Graduate Student Handbook

CIS Policies + Procedures

The CIS graduate programs are governed by the Departmental policies and procedures described below, as well as the common rules of the School of Engineering and Applied Science described in the Penn Engineering Graduate Student Handbook.


Directions and procedures for registering using the Penn InTouch registration system are available here.

During the advance registration period each semester, CIS graduate students are placed on an administrative “hold.” This is to ensure that students should consult with their advisors before registering for classes. Before you can register using Penn InTouch, the hold must be cleared, either by submitting a paper permission form signed by both student and advisor, or by an e-mail from the advisor to Redian Furxhiu. Once the hold is released, students can register, add/drop classes, etc. using Penn InTouch.

Click here for more information about registration.

Cumulative GPA Requirement

A minimum GPA of 2.7 for master’s students must be maintained in order to be considered in good academic standing. If this minimum is not maintained, academic probation or dismissal from the program will be invoked. A 2.7 final GPA must be achieved to graduate in all situations. (Effective Fall 2007 class)

Ph.D. students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.

Failure to maintain the minimum GPA requirement will result in placement on academic probation, prevent graduation, and may result in dismissal from the School.

Students cannot graduate with a grade of D+ or lower in a core course.

Penn Engineering’s Graduate Student Academic Standing Requirements can be found here.


Generally, a course is equivalent to one course unit.

Doctoral students: Funded Ph.D. students must maintain full-time status by taking four courses in the Fall and Spring semesters respectively. Students participating in the teaching practicum are considered full-time while taking only three course units.

Master’s students:  Three courses in the Fall and Spring semesters respectively constitutes full-time enrollment for master’s students. Summer enrollment is not required.

A typical enrollment for a master’s student could be:

  • First Fall Semester: 3 courses
  • First Spring Semester: 3 courses
  • Second Fall Semester: 3 courses
  • Second Spring Semester: 1 course (acceptable for visa purposes if final semester)
  • Total: 10 courses – graduation

Part-time master’s students: Part-time students must take one or two course units each semester during both Fall and Spring (not Summer) semesters in order to remain continuously enrolled.

Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will result in the student being dropped from the School’s rolls. Students are required to be continuously enrolled while in graduate school, unless an official leave of absence is requested by the student and granted by the Graduate Group chair. One exception is that students who have completed all their degree requirements before the beginning of a given semester and are to graduate in that semester may petition the Associate Dean to be exempted from registration.

Unclassified students must register for at least one course each academic year.

Auditing a Course: If you register for a class as an audit, you will be charged the same tuition and fees as if you registered for the class for a credit/grade.

Drop/Add: Students should try to drop classes during the add/drop period to avoid financial penalty. If a student withdraws from a class after the drop/add period, the “Withdrawal from a Course” petition is used.

Time Constraints: All doctoral work for full-time and part-time candidates, including the dissertation, must be completed within ten years from the student’s matriculation as a graduate student at Penn.

Full-time and part-time master’s students must complete the program requirements within seven years of matriculation at Penn.

Submatriculation: Undergraduate students should not apply for submatriculation status until their junior year. They will be expected to complete CIS 120, CIS 121, CIS 160, CIS 240, CIS 262, the project course and at least one of CIS 320, CIS 371, CIS 380 by the end of their junior year and should include a plan for doing so along with the application.  Applicants should have a 3.2 GPA in their major as well as a 3.2 GPA in the seven (or more) courses listed in the application guideline above.  Admission is selective and decisions are made by the graduate group.

Additional Information:

  • Except for CIT 597, only MCIT students should enroll in CIT courses.
  • Penn Engineering’s policy on retaking classes can be found here.
  • University of Pennsylvania reviews of courses can be found on the Penn Course Review website.


Drop/Add: Students should try to drop classes during the add/drop period to avoid financial penalty. If a student withdraws from a class after the add/drop period, the “Withdrawal from a Course” petition is used.

Withdrawal from Penn Engineering: A student who plans to leave Penn Engineering either temporarily or permanently must submit to the Graduate Group Chair a “Petition for Action” form. The petition requires the approval of the Graduate Group Chair and the Associate Dean. A student who is considering withdrawal is strongly encouraged to meet with the Graduate Group Chair to discuss their situation and options. Students are responsible for dropping all registered courses in the semester they wish to withdraw to effectively stop the billing process (i.e., withdrawal from the School does not automatically cancel course registration). Once a student has withdrawn from Penn Engineering, he or she may request reinstatement by writing a letter to the Graduate Group Chair. Reinstatement requires Graduate Group Chair and Associate Dean approval; it is not guaranteed.

If a student withdraws from the Ph.D. program after reaching dissertation status and subsequently applies for re-admission, the student must pay the dissertation fees that would have been due during the withdrawal period.

Leave of Absence

Click here for leave of absence info.

Transferring Programs

Master’s students may request to be considered for a transfer to another master’s program in the CIS Department after completing one semester in the master’s program in which they were initially admitted. The CIS Master’s Program Transfer Request form is available for download here.

Requirements for MCIT/EMBS masters students transferring to CIS/MSE or doing dual degree program with MCIT/CIS and EMBS/CIS:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.7
  • Transfer request can occur only after end of 1st semester at Penn, but no later than the add/drop deadline of 3rd semester.
  • Received a grade of A in one CIS class by the end of 3rd semester.
  • Transfers only (in addition to above requirements):
    • One page statement of purpose explaining why the student wishes to transfer to CIS/MSE.
    • A grade of A- and above in a core CIS theory class (CIS 502 or CIS 511) by the end of 3rd semester

Students in other graduate programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania who wish to request to be considered for transfer into the Embedded Systems (EMBS) program can only do so after completing one semester in their original program; during this semester candidates for transfer must be enrolled in at least one graduate CIS course and/or a course within the EMBS curriculum. Candidates for transfer to the EMBS program will be evaluated based on their academic performance at the University of Pennsylvania. Click here to access the Graduate Group Transfer Request form. Students requesting to be considered for transfer to the EMBS program must have a GPA of 3.75 or above and at least two years of full-time work experience.

Transfer Credits

Master’s Students are permitted to transfer up to two (2) courses from another graduate program.
Ph.D. students that come to Penn Engineering with a master’s degree, can request to transfer up to nine (9) credits into their PhD program.

Students should submit a Graduate Transfer of Credit Petition along with a course description/syllabi and an final (unofficial) transcript with the course name(s) and grade(s) earned to their program or faculty advisor for review. Students wanting to transfer in graduate course credit from a previous program at Penn prior to matriculation into their current Engineering degree, are treated as transfer credit as well. Dual degree students are held to the 2 course transfer request and are not allowed additional requests. Only courses with grades of B are higher will be reviewed. The course credit will be transferred in, not the course grade; credit transfers do not impact GPA. For on campus programs, courses taken under a certificate program, study abroad, or online are not allowed and they will not be reviewed or considered for transfer. Per University policy, courses counted towards an undergraduate degree will not be considered for graduate credit unless in an approved and awarded submatriculation program (PhD policy; Master’s policy). Transfer credit must be taken prior to matriculation at Penn as students cannot be enrolled in two schools at once. Courses are held to a time limit of five (5) years.



Information regarding applying for a degree/graduation can be found here.


The CIS Department encourages collaboration among graduate students. However, it is important to recognize the distinction between collaboration and cheating, which is prohibited and carries serious consequences.

Cheating may be defined as using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in academic work or examinations.

Some examples of cheating are:

  • collaborating on a take-home exam or homework unless explicitly allowed
  • copying homework
  • handing in someone else’s work as your own; and plagiarism

If you have a question about what constitutes cheating, ask the course instructor or contact the CIS Graduate Coordinator.


Grievance Procedures Guidelines

In general, a graduate student with a grievance should first discuss the matter with the immediate supervisor of the individual involved. In case of conflicts of interest, then the next non-conflicted level should be engaged.

For academic matters the normal hierarchy is (as applicable):

  1. relevant course teaching assistant
  2. relevant course faculty instructor
  3. Graduate Program Director
  4. Graduate Group Chair
  5. Department Chair
  6. Associate Dean
  7. University Ombudsman (At any point the student may wish to circumvent steps a-f and contact the Ombudsman).

If a graduate student has a grievance concerning a non-academic matter, the suggested procedural steps should be discussion with (as applicable):

  1. Graduate Program Director
  2. Graduate Group Chair
  3. Department Chair
  4. Associate Dean
  5. University Ombudsman (At any point the student may wish to circumvent steps a-f and contact the Ombudsman).

Information about University grievance procedures policy can be found here. Please also contact Redian Furxhiu, regarding a grievance or other problems.


The Student Financial Services (SFS) website provides information regarding billing, billing schedules, payment plans, resources, etc.

Courses, even those taken in another school of the University, are billed as Penn Engineering courses.

If you detect any sort of discrepancies in your bill, please contact Redian Furxhiu or the Business Office. CIS students receiving any kind of financial support, stipends, etc., from Penn Engineering or the CIS Department should check with the Business Office, 293 Towne regarding payments. For students receiving departmental funding, the Business Office will process payment of tuition and fees.

Office Space

Office space for Ph.D. students is allocated by an office committee made up of CIS students and staff. Consult the Graduate Student Office Committee website for more information.

Due to space constraints, offices are not normally assigned to master’s students.

Graduate Program:

Your CIS Contacts:

Redian Furxhiu
Graduate Coordinator for on-campus MCIT, CIS/MSE and CGGT programs
Office: 308 Levine
Phone: 215-898-1668

Staci Kaplan
Program Manager for DATS (Data Science MSE)
Office: 308 Levine
Phone: 215-573-2431

Britton Carnevali
Doctoral Program Manager
Office: 310 Levine
Phone: 215-898-5515

Mariel Celentano
Graduate Coordinator for ROBO
Office: 459 Levine
Phone: 215-573-4907

Liz Wai-Ping Ng
Associate Director for Embedded Systems MSE program
Office: 313 Levine
Phone: 215-898-8543

Julia Esposito
PICS Program Coordinator, SCMP Academic Coordinator
Office: 3401 Walnut, 5th Fl.
Phone: 215-573-6037