College Updates

A Message from Dean Sniegowski

On academic engagement and the importance of taking safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

You have a pre-major advisor and a College Contact who can help you with questions. Both are listed on the left-side of your Penn InTouch homepage. Your College Contact is an advisor in the College Office who can answer questions your pre-major advisor cannot, provide a second opinion and provide general advising questions even if you’re a junior or senior.

If you have a declared major, your major advisor is also listed on Penn InTouch.

Your advisor is available by email. Advisors are willing to speak by phone or make arrangements to connect through Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom or other online platforms for appointments. You can make an appointment by emailing your advisor directly.

There are many resources available to help support your online learning.  The Weingarten Learning Resource Center provides a wide range of resources and strategies for remote learning, including structuring and managing time proactively, creating daily and weekly goals, forming online study groups, and preparing for open-book exams. The Online Learning Initiative offers detailed guidance for virtual learning, including creating a dedicated space for learning, finding ways to connect with other people, and developing a plan to build structure and goals into a students' daily routines. 

For quick questions about academic planning (e.g. Can I graduate?) or a policy and procedure question (e.g. Is it too late to add a course?) come to College Drop-ins Mondays-Fridays from 9AM-5PM EST.

Schedule a Drop-in

The virtual shopping period for spring semester courses will run from Wednesday, Jan. 20th (first day of classes) until Tuesday, Feb. 2 (last day to add a course).  

If an instructor has opted into the virtual shopping period, you will be able to access a course’s Canvas site from the course description in the Course Search in Penn InTouch.  This information can help you make your decision about a course and enable you to finalize your schedule for the spring. Note that not all instructors have opted into the virtual shopping period. If you are interested in exploring a course that does not have this option, reach out to the instructor directly.

Joint Advisory Statement on the Pass/Fail Option in Spring 2021 from the Undergraduate Deans of the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, and the Wharton School 


As indicated in the December 17 message from President Gutmann, Provost Pritchett, Deputy Provost Winkelstein, and the Deans of SAS, SEAS, Nursing, and Wharton, Penn is again offering undergraduates the option to take any or all courses fulfilling the requirements for undergraduate degrees Pass/Fail (P/F) in spring 2021. The deadline for students to opt for P/F on courses in spring 2021 is March 19.

The pandemic has created challenges that persist into the spring 2021 semester. The P/F option is available to support students under such challenges, which include extenuating circumstances such as the following:

  • Significant additional family responsibilities due to the pandemic
  • Significant personal illness or the need to care for ill family members
  • Limited access to internet or necessary technology for remote participation
  • Inability to participate in required synchronous sessions (time zone differences, etc.)
  • Housing insecurity

Students contemplating taking general requirement/core or majors/concentration courses P/F in spring 2021 should think very carefully about the decision and discuss its implications with the academic advising office in their schools well in advance of the March 19 deadline. Penn is in the minority among undergraduate institutions in offering the P/F option in spring 2021. Within Penn, moreover, solid achievement in prerequisite courses is the best preparation for later success in advanced courses. Finally, for those Penn students with P/F grades in spring or fall 2020 and again in spring 2021, there is the risk that significant portions of the academic record will lack documentation of compelling academic achievement, compromising future applications to jobs, professional schools, and graduate schools. While it is tempting to think that simply earning a Penn degree opens doors, we know that the quality of a student’s academic work—often in areas unanticipated in their future importance—is vital to finding a fulfilling career after graduation. For all of these reasons, we strongly advise that students only opt for P/F grading on general requirement/core and majors/concentration courses in spring 2021 under extenuating circumstances such as those listed above.

Please note, also, that all courses taken in fulfillment or anticipated fulfillment of application requirements or degree requirements for submatriculation graduate degrees at Penn should be taken for a letter grade rather than P/F.

Dr. Russell Composto, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Dr. Nora Lewis, Vice Dean for Liberal and Professional Studies, School of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Diana Robertson, Vice Dean and Director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division, the Wharton School

Dr. Paul Sniegowski, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Julie Sochalski, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, School of Nursing

Spring 2020 Policies and Procedures of Note