Frequently Asked Questions
- Programmatic Questions
- Campus + Student Life
- Contacting Penn Engineering
- Tuition + Finances
- Pre-Application Questions
- Submitting Your Application
- After You Apply
Attention MCIT Online Applicants: Please see a program-specific FAQ here.
How long does it take to complete a master’s degree?
Our programs can generally be completed in 1 to 2 years depending on how many courses a student takes each semester.
How many courses does a student have to take to complete the program?
All of the master’s programs require 10 course units (Penn’s “credit”), except for Biotechnology, which requires 11. While most of our courses are 1cu, a small number are .5, so overall students may end up taking 10-12 courses for the degree depending on the program and their course choices.
Does the master’s degree require a thesis?
No, our master’s programs do not require a thesis. Most of our programs allow students to complete their program either completely with coursework or with 2-3 credits worth of research towards a thesis or an independent study.
Can I pursue a master’s program part time?
Yes, you can potentially pursue a master’s degree part-time. Once you have been admitted you can discuss this with your program. It will depend on the flexibility of your schedule and the requirements of your program. International Students are not eligible to for part-time enrollment.
Can I pursue the master’s program if I work full time?
Yes, you can potentially pursue a master’s degree if you work full-time. Most of our courses are offered during the day, with the latest beginning at 4:30 p.m., so it depends on the flexibility of our schedule.
Do you offer evening and weekend graduate courses?
No, we do not offer evening or weekend courses. The latest courses typically begin at 4:30 p.m. Some of our programs allow students to take courses at other schools within the University which may have later start times.
Can I apply to more than one program?
Yes. Please note, if you are admitted to multiple programs, you may only enroll in one program to start your graduate career. You can apply to the second program after you have completed at least one semester, per the Graduate Student Handbook requirements.
Can I transfer or switch programs once I’m admitted?
Yes, after one semester, students may apply to transfer into another engineering master’s program. At this time you cannot transfer from an on-campus program to the MCIT-Online program, nor can you transfer from the MCIT-Online program to an on-campus program. You can find more information here.
Can I switch to a Ph.D. program before I finish my master’s?
Yes, you can switch to a Ph.D. program before completing your master’s. You will need to go through the application process and admission is not guaranteed. You should begin by talking to faculty and staff of the Ph.D. program you are interested in regarding the program’s requirements.
Would I automatically get a master’s degree while pursuing a Ph.D.?
No, students in a Ph.D. program do not automatically receive a master’s. A Ph.D. candidate is welcome to talk to their department about coordinating their Ph.D. coursework with the master’s requirements, so that they can get that degree as well.
Is there a non-degree option?
No, Penn Engineering does not have a non-degree enrollment option.
What do students do after graduation?
A student’s own goals and academic experience often shape what path they take after graduation. Some will go out into industry while others pursue further degrees (PhD, MD, JD or MBA). You can find out about our alumni by checking out Penn Engineering magazine.
Alumni often get involved with mentoring current students and you can find out more information about this process here.
You can find career placement statistics, made available by the Career Services Office, here.
Can I visit campus?
Please contact your department of interest to inquire about scheduling a formal visit. We do not offer Open House programs for master’s students and the prospective Ph.D. Open House is by invitation.
Where do graduate students live?
Penn has on campus housing for our graduate as well as undergraduate students. Students also live off campus and we have an office that will help you with that search. Both of our housing offices are extremely informative and helpful.
Is the campus safe?
Yes. The University of Pennsylvania has its very own campus police force. In addition, the Philadelphia Police also patrol in and around campus. The University employs security officers as well. There are officers on the streets, on bikes and foot. There are shuttles and other services available for making sure students are safe as they travel on and around campus at night. You can go to the Penn Police website and learn more here.
Does the School help students find internships and full-time jobs?
The University’s Career Services office is an excellent resource for students. They manage all on campus recruiting which includes company presentations and interviews.
Is there professional development available for students?
The University’s Career Services office offers a great deal of professional services for the students. They offer various events, seminars, etc to help students with resume writing, interview skills and many other topics of interest to students preparing for entering the workforce or continuing to an advanced degree. The department does not provide funding for master’s students professional development.
Can a graduate student participate in student organizations and activities?
Yes. There are several student organizations specifically for graduate students both in the Engineering School and the University at large. The School offers a wide array of resources for master’s and doctoral students. In addition, the Graduate Student Center is a terrific resource for the entire Graduate Student population at Penn.
May I contact faculty, students or alumni from the program(s) that I’m interested in?
Yes, we encourage prospective students to contact the specific department you are interested in for more information. A list can be found here.
Should I contact faculty members prior to applying for the program for support for my application?
No, it is not necessary to contact Penn faculty prior to applying for your program. If you have questions about the program, courses, or research, you are welcome to reach out to the department/s of interest. You can find their information here.
I have a question not covered here. Who can I contact?
You can email admissions-related questions to the contact below that corresponds with your program of interest.
- For programs in BioEngineering, BioTechnology, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Integrated Product Design, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Math, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Robotics, and Scientific Computing, email Abby Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For programs in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Computer Graphics and Game Technology, Computer and Information Sciences, Data Science, and Computer and Information Technology, email Sherry at email@example.com.
- For the online Computer and Information Technology Masters program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can email the Help Desk if you have any technical issues about your application: email@example.com. Please direct program-related questions to the individual program contacts after reviewing the program web pages.
Where can I find information about tuition and an estimate of a graduate student budget?
How much will the master’s program cost?
Engineering graduate tuition is charged per course unit (Penn’s credit), not per semester or year. How much a student pays per term will depend on the number of courses they’re registered for. The overall degree can cost from approximately $55,000US to $63,000US. Please visit this link for more information.
How do students pay for the program?
It varies from one student to the next: loans, external scholarships/grants, private funds, part-time job, etc. Learn more here.
Is it possible to work on campus to help with tuition?
Students are welcome to apply for part time jobs on campus, but there is no formal association between an on campus job and tuition. Students may qualify for work study positions upon the completion of their financial aid application.
As a master’s student, am I eligible for any teaching/research assistantships?
Master’s students may apply for a limited number of positions as Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants. Most positions require that you complete one semester of your program and be in good standing. Upon enrollment to a master’s program, students may contact the program department to check availability. Please note that most TA/RA positions in Penn Engineering that are not part of a PhD program are hourly paid positions and do not carry a tuition benefit.
Are financial aid, scholarships, fellowships or assistantships available?
The School of Engineering and Applied Science does not provide financial assistance for master’s students. Master’s students may apply for a limited number of positions as research assistants and teaching assistants. Upon matriculation to a master’s program, students may contact the program department to check availability of assistantships and other research opportunities. You can also consult this list of funding and aid opportunities, maintained by the CIS Department, http://www.cis.upenn.edu/prospective-students/graduate/aid.php. Please note, you do not need to be a CIS student to apply for many of these funds. The Vice Provost’s office also maintains a list, here: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradstudfunding.php.
Doctoral students are funded by their program.
What are the prerequisites for admission?
You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university by the time classes begin, and you must submit valid GRE scores. In addition, if you are an International Student, you required to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores, unless you qualify to have them waived. Each program also requires at least two, if not three, Letters of Recommendation. In addition, each program makes its own decision and has its own criteria for admission. You can view the application requirements here. You can view some of these criteria on the program description pages, here:
For more specific information, please check directly with the department. Please note, we do not require WES evaluation for any transcripts. In addition, you only need to submit OFFICIAL transcripts if you are accepted and choose to enroll.
Do you have guidelines or requirements for the Personal Statement?
We do not have any requirements for the Personal Statement. However, we recommend the following guidelines for the personal statement:
- No more than two pages
- Select a readable font/size
Use answers to the following questions to guide your writing; please provide detailed and specific examples from academia, industry or research when possible:
- Why are you interested in this program?
- What have you done that makes you a great candidate?
- How will you benefit from the program?
- How do you plan to contribute to the student community in SEAS while you’re here?
- Why will you succeed in the program?
- What will you do/accomplish once you have completed the program?
Do I have to have a bachelor’s in engineering in order to apply to one of your programs?
Can I apply if I have not yet completed my bachelor’s degree?
Yes, you can apply while you are completing the last year of your bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to submit transcripts that are current at that time. If admitted, you will be required to submit a final transcript and proof that you have received your degree prior to matriculation.
Do you accept degress from programs that are only 3 years?
Yes, we do accept bachelor degrees from three and four year bachelor degree programs. The degree must be from a school that is accredited by a state and/or national accrediting body. You may be asked to provide proof of the accreditation if you are admitted and choose to enroll. Penn Engineering ultimately determines the validity of official documentation for all official transcripts and degree certificates we received.
Can I apply directly to a Ph.D. program if I only have a bachelor’s degree?
What if I do not have a background in science or engineering?
We strongly recommend examining the description and prerequisites for our programs. If your specific degree is not in an engineering or science discipline, it may be possible to be admitted depending on the program and your background. Some programs may require taking certain prerequisites prior to beginning your degree. You can also contact the department directly to discuss your specific background.
Can I apply to more than one program?
Yes, you may apply to multiple master’s program. However, you can only apply to one PhD program. To apply to more than one program, you must complete and submit the application for the first program you are applying to before you can begin an application for any additional program(s). You can apply using your same account and login information. However, you will need to pay a separate application fee for each application you submit.
Noting on the application that you “would like to be considered for other programs,” does not mean that you will be considered by those other programs. It is only so that departments with other programs that would like to review your application may do so without first contacting you for permission to do so.
You can use supporting documents, such as official test scores and transcripts, for multiple applications. For all other parts of the application, we recommend submitting information specific to each program.
Please note, if you apply and are admitted to multiple programs, you may only enroll in one program to start your graduate career. You can apply to the second program after you have completed at least one semester, per the Graduate Student Handbook requirements.
Do you accept transfer credit for master’s or doctoral students?
Master’s may request transfer of up to 2 graduate level-courses and doctoral students may request transfer of up to 9 graduate level-courses completed prior to enrollment in the program.
Please note, we currently do not allow online courses to transfer for on-campus program credit.
I am not a U.S. citizen and will need a student visa in order to study in the United States. What should I do?
If you are admitted to a graduate program, you will be emailed the information and web address for beginning the I-20 application process. Please allow one week from the date of acceptance to submit the I-20 application to ensure your record is in the system.
Admitted students should address all matters related to the I-20 process with the University’s International Students and Scholars Services Office.
Do you need any financial information?
No, the Admissions Office does not require any financial documentation. Please do not send it.
When is your application deadline?
You can find all of the application deadline information here.
What is the cost of the application fee?
The application fee is $80. We do not grant fee waivers for financial hardship.
What documents should be sent to the admissions office?
We only require official documents to be mailed to the admissions office if you accept the offer of admission and submit your enrollment form. Please send your official, final transcripts and certificates of graduation (when the transcript does not list the degree earned), from your university/college. We must receive transcripts for all courses that you received course credit. These documents must be sent to us, either in sealed envelopes from each institution you have attended, or electronically by the issuing institution. Opened documents are not official and will not be accepted. No other documents are necessary as all other required documentation should be entered online. In addition, the final transcript must be in English. We do not require WES evaluation for any transcripts.
To expedite the process of ordering documents, you may use the CertiFile/College Net Document Service offered through our online application to obtain documents from Educational Perspectives. After you complete the required sections of your application, you will have the option to order your official transcripts and evaluation documents for an additional fee. These are only required if you have been admitted and choose to enroll.
You may also use World Education Services (WES) or other members of NACES. Applicants who submit a CertiFile, WES or other NACES evaluation do NOT need to send us an official transcript. Please note that these services do charge a fee for the evaluation. You can also find links to the CertiFile system on the application checklist after you have submitted your application.
Please note that all application materials become property of the University of Pennsylvania and will not be returned. Remember to retain a personal copy of your application.
Where and when should I send my official documents and test scores?
You are required to send your official transcript(s) upon receiving your offer of admission. We must receive an official, final transcript from each institution where you earned course credit. You must also send a graduation verification certificate, if it is not stated on the final transcript from your degree granting institution. As we mention on the application, you do not need to send us a final transcript if you are using CertiFile, WES or other NACES evaluation for your transcripts. All final transcript(s) must be received prior to your matriculation date. We prefer receiving them transcripts and test scores electronically. If your final transcript and/or test results will be delivered by mail, they should be sent to the below address:
University of Pennsylvania
SEAS Graduate Admissions
Levine North Building (GRW) Room 166B
3330 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
Attn: (Enter Your Admissions Contact’s Name)
Please note that all application materials become property of the University of Pennsylvania and will not be returned. Remember to retain a personal copy of your application.
If your institution uses electronic transcripts, the institution should send the transcripts to one of the below administrators, based on the program to which you have applied:
- Abigail Whitington, firstname.lastname@example.org, for – BE, BIOT, EE, ESE, IPD, MSE, MEAM, NANO, ROBO, SCMP, SE
- Sherry Ferraiolo, email@example.com, for – CBE, CGGT, CIS, DATS, MCIT
If we do not receive your documents by the start of your program, you may be dropped from the program.
Do I need to use an ID number when submitting documents?
We do not use ID numbers to match documents to applications, we use your name.
How long does it take for the online system to show that my documents, including the Certifile and other transcripts, have been received?
Due to the volume of applications we receive, we may be unable to verify all of the documentation we receive in a timely manner. Therefore, the system may still say “materials needed,” though we have already received your materials. Processing time for received documents varies based on the time of year and mail delivery times, which are out of our control. Documents requested using Certifile are usually completed within a week, once Certifile begins the process.
My official transcript has been sent. Can I confirm that it has been received?
Due to the volume of applications we receive, we may be unable to verify all of the documentation we receive in a timely manner. Therefore, we use the unofficial transcript that you have uploaded when reviewing your application. In the event of admission we will then search for the official version in our files and verify what you have reported in your application. If you waited to send it in until you received your offer of admission, you are required to send it in at that time.
Have my supplemental documents been received?
Once you have submitted an application, you can log in to your application at any time to check the status. However, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to verify your documentation in a timely manner. We use the unofficial information you submit in the application to begin the review process.
Can my recommender send a paper recommendation?
Recommendations should be submitted online. If it is not possible for your recommender to use the online system, a paper letter may be submitted. Please note that it will take longer to process and be uploaded to the system, due to the large volume of documents we receive. Please email your Admissions Contact for the link to the offline paper recommendation form.
I entered more than two (2) recommenders. Do all of those recommendations have to be submitted in order for my application to be reviewed?
No. Most programs only require two (2) recommendations. Once we have received two (2), (including one faculty recommendation) that requirement is fulfilled. Please note all recommendations must be received by the application deadline for your application to be reviewed.
If more recommendations come in before the application has been selected for review, then all of the recommendations received will be reviewed. Please note that our current system has a limit of three (3) letters of recommendation.
CIS Ph.D. applications require three (3) recommendations, so you must have three (3) for your application to be reviewed.
Why haven’t my recommenders received an email yet?
The application system asks you to input the name and correct email address for each recommender. If they have not received an email after you have completed your application, please follow the below instructions:
- Make sure you have provided a valid, correct email address for each recommender.
- Notify the recommender that they should check their junk/spam mail folder, in case it was marked as junk/spam by their email provider.
- Re-notify your recommender through your application.
What are the minimum GRE and TOEFL scores?
Applications are evaluated as a whole portfolio and not on a single criterion. Individual programs may have specific score expectations: the Bioengineering, Biotechnology, Computer and Information Science, Electrical Engineering, Integrated Product Design, and Systems Engineering programs expect a minimum TOEFL score of 100 from all applicants.
There is no minimum GRE score that is required. Average scores can be found in some university publications and media such as U.S. News & World Report and Peterson’s. Individual programs may list scores on their specific website, but Penn Engineering does not make this information available.
Can my TOEFL/IELTS be waived?
The TOEFL/IELTS requirement is not required for US Citizens/Permanent Residents that reside in the US and for whom English is their native language. It can be waived if an applicant has graduated, or will graduate, from a school where English is the language of instruction, or if you are a citizen of a country where English is the official language. If you have questions about this, please email your Admissions contact.
For those that attended school outside of the US, the transcript must note that the medium of instruction was in English in order for you to have the test waived. If this information is not noted on the transcript then your school will have to send official verification to our office.
Please do not contact us for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. We will contact you if there are any questions/concerns after reviewing your application and submitted documents.
Applicants for the MCIT Online program should see the requirements here.
I already have an advanced degree. Do I need to take the GRE?
The GRE is required by all applicants. If you have taken it within the previous five (5) years, you can have the official test scores submitted by the testing service. Otherwise, you will need to take the GRE and have your official scores submitted by the testing service.
How recent should my GRE scores be?
You must have taken the GRE within five (5) years. If your scores are older than five (5) years, you must retake the exam. We will not accept test scores for exams taken after the application deadline.
How recent should my TOEFL/IELTS scores be?
TOEFL/IELTS scores are only available for the last two (2) years, so you must report scores taken within that time period. If your scores are older than two (2) years, you will need to retake the TOEFL/IELTS exams. We will not accept test scores for exams taken after the application deadline.
What is the institution code for the TOEFL and GRE?
The institution code is 2888. If you have used our previous code of 2926, we will still receive your results. If you have to use a department code, please use 1699. If you use another code, there may be a delay, but we will still receive your scores.
I have sent my official scores but they do not show up as being received in my application. Should I be concerned?
We use your self-reported scores for the application review process. If you are admitted, we will then search our system to make sure we have the official version. If we are unable to locate it, you will be notified. Please do not contact us asking to check if we’ve received your scores.
I just took the GRE/TOEFL but my official scores have not yet arrived. Can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply. Please enter the test scores you received upon completion of the exam into your application. You must, however, make sure that your official scores are also sent to Penn Engineering (code 2888). Your self-reported scores will be used for the review process.
(In the case of the GRE you will not immediately receive your Writing score, but that is fine for initial submission of your application.)
When will my application be reviewed? When Will I receive a decision?
PhD decisions are released on a rolling basis. All applicants will receive email notification when their decision is available.
You can find the application deadline schedule and decision release schedule for all master’s applications for the 2020-21 application cycle here.
How will I receive a decision?
You will be notified by email that a decision is available to be viewed online. You will need to log into your application to view the actual decision.
Will I receive an official letter by mail?
No, the letter you view online is your official letter and our system allows you to print a copy to use as needed.
What is the deadline for submitting the enrollment decision form?
Ph.D. enrollment decisions are due by April 15 if you have received your decision prior to April 15. If you receive your decision after April 15, the decision must be submitted by June 1, and you must also email firstname.lastname@example.org, stating that you have not accepted a PhD offer for any other programs.
For master’s applicants, if you were admitted following the November 15 application deadline, you must submit your enrollment form by February 16. Otherwise you will not be able to enroll until after the March 15 application cycle. If you were admitted following the March 15 application deadline, or admitted following the November 15 deadline, but did not accept before February 16, the deadline is June 1, 2020.
If you are admitted following the February 1 deadline, you will need to submit your decision by June 1, 2020.
Can I pay the acceptance fee by check?
No, we do not accept checks.
I have been admitted but would like to defer my admission. What should I do?
If you are a Master’s candidate, you must first accept our offer and pay the deposit. (PhD candidates are not required to pay the deposit.) Afterwards you must contact the Graduate Coordinator for your program to request the deferral. You should include the specific reason for the deferral and indicate the term that you are planning on starting your graduate program. The deadline to request a deferral is the last day before classes begin for your first graduate semester. You can defer for up to two semesters (one academic year) at a time, and for a total of four semesters (two academic years). Your request must be approved by the program that offered you admission.
I was rejected. Can you tell me why I was rejected and can I re-apply?
It is the practice of the School of Engineering and Applied Science not to discuss any application results with prospective students. We do not reconsider applications, due to the large volume of applicants and applicants cannot apply to the same program for the same term if they have already received a decision.
If you are a Ph.D. applicant that was rejected, you are not automatically considered for entry into a master’s program. If you would like to apply for a master’s degree after being rejected, please contact the Graduate Coordinator for your original program.