Graduate Student Groups

Student Governance

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) serves as the official voice for over 14,000 graduate and professional students at Penn. GAPSA is also responsible for administering graduate student activity fees, providing resources for travel grants, research support, and other activities throughout the year.

In addition to GAPSA, 12 School Governments handle school-specific issues, activity funding, and serve as school representatives within GAPSA:  

Graduate School Governments

Annenberg School of Communication

Graduate Council of Students

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) (Medical students) 

Biomedical Graduate Student Association (BGSA) (BGS students)

School of Dental Medicine

PDM EXECUTIVE STUDENT COUNCIL

School of Social Policy & Practice

SP2 Student Government

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Graduate Student Engineering Group (GSEG)

School of Veterinary Medicine 

Penn Vet SCAVMA

Graduate School of Education

GSE Student Government (GSESG)

Weitzman School of Design

PENNDESIGN STUDENT COUNCIL

Carey School of Law

Council of Student Representative (CSR)

Wharton School 

Wharton Graduate Association (WGA)

Wharton Doctoral Council (WDC) (Doctoral students)


 

Graduate Student Groups

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: 

School-based Groups

University-Wide Groups 

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.

Start Your Own Student Group

 If you don't find a graduate and professional student organization to fit your interests, create your own! Penn has several resources to help you:

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. 

Resources for Student Groups and Events

More information on planning events and running a successful student group.

Important Policies & Guidelines

University Recognition and Registration

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) 

Event Registration

As part of the University’s community care efforts, all student groups must register in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue. This includes all events where alcohol will be served as well as dry events.

EVENT REGISTRATION

Events with Alcohol 
Please note that your organization cannot charge for any event at which alcohol will be served. This is a state law, not Penn policy so you cannot charge students to get into a happy hour. Basically, your organization always has to provide the alcohol for free or else go through a vendor who has a license to sell alcohol (like a bar or restaurant). If you have any questions about alcohol policies, please contact staff at the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives.

University Policies

Student organizations are required to follow the policies set forth in the Pennbook.  These include: 

Wellness, Safety, and Conduct 

Plan an Event

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. 

Event Registration

As part of the University’s community care efforts, all student groups must register in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue. This includes all events where alcohol will be served as well as dry events.

EVENT REGISTRATION

Events with Alcohol 

Please note that your organization cannot charge for any event at which alcohol will be served. This is a state law, not Penn policy so you cannot charge students to get into a happy hour. Basically, your organization always has to provide the alcohol for free or else go through a vendor who has a license to sell alcohol (like a bar or restaurant). If you have any questions about alcohol policies, please contact staff at the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives.

Virtual Engagement & Events

There are a number of resources and tools available for groups planning virtual activities and engagement, including: 

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. 

Group Meetings 

  • 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.

Funding for Student Groups

OSA Guide to Financial Procedures at Penn (Word, 123 KB)

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 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!

Workshops and Trainings

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
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 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. To learn more about I CARE or to request a training for your Penn group, see the CAPS website

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. 

RP@Penn Programs 
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
The Department of Public Safety Special Services department offers free self defense classes for all members of the Penn community and their children. These classes include RAD and SAFE Training. For more information, contact Susan Dever, Support Specialist, Department of Special Services at 215.898.4481 or sdever@publicsafety.upenn.edu.

Advising and Support

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

Important Policies & Guidelines

University Recognition and Registration

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) 

Event Registration

As part of the University’s community care efforts, all student groups must register in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue. This includes all events where alcohol will be served as well as dry events.

EVENT REGISTRATION

Events with Alcohol 
Please note that your organization cannot charge for any event at which alcohol will be served. This is a state law, not Penn policy so you cannot charge students to get into a happy hour. Basically, your organization always has to provide the alcohol for free or else go through a vendor who has a license to sell alcohol (like a bar or restaurant). If you have any questions about alcohol policies, please contact staff at the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives.

University Policies

Student organizations are required to follow the policies set forth in the Pennbook.  These include: 

Wellness, Safety, and Conduct 

Plan an Event

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. 

Event Registration

As part of the University’s community care efforts, all student groups must register in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue. This includes all events where alcohol will be served as well as dry events.

EVENT REGISTRATION

Events with Alcohol 

Please note that your organization cannot charge for any event at which alcohol will be served. This is a state law, not Penn policy so you cannot charge students to get into a happy hour. Basically, your organization always has to provide the alcohol for free or else go through a vendor who has a license to sell alcohol (like a bar or restaurant). If you have any questions about alcohol policies, please contact staff at the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives.

Virtual Engagement & Events

There are a number of resources and tools available for groups planning virtual activities and engagement, including: 

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. 

Group Meetings 

  • 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.

Funding for Student Groups

OSA Guide to Financial Procedures at Penn (Word, 123 KB)

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 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!

Workshops and Trainings

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
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 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. To learn more about I CARE or to request a training for your Penn group, see the CAPS website

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. 

RP@Penn Programs 
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
The Department of Public Safety Special Services department offers free self defense classes for all members of the Penn community and their children. These classes include RAD and SAFE Training. For more information, contact Susan Dever, Support Specialist, Department of Special Services at 215.898.4481 or sdever@publicsafety.upenn.edu.

Advising and Support

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