A Message to Penn Undergraduates

December 17, 2020

As this semester winds down, we hope that you are proud of what you have learned and accomplished under such challenging circumstances. We certainly are proud of your perseverance, good academic work, and creative co-curricular activities. We are all looking ahead to next semester and an increasingly brighter year to come. We write today with several updates about academic initiatives for the Spring semester.

We look forward to welcoming many more students to on-campus housing for the Spring, and we are preparing to resume more campus activities over the course of the Spring term. In particular, we will increase in-person research opportunities available to undergraduates in the Spring semester. For independent studies, work study, and volunteer research experiences, undergraduates will be able to participate in in-person research that cannot be completed remotely, in accordance with the research resumption plans of Penn and our Schools. Stay tuned for more information from your undergraduate deans in the coming weeks.

Until the pandemic subsides with the massive distribution and use of vaccines, we know that major challenges persist. In collaboration with the Council of Undergraduate Deans, we will extend the pass/fail policy for undergraduates from the Fall 2020 semester to the Spring 2021 semester. You will have the option (until the Grade Type Change Deadline on March 19) to take any or all of your courses pass/fail. This option includes courses taken to satisfy major or general education requirements, and the courses will not count against the total number of pass/fail courses allowed in your School. The deadline for changing a grade type will not be extended, and we encourage every undergraduate student to discuss with your academic advisor which grading option is best for you.

Lastly, as in Fall 2020, we will provide a virtual “shopping period” on Canvas. Until February 2, the last day to add a class, you can link directly to a course’s Canvas site (if the instructor has published one) from the course description in Course Search.

We are thrilled to welcome many more students to campus next month. In the meantime, we wish everyone a well-deserved break. As we join together to get through the remaining months of the pandemic, we also share the joy of looking forward to the brighter days ahead. We wish you the very best for winter break and the New Year.


Amy Gutmann, President
Wendell Pritchett, Provost
Beth Winkelstein, Deputy Provost
Steven Fluharty, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
Erika James, Dean, Wharton School
Vijay Kumar, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Antonia Villarruel, Dean, School of Nursing

Last Updated 12/01/2020 - 09:47