Graduate Student Survival Guide

Students sitting in the WSU Vancouver Libray


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 CougarCard, check student aid status, academic records, schedules and WSU announcements.

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 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 can use it like a debit card to make purchases such as printing in the library, food from the self-serve café and items from the bookstore. Visit the Cougar Center webpage to request your card. Use the CougarCard Activity Quick Link at myWSU to manage your CougarCard.

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 to send it directly to your bank 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 line. If you work for the university, you may also have your paycheck directly deposited into your bank account. Visit the Account Services and 1098 tile 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.

  • Facebook: Having logged into Facebook, search for WSUV Graduate Student Organization.

Find your way around campus

View the WSU Vancouver campus map.

If you are 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.
  • Set up direct deposit in Workday
  • Complete the Graduate Payroll Deduction Form to deduct residual tuition and fees from your paycheck over eight pay periods. Find more information including the procedure to sign up for payroll deduction at Payroll Services.

Establishing residency will save you significant money by allowing you to pay in-state instead of out-of-state tuition. Plan early—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.

Academic integrity

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

Advising resources

Working with your advisors and mentors provides you with support that is critical to making progress towards your degree and a successful launch into your career. In fact, in a meta-analysis conducted by Bair and Haworth*, the impact of the advisor-student relationship on graduate student persistence and success was the number one most common finding from included studies. Below you can find resources to better develop your relationship with your advisor and mentors.

External resources to for students

Harvard’s sociology department presents the Doctoral Advising Conversation Guide, a series of questions that address:

  • Developing your relationship with your advisor
  • Discussing your progress, funding and professional development
  • Preparing for program milestones or forming committees
  • Starting a research collaboration
  • Looking beyond graduate school

The University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School offers a free guide: How to Get the Mentoring You Want, for graduate students. This guide includes:

  • Working with faculty
  • Why you need multiple mentors
  • Understanding faculty roles and responsibilities
  • Developing clear expectations with your advisor/dissertation chair

*Bair, C. R., & Haworth, J. G. (1999, November 18-21). Doctoral student attrition and persistence: A meta-synthesis of research [Paper presentation]. Association for the Study of Higher Education 24th Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, United States.

Academic regulations

Policy and procedure for auditing a class, cancellation of enrollment, late registration and withdrawals may be found on the registration information webpage or by calling 360-546-9565; Student Services Center. 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 and students, 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 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

Graduate Inclusion and Equity Research Fellowship Program

This research fellowship program provides first-year funding for graduate students in the form of a research assistantship and a tuition waiver for fall and spring semesters. First-year students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, are otherwise eligible for a graduate assistantship through the graduate school and are the member of one or more historically excluded and/or underrepresented in graduate education may be eligible to be nominated by their academic director or program leader. Learn more about the fellowship program online.

WSU Vancouver dissertation grants

If you are in good standing at WSU and with the Graduate School, and have passed preliminary exams, you may be eligible to apply for a dissertation grant of no more than $500 per academic year. Submit an application by Sept. 1, Dec. 1 or May 1, depending on the semester in which you will be using funds. Learn more about dissertation grants online.

Travel grants

Travel grants are intended to help you with your research and scholarly activities, and to present papers at significant meetings. For information and guidelines about applying, visit Travel grant funding.

External funding

You are encouraged to seek your own funding. This can be a lucrative addition to your portfolio. Contact Ariana Abrahamsen, grant proposal coordinator, at for assistance with your proposal.

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 website.

Health and wellness services

Health insurance for graduate assistants is carried through UnitedHealthcare. To determine if this coverage is available to you, visit the Graduate Student Insurance webpage or call 509-335-3255 if you have questions or need help using this service.. For assistance enrolling or help with the UHCSR plan, 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.

WSU Vancouver offers basic health services.

24-hour advice nurse

An advice nurse is available in Pullman 24 hours a day to offer free health and wellness services to students at all campuses. The advice nurse can be reached at 509-335-3575.


The Cougar Health 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 the pharmacy webpage or call 509-335-5742.

Counseling Services

Professional counselors are available on campus in Classroom Building, Room 160. Counseling Services offer brief and focused individual, and group counseling, workshops and outreach presentations, and crisis and consultation services to WSU Vancouver students for free. Call 360-546-9238 to schedule an appointment.


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 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 SystemIn 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 academic regulations and rules; prepares and publishes final exam schedules; monitors academic eligibility; schedules university classrooms and various other tasks. See Registrar’s Office, 360-546-9565, Student Services Center, Room 150.

ResearchNow! newsletter

Throughout the year, the Office of Research and Graduate Education posts a digital newsletter to communicate the results of research conducted on the WSU Vancouver campus. Read ResearchNow!

Students with disabilities

Accommodations for students with documented disabilities are assisted by the Access Center, 360-546-9739, 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).

Center for Intercultural Learning and Affirmation

The Center for Intercultural Learning and Affirmation strives to increase access to higher education for students of diverse backgrounds and to promote an inclusive campus environment. CILA is in the Firstenburg Student Commons, Room 104.

Technology training and support

Vancouver Information Technology provides telephone, computing, data networking, and instructional media support for students, faculty and staff. Visit the new student tech guide webpage for more information.

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

Writing support

You can access both the WSU Vancouver Writing Center, located in Library Building, Room 203, and the Graduate Writing Center for help with your writing. The GWC, located on the Pullman campus, is available virtually. The GWC assists with all types of written communications, including theses, proposals, prelim papers, dissertations, cover letters, resumes/CVs, conference papers and teaching materials. Learn more about the GWC and schedule an appointment online.


The Bookie provides a variety of WSU merchandise, textbooks, classroom supplies and Cougar apparel. It’s located in the bottom floor of the Student Services Center.

Student Involvement

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

Fitness Center

The Fitness Center is located in the basement of the library (east side, lower level). You will find cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes and strength training equipment including free weights and machines. Take group fitness classes. Locker rooms include showers and towel service. The Fitness Center is free to students, staff and faculty.

Intramural sports

Participate in off-campus city league teams to play volleyball, basketball and indoor soccer. For more information, contact the Recreation Office at 360-546-9532 or

Outdoor trips and activities

Take part in local and regional outings organized by the Recreation Office. Activities include the annual ski trip to Mount Bachelor, an overnight camping and climbing trip to Smith Rock, and hiking, kayaking, rafting and snowshoeing trips. The schedule of activities is diverse to appeal to a wide range of interests and abilities. Visit the Recreation Office for more information.

Recreation Rental Program

The rental program allows you 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, equipment list and prices visit the Recreation Rental Program.

Student clubs are created by, led and for students. They may be an organization unique to WSU Vancouver or connected to a local, regional or national organization. By participating in a club, you can highlight your interests and passions, provide events and programming for the entire campus and gain valuable leadership skills. 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 student club registration process.

Public transportation

  • C-TRAN’s #19 Salmon Creek bus route offers service to the WSU Vancouver campus border. For the most up-to-date bus schedule, visit C-TRAN. As a student, you are eligible for the C-TRAN Hop Fastpass, which allows you to ride C-TRAN for free in Clark County. Contact the cashier in the Student Services Center 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, Ore., 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, 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, lockers and shower facilities. Covered bicycle racks are available for outside of the Library Building and Firstenburg Student Commons. Maps of the bicycle routes for the Vancouver area are available free of charge in Parking Services. For more information about this form of transportation, visit Cycling Vancouver and the Oregon Bicycle Transportation Alliance.