Wharton Undergraduate Spring 2021 FAQ

For up-to-date information for the Penn community, please visit the Penn COVID-19 Response 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 spring semester?

Yes. Please note the following:

  • Classes will begin on January 20.
  • Spring break will be March 10-11
  • Students will have three “Engagement Days” with no classes: February 12, March 30, and April 12

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. Until February 2, the last day to add a class, you can link directly to a course’s Canvas site (if the instructor has published one) from the course description in Course Search.

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.

Will my courses be held online or in person?

The majority of instruction for undergraduate students will continue to 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.

Please refer to your course syllabi for details about course format and attendance policies.

In spring 2021 after the quiet period, Wharton senior capstone courses BEPP 401 and STAT 401 will offer an in-person option. Students in the other senior capstone courses will have the option to stream the course together with the professor teaching remotely. All other courses will be entirely online.

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)

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. Penn InTouch should be updated to indicate asynchronous courses, which will allow students to register for courses that previously conflicted.

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

Yes. Penn is extending the policy from fall 2020 through the spring semester. All students in all undergraduate schools will be able to opt in, by March 19, 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 March 19. You can find directions here.

Please note that 0.5 CU courses have different deadlines.

Please see the Spring 2021 Pass/Fail Grading FAQ for additional guidance.

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 struggle with 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.

What if I have a concern about a specific course?

Students may report non-emergency concerns about a specific course via the Penn Course Concern Report form. Students have the option to remain anonymous and/or request a response to the extent possible based on the information provided.

This form does not replace other reporting tools available to students such as the University Bias Incident Reporting Form, which should be used to report incidents of bias involving faculty, students, or staff; or the University Help Line for emergencies – 215-898-HELP (898-4357). Students seeking assistance can reach out to Penn Student Support Resources for support at any time.

Are there any resources for taking remote exams?

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

Are policies for final exams different for spring 2021?

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 spring 2021, 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.

How can I connect with my academic advisor?

Appointments will resume once the semester gets underway (updates will be posted on the Undergrad Inside home page). In the meantime, you may reach out to your advisor via email with any questions that you have.

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 available?

The Marks Family Writing Center is providing online appointments. See this guide for booking a remote session.

Students can make an appointment using the Writing Center’s online scheduling system. All appointments must be scheduled ahead of time and will be conducted online. Please email tutorhelp@writing.upenn.edu for assistance.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Will students be able to access Wharton buildings?

Only students with a reserved seat in a class will be permitted to access Wharton buildings. Students will be notified and provided instructions for reserving seats if their class has an in-person option.

What are the COVID testing requirements for undergraduates?

Undergraduates must complete two COVID-19 tests per week. Students will take saliva-based tests. Samples will be analyzed on or near campus, allowing for more rapid results.

Visit the Penn Student Testing Resources webpage for detailed information.

What is Penn's "Quiet Period," and what activities are permitted during that time?

The Quiet Period” will last from January move-in until February 1, 2021. This is a time for students to focus on COVID-19 testing and keeping the community safe and healthy. Students may engage in only limited, essential movement. After the Quiet Period, if the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Penn Community positivity rates allow, campus facilities will begin to reopen for student access. 

A list of virtual Quiet Period events on the VPUL Calendar 

Allowable Quiet Period activities for undergraduate students living on campus, in College Houses, includes: 

  • Continuing research, lab, or clinical activities as approved by schools.
  • Engaging in outdoor exercise or recreation – wearing masks, the physical distance of at least 6 feet. 
  • Spending time outdoors on campus – wearing maskskeeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet – with no more than 10 students who live in College Houses 
  • Accessing grab-and-go dining from designated Penn Dining facilities while wearing masks and keeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet. 
  • Ordering contactless food delivery directly to residential buildings while wearing masks and keeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet. 
  • Going to University COVID-19 testing sites. 
  • Receiving care and support from Wellness Services. 
  • Working on roommate/suitemate agreement, pod agreements, and quarantine plans in case of exposure. 

Undergraduate students living off-campus, in private residences, may participate in the same above allowable activities – as long as off-campus students restrict activities to those they live with off-campus.  

Regardless of whether students live on campus in College Houses or off-campus in a private residence, gathering indoors with people outside of those you live with is strictly prohibited by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. This includes seeing intimate partners if they do not live together. Check here for updates. 

What are the guidelines for meeting up with other students, either 1:1 or in a group?

All students are expected to adhere to the Student Campus Compact and all federal, state, and local regulations. For those living in Philadelphia, we encourage you to monitor the Philadelphia Health Department for news and updates.

What are the guidelines for student-group activities?

More information will be forthcoming about student-group social opportunities for the spring 2021 semester; however, please note the following:

  • Indoor and outdoor space usage will follow City and University guidance, requiring social distancing and face coverings.  
  • Penn’s expectation is that student meetings and events will continue to be hosted virtually and/or outdoors. 
  • A limited number of in-person, indoor events may be considered for approval if they cannot be facilitated virtually. 

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.