers in Education RAP
  • Careers in Law RAP
  • Communication Majors RAP
  • Connecting Science & Society RAPs
  • Connecting Self & Society RAP
  • Cultural Explorations RAPs
  • Exploring the Arts RAP
  • Focus Connections RAPs
  • Focus Enterprise RAP
  • Focus STEM RAP
  • Foundation RAPs
  • Foundations:Sciences RAPs
  • Literary Studies RAP
  • Politics Today RAPs
  • Scientific Connections RAP
  • Social Justice & Activism RAP
  • Sustainability RAP

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

14. How many students participate in RAPs?

Approximately 45% of incoming students will join a RAP for Fall 2014. 

15. How many students are in each RAP?

RAPs vary in size.  Some RAPs have as few as 20 students, whereas others can accommodate up to 90 students.  The majority of RAPs are for 30 students. Most RAP classes have a capacity of 30 students or fewer.

16. Will I meet other students outside of my RAP?

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!

17. Will all of my classes be in the residence hall where I am living?

NO.  Please refer to the details of the specific programs to determine where your RAP classes will meet. 

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.  Some classes may meet on the main campus.

Also, the courses you enroll in as part of your RAP only fulfill a portion of your required credits for the semester.  During New Students Orientation in the summer, you will be working with an Academic Advisor who will help you enroll in additional main campus courses.  

All students must enroll in a minimum of 12 credits - most RAPs provide between 4-7 credits.

18. Can I join a RAP in the spring semester?

NO. You can only join a RAP in the fall semester of your freshman year. You continue to live in the same room for the entire academic year.

19. How can I join a RAP? Do I have to wait until summer orientation (NSO)?

NO. In fact, you can hold a spot in a RAP as early as May 18, 2014. Please carefully read the section on How to Join a RAP for procedures and deadlines.  A few RAPs have an application process with a different timeline - be sure to refer to the program page for details.

20. Can a transfer student join a RAP?

NO. Only first-semester freshman can join a RAP.

Create you own question

If you have a question we did not answer, please contact our program offices.

Pamela R. Marsh-Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost & Dean

This website is part of Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities. We provide undergraduate students a variety of opportunities and services designed to facilitate the best academic experience possible. 609 Goodell Building, UMass Amherst.

UA&LC Units: Undergraduate Advising, Residential Academic Programs, Domestic Exchange Programs, Five College Interchange