University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Incoming Graduate Students

General Information For All Incoming Students

University of MN Campus: The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus is actually two campuses, one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. There are campus buses that will take you from one campus to another (see below under Transportation/Buses). The Minneapolis campus is further divided into an East Bank and a West Bank by the Mississippi River. Cross between banks on the upper level (the walking bridge) of Washington Ave or again, take the campus connector bus.

The Chemistry Department is located in both Smith and Kolthoff Halls. These buildings are connected via skyways and tunnels on all but the first level. Also, much of the building is underground: in Smith, you have the basement (B) and the sub-basement (SB) levels; in Kolthoff, there are the plaza (P), street (S), and basement levels.

Housing: To find a new place to live, The University Housing Office in Comstock Hall (next to Coffman Union, to the West, 4-4476) ( has apartment listings. Both daily newspapers [Star Tribune ( and Pioneer Press (] have good housing search options on their web sites. Places with off-street parking are important during snow emergencies. There are Tenants Unions in Mpls and St. Paul and the University Student Legal Services to help resolve disputes with landlords.

Phones: University info: 612-625-5000 from off-campus; “0” from any campus phone. University extensions are accessible by the last 5 numbers. Dial 8 to get an outside line. Long-distance calls require a UPAC number. Minneapolis and the U (both campuses) have a 612 area code; St. Paul is 651. You must dial all 10 digits to call between area codes. Do not dial a “one.”

Orientation: All new students are expected to complete a two week orientation program before the start of the new semester. The orientation, during the last two weeks of August, includes getting to know the people that you need to know in the department, proficiency exams, meeting with a Three Member Advising Committee to help you design a course of study that suits you and teacher training, etc. It is capped off with a party to which the entire department is invited to welcome you to our department! Check out the orientation schedule here.

Registration: You will register for courses after your meeting with your Three-Member Advising Committee (TMC) during orientation. Before your TMC meeting, you should look at the Chemistry courses at: to determine which courses you think you would like to take.

Teaching and Research Appointments:

Teaching Assistants (TAs) in Chemistry primarily are positions for graduate students to teach. Expectations of what is required of TAs depend upon the class involved. According to University guidelines, TAs work no more than 20 hours per week: this includes both classroom and preparation time. First year graduate students are typically Teaching Assistants, and virtually all first year Chemistry graduate students teach in the general or organic chemistry program. Don't worry about your teaching duties. During Chemistry Orientation, you will be involved in an extensive TA Training Program that will properly prepare you for teaching your classes, followed by weekly meetings with class coordinators to help you keep up.

Research Assistants (RAs) work with their professor primarily with lab research. Their pay may be less than that of TAs. For a standard 50% Chemistry RA, full tuition, health insurance and the University Fee are provided in addition to salary. There are other fees, which are the responsibility of the student. RAs are usually funded by outside grants in specific, topic-related research they themselves may be pursuing with their advisor.

Pay Schedules: How much and when will I get paid? For 2013-2014 academic year (Fall and Spring), full TA’s in the Department of Chemistry earn $18,431. Research RAs normally receive a departmental average of $17,612 for the academic year; however this can vary by research group. Always read your award letters carefully. Summer earnings can vary depending on the mix of RA and TA positions. All figures are gross earnings. Pay periods are two weeks and paychecks are available every other Wednesday. Paychecks come 10 days after the end of a pay period. Pay date information can be found at Direct deposit can be requested online at Direct deposit pay stubs can be viewed and printed out at this same address.

There are no breaks in pay between Fall and Spring semesters. Depending on your summer appointment, however, you may have a break between the end of Spring semester and beginning of summer, as well as between the end of summer and beginning of Fall. You will receive the full amount of your offer letter by the end of summer 2014.

Foreign Nationals: The first place you need to go is ISSS. Next visit the chemistry accounting office. From there you will need to take your visa and passport to the central payroll office. From there, you will be sent to the Social Security Administration to apply for the social security card. After you apply for the card, you will be given a receipt. This receipt must be faxed to central payroll, or you may bring it to the chemistry accounting office.

Tuition: If you are a full-time student with a 50%-time TA/RA or Fellowship appointment you will receive a full tuition scholarship. Those students on a 25% appointment will receive a 50% tuition scholarship.

Fees: All students pay various student service fees, computer fees, a university infrastructure fee and sometime a course will require a special fee. Student Fees are ~$675.00-$770.00 per semester. You will also be responsible for buying your own textbooks.

Fee Statements: Tuition Bills will be sent to you via your University email accounts only. This is the only way that you will be contacted regarding your fee statement.

U Cards: G22 Coffman Memorial Union, 612-626-9900, A photo ID must be presented. Digital photos are taken as part of the card issuance process. Replacement cards (lost, stolen or damaged) cost $25. Get UCards ASAP, as it is used for access to Smith Hall.

International Students without Social Security Numbers: See the Accounting Office (141 Smith Hall) for instructions on obtaining a Social Security Number. You must have a Social Security Number in order to be paid.

Keys: You will be issued keys for lab. These keys may be picked up in 139 Smith Hall. You will need to pay a $2.00 deposit for each key issued; this fee is refunded when they are returned.

Mailboxes: You will be assigned a mailbox, where you can receive regular mail, departmental announcements, etc. Please note that you will most likely be sharing this mailbox with one or two people; whenever there are announcements without specific names on them, please take one.

E-Mail Accounts: To activate your UMN central email account visit and follow the directions after clicking on the Initialize my e-mail account option. To activate your account you will need your social security number and UMN ID number. Once your account is activated you may check your email by selecting the WebMail Pro: IMAP based webmail option at It is important that you know that you are responsible for all of the information sent to you at all of your UMN account. All departmental information will be sent to you via your central UMN account.

Health Insurance: Please contact the Graduate Assistants Insurance Office (GAIO) if you any questions regarding your health coverage. All student will be charged a $96.90 fee for health insurance coverage each semester. See for more information.

Taxes: If you rent and your income is less than $35K/yr., you can obtain a form (either in the MN State tax booklet, or from the post office) to file for a property tax refund. Your landlord must give you a Certificate of Rent Paid by Jan. 31 in order for you to file, and refunds will come around August 15. You are also eligible if you are a homeowner with an annual income of less than $60K.
MN state sales tax is 6.5%. There is no sales tax on clothing, food, prescription drugs, and textbooks.

For Other Information:

Main Web Page for all UMN Information:
Questions - - Who do I Ask/Where do I go?? (info. can be found at Frequently Asked Questions)
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