Graduate Student Groups
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Good to know: Graduate Student Groups are distinct from "Graduate Groups" which is the Penn terminology for PhD-granting academic programs.
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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) serves as the official representative body and voice for the roughly 17,000 graduate and professional students at Penn within Penn's system of University governance. GAPSA has also been granted the ability to administer a portion of graduate student activities fees, which it uses to provide resources for travel grants, research support, student events, and other activities throughout the year.
In addition to GAPSA, each of Penn's 12 graduate and professional schools has one or more School Governments that focus on school-specific issues, activity funding, and serve as school representatives within GAPSA:
|Graduate School (G-12) School Governments
Annenberg School of Communication
School of Nursing
Graduate Student Organization (GSO) (Master's students)
Doctoral Student Organization (DSO) (Doctoral students)
School of Arts & Sciences
LPSGov (LPS graduate students)
SASGov (all other SAS grad students)
Perelman School of Medicine
Penn Medical Student Government (MSG) (MD students)
Biomedical Graduate Student Association (BGSA) (PhD and Master's students)
School of Dental Medicine
School of Social Policy & Practice
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
Graduate School of Education
Weitzman School of Design
Carey School of Law
Wharton Doctoral Council (WDC) (Doctoral students)
A comprehensive list of student groups that are open to graduate students can be found on the Penn Clubs website by filtering the Tags for 'Graduate'. You can also search the database for groups with the word 'Grad' in their titles.
Graduate Affinity Groups
Student organizations at Penn provide communities for students of various identities. Here, we list University-wide student councils and organizations intended to support, advocate, and provide community for graduate students from populations historically underrepresented in higher education and/or the professoriate. A comprehensive list of registered graduate and professional student groups can be found in the PennClubs database.
Graduate Women in Science (GWiS)
Interprofessional Women's Council (IPWC)
Penn First Graduate Association
Another way to get involved on campus is through student-led organizations. See below for links to graduate student groups within each of the 12 schools at Penn and other University-wide graduate student organizations:
The Office of Student Affairs is the primary source of information and advice about co-curricular opportunities and resources. Staff members assist students in a myriad of ways, including providing information on how to organize a new student organization, and what resources are available for student organizations.
In addition to providing meeting and event space to graduate student groups, the Grad Center maintains a list of other spaces on campus for graduate student use.
Graduate students have representation on nearly every standing University and Trustee committee, as well as many ad hoc committees. GAPSA is responsible for recruiting and appointing graduate and professional students to serve on these committees as representatives of the graduate student community.
Most of the seats below are filled during the early Fall through a nomination system. Please contact GAPSA Vice President of Advocacy and Director of Equity & Access for more information about any of these roles.
- University Council
- University Council Executive Committee (15 Seats)
- University Council Steering Committee (2 Seats)
- Committee on Academic & Related Affairs (2 Seats)
- Campus and Community Life (2 Seats)
- Committee on Committees (1 Seat)
- Committee on Diversity & Equity (2 Seats)
- Committee on Facilities (2 Seats)
- Independent Committee on Honorary Degrees (2 Seats)
- Independent Committee on Open Expression (3 Seats)
- Academic Planning and Budget Committee (2 seats)
- Social Responsibility Advisory Committee (2 Seats)
- Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (1 Seat)
- Graduate Council of the Faculties (3 Seats)
- Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee (10 Seats)
- Trustees’ Academic Policy Committee (1 Seat)
- Trustees’ Budget and Finance Committee (1 Seat)
- Trustees’ Local, National, and Global Engagement Committee (1 Seat)
- Trustees’ Facilities and Campus Planning Committee (1 Seat)
- Trustees’ Student Life Committee (1 Seat)
Other University Committees on which graduate students may serve
Positions may be filled via GAPSA or directly by the convening office. Contact the sponsoring office or the Grad Center for more information.
- Student Financial Services Advisory Board
- Penn Museum Committee
- Wellness Advisory Group
- Residential Services Advisory Board
- Division of Public Safety Advisory Board (DPS)
- Penn Transit Advisory Committee
- Penn Food Insecurity Task Force
All student organizations are required to (re)register at the start of the academic year with the Office of Student Affairs. Registration identifies the organization as active and permits them access to University resources with the ability to reserve space, use of electronic resources, use of the Penn name, access to potential funding sources, and permission to advertise themselves as a student-run organization at the University of Pennsylvania.
Additional Guidelines from the Office of Student Affairs (OSA)
- OSA Financial Guidelines for use of allocated funds. See also Financial Service Center FAQ (PDF, opens in new tab).
- Responsibilities of All Student Organizations
- Student Conferences Guide (PDF, opens in new tab)
- Safety Guidelines
- Guidelines for Student Political Activities (Word, 32 KB)
As part of the University’s community care efforts, all student groups must register all large in-person social events they would like to host on campus, as well as any events on- or off-campus at which there will be alcohol. This includes events held at an off-campus residence or third-party venue at which alcohol may be consumed by attendees which are sponsored or promoted by a recognized University group.
Events with Alcohol
Please note that your organization cannot charge for any event at which alcohol will be served unless the venue has a license to sell alcohol (such as a bar or restaurant). This is a state law, not Penn policy. This means that you cannot charge students to attend an event with alcohol has been purchased from a separate vendor than the space which is hosting the event, including social events, happy hours, etc.
Additionally, free food and nonalcoholic beverages must be readily available for free at any event with alcohol. Please review the full alcohol policy carefully as you plan your events.
This presentation on how to plan awesome events (PDF, opens in new tab) and event planning checklist (PDF, opens in new tab) will be helpful to your organization.
As you plan events, you must adhere to all State and University regulations for graduate student organizations. This includes registering your event with University Life. You are liable for what happens at the event, legally and according to the University Policy.
Paid Events, Ticket Sales, and other Payments
The University has a number of important policies related to collecting revenue and payments. Please be sure to review these policies and requirements in advance of planning any paid activity or distributing merchandise or tickets valued over $99 to students.
Virtual Events and Engagement
There are a number of resources and tools available for groups planning virtual activities and engagement, including:
- Virtual Engagement Tools and Suggestions (OSA)
- Distant, Not Disconnected: How to Create Vital Online Communities (OLI)
- Virtual Activities and Opportunities from the Grad Center (links to content below)
- Suddenly Remote: 20 Virtual Event & Activity Ideas (CampusGroups)
- The best virtual team building activities, according to full-time remote workers (Atlassian)
- 53 Virtual Activity Ideas to Keep College Students Engaged During COVID-19 (Presence)
General Tips and Suggestions
- Update your group's PennClubs page, website and social media pages - stay active online and engage new members!
- Create new goals and objectives for your organization to reflect the nature of this semester.
- Continue to meet virtually on a regular basis
- Consider alternating or varying meeting times to accommodate members in other time zones
- Meet with your group faculty/staff adviser, OSA, or the Grad Center Director for support and guidance
- Establish a communication plan with your exec team, adviser, and organization
- Continue to build community with your organization members with online group activities
- Maintain an online social media presence as an organization
- Make an effort to recognize members and their contributions online
- Try to conclude each meeting with a discussion of "what happens next?" - Summarize the meeting, review tasks that were assigned, discuss next meeting time or when you will talk next
Connection and Communication
Think creatively about the best ways to share information and connect with one another while remote.
- Communication platforms and tools include: FaceTime, GroupMe, Phone calls (!), Social media groups/pages, Slack/Teams/Discord
- Social media takeovers: assign a member for a day/week to take over the org’s account and share their personal story, reflections, or favorite posts
- Video challenges: Use TikTok, IG Reels, or other tools to challenge your members - or other student groups - to fun video challenges
- Q&A: Use social media or online polls to help other students learn more about your organization and how to get/stay involved
- Memories and Stories: share older posts or photos as a way of highlighting favorite events and memories or sharing stories about your members and activities.
See additional resources and information for student groups in our resource guide.
All student organizations are required to follow the policies set forth in the Pennbook.
- Poster and Banner Policy
- Code of Student Conduct
- Use of Facilities
- Nondiscrimination Statement
- Open Expression Guidelines
- Structures on College Green (Word, 15 KB)
- Promotional Items
Wellness, Safety, and Conduct
Privacy and Confidentiality Guidelines for collecting student information / surveys
Student groups are strongly encouraged to work with OSA or your school’s IT department to obtain institutional (@upenn.edu) emails and related accounts. These accounts will enable your organization to maintain security and confidentiality of your records and aid with smooth leadership transitions.
We encourage all students to take time to review and understand Penn’s policies and community resources related to student conduct and safety, as well as how Penn supports students who experience unfair treatment, bias, harassment, or any form of violence. Please see information about reporting concerns and incidents here.
- For the most up-to-date information about Penn policies & procedures, go to the Office of the AVP for Equity and Title IX Officer website.
GIC Workshops and Consultations
The Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC) can assist with the development and implementation of diversity or cultural competency workshops that support their organizational goals and objectives. Focusing on knowledge acquisition, behavioral change, action planning and accountability, the center's ultimate goal is to help students, staff and faculty capitalize on the numerous advantages a diverse team has to offer.
I CARE Training
Wellness at Penn offers i care, an interactive gatekeeper training for students, faculty, and staff that builds a caring community with the skills and resources to intervene with student stress, distress, and crisis. Visit the Wellbeing Initiatives i care webpage to learn more about i care training and resources or to request a training for your group.
LGBT Center Workshops
The LGBT Center is dedicated to ensuring that Penn is a welcoming place for people of all identities. This includes providing fun and interactive educational opportunities for folks to expand their knowledge and understanding of those who may identify differently than them. Programs can also be customized for your group or department needs
Penn Violence Prevention (PVP) Workshops
PVP workshops cover a range of topics related to relationship violence, sexual violence, stalking, and sexual harassment. Workshops are designed to be interactive and informative and can be tailored to meet the needs of individual groups. Learn more about Penn Violence Prevention above.
The Restorative Practices at Penn (RP@Penn) Program promotes restorative practices on Penn’s campus to build strong communities and address interpersonal and group conflict. RP@Penn offers Restorative Circles, Conflict Coaching, Mediation, Restorative Conferences, Workshops on Communication and Conflict Resolution skills, and Workshops on Restorative Circles.
Self Defense Training & Safety Presentations
The Department of Public Safety Special Services department offers safety presentations and free self defense classes for all members of the Penn community and their children. For more information, contact the DPS Special Services team at 215.898.4481 or SpecialServices@publicsafety.upenn.edu.
The Grad Center team advises individual students and graduate student groups on all aspects of graduate life at Penn. Students are welcome to contact us with questions related to our areas of responsibility and expertise. We are also available to meet with students in-person, online, or via phone.
Students with more complex questions or concerns are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Grad Center Director.
GAPSA Events & Initiatives Funding supports a range of student events and initiatives run by student organizations at Penn across all 12 graduate schools.
The Faith Fund provides both event-specific support for activities that consider religious and spiritual themes and non-event based support for religious and spiritual organizations. Religious and non-religious Penn student organizations are eligible to apply for event funding.
Campaign for Community grants support programming that promotes understanding of and respect for multiple points of view on important topics related to the University community; encourages dialogue and discussion among members of the community about issues with the potential for difference and disagreement; and creates opportunities for all members of the University's community to participate in conversations about important topics.
The Grad Center Community Impact Fund was designated by the Provost's Office to support graduate student initiatives and activities that directly address racial, cultural, or gender-based bias within the broader graduate community. The goal of this program is to support initiatives that will help to foster a community of mutual respect and intercultural understanding on campus. The funds are not intended to support social or professional development activities, with the exception of training opportunities related to addressing bias.
The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center administers funds designed to assist Penn student groups and individuals in sponsoring on-campus events, especially those fostering collaboration among LGBTQ+ groups.
The Perry World House International Visitors Grant Program provides grants of up to $3,500 for members of the Penn Community to bring an international policy visitor to Penn from abroad.
The Trustees' Council of Penn Women grant is available to individuals or organization that promote women's issues, the quality of undergraduate and graduate life for women, the institutional advancement of women, or the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of women.
Many schools at Penn have funding to invest in programming that supports diversity efforts, academic initiatives, etc. Check with your school's administration to see what is available!
All Penn financial policies and guidelines apply to students and student groups spending University funds and General Fee dollars, as well as funds raised through individual payments to recognized student groups.
Relevant policies include, but are not limited to:
- OSA Financial Services Center Student Group Spending Guidelines
- Penn Finance Purchasing Policies
- Penn Purchasing Preferred Suppliers and Vendors
- Penn Principles of Responsible Conduct: Use of Property, Funds, and Technology
- Reimbursement Policy and Process
- Guest Travel and Honoraria Policy
- Travel and Entertainment policies
The Office of Student Affairs Financial Services Center maintains information related to University-wide student group financial policies and is the primary office responsible for handling financial transactions for Penn Student Government, Resource Center Staff, and Penn Student Groups. Visit the OSA Financial Services Center website for more information and resources.
There is a $3,000 academic year maximum of total General Fee dollars that can be given to an individual in direct payments, awards, and fungible gifts or merchandise.
In accordance with University policy, groups and relevant financial administrators are responsible for reporting any individuals receiving merchandise valued over $99. Individuals receiving such merchandise are required to complete tax forms prior to receiving any such goods.
The sale of merchandise and branded goods should be conducted in compliance with Penn Purchasing rules and in accordance with the Ticket Sales and Payments policies below.
All payment and reimbursement requests, SPCard activity reports, and associated documentation must be submitted by the individual incurring the expense or purchase to an appropriate financial administrator or business office.
All individual grants and payments funded by the General Fee and awarded by graduate student groups must be coordinated in partnership with Graduate Grants office. Additional details and guidelines can be found on the Graduate Grants webpage.
All student groups are expected to maintain financial records which are public or readily available to the student organization’s members. Recognized groups with access to a University budget code are expected to maintain financial records which are readily available to both organization members and any/all staff responsible for budgetary oversight of group funds.
Ways this expectation will be met will vary by student group. Best practices include:
- Student group treasurer/finance team should meet monthly with advisors to review spending and financial reports from the previous month.
- Student group treasurer should share monthly financial reports at student group meetings.
- The student group’s proposed budget and actual spending should be available on their website. Actual spending should be updated regularly.
University policy requires that all payments and funds collected for events and groups receiving General Fee funds, which includes GAPSA and G-12+ government annual allocations, must be conducted through an official University office or department-managed platform.
Any and all exceptions to the following rules must be approved in advance by group advisors and must be shared with all potential purchasers in clear and detailed language in advertising and at the point of purchase.
Ticketing and Payments
There are a number of policies and processes governing student group ticket sales and payments. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- Any ticket sales or payments for events sponsored or funded by a group with access to a University budget code or account, or supported by a University office with such access, must be conducted through a University-managed office or via a University-managed merchant account (e.g., Ticketleap or Eventbrite).
- All groups with access to a University budget code or account must deposit any and all funds generated through student payments with a University finance office.
- Student groups must establish clear, published policies for allocating free tickets for priced events or activities (including merchandise sales).
- All student tickets and paid registration must be provided at the same rate, regardless of student group or program affiliation.
- As a general rule, only students volunteering to staff or perform at an event should receive free tickets. All exceptions must be approved by a group's advisor or financial administrator.
- Discounted tickets may be provided to incentivize early purchases, but such discounts and deadlines must be available to all students equally.
- Student groups must clearly indicate to all purchasers how any proceeds from ticket sales or payments will be used.
- All non-student tickets must be provided at a single rate and should be significantly less subsidized than student tickets for the same activity or event.
- In selected cases, tickets may be subsidized by an organization or group for members, but this subsidy must be approved in advance by advisors and clearly communicated to all purchasers at the point of sale.
- Free tickets, services, or goods valued over $99 must be reported, in accordance with the individual payments policies.
Using the Graduate Events Eventbrite
The Graduate Events Eventbrite account is available for use by GAPSA and other graduate student groups without access to a school- or department-managed ticketing platform or merchant account.
G12+ student governments and other school-specific groups are encouraged to work with your school business office to identify an appropriate office or University-managed account to manage ticket sales and paid registrations.
Event requests are processed on a rolling basis. Processing time may be delayed during periods of high volume. We recommend submitting your request as far in advance as possible and at least three (3) business days (M-F) in advance of your event.
Please use the form below to request a ticket sale or registration.
Please use the Penn Graduate Events Contact Form to submit questions, suggestions, and concerns.