Distance Education New Student Checklist

Congratulations on taking this important step to further your education and welcome to UNI at a Distance! This guide provides you with a series of steps to be completed/reviewed before getting started with your first course. We're here to make sure everything runs smoothly, so please don't hesitate to reach out with questions. Click "1. Login with your CatID" below to get started!

Phone: 319-273-7206
Email: distance@uni.edu

1. Log in with your CatID

Every UNI student has a CatID - this is the combination of a username and passphrase and used to log into most campus systems.

Login Instructions

Look for the CatID SignOn logo (image below) to log in to campus systems with your username and passphrase. For more information, visit https://it.uni.edu/catid-faq.

CatID SignOn logo

CatID Account Recovery Tool

Register alternate contact information for self-service passphrase reset. To set up your alternate contact information, log into MyUNIverse and navigate to the My Account pagelet. There you'll see a link titled CatID Account Recovery Setup. Click that link and follow the on-screen instructions.

CatID Account Recovery Setup in MyUNIverse

New Students

Current Students

Your university ID and username were created with your application submission.  To set up your passphrase, please see, ”What is my CatID passphrase?” at https://it.uni.edu/catid-faq.                             

What is my CatID passphrase?

Need your login credentials? Please contact the IT Service Desk at 319-273-5555 or servicedesk@uni.edu. If you registered your self-service passphrase reset information, access that at https://java.access.uni.edu/Password/SSPR.

I don't remember my CatID passphrase

Need Assistance?
IT Service Desk

2. Transfer Credits (if applicable)

Undergraduate Students

  • UNI accepts a maximum of 65 transfer credits overall from community colleges. 
  • There is no limit on the number of credits UNI will accept from four-year institutions.
  • All transfer credits must be from an accredited institution. Official transcripts must be on file for each institution that a student has attended. Please send transcripts directly to the UNI Office of Admissions. Once transcripts are received, Admissions can provide an evaluation of your credits if requested.
    • For students seeking a postbaccalaureate degree, please have official transcripts sent to the Office of the Registrar.
  • UNI has put together a list of UNI Transfer Equivalencies for colleges that students most commonly attend. If you’re questioning how a course might transfer in, view the list here. If you’re transferring credit from a college that is not on this list, please contact Admissions to determine how the course will transfer. It is important to determine transferability before registering for courses at another institution.
  • For residency requirements, please refer to the University Catalog.
  • View a list of common transfer questions here.

Graduate Students

In general, students complete the full set of courses outlined in the program. It is possible to transfer a limited number of graduate credits. However, this credit must meet the following criteria:

  • Course must be a regular graduate course with a graduate course number (not professional development or college credit through an Educational Agency or conference).
  • Course must be taken by the student in graduate status, and the official transcript must show a grade of B- or better earned.
  • Course must be applicable as a graduate requirement at the institution where it is taken.
  • Course must be taught by regular graduate faculty.
  • Course must meet the UNI seven-year recency requirement.
  • Academic departments will determine whether or not they wish to accept transfer credit even if it meets the above requirements. These criteria were established to prevent credits not intended for use toward graduate degrees (i.e., Area Education Agency/professional development credits) from being used to meet UNI degree program requirements.

Please check with the program coordinator about specific situations.

3. Check or forward your UNI email

All students are provided an official UNI email address used for many official UNI communications, including university bill notifications. If you would prefer to forward your UNI email to another email address you check more regularly, we’ve included those instructions below.

Accessing UNI email

  1. Visit email.uni.edu and enter your CatID username and passphrase.
  2. Click the LOGIN button.
  3. First-time users need to read the Terms of Service and click the Continue button.
  4. Read the "Welcome to your new account" document, complete the recaptcha and click I accept. Continue to my account.

Forwarding your UNI email

  1. While logged into your UNI email, click the gear icon at the top right and choose Settings.
  2. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  3. Click Add a forwarding address to enter the address to which you would like messages forwarded. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.

  4. Login to the email account you entered in Step 3 to find an email confirming your request.
  5. Click the confirmation link within the message. A Confirmation Success! email will be sent, and your UNI email will now be forwarded.

Google Drive access

Google Drive is the officially supported cloud file storage and collaboration platform for the university. Using Google Drive you can easily create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and many other kinds of content through your web browser that are easily accessible to yourself and those you choose to collaborate with by granting access.

4. Explore MyUNIverse/Student Center Navigation

MyUNIverse is a personalized Web portal that you can use to access and update your personal records. Your Student Center (located within MyUNIverse) is your academic management tool. This includes registration, billing, and financial aid information, academic progress reports (degree audits), and much more. Log in to MyUNIverse and your Student Center with your CatID. Assistance can be found at www.uni.edu/sis/content/student-center-help.

Accessing your Student Center

  1. Visit my.uni.edu and enter your CatID username and passphrase.
  2. Select the My Page tab and click the Go to my Student Center link.
    Student Center pagelet on MyUNIverse

Student Center resources

Viewing Your Grades: https://uni.edu/sis/sites/default/files/Viewing%20my%20Grades_JOBAID.pdf

Financial Aid Help: https://uni.edu/sis/content/financial-aid-help

Academic Advisement Report Help: https://uni.edu/sis/content/academic-advisement-report-student-online-self-help

Student Enrollment Verifications: https://uni.edu/sis/sites/default/files/Student%20Enrollment%20Verifications.pdf

5. Get to Know your Program Contacts

You've most likely already received communications from a key contact at UNI. Let us help you become more acquainted with these key contacts who will continue to assist you throughout the duration of your program:

Enrollment Contact

Each program has a dedicated enrollment contact who will be your point of contact for all questions during the course of your program. As a distance student, we understand that you may not be familiar with all of the UNI policies, processes, and procedures. That's where your enrollment contact comes in! We can help answer your questions, from enrollment to billing to accessing your online course. Your enrollment contact was most likely the person who sent you the link to this checklist!

Program Coordinator/Advisor

The Program Coordinator/Advisor plays a critical role in your path to a degree. This individual possesses the expert knowledge of the program's academic requirements, as well as UNI graduation requirements to make sure you get the most out of your experience, in as efficient a way as possible. While the enrollment contact can help with the logistical questions, your Program Coordinator/Advisor will be there to answer questions about program and course content, degree requirements, etc.

View a list of program coordinators and enrollment contacts by program heredistance.uni.edu/services-support/advisers

6. Enroll in first semester classes

Upon admission to the program, the final step is to submit your enrollment form at distance.uni.edu/enroll.

Enroll today

Each term, your enrollment contact will contact you with enrollment information for the next term.

7. Order Textbooks

Each term, your enrollment contact from the Office of Continuing and Distance Education will provide you with the details about textbooks used in your upcoming courses. Textbooks can be obtained from a vendor of your choice or the UNI Bookstore.

8. Finalize Financial Aid and Pay First U-bill

Viewing your u-bill

  1. Visit my.uni.edu and login with your CatID username and passphrase.
  2. On the My Page tab, click Go to my Student Center in the Student Center pagelet.
  3. Within the Finances section, click on the Account Inquiry link.
  4. Click the activity tab to view the details of your u-bill.

U-bill payment options


Credit Card


1. Within the Finances section, click the Make a Payment button.
2. You will be redirected to Flywire in a new tab. Click the purple Make a Payment button.
3. Choose your payment method and confirm the payment amount. Click Continue
4. Review the payment information and click Confirm.
5. You will receive an email confirmation of your payment.

All students have the option to pay by credit card through their Student Center in myUNIverse. The steps to pay by credit card can be found here: https://obo.uni.edu/student-accounts/paying

Credit card payments made through your Student Center are subject to a service fee of 2.75%.

Checks can be mailed to:

University of Northern Iowa
Attn: Student Accounts
103 Gilchrist Hall
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0008

Please include your student number in the memo section of the check

Payment plans are also available through the Office of Business Operations. Visit obo.uni.edu for more information.

Financial Aid

In order to be eligible for financial aid for distance education coursework, students must:

Federal aid will automatically be applied to tuition and technology fees contracted through the university.  To have federal aid also pay for miscellaneous charges, such as late fees, parking, or on-campus lodging, the student must give their consent.  This is done by completing the FedState permission.

2+2 Elementary Education Students

Additional financial aid information for 2+2 students can be found at https://finaid.uni.edu/distance-off-campus

Graduate Students

Additional financial aid information for graduate students can be found at https://finaid.uni.edu/financing-graduate-school

9. Learn About Academic Services/Standards

Student Accessibility Services

Please check out UNI's Accessibility Services Website for information about services UNI provides to make education accessible for all students. Student Accessibility Services at UNI offers assistance with closed-captioning, e-readers, extended test times, quiet locations, notetakers, and more. 

Website: sas.uni.edu
Phone: 319-273-2677 (deaf or hard of hearing, use Relay 711)
Email: accessibilityservices@uni.edu

The Learning Center (TLC)

The Learning Center offers online assistance to students currently enrolled in UNI distance education courses.  If you would like assistance with writing, please contact our Writing Coordinator, Deanne Gute (deanne.gute@uni.edu).  If you would like help with math or science, please contact our Math and Science Coordinator, Latricia Hylton (latricia.hylton@uni.edu). For additional help, please contact John Ophus (john.ophus@uni.edu).


Free online 24/7 tutoring in business, computer science, math, science, Spanish, and writing. More information can be found at https://tlc.uni.edu/online.

Additional Resources

Supplemental Resources - https://tlc.uni.edu/resources

UNI Academic Ethics/Discipline Policy

Students at the University of Northern Iowa are required to observe the commonly accepted standards of academic honesty and integrity. Visit the UNI Policies and Procedures website (http://www.uni.edu/policies/301).

UNI Graduate College

The UNI Graduate College has developed a guide to connect graduate students with resources during their time at UNI. The Graduate Student Handbook can be found here: https://grad.uni.edu/sites/default/files/graduate_student_handbook_final_1.pdf

10. Check out the Rod Library Resources

The Rod Library at UNI provides a vast amount of support for distance learners. Their staff will mail Rod Library books to requesters, provide PDF copies of journal and magazine articles held by the library and help students get started with research...all at no cost! Students also have access to all of the library's online resources, including library databases, e-journals and e-books.

Services for Distance Learners

Rod Library Hours

Need Assistance?

Email: libaskus@uni.edu
Phone: 319-273-2838
Live Chat

11. Access Your Course (Technology and Tools)

Our distance education programs utilize many forms of technology to deliver the best possible course experience for our students. While you may not be familiar with all of these tools, our support staff is there to assist every step of the way. Our goal is that these tools provide you with access to the high-quality education UNI is known for, at a distance.

Blackboard (eLearning) Orientation

We have developed an Orientation to Online Learning course in Blackboard for students to get a feel for the platform before starting coursework. Once you have enrolled, we will automatically add you to the course titled "Orientation to Online Learning" and you can access it through Blackboard at uni.blackboard.com. You will be asked to log in with your CatID to access the course.  

The course contains many helpful resources and tips and will take less than one hour to complete.

You will learn:

  • how online courses at UNI are typically structured
  • how to navigate within the Blackboard platform
  • about the different assessment methods within Blackboard
  • tips and resources to help you as a UNI student at a distance
  • and much more!

Interactive Desktop Video Conferencing

Most distance programs utilize interactive desktop video conferencing, which allows students and faculty to interact in real-time. One student wrote:

"It is nice to be able to see the instructor and cohort during class. It makes the best of being able to have class at a distance but feel involved."


System Requirements

  • High-speed Internet connection
  • Webcam
  • Headset microphone (USB-type recommended)
  • Detailed System Requirements

Prepare Your Computer

  1. Review the Zoom system requirements.
  2. Go to http://zoom.us from your mobile device and/or computer.
  3. Click Sign In in the top right corner.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom and click sign in with Google.
  5. In the Sign In window, enter your full UNI email address in the email field and click Next (this step will prompt you to use your CatID login).
  6. At the CatID login, log in using your CatID username and passphrase.
  7. You will land on the Meetings page of your Zoom Pro account, where you can schedule, join, or host a meeting.
    Note: The first time you start or join a meeting, your web browser will download Zoom automatically.
  8. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and click Download (located in the website's footer).
  9. On the top of the page, you will see Zoom Client for Meetings; click Download.
  10. Follow the instructions to download and install Zoom Client Access for Meetings.
  11. Run Zoom.
  12. Once you're logged in, you will be prompted by the Zoom application with Allow Access - click this button. You will now be able to use Zoom without any restrictions.

Access Your Zoom Meeting Room

  1. Navigate to the Meeting Room by clicking on the Zoom Meeting Room link found in the START HERE! and Course Content folders in your  Blackboard (eLearning) course, or in the course details letter sent to you from the enrollment contact for your program.
  2. Type your first and last name and click the Join button.

You may have to wait while the instructor opens the room.

First Zoom meeting on this device? Please test and configure your audio settings...

  1. Make sure your sound is on.
  2. Click on the upward carrot next to Join Audio in the bottom menu bar, then click on Test Speaker and Microphone.
  3. Follow the on-screen directions to configure your audio.


Monday-Thursday - 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Friday - 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
800-648-3864 or 319-273-7740

12. Additional Resources and Graduation Information

Graduate College Resources

Welcome from the UNI Graduate College! Please review the Graduate Student Handbook for important information. https://grad.uni.edu/sites/default/files/graduate_student_handbook_final_1.pdf

Technical Support

Passphrase help - Service Desk  -319-273-5555
Blackboard (eLearning) support - cesp-consult@uni.edu

University Calendars

Academic calendar
Calendar of events

Student Accounts/OBO

Tax Information


Enrollment verification
Teacher Licensure
Viewing Grades

Registrar Contact Information


Graduation Information 

All students must fill out a graduation application, regardless of whether you want to walk in the ceremony. The application must be filled out early on during the semester in which you plan to graduate. Read the step-by-step guide on how to complete the graduation application, if needed.

If you want to participate in the commencement ceremony, you must fill out the Commencement Ceremony Reply Form, in addition to the graduation application.

Graduation Check with Record Analyst

Once you have submitted the graduation application, you are more than welcome to email your Record Analyst in the Office of the Registrar to ask that a graduation check be completed. The Record Analyst will be sure that you are completing your remaining requirements for the major and check to make sure that you don’t have anything on your record preventing you from graduating (holds, past-due bills, etc.). Locate your record analyst here.

Ceremony Participation

If you’re a graduate student and decide to participate in the commencement ceremony, you will walk with your academic college. If you’re an undergraduate majoring in BLS, GS or IS, you will walk with Continuing Education and Special Programs. View a list of ceremony dates and times here.

Receiving Your Diploma

Your diploma will be mailed to your permanent home address approximately six weeks after grades have been reported by the faculty and eligibility for graduation has been determined. You can check the accuracy of your permanent home address or make changes to it prior to Commencement through your MyUNIverse account. A tutorial is available online here.

Post-Graduation Information

Career Services

Offers services and support related to finding a job, updating your resume, interview tips, and job search strategies for both on-campus and distance students.

Campus map