Penn Engineering Online

Is the MSE-DS Online curriculum the same as the on-campus program?

MSE-DS Online is a degree centered on computer science. The curriculum is computationally focused and includes courses such as artificial intelligence, big data systems, data science for health, deep learning, natural language processing, internet and web systems, machine learning, etc. These courses will primarily correspond with two of the on-campus elective tracks: Data-centric programming and Data Analysis/Artificial Intelligence. For the courses that are offered, the content is the same between on-campus and online.

Which Penn Engineering Online degree is right for me?

If you don’t have a degree in computer science, or have minimal prior computer science training, consider our online Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT Online). If you have a computer science minor, an undergraduate degree in computer science or in a highly quantitative field (e.g., statistics, math, physics, etc.) with significant exposure to computer science, consider our online Master of Science in Engineering in Data Science.

What's the difference between Penn Engineering Online’s MSE-DS and MCIT degrees?

MCIT Online is for those who are trying to quickly pivot into the field of computer science, while MSE-DS Online helps those who already have a solid foundation in computer science to become data engineers.
See also: Which Penn Engineering Online degree is right for me?

Is full-time enrollment a requirement for the Dean's Master's Scholarship program?

Students awarded the Dean’s Master’s Scholarship for a Penn Engineering Online degree may elect to attend on a full or part-time basis.

Who should I contact if I have issues applying for the Dean’s Master’s Scholarship?

Please contact us via email at online-admissions@seas.upenn.edu or call us at (215) 573-0655.

When can I apply for the Dean’s Master’s Scholarship?

If you are applying for early admission, your scholarship application will need to be completed by the early admission deadline.  If you are applying for regular admission, your scholarship application will need to be completed by the regular admission deadline. Applications can only be submitted at the time of application to the program. 

How much financial support will scholarship recipients receive?

For privacy reasons, scholarship recipients and amounts awarded will be kept confidential.

What are the guidelines for letters of recommendation?

Format:

Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • must be written in English
  • on official letterhead of the writer’s organization or institution whenever possible
  • include the writer’s signature/name and organization
  • range from 500 to 1,500 words

Content:

Letters should reference the MCIT Online program and cannot be reused from a different program.

Letters should be written by individuals who have evaluated the applicant and can write objectively about their aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting. Please note- recommenders should not be friends or family members.

The Questionnaire:

You can answer the questionnaire by interpreting the questions through an industry lens. For example, instead of “How many students do you supervise?”, you can answer as if the question was, “How many employees do you supervise?”, etc. You can also leave the questionnaire section blank.

Due Date:

All letters of recommendation are due by the application deadline. Late letters of recommendation will not be considered and may disqualify the applicant from the admissions process. Please be mindful of the application deadlines!

Will there be a graduation ceremony?

Yes, Penn Engineering Online degree students will be invited to campus to participate in Penn’s Commencement ceremonies in May. Attendance is optional.

What will the proctored exams look like?

Our exams will be online and proctored through a service called Honorlock. Students will be monitored via webcam.

What is the definition of part-time vs full-time?

Part-time status for Penn Engineering Online degree students is defined as taking 1-2 courses in a semester. Full-time status is defined as taking 3-4 courses per semester. It is easy to switch back and forth between part-time and full-time status.

Are Penn Engineering Online degree programs eligible for Penn employee tuition remission benefits?

Yes! Penn Engineering Online degree programs are tuition remission eligible for Penn employees. You can learn more at the Penn Benefits website.

Do you offer any scholarships?

Penn Engineering offers the Dean’s Master’s Scholarship for Online students which provides financial support to online Master’s students in order to further the University’s interest in attracting an academically talented and diverse student body.  Visit here to learn more.

In addition, we encourage you to explore external scholarships/fellowships.

What is the cost of a Penn Engineering Online degree program?

Tuition and fees are based on the number of courses you are taking per semester. For details about costs, see our Tuition & Financing page.

Can I do an internship as an online degree student?

Internships are not a part of our online degree curricula, but our career services team can help prepare you for a successful internship search.

As an online student, can I work as a TA or a research assistant?

Yes! To apply for a teaching assistantship review current openings

If you’re interested in being a research assistant, we encourage you to reach out to a faculty member who’s working in a field of interest. These positions are typically not posted publicly.

Can I transfer between a Penn Engineering Online degree program and an on-campus degree program?

No, students are not allowed to transfer between Penn Engineering Online and an on-campus degree program.

What services are available to online students?

As a Penn Engineering Online degree student, you’re a full member of the Penn community with broad access to everything from virtual career advising to online libraries and learning resources. For details, see our Student Services page.

I'm not yet interested in a full degree. Can I take a few courses?

Yes! We’ve partnered with Coursera to offer a wide range of affordable online open courses, from Aerial Robotics to Computational Thinking for Problem Solving. We also offer open course series that lead to credentials in programming, software development, and robotics.

How long are the Penn Engineering Online degree programs?

The a Penn Engineering Online degree program requires the successful completion of ten courses. The program was designed for working professionals, so a part-time schedule allows students to take 1-3 courses at a time. Depending on how many classes you take each semester, you can complete the program in 16 to 40 months.

Can I keep working while earning the degree?

Yes! Penn Engineering Online degrees are flexible enough to accommodate the needs of working professionals, and you can choose to take 1-3 courses at a time. There are no required synchronous (real-time) sessions, but students should dedicate time each week to watch lectures, complete assignments and participate in office hours or group sessions with professors, TAs, and fellow students.

Where is a Penn Engineering Online degree recognized?

Penn Engineering Online degree programs are offered by the University of Pennsylvania, which is authorized to confer degrees and certificates conferring academic credit under applicable laws of the United States. If you live in another country, we encourage you to investigate your jurisdiction’s treatment of foreign online programs to ensure that the program will meet your objectives.

Is a Penn Engineering Online degree program accredited?

Yes, the University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Does a Penn Engineering online degree program carry the same weight as an on-campus degree?

Yes! You’ll enjoy the high-quality instructors that Penn Engineering’s on-campus program is known for, and you’ll graduate with the same degree and same diploma.

How will my tuition be billed to the VA?

We bill the VA each semester based on the number of credits you’re registered for. We cannot bill the VA for the entire program all at once.

Can I use my military education benefits for this program?

Yes. MCIT Online students are eligible for VA education benefits.

Are online students required to have health insurance?

Online students are strongly encouraged but not required to have health insurance. Online students are not eligible for Penn’s student health insurance plan(s).

Can I get a student visa through a Penn Engineering Online degree program?

No, we cannot sponsor visas for students because these programs are based entirely online.

If I am not accepted, may I reapply?

Yes, but you’ll have to wait for the next admissions cycle. To reapply, you’ll need to submit the standard application materials along with answering an additional essay question. 

I am currently an undergrad/master’s/PhD student at Penn. Can I take a Penn Engineering Online course?

Yes, Penn Engineering Online offers a variety of open non-credit courses that are available to all learners! Only students admitted to Penn Engineering Online degree programs can enroll in or audit the courses in those programs.

Can I send my recommendation letters via email or mail?

No, letters of recommendation must be submitted online through the application portal.

Do letters of recommendation need to be submitted by the application deadline?

Yes. All required documents, including a minimum of two letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the application deadline.

Would it be helpful to have more than two letters?

Yes, while we only require two letters, we recommend asking three people to write such letters in case one of the letters does not arrive before the deadline. The more evidence you can provide that you will succeed, the better.

Do I have to submit official transcripts?

No, you do not need to submit official transcripts in order to apply; unofficial transcripts are acceptable. Note that all transcripts must be translated to English.

Every for-credit course that you have taken needs to be represented on a transcript that includes all of the following: course name, credits received, and grade. If you submit a transcript that includes transfer credits without the listed grades earned, such as T for Transfer, you will also need to submit the transcript from the original institution that contains the actual grades received.

If you have an international transcript, we strongly recommend using a NACES service (e.g., Certifile, WES) to submit your transcripts as this will greatly assist the admissions team with the evaluation of your documents.

If admitted, you will be required to provide official transcripts of all previous academic work to verify the information provided in your uploaded application documents. Official documents must be translated to English, if applicable. Offers of admission and matriculation into the program are not binding until academic records are verified. If there are discrepancies between the self-reported academic work and official records, your offer of admission may be withdrawn or you may be removed from the program. Details regarding the process for submitting official transcripts will be sent to admitted students.

How should my references format my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • written in English
  • include the writer’s name, organization and signature
  • range anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me?

Your letters of recommendation should be written by people who have evaluated you and can write objectively about your aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting – for example, current or former advisors, instructors or supervisors. 

The title or position of the recommender is not as important as his/her ability to comment knowledgeably and specifically about you. If you do not have an academic reference or direct supervisor, consider clients (if you own a business), military personnel or community leaders.

Is there an advantage to applying to the early deadline?

Yes, applicants who apply before the early deadline have a slight advantage in admissions. There is also the benefit of receiving a decision earlier. 

Can I transfer courses from another university?

After being accepted to the program you may transfer up to two courses, subject to faculty approval. Please see the Penn Engineering Graduate Student Handbook for further details.

Do I have to take the GRE?

No, the GRE is optional. But there are a few scenarios in which we strongly recommend taking the GRE:

  • You have not taken any quantitative courses (such as math or physics).
  • You feel the grades that you received in your bachelor’s program do not represent your current abilities and are lower than you would like them to be.
  • You received your undergraduate degree 15 or more years ago.

Is financial aid available?

Online degree students who are enrolled at least half-time (at least two courses) will be eligible to apply for federal student loans. International students’ eligibility may vary depending upon their international status.

Two federal funding options specifically allocated for graduate students are the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan and Grad PLUS loan.

Please be mindful of the FAFSA deadlines in relation to the application deadlines.

Where and when should I send my official transcripts?

If you receive an offer of admission, you must submit your official transcripts before matriculation. We must receive an official, final transcript from each institution where you earned course credit. If your graduation date is not included on your transcript, you will also need to submit a graduation verification certificate. If you are admitted, we will contact you with instructions on how to submit your official transcripts.

Official documents must be translated to English, if applicable. Offers of admission and matriculation into the program are not binding until academic records are verified. If there are discrepancies between the self-reported academic work and official records, your offer of admission may be withdrawn or you may be removed from the program.

Do I need to wait until my letters of recommendation are in to submit my application?

No! We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. However, please note that an application is not considered complete and ready for review until at least two letters of recommendation have been submitted.

If accepted into the program, how much will the enrollment deposit cost?

Applicants who are admitted and decide to join a Penn Engineering Online degree program will need to submit a non-refundable $300 USD enrollment deposit, which will be applied towards tuition.