Getting started with ArcGIS for Student Use


You’ve purchased an ArcGIS Student license; now, how do you to use it?

This is your one-stop-shop for getting up and running with your new ArcGIS for Student Use subscription. This blog will step you through each stage of the setup process, using the following FAQs as our guide:

  1. What is included in my subscription?
  2. What is My Esri, and why do I need it?
  3. How do I configure my My Esri permissions?
  4. How do I download and install the software?
  5. What is ArcGIS Online, and why do I need it?
  6. How do I activate my ArcGIS Online Organization?
  7. How do I assign an ArcGIS Pro license?
  8. How do I use my ArcGIS Pro license?
  9. How do I authorize ArcMap?
  10. Where do I go for training, support, and help?

1. What is included in my subscription?

So, what’s under the hood?

When you purchase an ArcGIS for Student Use subscription, you get:

  • An ArcGIS Desktop Advanced license level (for both ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap).
  • The following ArcGIS Desktop Extensions:
    • ArcGIS 3D Analyst
    • ArcGIS Data Interoperability
    • ArcGIS Data Reviewer
    • ArcGIS Geostatistical Analyst
    • ArcGIS Image Analyst
    • ArcGIS Network Analyst
    • ArcGIS Publisher
    • ArcGIS Schematics
    • ArcGIS Spatial Analyst
    • ArcGIS Tracking Analyst
    • ArcGIS Workflow Manager
    • ArcGIS Desktop software updates
    • ArcGIS Online Creator user type
  • 100 service credits for data storage, premium data access, and geocoding and analysis in ArcGIS Online.
  • A suite of ready-to-use apps for use anywhere, on any device.
  • ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World with maps and data on thousands of topics, including access to foundation content from Esri.
  • Installation support.
  • Access to self-paced e-Learning on the Esri Training website.

2. What is My Esri, and why do I need it?

My Esri is where you manage your Esri products. This includes software downloads, and obtaining licenses to install and authorize Esri products. After purchasing your subscription, your first step should be to set up your My Esri account.

On purchasing your ArcGIS for Student Use subscription, you should receive an email with a link to connect to your My Esri Organization.

You may also receive a token which can be manually entered to enable visibility of the ‘My Organizations‘ tab for your account. This option can be found by navigating to:

  • My Esri > My Profile > Connect to Your Organization > Connect with a Token.

Note: These tokens have a shelf-life, so activate them as soon as possible.

If you did not get the email and / or token, contact Technical Support.

3. How do I configure my My Esri permissions?

Once you are logged in to My Esri, take a moment to ensure that you have all the required permissions. Permissions allow you to undertake certain actions in My Esri, including downloading software.

  • Click on the My Organizations tab, then click Users.

Beside your name, you should see a little yellow ‘Admin’ badge.

  • Click the little pencil icon to the right of your name, to check your permissions.

You can also now provide yourself with additional permissions, if required, by switching them from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ . The following permissions might be useful: download software, license products, and access training.

If you don’t have the My Organizations tab, and / or the yellow Admin badge beside your name, and / or you cannot change the permissions, contact Technical Support.

For further My Esri-related information, see: My Esri FAQs.

4. How do I download and install the software?

To download the software, do the following in My Esri:

  • Click the My Organizations tab > then click Downloads just beneath it.

This should default to Products (selected on the left-hand side), and your products, ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Desktop (a.k.a. ArcMap), should be available to download from here.

  • Beside the product you wish to download, click View Downloads > then Download.

Before installing any of these products, it’s important to take a moment to check the System Requirements for both products. See here for system requirements for ArcMap, and here for the system requirements (including a system check application) for ArcGIS Pro.

Once you are happy that your machine meets the system requirements for your products, you can proceed with installation. The full installation guides for ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) can be found here, and here for ArcGIS Pro.

5. What is ArcGIS Online, and why do I need it?

Next, you must activate your ArcGIS Online Organization – but what is ArcGIS Online, and what is an ArcGIS Online Organization?

ArcGIS Online is a ‘cloud-based mapping and analysis solution’, and is accessed via arcgis.com. ArcGIS Online allows you to make maps, carry out analysis, and to share or collaborate. See here for more about ArcGIS Online.

It is possible to set up a Public account with ArcGIS Online; and you may already have a Public account. However, a Public account does not have access to ArcGIS Pro – so if you try to sign in to ArcGIS Pro using those credentials, you will receive an error.

In order to use ArcGIS Pro, you must have a license assigned to you via a special type of ArcGIS Online account called an ArcGIS Online Organization.

As part of your subscription, you have an ArcGIS Online Organization, waiting to be activated. This is a special version of ArcGIS Online that provides you with more functionality, the ability to customize the website, and the ability to manage and assign ArcGIS Pro licenses and extensions. So, in order to assign an ArcGIS Pro to yourself, you first need to activate your ArcGIS Online Organization.

6. How do I activate my ArcGIS Online Organization?

On purchasing your ArcGIS for Student subscription, you will receive an email with an activation token for an ArcGIS Online Organization. Again, these tokens have a shelf-life, so complete the activation process as soon as possible. If you’ve left it a while, and the token no longer works, contact Technical Support.

Once you have clicked the link / token you received, you will be prompted to begin the process to Create an organizational account [this is how you activate your ArcGIS Online Organization account].

  • The complete set of steps required to activate your ArcGIS Online Organization can be found here.

Pro Tips:

  1. When activating your ArcGIS Online, select Create a New Account if possible; and
  2. Never use any social credentials to access ArcGIS Online. Set up a username and password.

You will now have a set of credentials [username/ password] that are associated with an ArcGIS Online Organization.

In addition, your ArcGIS Online Organization comes with 100 credits. Credits are the usage currency for your ArcGIS Online Organization. You can manage and monitor your credit usage, and purchase additional credits, if needed. There is a really good resource available here that covers what credits are, and how they are consumed within ArcGIS Online. I would strongly recommend that you take a look at this before you carry out analysis in ArcGIS Online.

Pro Tip:

  1. Don’t use ArcGIS Online to store raw imagery!

7. How do I assign an ArcGIS Pro license?

Now that you have activated your ArcGIS Online Organization, you would like to assign an ArcGIS Pro license to yourself.

Your subscription comes with a Named User ArcGIS Pro license [see here, for more]. This is the default license type for ArcGIS Pro. This license requires you to sign in to ArcGIS Pro on your machine with a set of credentials [username, password]. These credentials are linked to your ArcGIS Online Organization. As stated earlier, if you attempt to log in to ArcGIS Pro on your machine before activating your Organization, you will receive an error re: a Public Account not having access to ArcGIS Pro.

So, after activating your ArcGIS Online Organization, your next step is to assign an ArcGIS Pro license to yourself within your ArcGIS Online Organization i.e. via arcgis.com.

  • The complete set of steps to assign ArcGIS Pro licenses via your ArcGIS Online Organization can be found here.

You can also assign software extensions, e.g. Spatial Analyst, using the same method.

8. How do I use my ArcGIS Pro license?

Once you have assigned the licenses in ArcGIS Online, open ArcGIS Pro on your machine, and, in the sign-in window, sign in using your ArcGIS Online credentials.

  • See here for an example of this process.

9. How do I authorize ArcMap?

Before we dive in to authorizing ArcMap, let’s take a moment to discuss what is happening with the product. The current version of ArcMap [10.8.1] will be the final release of the product. There are no plans to release a 10.9. See here for a full overview of Continued Support and the Product Lifecyle. While support for the product will continue until March 2026, I strongly recommended that you start the transition to ArcGIS Pro now. To help with this. I’ll provide you with some links and resources towards the end of this blog.

However, in the meantime, there may be several reasons you need to continue using ArcMap; be it to complete assignments, finish projects, or to continue working in a familiar space while you learn the ropes in ArcGIS Pro. So, let’s take a look at authorizing your ArcMap license.

By now, you should have successfully downloaded and installed the software; you now need to authorize your version of the product.

Your subscription comes with a Single Use license. A single use license is a machine-locked license, tying your ArcMap license to one-machine only. This single user license is applied using an authorization code, that can be obtained via My Esri.

So, to authorize ArcGIS Desktop [ArcMap]:

  • Log back into My Esri.
  • Click the My Organizations tab > Licensing > Authorizations (on the left-hand side).

You should have a product called ArcGIS for Student Use available.

  • Click Details to the right of it.
  • You may need to scroll down, but an authorization code should be available (a code beginning with ESU, and followed by a series of numbers). Make a note of this code, you’ll need it.

Now you’re ready to authorize your software.

  • The full authorization guide for ArcGIS for Desktop can be found here.

If you have any difficulty with authorizing ArcMap, contact Technical Support.

10. Where do I go for training, support, and help?

Let’s start with Technical Support. When it comes to Technical Support, the Student Subscription has limited access beyond installation and licensing.

However, there are numerous ways to get additional assistance, discuss workflows, and to upskill, depending on your experience and need. For example, you may have access to data, and want to dive straight into exploratory analysis or visualization in ArcGIS Pro. Maybe you’re only starting out on your GIS path, and are looking to gain some new skills. Maybe you’re finally making the move From ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro. Whatever the motivation, you need examples, data, workflows, and, importantly, a community to bounce questions and ideas off.

If you’re looking for additional GIS training:

Getting started with ArcGIS Pro:

If you’re looking for your GIS community:

If you have issues with installation:

If you have questions about tools or workflows:

Bonus FAQ: “I haven’t purchased a student license; I obtained an authorization code or an ArcGIS Pro license from my University or Professor. Where do I go for help?”

If this is you, and you have obtained a license from your University or similar [ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro], as part of a course or your studies, many of the resources outlined here are still of use to help you to understand your product, and to upskill. Feel free to use them!

However, you most likely do not have access to licensing or administration privileges in ArcGIS Online or in My Esri. This is managed by another Admin [or Admins] within the educational organization you are a member of. So, what do you do when you have a technical issue or a licensing issue?

To obtain support for an issue using this type of license, e.g., trouble with installation, authorization code is not working, unable to use an extension, unable to use a tool, unable to update a version, something crashing or freezing, etc., you need to reach out to the relevant IT / GIS contacts within your University. This may be the person / professor / TA who provided you with the license. Even if they are not the contact, they may know who the relevant person is.

The designated contact will attempt to resolve the issue for you. If the designated contact cannot resolve the issue themselves, they will then reach out to Technical Support on your behalf. In order to troubleshoot the issue, Esri Australia’s Technical Support needs to liaise with a designated contact at the educational institute in question.

And finally, what’s next, license-wise?

You may wish to continue your ArcGIS journey beyond your Student subscription. A similar license to your Student subscription [i.e. non-commercial-use] is the Personal Use license. If you wish to purchase a commercial-use license, you may wish to peruse the options available here!

Best of luck on your ArcGIS journey! We look forward to seeing what you get up to!

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