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 (exception: accelerated master’s prior to matriculation into the master’s in some cases for 4000/5000+ cross listed courses). 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 (both within Engineering and outside). Courses taught only online are not allowed to count towards the degree. (Exception: courses taught online during covid-19 when Penn was closed for in person classes and were only online.)
  • All students are required to be continuously enrolled (for Fall and Spring semesters), except under the following circumstances:
    1. A student takes a leave of absence (LOA) from their degree program
    2. Student withdraws from the University and is no longer a student

Students who do not register each semester by the course selection deadline, and do not request a LOA, will be withdrawn from Engineering and the University for zero enrollment and student inactivity. Students withdrawn for inactivity will need to apply to the program again.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 Graduate Engineering Academic Office.
Accelerated Master’s still enrolled in their undergraduate degree are held to their home school’s undergraduate drop and add deadlines and policies for their graduate level courses.

Withdraw from a Course

Graduate students may withdraw from a course(s) after the course drop deadline is over, but no later than the final day of class. The course withdraw deadline is listed on the Engineering Graduate Calendar for each term. No exceptions for a withdraw will be considered after the final day of classes. Students can request a course withdraw in Path Forms (on this page) after they have spoken to their program/department. Please note a “W” will appear on the transcript and the student is financially responsible for the course.
(Accelerated Master’s are held to the undergraduate deadlines for their graduate level courses.)

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.

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.)



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