Academic Options

Full- and Part-time Study

Domestic and U.S. citizens may discuss enrollment in any Master’s program on a part-time or full-time basis. Ph.D. students who wish to maintain part-time status must petition to do so in each semester that they are registered for less than three courses.  This action is necessary to ensure the correct tuition and fee charge, as well as departmental approval for part-time status in a PhD program. However, international students on student visas must enroll full-time to maintain their visa status. Students are considered full-time when registered for three course units, or CU’s, per semester. (Full-time status is 3 CU’s or higher, part-time status is 2.99 CU’s and below.) Part-time students may take one or two courses each semester.

All graduate students must maintain continuous enrollment in the fall and spring semesters; summer term is not required. A student without a leave of absence (LOA) approved for the term, and has zero course enrollment by the Course Selection deadline for the term, will be dropped from the program.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Academic Field Study (AFS)

Graduate students in SEAS who meet the eligibility criteria (completed one academic year of full time course work from late August to May) but have not completed all the degree requirements may apply for academic credit for the purposes of F-1 curricular practical training (CPT).  Questions regarding CPT immigration status requirement should be directed to an advisor at ISSS. Full details and information can be found on the Curricular Practical Training webpage and Academic Field Study webpage. Please note CPT and AFS is for on campus programs only.



Accelerated Master’s Degree Program for Undergraduates

Students who entered undergraduate in Fall 2018 or later, adhere to accelerated master’s rules. (Students that entered Penn as an undergraduate in Fall 2017 or earlier fall under all submatriculation rules.)

For students completing their undergraduate degree at Penn and enrolled in a master’s degree as a accelerated master’s (or submatriculation) student, please note undergraduate status supersedes graduate status. All courses will appear on the student’s undergraduate transcript while still enrolled as an undergraduate.  Students will work with their program coordinator for their graduate degree to have courses “point” over to the master’s transcript for their master’s curriculum. All coursework for the master’s degree must be completed at Penn – no transfer credit, advanced standing, study abroad, or study away courses will be accepted.  Undergraduate coursework must be completed in eight semesters under the accelerated master’s. The only exception is for coordinated dual-degree students in M&T and VIPER where students must complete and graduate with both undergraduate degrees in their first ten semesters. The graduate degree cannot be conferred until all coursework for the undergraduate degree is complete and awarded.Please note a student cannot matriculate in their final term.
Full information, rules, and deadlines can be found on the Accelerated Master’s page.


Students external to Penn: Students at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and LaSalle University may apply to the Accelerated Master’s 4+1 program. Full information on this program can be found here.

Dual Degrees and Program Transfers

Dual-degree Programs

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 into the two schools, specific curriculum with overlap (double-counting) of courses, and financial aid (if available) must be carefully negotiated. Students should speak with their home program/department for specifics and if their program participates in one of these dual-degrees with another school. (Not all Engineering Master’s programs participate in the dual degree with an external school.)  A dual-degree must be established prior to enrolling in the two programs. If accepted into two programs simultaneously where a dual degree is not present, the student will need to defer from one program and end, before starting the next program. Please note the below dual-degrees are for on campus programs only.

Arts & Sciences: MATH PhD/MSE CIS or CIT
Carey Law: ML/Master’s, JD/Master’s
Dental: DDS/PhD, DDS/MSE
Perelman Medicine: MD/PhD
Veterinary: VMD/PhD 
Wharton: MBA/Master’s, STAT AM/PhD
Weitzman Design: MArch/MSE, MCP/MSE 



Dual Master’s Degrees within Penn Engineering (on-campus)

Students interested in pursuing dual master degrees in Penn Engineering should submit an Application for the Dual Master’s Degree in Penn Engineering (link disabled while student systems in flux for NGSS) after completing at least one semester with a minimum GPA of 3.50. Completed applications forms should be submitted no later than the add/drop deadline of the student’s final semester. (International students looking to apply for a dual degree should not request OPT prior to the outcome/decision of their application.) Approval and signatures of the Program Directors from both departments along with a personal statement explaining why they wish to pursue the dual degree is required. Students must complete a minimum of sixteen (16) course units including up to four (4) course units that satisfy both degree requirements.

A student is only allowed to submit one dual master’s degree application during their master’s studies at Penn Engineering. If a student who has been approved for a dual degree decides to graduate with just one of the two degrees, the student can only drop the later program but not the original program that the student was admitted into. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline noted above will not be reviewed. Those enrolled in Accelerated Master’s/Submatriculation are not eligible for a dual-degree as Engineering recognizes matriculation into one Accelerated Master’s/Submatriculation program across the schools. Students wishing to pursue a dual degree in the on-campus master’s in Data Science program should apply here too.

Penn Engineering Online students should consult their program for dual degree options.


Transfer to Another Engineering Master’s Program (on-campus)

After completing at least one full-time semester (3+ CU’s) in the original program for which a student was accepted and matriculated into, Penn Engineering master’s students may request to be considered for a transfer to another Engineering Master’s Program by submitting the Transfer to Another Graduate Group form (link disabled while student systems in flux for NGSS). Completed applications should be submitted no later than the add/drop deadline of the student’s third semester. A student cannot request to transfer in their final semester. 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.


Each student is only allowed to submit one transfer application during their studies at Penn Engineering. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline noted above will not be reviewed. Students wishing to transfer to the on-campus master’s in Data Science program should apply here.


Course Transfer Credit

Transfer of Course Credit to Penn

Master’s Students are permitted to transfer up to two (2) courses from another graduate degree program. Dual degree students are held to the 2 course transfer request and are not allowed additional requests.
PhD students that come to Penn Engineering with a master’s degree, can request to transfer up to nine (9) credits into their PhD program.

Students wanting to transfer in graduate course credit from a previous program at Penn prior to matriculation into their current Engineering degree, are treated as transfer credit as well. The maximum allowance is for classes taken either internally at Penn in another program, from an external institution, or combination of both.


Students should discuss procedures with their program/admin coordinator.  Only courses with grades of B are higher will be reviewed and courses taken as pass/fail are not reviewable for transfer. The course credit will be transferred in, not the course grade, and credit transfers do not impact GPA. For on campus programs, courses taken under a certificate program, study abroad, or online, are not allowed and they will not be reviewed or considered for transfer. Transfer credit must be taken prior to matriculation at Penn as students cannot be enrolled in two schools at once. Courses are held to a time limit of five (5) years from the date the course was taken. Per University policy, courses counted towards and/or listed on an undergraduate degree transcript, will not be considered for graduate credit unless in an approved and awarded accelerated master’s/submatriculation program (PhD policy; Master’s policy). No exceptions.
Please note the Penn Engineering MicroMasters certificate has been discontinued and advanced standing credit will no longer be available with this.

Leaves and Withdraws

Leave of Absence (LOA)

Students may request a Leave of Absence for up to two years or four academic semesters, after which time, students must reapply for admission. Reasons for requesting a Leave of Absence include personal, medical, military and family leave. Time spent in the military service and medical cases do not count under the time limit.
The PhD LOA policy in detail is here and students wishing to take a Family Leave should go here.

Reinstatement is dependent upon departmental and SEAS approval. While on a LOA, students may still utilize the library and/or recreational facilities by requesting and paying a special service fee. Graduate Engineering can help facilitate this process.


Leave of Absence Checklist:

  1. Student Bills: Check your student account; any outstanding balance will result in late fees and your account will be placed on hold. If you are an accelerated masters/submatriculant who has borrowed from the Federal Loan Program must complete the online exit loan counseling session here. Please note that depending on the length of the leave, students may be required to begin repayment of federal loans before returning to Penn.
  2. Tuition: If you request your Leave of Absence before the course selection period ends, you will receive a full refund of tuition and fees. If you request your Leave of Absence after the course selection period ends, you must withdraw from your classes and are not eligible for a tuition refund after week 4. (Tuition refund policy here.)
  3. On campus housing: If the leave occurs within the semester, complete Request for Early Termination. For more information visit this site.
  4. International students: Immigration status is dependent upon full-time enrollment and students are required to depart from the U.S. within 15 days of a posted leave, except in certain cases requiring medical care in the U.S. International students must communicate their intention to take a Leave of Absence with their ISSS advisor. You may need to obtain new immigration documents for re-entry.
  5. Medical Documentation: If medical documentation is requested, please ask your healthcare provider to fax (215-746-1032) documentation to Student Health and Counseling, attention: Request Leave of Absence. Do not provide medical documentation to faculty or staff in your Graduate Group or department/program.


When students are ready to return after a Leave of Absence (LOA), they must submit a Request to Return from a Leave of Absence form.  The request must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days prior to the start of the semester the student wishes to return. Once the LOA is approved, students will receive an email from the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs outlining the terms and any conditions for return. Returning from leave must be before the start of a semester; returning during a semester is prohibited by the University.



Withdrawing from Engineering may be granted by Petition for Action.  Reinstatement is dependent upon departmental and School approval by applying through the CollegeNet application system.


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ESL Information

EAS 5100: Technical Communication and Academic Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English

This course is primarily for SEAS graduate students who use English as a second language and who need to develop the communication skills for their academic and professional careers.  Students whose native language is English will also benefit from the course, and from working in class with their fellow students and colleagues who use English as a second language.  For additional information, access course information via the Catalog.