Marking Dissertation and Thesis Status Courses

These procedures apply to marking dissertation and thesis status courses as described in the Academic Rules for PhD Programs effective for the Fall 2022 semester. 

For questions, contact provost-ed@upenn.edu.

Process for PhD Dissertation Status Courses

  • PhD students enrolled in dissertation status courses (9950/9960) in the fall semester will automatically receive a temporary mark of PR to indicate the course is continuing if their registration continues to the next term.
  • PhD students who graduate in December should receive an S mark for the fall semester.
  • PhD students enrolled in dissertation status courses (9950/9960) in the spring semester receive a permanent mark at the end of the semester for both fall and spring. Marks are: 
    • S – Satisfactory
      • If they received satisfactory progress on the annual progress report
      • If the student is not making satisfactory progress but is continuing in the program on a provisional basis. Committee must indicate what the student must do and in what timeframe to return to satisfactory progress. Graduate groups may determine their own timeline for improvement to be demonstrated.
    • U – Unsatisfactory
      • Will only be used in rare cases
      • To be applied only in a semester when the student is being dropped from the program
      • Usually after receiving at least one written warning and not demonstrating improvement/return to satisfactory progress in the timeline specified by the Graduate Group
      • Marks of U must be approved by the Dissertation Supervisor and the Graduate Group Chair

Process for Professional Doctorate Dissertation Courses

  • Professional doctorate students enrolled in dissertation status courses (9950/9960) in the fall semester will automatically receive a temporary mark of PR to indicate the course is continuing if their registration continues to the next term. 
  • Professional doctorate students who graduate in December should receive a mark of S for the fall semester.
  • Professional doctorate students enrolled in dissertation status courses (9950/9960) in the spring semester receive a permanent mark at the end of the semester for both fall and spring. Marks are: 
    • S – Satisfactory
      • If they received satisfactory progress on the annual progress report
      • If the student is not making satisfactory progress but is continuing in the program on a provisional basis. Committee must indicate what the student must do and in what timeframe to return to satisfactory progress. Programs may determine their own timeline for improvement to be demonstrated.
    • U - Unsatisfactory
      • Will only be used in rare cases
      • To be applied only in a semester when the student is being dropped from the program
      • Usually after receiving at least one written warning and not demonstrating improvement/return to satisfactory progress in the timeline specified by the Program
      • Marks of U must be approved by the Dissertation Supervisor and the Program Director.

Process for Master’s Thesis Status Courses

  • Master’s students enrolled in thesis status courses (9900 or 9990) receive a manual mark each semester of their enrollment. Marks are: 
    • S – Satisfactory
      • To be used in all cases unless the student is being dropped from the program.
    • U – Unsatisfactory
      • Will only be used in rare cases
      • To be applied only in a semester when the student is being dropped from the program
      • Only after receiving at least one written warning and not demonstrating improvement or return to satisfactory progress in the timeline specified by the Graduate Group/Program
      • Marks of U must be approved by the Thesis Supervisor/Instructor and the Graduate Group Chair/Program Director
  • Notes:
    • Only applies to 9900 or 9990 courses
    • Programs who enroll their master’s students in other course numbers for the thesis should continue to follow their own grading policies and procedures
    • Professional programs that wish to use a different grading scheme for their 9900/9990 courses can create a new course number and use a different available grading scheme (A,B,C…, P/F, etc.)

Who Applies the Mark

  • Schools/graduate groups/programs can set their own guidelines as to who should apply the mark.
  • The use of U must be approved by the dissertation/thesis supervisor and Graduate Group Chair/Program Director.
  • Individuals assigned to a dissertation/thesis course as instructors (including the dissertation/thesis supervisor, Graduate Group Chair, etc.) will have access to apply the mark in the system. The decision about who to assign as an instructor to the dissertation/thesis course is at the discretion of the school/Graduate Group/program. 
  • Graduate Group coordinators and school registrars will also have proxy access to assign marks.

How will this be reflected on transcripts?

  • Prior to Fall 2022
    • Any dissertation/thesis enrollment prior to Fall 2022 will remain ungraded on the transcript.
  • Starting in Fall 2022
    • Will show with the new course number and a mark of S/U
    • Notation on transcript
      • “Prior to August 2022 dissertation and master’s thesis status enrollments were not graded”
      • Will appear in the key on the back of the transcript

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Updated 12/15/2022