Graduate Student Handbook

Academic Options

Full- and Part-Time Study
U.S. citizens may enroll in any of these programs on a part-time or full-time basis. However, international students on student visas must enroll in a full-time program to maintain their visa status. Master's degree students are considered full time when registered for three courses per semester.  Full-time Ph.D. degree candidates are required to register for four courses during the academic semesters. Students may register for summer courses if they wish.

Part-time students may take one or two courses each semester. Students enrolled in a master's or Ph.D. program must register for at least one course unit during the fall and spring semesters in order to remain continuously enrolled in their programs.

NOTE: Ph.D. students who wish to register part-time, must petition to do so in each semester that they are registered for less than three courses.  This action is important to ensure the correct tuition and fee charge.

Leave of Absence (LOA) from your academic program may be granted by completing a Leave of Absence Request for up to two years, after which you must reapply for admission (as of March 03).  Ph.D. students on dissertation status may only request a leave of absence for medical or military reasons.  Time spent in the military service does not count under the time limit. Reinstatement is dependent upon departmental and SEAS approval. You can access the Leave of Absence request on the Graduate forms page.

While on LOA and not registering for courses, you may still utilize the Library and/or the Recreational Facilities by requesting and paying a Special Service Fee. If you wish only to access the Library or the Library plus e-access (printing and borrowing access), there are fees for both of these options. Please contact Elizabeth Gentner in the RAS Office, 109 Towne, for processing. University of Pennsylvania Involuntary Leave of Absence

Withdrawal from SEAS and the University may be granted by petition for action.  Reinstatement is dependent upon departmental and SEAS approval.

Dual-Degree Programs 
(MBA/ MSE, MArch/ MSE, MCP/ MSE, MRP/ MSE, MD/ Ph.D., VMD/Ph.D., DPM/ Ph.D., DDS/ Ph.D.)
There is a growing interest in dual-degree graduate programs that provide students with the breadth of knowledge and the added flexibility needed to meet the demands of a complex and constantly-changing world. Please keep in mind that all of these programs entail separate applications and admission to the two schools, and financial aid must be carefully negotiated.

Dual Master Degrees within Seas
To have dual master degrees in Penn Engineering, a student must obtain the approval of the Graduate Group Chairs of both departments and the Associate Dean. On the form entitled "Application for the Dual Master's Degree in Penn Engineering," the student must outline his or her program of study in both majors. A minimum of sixteen course units must be completed for two Master of Science in Engineering degrees. The student must request approval of his or her dual-major program from both graduate groups/majors after completing the first semester with a recommended GPA of 3.0.

After completing at least one semester in the original program for which you were accepted and matriculated, SEAS master's students may request to be considered for a transfer to another SEAS graduate group by submitting the Transfer to Another Graduate Group form. As with the request to be considered for a dual degree, candidates are expected to have the appropriate background for the second master's program. They will be evaluated by both their original program and the new program to which they wish to transfer.

If you are interested in transferring to the DATA SCIENCE program, there is a special transfer process and application. For further questions, please send an email to:

Transfer of External Credit to Penn
Engineering master's degree candidates are permitted to transfer two courses from another university graduate program. Ph.D. candidates are permitted to transfer nine courses. Transfer credit must be approved by the Graduate Group Chair and Associate Dean. Minimum grade needed for transfer credit is B or above (for .5 cus as well). Courses counted towards an undergraduate degree will not be considered for graduate credit unless in an approved submatriculation program. (Some exceptions do exist, consult the individual departmental guidelines or Graduate Student Advising in 111 Towne.)

FOR SUBMATRICULANTS: All coursework for a master's degree from SEAS must be completed at Penn.
No transfer, advanced standing, study abroad, or study away courses will be accepted.

Incoming master’s students may receive advanced standing credit under the following conditions:
● Applicants must complete and submit a Penn Engineering MicroMasters certificate (which includes the completion of all courses in the series) before the admissions deadline. MicroMasters certificates will not be
accepted after matriculation.
● The topic of the MicroMasters certificate must correspond to the master’s program in order to receive advanced standing credit (e.g., the Robotics MicroMasters certificate can only be used towards the Robotics MSE).
● Student may receive a maximum of 3 CUs of advanced standing credit.
● Students with advanced standing credits on their transcript are not eligible to apply for transfer credits.