New Student Checklist & FAQ

Welcome to Penn! The lists below cover the key things you need to do before you arrive on campus and once you've arrived. Still have questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below. 


Before you Arrive

Accept your offer of admission
Follow the directions in your decision letter for how to officially accept your offer.

Set up your Penn Key
Your PennKey gives you access to a Penn email account and many other essential online services, including many on this checklist. You will receive a Penn Key set-up code via email. Register your PennKey as soon as you receive the code. 

Find a place to live
Housing around Penn (and in Philadelphia, in general) is at a premium, so get started early. We recommend starting your housing search at least 90 days before your move-in date. Check out on-campus housing at Sansom Place (application period begins April 1) or Penn’s Off-Campus Services to help you find off-campus housing. Participate in our Online Housing Sessions to learn more about your options and searching for housing in Philadelphia. 

Apply for Financial Aid
Contact your school's Financial Aid office or University Student Financial Services for assistance with your financial aid; there are different deadlines depending on the school to which you have been accepted. Most deadlines fall between March 1 and May 1.

Log into Campus Express
Campus Express provides a convenient portal for accessing a number of Penn services, including your PennCard (school ID), dining, transportation and parking, ordering books and technology, registering property, and more. You can also learn about discounts for Penn students! 

Set up your Penn Accounts
Once you have your PennKey, you can sign up for other Penn accounts and services. See available services and additional information on our Accounts & IT page

Set up Penn.Pay for student bills and refunds
Your first bill will arrive after your have registered for classes (according to this schedule), so be sure to set up Penn.Pay by the end of June. Go to Penn InTouch and select "Student Billing Account," then "Paying Your Bill/Penn.Pay."

International Students
Be sure you complete all the necessary tasks before you arrive; see the International Students & Scholars Prearrival Checklist. Also, don't forget to check in with the Office of International Programs at 3701 Chestnut Street, Suite 1W, as soon as you arrive at Penn. In the spring, you can also participate in Online Information Sessions for Incoming International Students.

Complete immunization requirements
Complete the necessary immunization requirements by June 1 if you are attending summer session classes, or by July 1 if you are attending fall semester classes.

Enroll in or waive Student Health Insurance
You must sign up for Student Health Insurance, or show proof of acceptable alternate insurance, by the deadline of August 31. If you miss this deadline, you will automatically be enrolled (and billed for) student health insurance.

When You Arrive to Campus  

Pick up your Penn ID Card
A PennCard gives you access to University buildings and services. You can have your card pre-made before arriving on campus through Campus Express. Or visit the PennCard Center at the Penn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor, after you arrive on campus. 

Spouses/domestic partners and children of current students can also obtain a PennCard to access many campus services, visit the PennCard website to learn how to obtain a card.

Check-in with your department or program
When you arrive on campus make sure you stop by your academic program office and introduce yourself. Ask about program- and school-specific orientation activities. 

Thrive at Penn (TAP) on Canvas 
Thrive at Penn (TAP) will help you begin the orientation process, with videos and materials that introduce you to graduate life at Penn, provide important information and resources, and help you stay well and balanced during your graduate education. Each graduate division at Penn has a unique TAP course, which you can locate among your courses in Canvas. An up-to-date public version of the course is available at 

Sign up for Direct Deposit
Direct Deposit is the safest and easiest way to get any funds you may receive.

  • For student account refunds, tuition and financial aid payments, you should sign up for eRefunds through Penn.Pay
  • For stipend payments, payroll for campus employment, or other payments, you will sign-up for direct deposit in Workday@Penn
    Please note: you may need to submit paperwork through Onboard@Penn before you can receive any payments. Please speak with your department or supervisor if you are unsure of your  

You will need a U.S. bank account to enroll in direct deposit; see a list of banks close to campus.

Register for courses
In most academic programs, students should consult with an advisor before registering for courses. Once you set up your PennKey and talk to your advisor, visit Penn InTouch to register for classes.

Update your personal information
Update your address information, emergency contacts, and profile on Penn InTouch. Carefully review your billing, local, and permanent addresses so that communication from your school will be sent to the correct address. Periodically review your profile to make sure everything is correct.

Attend New Graduate & Professional Student Orientation
Your school will provide an academic orientation, and the Graduate Student Center offers activities to get you oriented to the University and Philadelphia. Be sure to attend both!

Here are further details to get you started as a new graduate student.
Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I need a new PennKey Setup Code?
You can obtain a PennKey Setup Code (either because the one they sent expired or you never received one) in person or by postal mail. For security reasons, Setup Codes will not be sent by email or given out over the phone.

  • By mail: Use the PennKey Setup Code Service and enter your identifying information. A letter containing your Setup Code will be sent via U.S. Mail to your address of record.
  • In-person: Go to the Registrar’s Office in Room 221 of the Franklin Building (3451 Walnut Street). To confirm your identity, bring two forms of photo ID, one of which should be your PennCard. Other acceptable forms of photo ID are government-issued documents such as passport, state driver's license, state-issued ID card, or national identity card.

How do I get a Penn email account?
First, you must have successfully established and registered your PennKey. Then, go to Campus Express. Log in with your PennKey and select "Create an email account."  You will then select your school and be directed to the appropriate information.

What should I do with all of my Health Insurance papers?
Consult the Student Health Service Insurance Office. The online insurance enrollment/waiver system gives information about due dates, filing processes, and contact information. If you want to waive Student Health Insurance, be aware that if you do not submit a waiver by the deadline, you will be automatically enrolled and billed.

How do I know that my financial aid is all set up?
Call or visit the Student Financial Services to make sure that you have completed all of the necessary paper work and that it has been recorded correctly. Don’t assume that everything is finished until all of your loan information shows up correctly through Penn InTouch. You can get to your own information by clicking the "Bill Summary" or "Financial Aid" links.

How do I register for courses?
Penn InTouch contains the course registration area for students. However, each school and department has a different registration process for its students. When in doubt about something you should contact your advisor or department administration.

What do I do if all of my information is being sent to the wrong address?
Go to Penn InTouch and click the "Addresses" link on the left side of the screen. From there you can change your permanent address, as well as enter temporary addresses.

What's the difference between my school's orientation events and the Graduate Student Center's orientation events?
Your school's orientation will help you learn more about your specific academic program, its requirements, etc. The Grad Center's orientation events are more general and are designed to help you learn about campus and the city. In order to get the most out of your graduate school experience, you really should attend both orientations.

I am an international student. How can I make sure that I have done everything necessary before starting school?
International Student & Scholar Services offers comprehensive resources for new international students. In addition, you can find information pertaining to international graduate and professional student orientation.

What student organizations exist on campus?
I'd like to get involved. There are many cultural, political, service, recreational, religious, and social organizations at Penn, as well as GAPSA, the main graduate student government organization, and student governments in each individual school.

Student Organizations:

What if my question is not answered here or on the New Student Orientation website?
Email the Graduate Student Center staff at