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Student Recommendations & Licenses

During the summer months, we are often asked what kind of computer a student is expected to bring to campus. Importantly, no student is required to provide their own computer for success at UMass Lowell. The university provides multiple options to access technology to complete coursework.

However, most students prefer to have their own computer for flexibility, entertainment, and personal use. Below, we provide some recommendations for all students. Some departments also provide some program-specific recommendations, which are linked at the bottom.

This page is updated annually, usually in the late spring.

Laptop computer

Hardware

We recommend that students who want their own computer consider purchasing a laptop or notebook computer. Given our large campus, students often find themselves wanting to do work in a dining hall, library, or other shared space where a desktop computer would be impossible to use.

Generally, we recommend that you purchase a computer from a reputable larger brand. We provide discounts through the U$ave program for Dell and Apple products. We recommend purchasing a computer with the following minimum specifications:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 1909 or Apple MacOS 10.14 (Mojave) or newer
  • Intel i5 or i7 processor (8th generation or newer)
  • 8 GB of RAM or more
  • 500 GB or larger solid-state hard drive
  • 802.11 AC wireless compatibility

As a lower-cost alternative for most programs of study, a Chromebook from a well-known company such as Dell, Acer, or ASUS is sufficient for all academic needs by using vLabs when Microsoft Office or other academic software is required.

Warranties

Warranties are truly up to you as the purchaser. If you want the assurance of knowing that this computer will be good for a four-year program of study, you may want a four-year warranty. We have found that due to the rapid pace of technological change, and the additional cost of such warranties that many would prefer to replace the computer if it breaks after two years.

UMass Lowell always recommends you provide accidental damage protection for the duration of the computer’s expected life.

1 Primary vLabs logo

Software

UMass Lowell has a diverse range of academic departments, many of which utilize specialized software. We are proud to offer the vast majority of the required software, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, SolidWorks, the AutoDesk suite, and may more on our vLabs virtual computer lab platform. Because of this, we recommend that you wait until you are in your classes to see if there is software that you want to purchase.

All enrolled students are able to download a copy of Microsoft Office 365 for free. Accordingly, we recommend that you do not purchase Microsoft Office on your own. As part of Microsoft 365, all students have access to one terabyte of storage on Microsoft OneDrive. We strongly suggest students keep all important documents and files in OneDrive in case their computer crashes.

Security

Because of the constant threat of identity theft and other malicious software, we strongly recommend all students install malware prevention and security software.

For Windows, we recommend the built-in Microsoft Defender Antivirus that comes with Windows 10. For Macintosh platforms, we recommend Sophos antivirus, which we provide free to all students.

Tablets

Currently, no academic departments require tablets. For students who prefer to have one, we recommend the Apple iPad (any current variety) or current Andorid tablet, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. We do not recommend a tablet as a replacement for a laptop.

female student working on computer

Department Specific Recommendations

Some departments have more specific recommendations for their specific areas of study and practice.