Academic Information and Policies
According to University policy, a graduate student must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to be considered in good academic standing. In conjunction with the Biomedical Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee, the GCB Advising Committee is responsible for tracking students’ progress throughout the course of their studies. This includes coursework, lab rotations, and thesis-level progress. Any student receiving a grade lower than a B- minus may be put on academic probation and required to retake the course or a substitute designated by the Graduate Group Chair and Advising Committee.
Please refer to the BGS website for more information regarding Academics.
The University allows graduate students to take leaves of absence with the permission of the graduate group chair and the graduate dean. Students must write to the GCB chair requesting the leave; if the chair approves, the request will be forwarded to the BGS Director for approval. The main types of leave are medical, family, and paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child. Under medical and unpaid family leaves, stipends are suspended during the leave period and are guaranteed upon return from leave under the conditions of the original award guarantee, i.e., as long as the student remains in good academic standing; students who wish to continue their health insurance coverage past the current cycle may arrange to do so through Student Health Services, and financial assistance for health insurance may be arranged through BGS. Note that students who have passed the candidacy exam may need to arrange fellowship support from a mentor in order to return; there is no guarantee that the original mentor will be able to provide financial support when the student returns from leave. Students receiving NIH NRSA support in the form of a training grant appointment or individual fellowship must also obtain permission for a leave from NIH.
GCB generally adheres to the University's schedule for Fall and Spring course terms but has a 12-month annual training program. University holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The University also gives 4 to 5 “season” days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Most BGS courses do not take the University’s fall and spring breaks. BGS students are expected to work full-time toward the degree; however, they are entitled to take two weeks off per year for personal time. Students at the dissertation level may schedule time off only with the prior approval of their advisor.
More information on Penn holidays can be found here.
The PhD Program in GCB does not admit students for study towards a Master's degree. Although, a student may be eligible to receive a terminal Master's degree if they wish to leave the program or if they do not pass the Candidacy Exam. Please contact the coordinator for more information.