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 obtain departmental approval each semester. International students on student visas must enroll full-time to maintain their visa status. Further information and details can be found on the ISSS webpage.

Students are considered full-time when registered for three course units, (or CU’s,) per semester, excluding audited courses and withdrawn courses. (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 Penn Undergraduates

Students who entered Penn 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.

The accelerated master’s degree (or submatriculation) is started while the student is still enrolled as an undergraduate student. Engineering students may take up to 3 CU’s for double counting purposes between the undergrad degree and the master’s degree prior to matriculation into the master’s program. Please note for dual undergrad degrees, a course can only count towards one undergrad degree and the master’s to be a “double counted” course. (Per Penn policy, no course may be triple counted between three, or more, degrees.)

For students still enrolled in their undergraduate degree and enrolled in a master’s program as an accelerated master’s student, please note undergraduate status supersedes graduate status until graduation from the undergraduate degree. Undergraduate coursework must be completed in eight semesters under the accelerated master’s or the student may be withdrawn from the master’s degree. 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.

Students will work with their master’s program advisor to have courses show on 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. (In Engineering, all courses will appear on both the student’s undergraduate transcript while still enrolled as an undergraduate student.)  The graduate degree cannot be conferred until all coursework for the undergraduate degree is complete and awarded. Please note a student cannot matriculate into the accelerated master’s program in their final undergraduate 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, typically no more than 4 CU’s) 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 acceptance into any dual-degree (internal to Engineering or with another Penn school), is not guaranteed. Student must follow all rules to apply.

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 first talk with their current program, and then the program for which they wish to join as a dual-degree student, after completing at least one semester (full-time at least 3 CU’s completed) with a minimum GPA of 3.50. Students should talk to both programs prior to applying to make sure the the curriculum and timing of the application is appropriate, and that they have the appropriate background for the second master’s program. Students must then submit:

These materials must be submitted no later than the course selection deadline (first two weeks or 14 days of a semester) of their final semester*. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed.

*Students wishing to pursue a dual degree in the Data Science (DATS) master’s program should apply here in addition to following the above. Please note the application deadlines on the DATS page.
For the Master’s Computer Information Technology program (MCIT) on campus, students must follow the procedures on this page first and deadlines from MCIT.
ROBO requires students to apply by February 1 (second semester, first year) to matriculate the following Fall.


Please note the following additional items:

  • A student is only allowed to submit one dual master’s degree application during their master’s studies at Penn Engineering.
  • If a student has been approved for a dual degree decides to graduate with just one of the two degrees, the student can only drop the later (second added master’s) program if an extenuating circumstance has come up. Students cannot drop the original program that the student was admitted/matriculated into. Review information on a program transfer (below) if that is the goal, to transfer out of the first master’s program.
  • Students enrolled in the dual-degree will not graduate with one degree first. They will graduate from both master’s in the same term once requirements are finished for both degrees.
  • Those enrolled in Accelerated Master’s are not eligible for a dual-degree as Engineering recognizes matriculation into one Accelerated Master’s program across the schools.
  • International students looking to apply for a dual degree should not request OPT prior to the outcome/decision of their application.
  • Penn Engineering Online students should consult their program for dual degree options. Dual-degrees between the Engineering online programs and on-campus programs is prohibited at this time.

Please note acceptance into any dual-degree, internal to Engineering or with another Penn school, is not guaranteed.


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 Master’s Program Transfer form. Completed applications should be submitted no later than the course selection deadline (first two weeks or 14 days of a semester) of the student’s third semester. A student cannot request to transfer in their final semester. Candidates are expected to have the appropriate background for the master’s program they are requesting to transfer into. They will be evaluated by both their original program and the new program to which they wish to transfer into.


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. ROBO requires students to apply by February 1 (second semester, first year) to matriculate the following Fall.

Please note transferring master’s programs is not guaranteed.

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, then complete the Transfer of Credit form.  Only courses with grades of ‘B’ or higher will be reviewed. 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. 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. New/incoming students cannot submit a transfer credit request prior to the course selection deadline of their first semester.

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). Penn does not allow triple counting of courses so the student must be able to show that the courses didn’t count towards the undergraduate degree.
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.

If a student is considering a leave, they should take time to think carefully about goals for their time away and for when they return. Speaking with a faculty advisor and/or program coordinator is an important first step. Students taking time away in order to manage a medical condition should discuss the leave with their healthcare provider.

Students on leave should remain in contact with their program and provide updates if there are any changes in plans. The return from leave process supports students in a successful re-entry to academic life at Penn. When preparing to return, students should consult their faculty advisor and program coordinator to develop a plan that includes connection with appropriate resources. Reinstatement is dependent upon departmental and SEAS approval.

The PhD LOA policy in detail is here and students wishing to take a Family Leave should go here.


Requesting a Leave of Absence

  1. Submit a Leave of Absence Request found here.
  2. The leave request will be evaluated and, if the request is approved, the program will stipulate conditions that must be met by the student before returning from leave.
  3. The student will receive an email from the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs outlining the terms and any conditions for the leave request. The program may deny any request for leave. In granting leaves, the decision of the program is final.
  4. While a student is on leave, the student may not be enrolled in Penn classes and will not receive credit for classes taken elsewhere during the leave. Students on leave may not live in University-owned housing during the term of their leave. In addition, students may not participate in and/or hold a leadership position in a registered University organization.
  5. Discontinuance of study without permission from the University does not constitute a leave of absence.
  6. While on a leave, a student 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.

While On Leave

During the term(s) of the leave, a student should contact their program if they have any questions. Please be aware of the conditions for the return outlined in the leave letter, since students will be required to fulfill them before they may re-enroll. 

Applying to Return

When a student is 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 a decision is made, students will receive an email from the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs outlining the terms and any conditions for return. The program may deny the request to return. Re-enrolling in a program must be done 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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