Graduate Student Handbook

Course Registration Procedures

Registration Overview
New students may register at the beginning of their initial semester, but all continuing students must register for classes during Advance Registration in the middle of the prior semester (November and March). Timely registration is the student's responsibility. Late registration occurs any time after Advance Registration, and the student is billed $25.00 for lateness.

All students are required to be continuously registered while in graduate school, except under the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. A student takes a leave of absence (Ph.D. candidates on dissertation are not permitted unless for medical or military reasons). The exception is Family Leave Policy.
  2. A student withdraws from the School (Ph.D. candidates on dissertation are not permitted).
  3. Unclassified students are automatically allowed up to a one-year period between registrations.
  4. Students who have completed all their degree requirements, including the submission of a thesis/dissertation (if required) before the beginning of the following semester, may petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for their exemption from registration/ tuition for the following semester.

Students with no exceptional circumstances and who do not register each semester are dropped from the rolls of Penn Engineering. Students will register using Penn InTouch. Students registering for a master's thesis (course number 990) or a Ph.D. dissertation (course number 995) must get approval through the department.

990 Registration: Master's Thesis
To be eligible to register for 990, a master's degree student must have completed 10 courses and only need to complete the writing of his/her master's thesis or need to allow the completion of any incompletes. A student is allowed to take 990, which carries full-time status with 0 credit units, only once.

995 Registration: Ph.D. Dissertation
To be eligible to register for 995, a Ph.D. student must pass the "Advance to Candidacy" requirement (please see your Graduate Coordinator for 995 registration). If the student came to Penn Engineering with a master's degree, up to nine of those credits can be transferred to the Ph.D. program upon the approval of the Graduate Group Chair. Once the Advancement to Candidacy is met, a student may take 995, which also carries full-time status with 0 credit units, until the completion of degree. (Effective Spring 2009)

Course unit registration
Maximum enrollment for the master's program is 4 courses (a petition and satisfactory GPA are required for more than 4). Tuition is charged per course at the master's level. Ph.D. students will register for four courses to fulfill their course requirements until they have reached full research, only three units of 999 (Dissertation/Research) are required to maintain full time status.  

Auditing a Class
A student who desires to attend a course without performing the work of the course must first secure the consent of the instructor. He or she must register as an auditor. Auditors pay the regular tuition charges, but receive no credit for the course. Assignments and exams are not required if properly registered and the instructor is notified.  

Drop/Add/Change Period (Tuition refund deadlines)
Graduate students may add or drop a course only during the first two weeks of each semester. Tuition will be automatically refunded for a dropped course only if the course is dropped during the first two weeks of the semester. Refunds for tuition for courses dropped after the first two weeks of the semester but before the end of the fifth week of the semester can occur only after petitioned approval of the student's Graduate Group Chair and the Associate Dean at the following percentages: 3rd week (75%), 4th week (50%), 5th week (25%).

A student may not drop a course if it is the only course for which he or she is registered. After the fifth week, a student may withdraw from a course with permission of the program's Graduate Chair, before the end of that term. A form for requesting withdrawal is available here or at the Office of Academic Programs.

Withdrawal from Courses
Students in graduate SEAS have the option of requesting a "Withdrawal" from a course after the fifth week of class but before the final day of class.  No petition for withdrawal will be considered after the final day of classes. The student should submit the form entitled, "Petition for Withdrawal from a Course."  A "W" will appear on your transcript for the course.