The graduate student experience is an amalgamation of networking, building your skills, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and most of all reading.  Because the Education Policy M.S.Ed program is a swift one-year program, it can feel like you are being overloaded with work.  But it is manageable!  To help you become accustomed to the demands of graduate school, I have asked other Education Policy students about their favorite study spots.


1) Van Pelt Library

As the largest library on campus, it should come as no surprise that Van Pelt is number one on our list.  I personally like it for the study carrels.  Study carrels are individual desks complete with an outlet and a built-in bookshelf.  They are spread out on various floors of the library.  Through the library, you can reserve a carrel for the year and keep certain books there.  Because of the way the carrels are arranged I am able to focus on my work and quickly complete assignments.  If however you do like to study in groups Van Pelt has dozens of rooms for you to reserve.  Some are more interactive than others, so it is worth checking out the website to discover your ideal space. For example, you can reserve study booths for a productive group study experience.  Van Pelt also offers various free book loan services that can help you save money on required reading materials for class.

2) Other Schools

As a graduate student of education, you will spend most of your time in the education building (Penn GSE).  While there are a few study-space options, a change of scenery is often welcomed.  A great nearby option is Wharton.  Our next-door neighbor boasts the largest addition of academic space in over 50 years, according to their website.  Take advantage of the study spaces and cafes to fuel your productivity.  But be warned, to reserve study rooms you need to be a Wharton student, so I recommend you make friends to use those spaces.  Regardless there are other study areas such as a courtyard that you can utilize.  The law school is another gem.  A bit further than Wharton, but worth the trip if you need to get away to be productive.

3) Cafes

Dozens of cafes surround Penn’s campus, and each offers something special depending on what you are seeking.  I encourage you to explore each to find which you are most comfortable.  Some popular ones amongst my cohort include Starbucks, United by Blue, Saxby’s, Green Line, and Jezabel’s.  Starbucks and Green Line have multiple popular locations nearby, so I leave it up to you to identify the best.

4) Graduate Student Center

The Graduate Student Center is a great resource to become familiar.  Additionally, it is a great place to study.  Bring your own mug for free tea and coffee or buy a cup for just a dollar and enjoy infinite access.  While the center is arguably less quiet than some other places on our list, you are likely to run into a friendly face.  But if silence is what you are looking for, explore the rooms for a space you can concentrate.

5) Fisher Fine Arts Library

We conclude our list with a crowd favorite.  Fisher Fine Arts is loved by many for its beauty and study conducive atmosphere.  Similar to Van Pelt you are able to reserve books and spaces.  Fisher also has a no food no cellphone rule so you know it is a quiet space to get some work done.