Graduate Student Handbook

Graduate Student Programs

In order to register for courses correctly, graduate students should understand the requirements of the program for which they are enrolled. Penn Engineering offers several programmatic options on the graduate level.

The Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. students are required to complete the academic requirements of their Graduate Group; (with approval, up to nine courses can be transferred from a prior graduate program), to pass specific general examinations as required by one's graduate group, and to write a dissertation conforming to the rules of Penn's Doctoral Dissertation Manual.

(NOTE: A dissertation showing high attainment and power of independent research must be written upon some topic in the field of the major subject. This study must represent a definite contribution to human knowledge; it may be either positive or negative in character. Dissertations based on joint work with other researchers are allowed provided that in such cases a unique and separate dissertation is presented by each degree candidate. The candidate must include a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. Authorship of a dissertation by more than one degree candidate is not allowed. The dissertation shall be presented to the graduate group in complete form by the dates specified in the Degree Calendar.)

Ph.D. candidates are placed on dissertation status (995) after their Dissertation Proposal is accepted and approved; they are Advanced to Candidacy. A 3.0 cumulative average must also be maintained as a Ph.D. student. All doctoral work for full-time and part-time candidates, including the dissertation, must be completed within ten years from the student's matriculation as a graduate student at Penn.

The Master's Program

Master's students must complete 10 courses, 11 for the Biotechnology program (with approval, up to 2 courses can be transferred from a prior graduate program), meet the course distribution requirements of their Graduate Group, maintain a 2.7 cumulative average (effective Fall 2007), and, if choosing the thesis option for degree, write a master's thesis. (Thesis option requires eight courses and two research credits (999) for the completion of the master's thesis, see deadline for submission on graduation calendar.) Full-time and part-time candidates must complete these requirements within seven years of their matriculation at Penn.

(NOTE: A thesis or research paper based on joint work with other researchers is allowed provided that, in such cases, a unique and separate document is presented by each degree candidate. The candidate must include a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. Authorship of a master's thesis or research paper by more than one degree candidate is not allowed. More information can be found here.)

The Unclassified program, which does not lead to a specific degree, enables students to enroll in various graduate courses. Unclassified students must maintain a 2.7 average but are not required to register for courses each semester. Transfer to a master's or Ph.D. program requires the approval of the graduate group chair and Associate Dean. Students interested in this option should submit the form entitled "Transfer from Unclassified Student Status to Regular Degree Program."