International Student Resources

We hope that international graduate and professional students at Penn take advantage of all the activities and resources available to them.

New International Graduate Students

As a new international student you should familiarize yourself with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), a unit of Penn Global that provides immigration expertise and services to the Penn community and a host of other resources.

Setting up services
When applying for utility services in the U.S., you generally need to show at least 6 months of good credit history.

  • If you need to acquire cell phone service and do not have credit history in the US, you may need to put down a deposit of several hundred dollars. Your alternate option is to use a pre-paid phone or wait 6 months until you have built credit history through the paying of other utility bills. Credit history is not acquired when you live on campus as many of your utilities are already included and Penn does not report your rent payment to the credit bureaus. AT&T and Sprint provide discounts on their contract services for Penn students.

  • If you did not acquire a credit card that works in the U.S. before your arrival, one option is to open a bank account and use your debit card as a credit card. After 6 months, you can usually apply for a credit card (perhaps easiest through your current bank) as long as you have developed a credit history.

Have questions? Check out our New Student Checklist and FAQ!

Academics at Penn

Penn's academic code of conduct may differ from your home country. Please be sure you review and understand Penn's academic and conduct policies, as well as the resources available to you. In addition to the resources on our site, you can find links to important policies on the websites of the Provost and Office of the Vice Provost for Education

If you have trouble understanding what to do in a specific situation, please consult with your professor or departmental administrator, and/or the Office of Student Conduct.

Get Involved

The best way to feel comfortable at Penn and Philadelphia is to get involved with your community. This could mean participating in departmental, school, or university activities and groups. This could also mean exploring your neighborhood: for example, visit your local greenspaces, cafes, and farmers markets.

Want to get more involved in the Penn Global community? Be sure to check out the programs and resources on our Campus Activities page

Improving your Language Skills

Many international students ask us how they can improve their English language skills. Below are some opportunities for strengthening your English, as well as for connecting with others in your first language. 

  • The Grad Center hosts regular language and culture chats throughout the year. Check our events page for upcoming sessions! We also provide a listing of other language programs around campus. 

  • Coordinate a language chat in your native language! There are sure to be native English speakers who will join. You can help them with their speaking skills, and they can help you with yours! You may also meet native English speakers who may be willing to partner with you on a one-on-one basis.

  • Check out the many student groups on campus. If any of them are cultural or language-based, you may find opportunities to practice your English.

  • Participate in activities! The more you participate, the more interactions you'll have with native English speakers. It's one of the easiest ways to get practice speaking English!

Find a Language Partner

  • In general, you must be able to trade speaking skills. For example, if you are a native Chinese speaker, you will find a native English-speaking partner much faster if you are willing to help the other person learn Chinese.
  • Post flyers at the Grad Center and near the classrooms where your native language is being taught. For example, if you are a native Japanese speaker, find out where Japanese classes are being held and offer to trade speaking skills to the students.

  • You can schedule regular meetings with an advisor from Weingarten Center to support you in your efforts to write academically in English.