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Of Record
February 26, 2008, Volume 54, No. 23

In 2004, the decennial accreditation of the University by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education focused on PhD education.  One of the major recommendations that came from the review was that “Penn give serious consideration to replacing the (current tuition) system with one in which each student is charged a flat amount for each academic year in which he or she is a full-time student....”

The total credit units and tuition costs required for a PhD vary significantly across graduate programs in the University, creating academic confusion and financial inefficiency. During the past year, the Council of Graduate Deans (representing the nine schools at the University with PhD programs) has worked with the Office of Budget and Management Analysis to identify a financial model that best addresses the shortcomings of the current system and maximizes flexibility for individual graduate programs to organize their curricula in ways conducive to timely degree completion. The proposal was presented to the Faculty Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy, the Graduate Council of the Faculties, the Council of Deans, and the Provost.  It has been approved for implementation beginning in Fall 2008.  Individual schools will work to “grandfather” any self-funded PhD students affected by the transition.

—Ronald J. Daniels, Provost
—Andrew N. Binns, Associate Provost for Education

Regarding PhD Tuition Simplification

Beginning in Fall 2008, PhD students will register for five years or the equivalent of approximately 30 course units. This time may be shorter than five years if a student enters with credits from a post-baccalaureate degree program, or successfully completes the PhD. The 30 course units may include formal course work, independent study, and dissertation research.  This requirement creates a general uniformity across PhD programs, while also allowing for flexibility in programs’ individual curricula.

Full Tuition is charged for up to five years. If a student has not earned the PhD degree by the end of five years, the student will be charged Reduced Tuition until the degree is awarded, or for a maximum of five additional years. Continuous enrollment is required through year ten (or until graduation), with exceptions for approved military, medical, or family leave. 

After a maximum (in most programs) of five years at Reduced Tuition, the student ceases to be enrolled. With permission and recertification from the graduate group, a student may re-enroll for one final year in order to defend and deposit the dissertation.  A one-time payment of Reduced Tuition will be charged for the final year.

In Academic Year 2008-2009, Full Tuition is $24,000; Reduced Tuition is $3,000. The General Fee and Health Insurance are charged for the entire time a student is enrolled; the General Fee will be charged at a reduced level in Years 6-10.

Almanac - February 26, 2008, Volume 54, No. 23