Skip to main content

Course Registration & Information

Course Registration

Students must register for courses listed on their Planned Program of Study.  If a student would like to deviate from the Planned Program of Study, he/she must obtain approval from program management and the Planned Program of Study must be updated to reflect the new course(s). 

Most students register for courses using Path@Penn. New students should contact their program management to confirm how to register for courses before their first term. Current students register in advance during the advance registration period noted on the academic calendar for each semester. 

Advance Registration is a two week period in which students enter requests for the courses you would like to enroll. Students enter their course preferences in priority order anytime during the advanced registration period. This is not a first come first served process, so there is no advantage to registering early and no guarantee that students will be enrolled in all their requested courses.

At the end of advance registration period, the system will then schedule all students requests based on availability. Depending on course demand, the system may not be able to enroll you in all the courses you requested. Approximately two weeks after the advanced registration period closes schedules are posted in Path@Penn.  If a student does not receive a full schedule, or if they wish to change their course selections, they may begin revising their schedule when the Registration - Drop/Request begins.

Advance Registration Tips:

  1. Since advance registration is a priority registration system, not first come first served, give courses that you know you are competing for a seat in (i.e. elective courses) your highest priority.
  2. Courses that require a permit - give low priority (if you have secured a permit!). If you get a permit you are guaranteed a seat. There is no need to waste a higher priority spot for a class you are guaranteed to get into. Remember: You still need to submit a registration request for courses you have secured a permit in. Please refer to Courses By Division page for contact information.

To register:

  1. Review the Registration Tips and Tricks
  2. Meet with your advisor, or consult your planned program of study to determine which courses to take.
  3. From Path@Penn, click Search & Registar for classes under Academic Planning & Registration
  4. Request a permit for courses designated with "permission needed from department" on the course roster from the appropriate division


There is a designated Drop/Request period each term during which time students may make changes to their course schedule without penalty. The Drop/Request period is published on the GSE academic calendar. Within the dates posted on the GSE academic calendar, students may drop or register for courses through Penn-In-Touch. Course registration changes made after the published deadline will be subject to the refund schedule published in the GSE academic calendar. If there is a problem with a registration/drop, students should contact the Student Records Office immediately. If students need to drop or register for a course after the drop period has ended

  1. They provide written permission of the instructor to the Student Records Office, where they will be manually registered or dropped and their bill will be adjusted per the partial refund schedule (50% refunds during the 2 weeks after the last day to add a course).
  2. Once an instructor’s written permission to drop/add a course has been obtained, withdrawal from a course after the Drop/Request period will be permitted
  3. Students may not add or drop a course retroactively, that is, after the last week of the semester in which the course has been

The following drop policy applies to these Penn GSE programs

  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management  
  • Executive Program in School and Mental Health Counseling  
  • Education Entrepreneurship  
  • Penn Chief Learning Officer 
  • Medical Education 
  • Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership 
  • School Leadership 
  • Independent School Teaching Residency

 Courses dropped prior to first in-person class session of the term: 

  • Refund policy: 100% refund of tuition and fees.
  • Action required by student: Student must submit Leave of Absence or Withdrawal form prior to first in-person session of the term. If student submits form after first in-person session of the term, they are responsible for 50% of tuition and fees. This applies even if they did not physically attend.

 Courses dropped during the first in-person session of the term:  

  • Refund policy: 50% refund of tuition for course drop request submitted by last day of first in-person session of the term (for instance, if program’s first in-person session is Thursday-Sunday, student has until Sunday at 11:59PM ET to submit Leave of Absence/Withdrawal form). Program fees will NOTbe refunded.  
  • Action required by student: Student must submit Leave of Absence or Withdrawal form by 11:59PM ET of last day of in-person session. If student does not submit form by this timeline, no refund of tuition and fees will be given.

 Courses dropped after 1st in-person session of the term: 

  • Refund policy: 0% refund of tuition and fees for course drop request submitted after last day of first in-person session of the term (for instance, if program’s first in-person session is Thursday-Sunday, any request submitted after Sunday @ 11:59PM ET is after the first in-person session).
  • Action required by student: Student must submit Leave of Absenceor Withdrawal 

It is the student’s responsibility to submit the Leave of Absence or Withdraw forms located in the online student forms library in a timely fashion. If the student fails to submit the appropriate form on time, they will be subjected to the fees or reduction in refund per the date the form is submitted, NOT the date the student expresses a desire to request a leave or withdraw. Student should consult with program before submitting form. Note that the enrollment deposit fee is non-refundable. 

Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion (EDUC 9990) 

Master’s degree candidates who have completed all coursework must be registered for Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion (EDUC 9990). This registration designates the student as an active full-time master’s degree student and allows the student to meet with his/her advisor, sit for the master’s comprehensive exam, use University facilities, complete outstanding coursework and/or graduate. EDUC 9990 carries no course units. All master’s degree candidates must be registered each term for coursework or Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion until they graduate unless a leave of absence has been submitted and approved in writing. The student must be registered for coursework or Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion in the term when he/she takes the comprehensive exam/final project/thesis and in the term when he/she graduates. Any master’s student who fails to register each semester for coursework or Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion will be withdrawn from candidacy for the degree. Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion is considered full-time status which requires mandatory enrollment in student health insurance unless the student has proof of their own health insurance. To be registered for EDUC 9990, the student must submit the online EDUC 990 form. EDUC 9990 is intended as a stand-alone course designating full-time status for the specific circumstances noted above and cannot be paired with another course. Exceptions to this policy must go through the Committee on Degrees.

A special note for international students: The I-20 visa can only be renewed for a one term extension. Extensions beyond one term must be approved by ISSS and also Ann Tiao, GSE’s Assistant Dean of Student Services.

Doctoral Student Registration After Coursework Completion 

After a doctoral student finishes coursework, they are registered for EDUC 9995. Registering for this course does not imply that a student has entered dissertation status, which is not granted until after coursework, the preliminary examination, and oral proposal hearing are completed. The student or program manager must request first-time registration for EDUC 9995 by emailing the Student Records Office at EDUC 995 registration designates the student as an active full-time student for university purposes, and as half-time for the purpose of federal loan eligibility and in-school deferment eligibility.

Those students who have an approved dissertation chair will be registered for EDUC 9995 with a section number identifying the dissertation committee chair at the time the student schedules their oral proposal hearing. Before the oral proposal hearing, students will be registered for EDUC 9995 section 001.

Once students have registered for EDUC 9995, Penn GSE automatically re-registers them each fall and spring semester in the same section. If students change committee chairs or switch from section, they must submit the Change of Dissertation Committee form. Upon receipt of form, Student Records will change the section number on the registration.

Dissertation Status (EDUC 9995) 

Dissertation status signifies that doctoral students have completed all coursework for the doctoral degree, taken the preliminary exam, and successfully defended the proposal at a hearing. Dissertation status designates a person as an active doctoral student and allows them to meet with their advisors, use University facilities and work on the dissertation. EDUC 9995 registration designates the student as an active full-time student for university purposes, and as half-time for the purpose of federal loan eligibility and in-school deferment eligibility. 

Dissertation status students are ineligible to take a leave of absence except for the reasons described in the Leave of Absence Policy. In keeping with the school's continuous registration requirements, dissertation students who fail to register each semester will be charged tuition for past semesters, if they seek to re-register, to a maximum of six terms. 

Tuition is waived for one and only one semester after the student successfully passes the dissertation defense and will still be enrolled in EDUC 9995.

Continuous Registration 

All degree students in the Graduate School of Education must be registered during each fall and spring term until all degree requirements have been met unless a leave of absence has been granted. To satisfy the continuous registration requirement, students must be registered for coursework, Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion, or dissertation status. Students are not required to register for the summer unless they will sit for an examination, hold an oral proposal or defense, or graduate during the summer. Please refer to Penn GSE’s tuition and fees page for current tuition for master’s registration and dissertation status. A degree student who has not maintained active status by registering each term, and who has not been granted an official leave of absence, will be considered withdrawn. Inactive students must apply for readmission to the Graduate School of Education. Master’s degree students must register for Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion (EDUC 9990) if they have completed all coursework and will be taking the master’s comprehensive examination/final project/thesis that semester (including summer term) or graduating. Doctoral students, when finished with coursework, must register for dissertation (EDUC 9995) while working on the dissertation and completing exams. Registration is not required during the summer; however, students who plan to use University facilities, take comprehensive or preliminary examinations, hold dissertation hearings, or graduate must register and pay the tuition. Ph.D. students are charged the Ed.D. rate in the summer (please see Tuition & Fees for M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. Programs on the Financial Aid and Tuition page). Students on dissertation status who withdraw or fail to maintain continuous registration will be charged tuition for past semesters if they seek to re-register, to a maximum of six semesters.


All GSE courses are for grade only. Students who wish to attend a course without completing the assignments or taking examinations may request to audit the course. The students register in the usual way, but auditing a course requires the student to get permission from the instructor. This permission is then given to the Student Records Office for changing the grade type to audit. Auditors are subject to the full course tuition and fees. They will not receive credit for the course, but it will appear on their transcript with “AUD” in the grade column.

Interschool Courtesy 

Students of the Graduate School of Education are encouraged to take courses in other schools of the University, and students registered as candidates for degrees in other schools of the University are encouraged to take courses in the Graduate School of Education. To qualify for interschool courtesy, students must have the consent of their academic advisor and the instructor of the course in which they wish to enroll. Only courses 5000 level or above are considered graduate level. Courses below the 5000 level will not count toward degree requirements and will be charged at the GSE tuition rate. Any exception to this policy needs to go through the Committee on Degrees

Application for Graduation 

All degree candidates must apply to graduate. To apply to graduate, complete the online application in Path@Penn for graduation before the deadline listed for the appropriate semester on the GSE academic calendar. Failure to apply for graduation by the published deadline may result in a financial penalty or inability to graduate in the desired term. Graduation applications are only valid for the term indicated in the application at the time it is submitted. If the degree is not granted for that term, for any reason, the student must submit a new graduation application for the term in which they anticipate graduation.

Course Load Per Term 

The maximum course load per term is five course units for master’s degree students and four course units per term for doctoral students. Doctoral students wishing to exceed the four course unit maximum in a term, must submit the Request to Exceed 4.0 Course Units form

There is a maximum course load of four course units in the summer term, with a maximum of three course units permitted in either six-week session.

Enrollment Status 

  • Half-time status: For the purpose of federal loan eligibility and in-school deferment eligibility, students must be registered in a degree granting program at least half-time. Half-time status is defined as registration for 2 or more course units in any term, including summer. Note that if you are registered for less than 2 course units in a term, you are not at half-time status and you will not qualify for federal loans or in-school eligibility. Please plan accordingly.
  • Full-time status: Registration for 3 or more course units in a term is considered full-time status [Note that Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion Registration (EDUC 9990) and Dissertation Status (EDUC 9995) are considered full time]. Note that some doctoral funding packages require full-time status (please refer to your letter for full details).
  • Part-time status: Registration for .5 to 2.5 course units is considered part-time status (an exception to this policy is made in the case of full-time, program-required internships. For an internship to be considered “program-required” and “full-time,” it must be approved by the division and must involve work of at least 15 weeks per semester at 40 hours per week. Registration must be approved by the division). Note that if you are registered for less than 2 course units in a term, you are not at half-time status and you will not qualify for federal loans or in-school eligibility. Please plan accordingly.
  • A special note for international students: Federal Regulations limit your ability to enroll less than full-time. If you cannot meet the full-time requirement (at least 3 course units), you need to request a reduced course load (RCL) with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Dropping below full-time without an RCL is considered an unauthorized drop, which will endanger your immigration status.

Contact the Penn GSE Student Records Office

GSE Student Records Office
3700 Walnut Street - 2nd Floor

Michael Fennell
GSE Registrar & Director of Student Records

Nicole Guerrero
Associate Registrar, Student Records Office