Graduate Student Survival Guide

Checklist for New Students


myWSU (accessed from the WSU Vancouver homepage) is your portal to most student account services. Log in to register for classes, set up your email account, check finances, add money to your Cougar Card, check student aid status, academic records, schedules, and WSU announcements. Also, check out the Tech Store page for free software downloads and discounts on Apple products and Sprint/AT&T services.

Activate your Outlook Live email account

Get your network ID at (Choose Create your Student Network ID). Once you have a network ID, you will receive an email notification regarding the creation of your WSU student email account. This notification should arrive within two business days and will contain your new email address and provide instructions for activating your WSU student email account.

Get your CougarCard

This is your official student I.D., and it will allow you to check out library books. If you deposit money to it, you are able to use it like a debit card to make Cougar Cash purchases on campus such as printing in the library, food in the cafeteria tax-free and items from the bookstore. Visit the Student Services Center (VSSC) to have your photo taken and get your card. Use the CougarCard Activity Quick Link at myWSU to manage your CougarCard.

Health care

Please see Health and Wellness Services in this manual.

Take the online mandatory ethical research training

This online training takes about 30 minutes. Each section is comprised of a reading and certification of your understanding. All graduate students are REQUIRED to do this (especially if you are on an assistantship and want to get paid, or if you want your program of study processed). Visit

Set up direct deposit

The fastest and safest way for WSU to deliver funds is for us to send it directly to your personal checking account. This allows any financial aid refunds you are awarded to be electronically deposited into your student account and will save you from waiting in long lines. If you work for the University, you may also have your paycheck directly deposited into your bank account. Visit Campus Finances/Payroll section(s) on myWSU to enroll.

Stay informed at WSU

Check out the WSU Vancouver Events Calendar.

WSU Vancouver Graduate Student Association communicates via a listserv and a Facebook group.

  • Listserv: Follow the instructions and enter the requested data fields.
  • Facebook: Having logged into Facebook, search for WSUV Graduate Student Organization.

Find your way around campus

View the WSU Vancouver campus map.

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Employment related checklist

The following information is for students newly employed by the University. In order to get paid, be sure to contact the financial officer in your hiring department to complete all the necessary paperwork. You will need the following forms:

  • I-9
  • W-4
  • Driver’s License or current Passport (if an international student: passport showing an I-555 stamp or INS form I-94 and your I-20 or DS 2019)
  • Social Security Card. The Vancouver Social Security office is located at 805 Broadway Street; Suite 500 Vancouver, WA (800) 772-1213. They are closed Saturdays & Sundays.
  • Complete the Paycheck Direct Deposit form
  • Complete the Graduate Payroll Deduction Form to deduct residual tuition and fees from your paycheck over eight pay periods. This form is available on myWSU (Main Menu > HR, Payroll & Benefits > Payroll Information > Graduate Deduction).

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Establish Washington State Residency (for US citizens only)

Establishing Residency will save you significant money by allowing you to pay in-state instead of out-of-state tuition. Begin planning early and read about the forms you will need to document your residency. The deadline for establishing residency is the 30th day of classes of the term for which you are seeking residency. Documents must be mailed (faxed or scanned questionnaires/documentation is not accepted).

Important steps to establish your residency:

  • Change your vehicle registration to Washington State.
  • Change your driver’s license to Washington State (even if you do not drive).
  • If you do not have a driver’s license in another state, have you applied for a Washington State ID card?
  • Establish proof of independence documentation, such as income tax return or permanent full-time employment.
  • Keep copies of your lease agreement, utilities, phone bills, etc.
  • Register to vote in Washington.
  • Make sure all supporting documentation is updated to a Washington address, such as bank statements, utility bills, etc.
  • Keep your mailing address updated. Diplomas are mailed approximately 10 weeks after commencement. If you move during that time, be sure to update your new mailing address in myWSU.

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Student Services and Resources

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity Procedures: All members of the University community share responsibility for maintaining and promoting the principles of truth and academic honesty. The official policy defines academic dishonesty and procedures to follow when dishonesty occurs. See

Academic Regulations

Policy and procedure for auditing a class, cancellation of enrollment, late registration, and withdrawals may be found on the registration information web page or at 546-9565; Student Services Center (VSSC). Policies and Procedures for the Graduate School can be found at

Resources for Graduate Assistants

Research Showcase

Every spring, the Office of Research and Graduate Education, offers graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to present their research to faculty, students, and potential employers, gaining exposure, experience and monetary awards at the Research Showcase.

TA Workshop

The Office of Research and Graduate Education sponsors a teaching and learning workshop each year. This is generally done in the Fall one week prior to the first day of class and the same week as New Graduate Student Orientation. Announcements and registration are sent out via email to your WSU email account.

Department Graduate Coordinators

While the Graduate School generally supervises graduate studies, each college has unique procedures. Your department’s graduate coordinator can advise you on departmental requirements. All degree programs and links to WSU campuses may be found on the Graduate Degree Programs page. When you select a degree program, you will be taken to a profile of the program with details and contact information.

Funding Opportunities

GPSA Grants

The GPSA offers grants to assist students in presenting research.

Travel Grants

Travel Grants are intended to help students with their research and scholarly activities, and to present papers at significant meetings. For information and guidelines for applying, visit Travel Grant Funding.

External Funding

Graduate students are encouraged to seek their own funding. This can be a lucrative addition to a student’s portfolio. Our campus has a Proposal Coordinator who can assist you with your proposal preparation. Please contact Lynda Olin at 546-9204 or

Graduate School Website

All the information and forms you need to navigate your graduate degree are located on the Graduate School website.

Grievance Policy

The Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities, and the Graduate School’s Grievance Procedures, which includes the guidance for graduate students who have concerns and grievances, is available in chapter 12 of the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures Manual.

The Office of the University Ombudsman

The Office of the University Ombudsman serves as an independent, impartial official to help resolve problems that may arise in university programs, offering confidential assistance with problems or grievances that have not been resolved through normal channels; functions as a source of information and help concerning rules, regulations and procedures of the University. Visit the WSU Ombudsman.

Health and Wellness Services

Health insurance for graduate assistants is carried through UnitedHealthcare StudentResources (UHCSR) effective September 1, 2017. To determine if this coverage is available to you, visit Health Insurance. For assistance enrolling or help with the UHCSR plan, please call 800-767-0700.

If you are not eligible for UHCSR insurance through WSU, other insurance options can be found through Washington Health Plan Finder. Call (509) 335-3255 if you have any questions or need help using this service.

Local State and Community health care options (often free) can be found.

WSU Vancouver is now offering basic health services.

24 Hour Advice Nurse

An advice nurse is available in Pullman 24 hours a day to offer health and wellness services to students at all campuses. The advice nurse can be reached using any campus courtesy phone by dialing 5-3575 and

off-campus by dialing (509) 335-3575. The fee is no cost. This service is available to students at ALL campus locations.


The Health & Wellness Services pharmacy in Pullman can fill and mail maintenance medications to students who have a WSU student insurance plan (iSHIP or GSA) and bill insurance for you. Allow 10-14 business days to receive a refill. Pharmacists are also available to answer questions. For more information on payment, hours and services, visit Pharmacy or by phone at (509) 335-5742.

Counseling Services

Professional counselors are available on campus at the Classroom Building, Room 160. Counseling Services offer brief and focused individual, couples and group counseling, psychological testing, workshops and outreach presentations, and crisis and consultation services. Please call 360-546-9238 to schedule an appointment. See Counseling Services for more information. The fee is no cost.


Students have access to the vast resources in the WSU’s statewide library system. Their expanding book collection supports the WSU Vancouver curriculum. The WSU Vancouver Library’s digital collections and services are available to students in electronic format anytime. For more info, visit WSU Vancouver Library.

Interlibrary Loans

Interlibrary Loans (ILL) is a service to request materials not found in WSU or Summit libraries from other national and international libraries. This service is available for currently registered WSU Vancouver students, and current faculty and staff. Interlibrary loan is one option for requesting materials from other libraries. See Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery System for more information on the ILL service. To save you time, you might also want to check Search It, the WSU Libraries catalog, which provides options for requesting items.

Registrar’s Office

The Office of the Registrar assists with registration and enrollment changes; prepares and distributes student grade reports; interprets and enforces all academic regulations and rules; prepares and publishes final exam schedules; monitors academic eligibility; schedules university classrooms and various other needs. See Registrar’s Office, 360-546-9565, Student Service Center, Room 150.

ResearchNow! Newsletter

Several times throughout the year, the Office of Research and Graduate Education posts a digital newsletter to communicate the results of faculty research conducted on the WSU Vancouver campus. For more information, please visit ResearchNow!

Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with documented disabilities are assisted by the Access Center, 360-546-9238, Classroom Building, Room 160. Services include, alternative print media, adaptive furniture, note-taking, and alternative testing services (i.e., extended time, distraction-reduced testing environment). In order to receive accommodations through the Access Center, you must submit documentation.

Student Diversity Center

Student Diversity Center strives to increase access to higher education for students of diverse backgrounds and to promote and inclusive environment for diverse students. The Student Diversity Center is located in the Firstenburg Student Commons, Room 136.

Technology Training and Support

Vancouver Information Technology (VIT) provides telephone, computing, data networking, graphics services and instructional media support for students, faculty and staff at WSU.

Academic Media Services (AMS) offers technical support for video conferencing, classroom technologies, along with equipment for multimedia projects. Located in the Engineering and Computer Science Building, Room 110, 360-546-9033.

Writing Support

Students who need help with writing assignments for course assignments should be directed to the Writing Center. The Writing Center is dedicated to provide a friendly, supportive learning environment where students can develop and hone their writing skills through a process of collaborative revision. The Writing Center is located in the Library (VLIB 203), Second Floor. The WSU Vancouver Writing Center coordinator is Kandy Robertson,, 360-546-9651.


WSU Vancouver’s bookstore is known as “The Bookie.” It provides a variety of WSU merchandise, textbooks, classroom supplies and Cougar apparel. Their location is the bottom floor of the Student Service Center.

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Student Life

Student Involvement

The Office of Student Involvement (OSI) promotes student-centered opportunities for personal development and group interaction. Their focus is to engage in social, recreational, cultural and leadership experiences while balancing all aspects of student life. The Office of Student Involvement is located at Firstenburg Student Commons.

Child Development Program

The Child Development Program (CDP) at WSU Vancouver offers full-day programs for preschool children. The program benefits from the stimulating environment and educational resources of a university setting. Both programs are open to all families. For more information regarding enrolling your children in the program, contact or call 360-546-9722.

City of Vancouver Community and Events

A large amount of information on activities in the local community can be found at the City of Vancouver web site. The Community Calendar is updated regularly and there are also links to connect to information through various social media outlets.

Farmers Markets

  • Salmon Creek: Tuesday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital June through September.
  • Vancouver (downtown market): Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. & Sundays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. from March through October. Local musicians entertain, local produce and crafts for sale. Located at 6th & Esther Street.
  • East Vancouver Market: Thursday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. from July through mid September. Located at 17710 SE Mill Plain Blvd.
  • Franklin Street Market: Wednesday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. from July through mid September. Located at 1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA.
  • Camas: Wednesdays 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. June through September; on 4th Avenue between Everett and Franklin.
  • Portland: Nationally recognized as one of the five best markets in the US by Eating Well Magazine. Various locations throughout the city, running mid-March through December.

Museums, Galleries and Places of Interest

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Fitness Center

The Fitness Center is located in the basement of the library (east side, lower level). It is 2,340 square feet. Facility users will find cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes and strength training equipment including free weights and selectorized machines. Use of the Fitness Center is free to students, staff and faculty.

Intramural Sports

Students, faculty and staff are able to participate in on-campus intramurals such as soccer, flag-football and disc golf. To supplement the sport offerings off-campus city league teams are formed to offer students the opportunity to play volleyball, basketball, and indoor soccer. On-campus intramurals typically play September – October and January – April (weather permitting). Check the Events Calendar for upcoming activities.

Outdoor Trips and Activities

Take part in a number of local or regional outings planned and organized by the OSI Recreation staff, including students. Each semester offers new and exciting trips as well as the regulars that have become traditions. Activities include the annual ski trip to Mt. Bachelor, an overnight camping and climbing trip to Smith Rock, and several white water rafting trips per year. These are complimented by hiking, kayaking and snowshoeing. The schedule of activities is diverse in order to appeal to the wide range of interests and abilities. Check the Events Calendar for upcoming trips and activities.

Recreation Rental Program

The Rental Program allows individuals to rent equipment at reduced costs. Equipment rotates to match the seasons and equipment is sometimes packaged with upcoming trips or ticket sales for even better deals. All equipment is purchased with S&A Fees, which allows for high quality gear to be offered at rates lower than local shops. For rental hours, procedures and equipment list and prices visit the Recreation Rental Program.

Off-campus Outdoor Recreation

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Student Groups

Registered Student Organizations, more often referred to as a RSO or a club, allow students the opportunity to create campus culture and fulfill student interests. RSOs are created by students, led by students and are for the students. They may be a unique organization to WSU Vancouver or be connected to a local, regional or national organization. Students have the ability to highlight their interests and passions, provide events and programming for the entire campus and gain valuable leadership skills along the way. Most organizations fall in to one of the following categories: academic, cultural, political, recreational, religious/spiritual, service, social or special interest. Learn more about the RSO registration process.

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Public Transportation

  • C-Tran’s #19 Salmon Creek bus route offers service to the WSU Vancouver campus during the week. For the most up-to-date bus schedule, visit C-Tran. Students, staff and faculty of WSU Vancouver are eligible for the C-Tran BackPASS (scroll to the bottom), allowing unlimited access to C-Tran local and limited bus service (not valid on Express or C-VAN services). The BackPASS program is subject to discontinuation at C-Tran’s discretion. Contact the cashier in the Student Services Center at WSU Vancouver for more information.
  • Lower Columbia CAP offers a Rural Public Transportation service between Longview and Vancouver Monday through Friday, six times a day. Visit their website for program eligibility and schedules.
  • TriMet provides public transportation in the Portland, Oregon, area.

Alternative Commute Options

WSU Vancouver offers carpool permits that allow you to park in reserved spaces. When you register your carpool or vanpool of two or more people with Parking Services, your parking permit will be marked with an indicator allowing you to use Carpool Reserved spaces. You will also receive some Orange daily parking permits to use in case you need to drive alone occasionally (Semester carpools receive three daily permits, and Annual carpools receive six). WSU Vancouver employees who are members of a registered carpool or vanpool are eligible for an Emergency Ride Home voucher in case of an emergency. Contact Parking Services for more information and for the current locations of the carpool reserved parking spaces. To find a carpool or vanpool in your area, visit Clark County Commute.


WSU Vancouver offers bicycle racks, clothes lockers and shower facilities. Covered bicycle racks are available for use outside the Library building and Firstenburg Student Commons. Maps of the bicycle routes in the Greater Vancouver area are available free of charge in the Parking Services office. For more information about this form of transportation, visit Cycling Vancouver and the Oregon Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

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