Graduate Resource Guide Resources for New Students

The Graduate Student Center is here to help you throughout your graduate experience at Penn. The resources on this page are intended to help make your transition to life at Penn as seamless as possible. Please refer to our full resource guide for even more resources, services, and opportunities for graduate and professional students. 

Getting Started

Our incoming students' checklist (below) is a list of everything you need to do before you arrive at Penn.

Before you get to campus, be sure to sign up for your PennCard and register your PennKey, which gives you access to Penn email and other essential online services. Once you have a PennKey, you can access and update your student information and records on Path@Penn and visit Campus Express to order textbooks, register your property, and purchase discounted transit passes.

New Student Orientation

The Graduate Student Center is excited to welcome you to Philadelphia and help you transition to graduate life at Penn. The Graduate Student Center organizes New Student Orientation activities each summer for incoming graduate and professional students. 

Our Graduate and Professional Student Orientation activities are intended to supplement required school-specific programs and introduce you to the broader community at Penn and in Philadelphia. All of our orientation activities are optional and open to all incoming graduate & professional students - pick and choose what's most convenient for you! 




Thrive at Penn for Graduate and Professional Students 
Graduate Thrive at Penn (or G-TAP) provides information about resources available to support graduate student success. Topics covered include academic integrity; campus engagement, wellness and health; and healthy relationships and sexual violence prevention. G-TAP is available in Canvas throughout students' career at Penn. Students are encouraged to complete the modules at their own pace, and review often.


Moving to Philadelphia

Penn is situated in the University City section of West Philadelphia, just across the river from Center City Philadelphia. The city’s neighborhoods and suburbs offer a wide range of housing choices, nightlife, culture, and recreation. We encourage you to visit Philadelphia and explore its diverse neighborhoods.

Visit our Living in Philadelphia page to learn more about visiting and living in Philadelphia.  

Transitioning to Graduate School

We are thrilled you are at the University of  Pennsylvania, where you will find countless opportunities to strengthen and grow your intellectual and professional skills. Penn prepares graduate students to teach, work, and do research that advances the frontiers of knowledge in their fields, while also providing many benefits and programs that support graduate student life, research, career advancement, and work-life balance across campus.

There are a number of resources and steps you can take to help you integrate into the Penn community, manage your expectation and commitments, and enjoy a successful start to your academic career.

Below are a few suggestions to help you get started. 

  • Get Oriented. Attend New Graduate Student Orientation programs and explore other activities and resources to help new students learn more about the campus, community, and their academic programs. Important resources include: 
    • Thrive at Penn (TAP) is an online program for incoming graduate and professional students that provides information about resources available to support student success. TAP is available in Canvas throughout students' career at Penn. 
    • Our New Student Checklist and FAQ cover cover the key things you need to do before you arrive on campus and once you've arrived. 
  • Find your footing. Graduate school requires navigating a complex set of academic, professional and social experiences.  Remember to pace yourself in a realistic manner, and remind yourself that you don’t have to know and do everything right now. If you're feeling lost or need help connecting with the right resources on campus,  the Graduate Student Center brings together all the campus resources that help our graduate students be successful and healthy at Penn.
  • Get to know University staff. From organizing orientations, providing a supportive ear to students, or ensuring that you fulfill your degree requirements, graduate program coordinators and advisors are often your first point of contact into graduate school. Professional and administrative staff members are a vital part of the resource network you will need to be successful throughout your graduate education. 
  • Attend department events. Whether they are faculty or peer presentations, departmental meetings, working committees, or peer pub nights, there are numerous opportunities to connect with peers, staff, and faculty throughout the year.  
  • Set yourself up for academic success. It's completely natural to feel excited and anxious about attending your first graduate course or starting a new graduate program. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take now to be sure you are well prepared for the academic challenges and experiences ahead. 
    • Learn about Academic Policies and Support and review other relevant policies and handbooks set forth in the Pennbook. For information about required classes and course registration, be sure to contact your individual School & Program
    • The Weingarten Center provides academic support and disability services to help graduate and professional students succeed at Penn. Each fall, the Weingarten Center and the Graduate Student Center co-sponsor a "Strategies for Success in Graduate Studies" workshop series focused on proactive planning, academic reading and writing, communication with faculty and peers, and accessing campus resources. Check our events calendar for upcoming sessions.
  • Find your community. The University of Pennsylvania is a large and complex institution, and we know that a feeling of belonging on campus is critical to your success and well-being. It makes a difference to find and connect with people who can support your whole self and not just your role as a graduate or professional student.
  • Learn more about recent initiatives to support a vibrant graduate student community and enhance work-life balance for graduate students on the University's Valuing Graduate Students website. We encourage you to tap into resources that can help you thrive as you navigate graduate student life. 

Please refer to the Graduate Center's resource guide. for even more resources, services, and opportunities for graduate and professional students at Penn.