Wharton Undergraduate Fall 2020 FAQ

For up-to-date information for the Penn community, please visit the Penn Fall Planning website. Additionally, Wharton undergraduates are encouraged to watch for new announcements via email as well as updates to the FAQ below.


Have any academic dates or deadlines changed for the fall semester?

Yes. Please note the following:

  • Classes will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, September 1.
  • Fall break has been cancelled.
  • Advance registration for the spring semester will be November 30 – December 7
  • The last day of classes remains Thursday, December 10.
  • Final exams will conclude as scheduled on Tuesday, December 22.
  • The course selection period, drop period, and grade-type change deadline remain the same.

View the Academic Calendar for the most up-to-date details.

Is there a way to shop for or visit courses?

Penn has developed a virtual shopping feature on Canvas so that students can “visit” different courses as they finalize their selections for the fall.  This feature will be available starting on the first day of classes, Tuesday, September 1 through Tuesday, September 15, the last day to add a class.

All undergraduate courses in the College, Engineering, Nursing, and Wharton will be made visible as long as the instructor has published their course in Canvas and has not opted out.

Students will be able to access the visible courses through Penn InTouch via a link available on the course listing. When students are visiting a course’s Canvas site, it is not the same as being registered for the course. Students accessing a course through this process will not appear on the Canvas course roster and they will not be able to participate in the course discussions or submit assignments. Students who access a course’s Canvas site while not enrolled in the course will need to ask the instructor for permission to “sit in” on any synchronous class sessions.

We are asking each school or division to share this message as appropriate with their students, faculty, and staff. The Courseware Steering Group, Office of the University Registrar, and the Penn Libraries Courseware Services Team are supporting the implementation of this effort. For questions, please contact canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Will my courses be held online or in person?

The vast majority of instruction for undergraduate students will be online, with very limited exceptions (clinical experiences in Nursing, and classes in other undergraduate schools that are essential for students to meet their curricular or pedagogical requirements).

Note that all classes will be recorded, with content made available asynchronously.

Can I request a course load increase now that classes are mostly online?

Requests for course load increases require an academic plan and an academic justification. The academic plan should include the requirements you will be completing and your anticipated course load for each of your remaining semesters at Penn. First-year students may not take more than 5.5 CUs during the first semester.

Requests for 6 CUs go through your assigned academic advisor and requests for 6.5 CUs go through the Petitions Committee. When reviewing the request, advisors will consider the following:

  • Demonstrated rationale that the CU increase is necessary to complete your Wharton undergraduate degree requirements
  • Whether the increase is required in order for you to graduate on time
  • Consistent academic progress, history of quality grades, and successful completion of a full course load (5.5 CUs) in a previous semester

Also note that the following do not constitute an academic justification:

  • Desire to “shop” for courses
  • Intention to apply to a dual-degree program
  • Pursuing a second concentration or minor
  • A course that is only offered in a particular semester
  • A change in course format, i.e., virtual or asynchronous
  • Intention to sub-matriculate (adding a graduate program will likely add additional semesters)

Will I have the option to take my courses pass/fail?

Yes. Penn is extending the policy from spring 2020 to the fall semester. All students in all undergraduate schools will be able to opt in, by October 30, to take any or all of their courses pass/fail, including courses taken to satisfy requirements.  These courses will not count against the total number of pass/fail courses allowed by the School.

You can change the grading type of a course in Penn InTouch until 11:59PM on October 30. You can find directions here.

Can I take a leave of absence?

If you are thinking of taking an academic leave of absence this coming year, you will want to take into account the impact of time away on your academic progress as well as the alternative plans that are realistically available to you should you step aside from your education at this time. If you are considering a leave, you should get in touch with your advisor to have a one-on-one conversation.  Students have until the first two weeks into the semester to take a leave and receive a full refund/credit of tuition and fees.

Note that first-year students may only take a leave for a full academic year.

I am an incoming first-year student. Can I take a leave of absence for this semester?

Yes, but please note that incoming first-year students may only take a leave for a full academic year.

Can I register for a course if there is a time conflict?

You may not register for more than one class in a designated class period. We expect Penn InTouch to be updated for asynchronous courses in the near future. This will allow students to register for courses that previously conflicted.

What can I do to prepare for working and learning remotely?

Wharton’s remote courses will utilize a range of techniques and structures, but will largely use BlueJeans or Zoom virtual-meeting technology for delivery purposes.

You can find more information and tips for attending classes and doing class work remotely in this Wharton Computing article.

Please contact Wharton Computing’s Student Computing team for help with any technology issue or questions. To open a support ticket or initiate a live chat with their tech reps visit: computing.wharton.upenn.edu

Is there somewhere I can access digital course materials?

Penn Libraries has created a guide to virtual services and online materials. From identifying online sources for a research assignment to providing Canvas support for online classes, librarians are available and ready to help.

VitalSource is available for free to all Penn students. To access the site, use your PennKey to log on to Campus Express Online and select Free Digital Textbooks from the menu at the top left, or by clicking on the Free Digital Textbooks info box in the center of the page. Once there, you will be able to navigate to VitalSource, at which point you will need to use your upenn.edu email address to create an account that will allow you to access the digital publications. If you have questions about how to use this service, contact ceohelp@pobox.upenn.edu.

Students with accessibility-related inquiries can reach out to Student Disability Services at +1.215.573.9235 or vpul-sdsmail@pobox.upenn.edu.

What if I have trouble adjusting to learning online or need special accommodations?

Weingarten Learning Resources Center services are available to all Penn students. Please reach out to to the center  to find the resources you need to to be successful this semester: +1.215.573.9235 or vpul-lrcmail@pobox.upenn.edu. Disability-related inquiries can be directed to vpul-sdsmail@pobox.upenn.edu.

What happens if I get sick and have to miss class?

The usual policies and procedures around absences apply for both in-person and online classes. If you are sick and cannot participate in classes or finish assignments, notify your instructor via email or Canvas as soon as possible. Undergraduate students should use the Course Absence Report system to report absences for both online and in-person classes.

Are policies for final exams different for fall 2020?

The Rules Governing Final Examinations at the University of Pennsylvania are published in the Almanac each semester as a reminder to the academic community. For fall 2020, please note the following:

  • All exams will be conducted online for all courses that are being delivered online, including all undergraduate courses with the exception of nursing clinicals.
  • The University is strongly encouraging instructors to be flexible and hold asynchronous take-home final exams whenever possible.
  • If instructors feel that their exams must be held synchronously, the exam must be held at the time designated on the Final Exam Schedule in order to avoid conflicts. Students who are residing in a time zone other than Eastern Daylight/Standard Time should alert their instructor as soon as possible for accommodations. The University does not encourage the use of remote proctoring tools.
  • Student Disabilities Services (SDS) provides services for students with disabilities to ensure equal educational opportunities and access. For exam information, please visit the SDS website.

Are there any resources for taking remote exams?

Wharton Computing has provided a webpage with tips on the following topics:

Advising and Support

How can I meet with my academic advisor?

Appointments: Students can make an appointment via the online appointment scheduler. September 1 – 15, appointments will be posted on Fridays for the week immediately following and will be limited to 20 minutes. If you can’t make a meeting, please make sure to cancel in the system so that another student can sign up. Try to meet with your assigned advisor.

Quick Question Advising: If you have a single question that does not require meeting with your assigned advisor, you can visit the video advising queue. Advisors will be available 9-11 am and 2-4 pm EDT on weekdays through September 15. Please note that the queue may close when the maximum student capacity has been reached.

As always, you may also reach out to your advisor via email with any questions that you have

How can I meet with Wharton student life?

The team is available via email and will be offering virtual office hours. They can answer co-curricular questions, refer students to resources, and address questions or concerns related to the specific areas highlighted under each staff member below:

Grace Conte, Associate Director | gconte@wharton.upenn.edu
Cohorts | first-year programming | Sophomore Experience

Aman Goyal, Associate Director | goaman@wharton.upenn.edu
Graduation | junior and senior programming | GUIDE | business fraternities

Lee Kramer, Director of Student Life | lkramer@wharton.upenn.edu
Wharton clubs | general student life concerns

How can I access CAPS services?

CAPS remains available to students. Services may be performed via phone or video conference, with limited in-person availability. If a student is a current client, their counselor will communicate with them about their needs moving forward. Please refer to the CAPS website for additional information.

How do I connect with Career Services?

Penn Career Services advisors are available via phone and video. Please see the Career Services website for additional information.

Career Services has published a Guide to Remote Work and Handshake has a number of resources on their Get Hired Remotely page that students might find helpful.

Is the Writing Center be available?

The Marks Family Writing Center will be conducting online appointments June 1 through August 7. See this guide for booking a remote session.

Students can make an appointment using the Writing Center’s online scheduling system. Undergraduate students should select the schedule titled “Undergraduate Tutoring: Summer 2020.” All appointments must be scheduled ahead of time and will be conducted online. Please email tutorhelp@writing.upenn.edu for assistance.

Information for the fall will be posted when available.

How can I access Weingarten Learning Resources Center services?

The Weingarten Center staff is working remotely but continues to support students by providing academic assistance through virtual platforms and by overseeing implementation of accommodations for students with disabilities.

Virtual Appointments

You can schedule 50-minute individual appointments with a learning instructor by calling 215-573-9235 or emailing vpul-lrcmail@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any trouble connecting with them by phone. Please be ready to share your availability. Once scheduled, you’ll receive a BlueJeans meeting link.

Resources for Remote Learning

The center has updated their Resources for Remote Learning page and created an interactive module on Proactive Time Management for Learning Online.

How do I connect with a Penn Abroad advisor?

Penn Abroad is offering a number of ways to connect, have an advising session, and learn more about global opportunities. While the Penn Abroad office is not currently offering in-person meetings, they will remain operational during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm ET. Visit the Penn Abroad website for more information.

How do I connect with ISSS?

ISSS advisors are working to respond to students’ immigration-related questions and concerns. Students are encouraged to review the international students FAQ and have the option to make a virtual appointment with an ISSS advisor.

Will I be able to access library resources?

Penn libraries’ digital resources and services as well as librarians are still available. Visit the Penn Libraries FAQ page for more information.

Specific to Lippincott Library:

  • Research Services – Lippincott librarians will be working remotely. You can contact them via the Ask a Question form on the Lippincott Library homepage. For live help, make an appointment or chat, also available from the Lippincott homepage.
  • Collections – While most of our collections are available in digital format, because the library is physically closed, there are resources including Bloomberg and Morningstar Direct, that are not currently accessible. Lippincott librarians are actively working with vendors on alternative access options. The Penn Libraries physical collections will be unavailable until further notice.
  • DocDel@Wharton – The librarians will continue retrieving and delivering journal articles and chapters available through our digital subscriptions. With the building closed, they are unable to scan materials from their print collection and can’t reliably obtain materials from institutional partners.  Due dates will be extended for books from institutional partners that are currently due before the end of the semester. Please email docdel@wharton.upenn.edu to extend due dates.

If you have questions, please reach out to me or any of the Lippincott librarians. Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

Can I get a Zoom account?

Full-function Zoom accounts are now available for all undergraduates. Accounts are hosted on the University of Pennsylvania’s new central Zoom service.

With your new Zoom account, you will be able to:

  • Host unlimited meetings for up to 300 participants. Meetings can last up to 24 hours.
  • Use Zoom’s video conferencing and web conferencing features to collaborate inside and outside of class sessions
  • Take advantage of Zoom’s other collaborative features,

To create your Zoom account using a web browser:

  1. Navigate to https://upenn.zoom.us/
  2. Sign in with your PennKey and password
  3. If prompted, verify your identity with Two-Step Verification
  4. Return to  https://upenn.zoom.us/ and log in with your PennKey and password whenever you need to access your Zoom account.

To create your Zoom account using a Zoom app on your computer or device:

  1. Download and install the Zoom desktop or mobile app
  2. Open the app and click Sign In with SSO
  3. Enter upenn as the company domain
  4. When prompted, sign in with your PennKey and password

That’s it! You’re ready to start using Zoom!

Further information 

If you have questions or need further information, contact Wharton Student Support. Additional details and online reference material can be found here.

Can I get financial assistance with technology or other emergency funding?

The Division of the Vice Provost for University Life’s Access and Retention Fund provides one-time emergency funds or opportunity grants to help low-income and/or first-generation students. Learn more about emergency and opportunity funding here

Note that students living with their families and learning remotely for the entire semester should plan to use the funding in their financial aid package allocated for Personal Expenses to cover internet costs as needed. See the SFRS fall FAQ for more information related to financial aid and billing.

Campus/Student Life

Will there be any co-curricular events or initiatives I can participate in?

Yes! The Undergraduate Division is planning to offer a wide variety of online co-curricular activities and events.

Will student clubs be hosting any virtual events or meetings?

Yes. All club meetings and events will be online in the fall.

Are there any new guidelines for student-group activities?

Yes. Please review the University’s Fall 2020 Rules for Student Group Operations

Can I access Huntsman Hall and other Wharton buildings?

Wharton buildings are currently closed to students and visitors (summer 2020).

In the fall, we expect that Wharton buildings will be reserved as teaching facilities and that students will not be able to use any areas of the buildings as study space.

Can I be reimbursed for food and beverage delivery to members of my organization for a virtual meeting or celebration?

No. Virtual meetings and celebrations are an important part of maintaining our sense of community during this disruption. However, the sharing of food and beverages is not possible during virtual gatherings, and no funds may be spent on or individuals reimbursed for any food, beverages, or meal delivery charges.

University and club funds also may not be used for gift cards or codes for restaurants or vendors such as Uber Eats and Caviar. The prohibition against purchasing gift cards with University funds remains in effect.