Course Registration and Procedures

Registration Overview

In order to register for courses correctly, graduate students should understand the degree requirements of the program for which they are enrolled. Each program has its own curriculum, registration procedures, and requirements. All specific questions regarding these items should be directed to the graduate student’s program/department.

  • Graduate courses at Penn are 5000+ level (500+ level from Spring 2022 and older). No student may enroll in courses under 5000 to count towards their graduate level degree. Students taking a course under 5000 level for their own background: The course must be in addition to the graduate level work as an extra course, maintaining full-time status of 3 course units (or CU’s) of other 5000+ graduate level courses that are counting towards the degree.
  • All course listings can be found in the University Catalog and students use Path@Penn to register for classes. Students should always check with their program for course approvals before registering for courses.
  • All students are required to be continuously enrolled (for Fall and Spring semesters), except when a student takes a leave of absence (LOA) from their degree program.

Students who do not register each semester by the course selection deadline, and do not request a LOA, will be withdrawn from Engineering and the University for zero enrollment and student inactivity. Students withdrawn for inactivity will need to apply to the program again. Re-admission is not guaranteed.


Course Unit Registration Requirement

  • Master’s- Maximum enrollment for a master’s program is 4 course units (or CU’s). A petition and satisfactory GPA (3.80 minimum) is required to request more than 4 CU’s after completion of one semester full-time at the graduate level. Tuition is charged per course at the master’s level.
  • PhD- Maximum enrollment for a PhD program is 4 CU’s. Full-time PhD students register for up to 4 CU’s to fulfill their course requirements until they have reached full research. Only 3 CU’s of 9990 (Dissertation/Research) are required to maintain full time status. 9950 dissertation shows at 0 CU, but is full-time status. Tuition is charged at a flat rate per semester for full-time PhD students.


International students on F-1 visa’s must maintain full-time status at a minimum of 3 CU’s per semester. Details on maintaining full-time status can be found here. International students who wish to drop below 3 CU’s (2.99 CU’s and below) are required to request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) with the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Office. Full information on RCL can be found here and questions can be directed to a student’s individual ISSS advisor.


Course Selection and Drop Deadlines

Graduate students may add, drop, or swap courses prior to the Course Selection deadline and tuition will automatically be refunded for a dropped course. Graduate students will be allowed to only drop a course between the day after course selection, and the day of the Course Drop deadline. Students will receive a 50% refund of these courses. Graduate students will not have registration access in Path@Penn after the course drop deadline.  These dates are listed on the University’s Three-Year Academic calendar and the Engineering Graduate Calendar. Multiple reminders will be sent as well from the Graduate Office of Academic Services.
Penn Accelerated Master’s still enrolled in their undergraduate degree are held to their home school’s undergraduate deadlines and policies for their graduate level courses.


On-campus Master’s Students Taking Online Philadelphia Campus Courses

This policy allows on-campus Engineering master’s students the option of taking online graduate courses offered at  Penn for credit. These can include graduate courses across various schools at Penn that are part of the Philadelphia campus where the instruction method is listed as ‘online.’ (Students may see a screen shot here of how this looks in Path. It is the area circled in purple.)
This excludes Penn Engineering Online Learning courses in the MCIT and MSE-DS programs with 501 sections. The only exceptions to the campus being ‘online’ is the Master of Health Innovation master’s program (HCIN 6000 level) courses and STAT 5350. However, students must check with their program to see if the courses are part of their curriculum.


Master’s students are restricted to taking two online courses towards their professional master’s degree program. Students must check with their respective master’s program to determine if these courses count towards their degree requirements.
Please note: MCIT students are restricted to taking one online course during their program.

Additional restrictions for international students to meet in-person F1 visa requirements:

  • Master’s students enroll in one online class per Fall and Spring semesters. Master’s students can enroll in up to two online classes in the Summer semester.
  • Master’s students on academic field studies (AFS) in the Fall semester can enroll in one online class with program and Grad OAS permission.
  • Master’s students in their final semester (including summer), must enroll in at least one on-campus class. A 100% online-only course load is not permitted in the final semester. If the student has no alternative in-person courses available for graduation, please consult Grad OAS and your ISSS advisor for further assistance.



Withdraw from a Course

Graduate students may withdraw from a course(s) after the course drop deadline is over, but no later than the withdraw deadline (listed on the Engineering Graduate Calendar).  Please note a “W” will appear on the transcript and the student is financially responsible for the course. Students can request a course withdraw in Path Forms (on this page). Students should speak to their program/department before completing the form to make sure a withdraw is the correct choice for their situation. F1 visa international students must remain at 3 CU’s of courses and cannot withdraw from a course without an approved RCL on file for the term before submitting the withdraw form.



Auditing a Class

Graduate students may enroll in a course as an auditor while registering for courses in Path@Penn. Auditors pay the regular tuition charges and receive no credit towards their degree for the course. Audits DO NOT count towards full-time status,but do take away from the max CU count for a term. Assignments and exams are not typically required if properly registered and the instructor is notified. Once the course is completed, a grade of “AUD” will appear on the transcript. If a student wishes to audit the course after they have registered for it as a traditional letter grade registration and the course selection (drop/add) deadline has passed, please talk with the Graduate Engineering Academic Office.
Again, audited courses cannot count towards the degree. Accelerated Master’s are held to the undergraduate rules and are not allowed to audit courses.

Time-Conflicted Courses

Students may only request a time-conflict override for in-person courses that overlap by 15-20 minutes or less. Courses where one is taught online through recorded lectures and one is in person, may request a time conflict override. Please discuss with you program admin/advisor and they will send you the form for completion where instructor signatures are required.
Please note Engineering Accelerated Master’s students are not allowed time conflicts for courses while still enrolled in the undergraduate degree. Please discuss with your undergraduate program for more details.

Course Pass/Fail

The course Pass/Fail option is NOT permitted for graduate students.

Exception: Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. (Students must opt in by deadline given for the term using the Path ‘Grade Type Change form.’ Opting in, or back out of, pass/fail after the published date for the term is prohibited. A passing letter grade, ‘D’ or higher, is converted to ‘P’ for pass in the registration system and will show on the student’s transcript as ‘P’ and is not calculated into the cumulative average. However, a grade of ‘F’ is entered as a 0.0 and does affect the grade point average.)

ESL Information

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

This course is primarily for Philadelphia campus Engineering 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.



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