Graduate Student Groups

Student Governance

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) serves as the official voice for the approximately 13,000 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 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.

Fall 2021 Information

Fall 2021 Updates 

  • Please be sure to review the University-wide guidelines and guidelines for student groups regarding guidelines for Fall 2021 in-person activities and gatherings:  Some important changes and policies to note:
    • All student groups must register ALL in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue.
    • You should keep a record of all event attendees, provide masks and sanitizer, ensure compliance with all public health guidelines. You are encouraged to require attendees show Green PennOpen passes but cannot require proof of vaccination or negative tests.
  • The Graduate Student Center building at 3615 Locust Walk will be closed through the fall semester for much-needed HVAC upgrades. Although our normal offices are closed, we will continue providing on-campus programs, resources, and advising. We have also identified alternate and temporary spaces for graduate student use during the Fall 2021 semester.

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

Fall 2021 Guidelines for Student Group Activities

This guidance governs in-person activity that can be organized and/or funded by your student organization in Fall 2021. Guidance is based on current university and city/state policies and has been communicated to the University community via the August 5 Message from the President and the Public Health Guidance website. If these policies change during the semester, the guidelines for student organizations may also change. In cases where these sets of guidelines are not aligned, deference should be given to the University public health guidance.

FALL 2021 STUDENT GROUP GUIDANCE

 

See additional Fall 2021 Information and Updates

 

Important Policies & Guidelines

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.

Office of Student Activities Guidelines 

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.

Student organizations, like all Penn students, are required to follow the policies set forth in the Pennbook.  Please familiarize yourself with the policies related to student organizations at: https://catalog.upenn.edu/pennbook/#policiesbytopictext. These include: 

Conduct and Confidentiality 

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.

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.

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 Grad Center Community Impact Fund was designated by the Provost's Office to support graduate student initiatives and activities that build a community of mutual respect and intercultural understanding on campus. In particular, activities that address racial, cultural, or gender-based bias are to be supported with this fund.

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 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.

Penn Theme Year Grants are designed to encourage students, faculty and staff to create programming that relates to the Theme Year topic.

The Perry World House Partnership Grant Fund provides small grants for events and programs on Penn's campus that advance inter-disciplinary conversations on issues of international concern.

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.

Fall 2021 Information

Fall 2021 Updates 

  • Please be sure to review the University-wide guidelines and guidelines for student groups regarding guidelines for Fall 2021 in-person activities and gatherings:  Some important changes and policies to note:
    • All student groups must register ALL in-person events they would like to host on campus, at an off-campus residence, or at a third-party venue.
    • You should keep a record of all event attendees, provide masks and sanitizer, ensure compliance with all public health guidelines. You are encouraged to require attendees show Green PennOpen passes but cannot require proof of vaccination or negative tests.
  • The Graduate Student Center building at 3615 Locust Walk will be closed through the fall semester for much-needed HVAC upgrades. Although our normal offices are closed, we will continue providing on-campus programs, resources, and advising. We have also identified alternate and temporary spaces for graduate student use during the Fall 2021 semester.

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

Fall 2021 Guidelines for Student Group Activities

This guidance governs in-person activity that can be organized and/or funded by your student organization in Fall 2021. Guidance is based on current university and city/state policies and has been communicated to the University community via the August 5 Message from the President and the Public Health Guidance website. If these policies change during the semester, the guidelines for student organizations may also change. In cases where these sets of guidelines are not aligned, deference should be given to the University public health guidance.

FALL 2021 STUDENT GROUP GUIDANCE

 

See additional Fall 2021 Information and Updates

 

Important Policies & Guidelines

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.

Office of Student Activities Guidelines 

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.

Student organizations, like all Penn students, are required to follow the policies set forth in the Pennbook.  Please familiarize yourself with the policies related to student organizations at: https://catalog.upenn.edu/pennbook/#policiesbytopictext. These include: 

Conduct and Confidentiality 

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.

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.

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 Grad Center Community Impact Fund was designated by the Provost's Office to support graduate student initiatives and activities that build a community of mutual respect and intercultural understanding on campus. In particular, activities that address racial, cultural, or gender-based bias are to be supported with this fund.

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 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.

Penn Theme Year Grants are designed to encourage students, faculty and staff to create programming that relates to the Theme Year topic.

The Perry World House Partnership Grant Fund provides small grants for events and programs on Penn's campus that advance inter-disciplinary conversations on issues of international concern.

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.