FAQ for New Students

Accounts

  1. What is a PennKey and how do I get one?
  2. What is a PennCard and how do I get one?
  3. What is Campus Express and what services are offered through them?
  4. I already have an email account — do I need to get a Penn email account?
  5. What if I'm having problems with my email account?
  6. What is a Computer Lab Account?

Academics

  1. How can I access course materials and other student resources?
  2. When and where do I find out about registering for classes?
  3. Where do I get my books?
  4. Do I need a computer?
  5. Where can I find the academic calendar?
  6. Will I be assigned an advisor and how should I get in touch with my advisor?

Finances

  1. Where do I find out about financial aid?
  2. Does the university offer a payment plan for tuition and fees?

Insurance

  1. I already have health insurance through my parents/spouse. What does Penn require?
  2. Where do I find out about getting health insurance through Penn?
  3. Why do I need to submit proof of immunizations? What happens if I cannot get my doctor's signature right away?

Housing

  1. Where do I find information about housing?
  2. I am interested in being a Graduate Associate in one of the college houses – where can I find more information?
  3. I am interested in Graduate housing. What are my options and where can I find more information?

Resources

  1. I am interested in joining a student organization — where can I find more information about on-campus student groups?
  2. What other graduate student resources are available?
  3. Where can I get resources and support if I come with my child(ren)?
  4. After graduation, what assistance is available for finding a job?

Transportation

  1.  What are my transportation options for getting around campus and the city of Philadelphia?

Accounts

1. What's a PennKey and how do I get one?

A PennKey is an individual's username within the PennKey authentication system. Paired with an associated password, a PennKey is required to authenticate your identity for access to many of Penn's networked systems and services. Anyone who needs access to PennKey-protected electronic resources (e.g., library databases, access to Canvas, email etc.) must register a PennKey and password. Everyone must establish a PennKey to register for courses.

You establish your PennKey and password online using a setup code. An email from PennKey will be sent after the submission of your enrollment form and deposit one semester prior to matriculation. For example, if you've received an acceptance notification in November but won't matriculate until the following fall, your setup code will be sent during the spring semester. For details on how to register your PennKey and password, please visit the Penn Computing website.

2. What's a PennCard and how do I get one?

The PennCard is the official University of Pennsylvania identification card for students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University community. The number on your PennCard consists of three parts: 123456 12345678 00. The underlined portion of the numbers represents your ID number. The PennCard ID number replaces the Social Security Number (SSN) as your identification number. We've made this change for your privacy and security. Students may obtain their PennCards from the PennCard Center located on the 1st floor of the Franklin building (suite 150) on Walnut Street, between 34th and 36th streets. Important: A valid, government issued photo I.D. will be required in order to pick up your PennCard.

3. What is Campus Express and what services are offered through them?

Campus Express at Penn is one-stop shopping for many essential student services. Through Campus Express Online, you can log in to access various services available to students — confirm any on-campus housing you've selected, choose your meal plan, apply for a PennPass or parking permit, sign up for Penn email, complete your health forms, register your bicycle, and more. Check the Campus Express website for more information.

4. I already have an email account - do I need to get a Penn account?

No, you don't need a Penn email account. However, if you do not create a Penn email account, you need to enter your email account into the Penn Online Directory so that we have a way to communicate with you by email. Email is the primary, official means of getting in touch with you regarding important information about registration, graduation, class cancellation, weather emergencies etc. If you want a Google@GSE email account, once you have your PennCard and PennKey, go to the following page:

https://www.gse.upenn.edu/gseit/support/student-email

5.  What if I’m having problems with my email account?

Go to the Computer Help Desk located in the basement of GSE, Room 005. Student walk-in hours are Monday through Friday, 1PM - 4PM, or call 215-898-1847, or email them at gse-help@lists.upenn.edu

6. What is a Computer Lab Account?

A computer lab account is a separate account that is needed so you can use the computers in the GSE Computer Lab. When you arrive on campus, go to GSE Room 005 in order to have your account created. The process only takes 2-3 minutes. You should already have created your PennKey before getting your lab account.


Academics

1. How can I access course materials and other student resources?

The PennPortal is a customizable site providing relevant links for daily student use. Through the PennPortal, you can access webmail, register for courses through Penn InTouch, view Penn's events calendar, and catch up on the latest news and weather. You may also utilize Canvas, an online academic support tool and database for coursework instruction, grading, and student-faculty communication.

2.  When and where do I find out about registering for classes?

For information on registration, check out the registration page.

3.  Where do I get my books?

The required books for GSE classes are available either at the Penn Bookstore located on the corner of 36th & Walnut Street , the Penn Book Center on the corner of Sansom & 34th Street, or House of Our Own located 3920 Spruce Street . Many professors use bulkpacks, which are bound collections of articles. Bulkpacks can be purchased at Campus Copy located at 3907 Walnut Street, at Wharton Reprographics located at 3620 Locust Walk (Steinberg Hall- Dietrich Hall) on the ground floor, Suite 400. Check with your professor for which stores to use.

4. Do I need a computer?

Penn GSE is a very tech-friendly environment. We have a computer lab on the first floor of the GSE building. There are many computer labs on campus, some of which are open 24 hours. GSE students are given a 500-page credit for printing in the GSE computer lab at the start of every term.

If you wish to purchase a computer, Penn's Computer Connection offers deals on computer purchases.

5.  Where can I find the academic calendar?

The Penn GSE Academic Calendar  can be viewed online at http://www.gse.upenn.edu/academiccalendar.

6.  Will I be assigned an advisor and how should I get in touch with my advisor?

Yes, each student will have an advisor. Your program manager will contact you with your advisor assignment prior to the start of your program.


Finances

1.  Where do I find out about financial aid?

You can visit the Financial Aid Office on the second floor of GSE. To set up an appointment, email finaid@gse.upenn.edu or call (215) 898-6415. If you have any questions about your federal financial aid package, call the University's financial aid office at 215-898-1988, located on the 1st floor of the Franklin building on Walnut Street, between 34th and 36th streets.

2.  Does the university offer a payment plan for tuition and fees?

Yes, Penn offers several low-cost payment options that are not based on financial need. Check here for more information.


Insurance

1.  I already have health insurance through my parents/spouse. What does Penn require?

All full-time students at the University are required to carry health insurance, either through Penn or other carriers. If you have insurance through other carriers, you will need to provide proof of insurance and may need to pay a "clinical health fee" that covers emergency health care. Click here for more information.

2. Where do I find out about getting health insurance through Penn?

The Student Health Services office is located at:

3535 Market Street
Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3376

Phone: 215-746-3535

For more information, go to www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/shi.html

3. Why do I need to submit proof of immunizations? What happens if I cannot get my doctor's signature right away?

Go here to learn about required immunizations.

You will also be asked to provide information on your medical history. The immunization form requires a physician's signature. If you cannot obtain a physician's signature right away, keep trying. You will be unable to pre-register for classes in mid-October if your immunization record is not up-to-date.


 

Housing

1. Where do I find out about housing information?

If you are residing in on-campus housing, you should be able to check the status of your housing through Campus Express. Click here.

Log in with your PennKey and password and click the "See My Room Layout" under the "my tasks" sidebar in yellow. That will take you to the "my housing" page, where on the left side of the page there is a link to "Confirm/Cancel Housing". There you should find all the information you need. If you would rather call the Housing office directly, please contact the Housing Assignments Office Staff at (215) 898-8271, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM EST Monday - Friday.

For off-campus housing resources, visit online.

2.  I am interested in being a Graduate Associate in one of the college houses – where can I find more information about these positions?

Go to the College Houses & Academic Services website and check the information under “College House Student Staff.”

3. I am interested in Graduate housing. What are my options and where can I find more information?

There are several housing options available for graduate students including on-campus housing, Graduate Associate positions in the undergraduate College Houses, or off-campus options. There is also a new housing option exclusively for Penn graduate students, named Evo at Circa Center South. Visit the Penn Graduate Admissions Housing page for more information.


Resources

1.  I am interested in joining a student organization — where can I find more information about on-campus student groups?

For more information about school-wide and university-wide student organizations, click here.

2.  What other graduate student resources are available?

Check out the Graduate School of Education's Student Life page for information on student affairs, organizations, policies, etc.

The Graduate Student Center, located at 3601 Locust Walk, has a wealth of resources available for all graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the many orientation programs available to orient students to Penn and Philadelphia, they offer various opportunities for involvement throughout the year. For more information, visit them at www.gsc.upenn.edu and check out their resource guide for new students. 

3.  Where can I get resources and support if I come with my child(ren)?

The Family Resource Center at Penn is a hub for information, resources, activities, and advocacy for students and post-docs with children. The Family Center provides a forum for student parents to connect and develop supportive networks, and offers a welcoming environment for Penn students, post-docs, caregivers, and children. More information can be found here.

4.  After graduation, what assistance is available for finding a job?

The University’s Career Services office offers works to develop job and internship pipelines, respond to individual job strategy needs, and keep students updated on the latest job market trends.


Transportation

1. What are my transportation options for getting around campus and the city of Philadelphia?

Penn Transit offers free services to all Penn community members holding a valid PennCard.

Penn Shuttle Service operates 7 days a week, providing transportation to and from campus to West Philadelphia, Center City (late nights and weekends only) and Powelton Village within defined boundaries.

Penn BUS service operates Monday through Friday from 5pm to 12:40am, picking up and delivering passengers at designated stops on campus and at any intersection with a stop sign or light along its route off campus.

Walking Escorts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accompany members of the Penn community from campus to a Penn Transit stop or to a SEPTA regional transit stop.

Penn-Drexel Bus Share gives Penn students unlimited use of the Drexel Bus service at no charge.

Penn students can also purchase a semester-based discounted Transit Pass for SEPTA, using services including buses, trolleys, trackless trolleys, subways, and regional rail.

For information on transportation, visit the Transportation page.


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