The minimum course requirement for the master's degree is 8 c.u., although some graduate programs may require more than this minimum. Courses earning credit for the master's degree must be at the graduate level as specified by the graduate program, usually at the 500-level and above.
A maximum of 4 c.u. at the graduate level may be counted toward both the B.A. and the master’s degree. Thus, the minimum number of combined course units for the two degrees is 36 (assuming a 12 c.u. undergraduate major). These four courses may be part of the Major Requirement or the electives of the undergraduate program, but may not include courses in independent study. Some graduate programs may permit fewer than four courses to be double counted.
Graduate courses taken prior to admission by submatriculation into a master’s program in the School of Arts and Sciences cannot be applied toward a master's degree, unless approved by the associate dean for graduate studies. Master’s programs from other schools at Penn may vary with regard to this restriction.
A student submatriculating into a research master’s program (M.A. or M.S.) is expected to complete the two degrees within the normal four undergraduate years. In that case, no tuition is assessed beyond the regular full-time undergraduate tuition, and eligibility for undergraduate financial aid remains the same as for any other undergraduate student. If the student’s coursework must be extended beyond the four years, he or she will need to consult with Student Financial Services and the relevant graduate school and department for further information regarding tuition and financial aid.
For a student submatriculating into a professional master’s program, the coursework will extend beyond the baccalaureate career. At that point, tuition is billed at the graduate school rate, and the student is no longer eligible for undergraduate financial aid. In both cases, the total number of years normally required to complete the undergraduate and graduate degrees is condensed. Students are advised to complete at least one graduate level course in their intended program before applying. In addition, students should speak with the Graduate Chair or Director of the intended graduate program.