Wharton MBA Academic Policies

Graduation Requirements for Master of Business Administration

The degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA) will be awarded to candidates who have met the course requirements for graduation, set forth below:

  • successfully completed a minimum of 19.0 course units (CU), of which a minimum of 15.0 CU is Wharton MBA coursework. The remaining 4.0 CU must be graduate level coursework taken within The University of Pennsylvania or as part of an approved dual degree or exchange program, and they cannot be online courses delivered asynchronously.
  • successfully completed the Wharton MBA Core Curriculum
  • successfully completed the requirements of a minimum of one major

MBA Code of Ethics

Members of the Wharton community are expected to uphold the highest ethical standards. The MBA student body has articulated the following guidelines, approved by vote in the Spring of 1989, amended by vote in the Spring of 2005.

Learning Agreement

A group of students, faculty, and administrators have jointly shaped a new Learning Agreement, a set of ideal standards for both students and faculty to create and enjoy an engaging classroom environment.

Electronics in the Classroom Policy

The MBA program disapproves the use of electronic devices during any class for non-educational purposes.  Experience has shown that such use significantly disrupts learning, both for the students using the device and for others in the class. This policy separately addresses phones, laptops, and tablets.

  • Phones must be turned off and put away. If a student must keep a phone on by reason of a personal emergency, the student must inform the instructor before class begins.
  • The use of laptops and tablets is not allowed unless for educational purposes as permitted by the instructor (e.g., notetaking, reading, or data analysis).

Instructors are expected to detail in their syllabi when and how such uses are permitted and what penalties may be imposed for violations of the policy.

Grading System

1. Wharton’s MBA courses are graded on a traditional letter grade system of A through F, with + and – distinctions. The letter grades carry the usual point values A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. The +’s and –’s trisect the interval between full letter grades; i.e., a ‘+’ grade will be 0.33 above the full grade value and a ‘–’ grade 0.33 below. A+’s are allowed but still carry a 4.0 point value, a University of Pennsylvania policy.

2. For MBA classes with an MBA enrollment of 20 or more at the conclusion of the course, the class MBA Grade Point Average (CMGPA) may not exceed 3.33. This upper limit CMGPA is raised by 0.04 for every enrollment count below 20. CMGPA is defined as the average point value of the grades assigned to all MBA students in a class who are governed by this grading system.

3. Faculty are required to notify the MBA Program Office of all students whose performance falls in the lowest 10% (LT) of their Wharton classes when total enrollment is greater than or equal to 20. Students who are consistently in the lowest 10% of their Wharton courses may be subject to academic discipline. See the section on Academic Performance Standards.

4. While the grades A+ through D- are relative performance indicators (i.e., they depend on how other students in the class perform), the F grade is based on an absolute performance standard in every course.

5. The F grade does not earn credit toward graduation and when students receive it in a core course, they are required to re-enroll in the course and obtain a passing grade in order to graduate unless an alternate remedy is deemed appropriate by the faculty member. The courses in which students receive F grades are counted toward the maximum course load for tuition purposes and F grades remain on the transcript.

6. Pass/Fail Option: Each student may take up to one elective credit unit on a Pass/Fail basis each semester. Pass grades will be excluded from individual GPA calculations. Fail grades will be included. Pass grades are not eligible for LT designations, but Fail grades are. The Pass/Fail option does not supersede departmental requirements for majors. (Please note that courses which may only be taken on a Pass/Fail basis, such as MGMT 656 (GIP) and MGMT 891 (offered in conjunction with CPT), do not count toward the one credit unit limit for Pass/Fail courses.)

7. Students who withdraw from courses after the semester has begun may receive a grade of “Withdrawn” (W). The final decision on awarding a “W” rests with both the course instructor and the MBA Program Office. This grade is not included in the calculation of the GPA (see Academic Honors). Courses in which students receive a “W” after the drop deadline count towards the 21 cu maximum course load. Closed courses in which students receive a “W” may also count toward the 21 cu maximum course load.

8. Re-grade requests: Students who believe that there are errors in the grading of an assignment, exam, or any other course component may request that their instructor re-grade that component. These requests should be made as soon as possible and must comply with the requirements and time limits set by the course instructor. If the student is unable to resolve the matter with the instructor, the student may raise the matter with the department chair.  Please note, it is within the exclusive province of the instructor to exercise academic judgment in relation to his/her course and the chair cannot simply substitute their judgment for the academic judgment of the instructor. Students should be aware that, because of the cumulative GPA limit and the LT requirement, a change in one student’s grade or LT status can affect another student’s grade or LT status.

Academic Honors Eligibility

The Wharton School recognizes outstanding academic performance in the MBA Program in several different ways. Please review our academic awards and their corresponding criteria here.

Academic Performance Standards

(a) Academic Probation. ****Please see the modified Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 grading policies down below.

A student will be placed on academic probation upon reaching any one of the following conditions: (1) receive two grades of F in any grading period*, (2) earn 2.5 credit units of Lowest 10% (LT) indicators in the first semester, (3) earn 4.0 credit units of Lowest 10% (LT) indicators in the first two semesters cumulatively, (4) earn 6.0 credit units of Lowest 10% (LT) indicators in the first three semesters cumulatively.** Once a student is on academic probation, the following steps are required:

1. Meet with an academic advisor and develop a plan to succeed which includes:

a. Course work for the remaining semesters
b. Extra-curricular activities
c. Career search activities
d. Other personal interests and needs

The effect of probation may include a limit on the number of credit units taken in a term, a limit on the number of leadership positions the student may hold, and/or the opportunity for school-funded tutoring.

This plan must be approved by an academic advisor in the MBA Program Office. Failure to develop an acceptable plan within the requested deadline articulated on the probation letter may lead to enforced restrictions on the student such as a limit on credit units, a recommended suspension of school-sanctioned leadership roles, or a limit on career management services.

2. At the end of the grading period in which the plan is initiated, review the plan with an academic advisor to assess the student’s success and the plan’s viability;

3. At the end of the semester in which the plan was initiated, the student will meet with his or her academic advisor. If the student has avoided reaching the next probationary state, he/she will be taken off probation.

(b) Academic Dismissal. Any of the following three academic conditions will lead to dismissal from the MBA program: (A) receiving three grades of F in any grading period or in any two contiguous grading periods***; (B) receiving two subsequent grades of F after being placed on academic probation; or (C) accumulating five credit units of the sum of lowest 10% (LT) indicators and F grades that did not carry an LT in the first year or eight credit units of the said sum during the program.

(c) Incompletes. Grades of Incomplete are given at the discretion of the instructor when, on the basis of work completed, the student is doing passing work, but some requirement of the course (e.g., exam or paper) is not completed. All Incomplete grades not removed from a student’s record by the end of the first four weeks in the following regular semester shall be converted automatically to F. For example, a grade of Incomplete earned in the spring semester must be removed by the end of the fourth week of the following fall semester. Grades of Incomplete are changed to permanent grades by the instructor, who submits a change-of-grade upon completion of course requirements. Degrees are awarded in May, August, and December.

(d) Students who finish any semester with grades of Incomplete shall have each Incomplete be considered as one-half of an F grade for academic standards purposes.

(e) For the purpose of paragraphs (a) and (b) above, any Incomplete grade automatically converted to F will be presumed to be an F earned in the semester the student was registered for the course. This could cause a student to be retroactively placed on probation or be dismissed from the program.

(f) A student who is dismissed from the program for academics or other reasons may appeal the decision by writing to the Chair of the MBA Executive Committee within seven days of receiving the dismissal letter. Upon receipt of the request, the committee will convene a hearing and give the student seven days advance notice. The student may appear in person or submit a written appeal. If the student wishes to appear, but cannot, the hearing will still be held. All Committee decisions are final. There is no further appellate body.

(g) Students are considered to be in their first year for purposes of academic standards through the end of their first two full-time semesters in the MBA program. Lauder students and three-year JD/MBA students are considered to be in their first year through the end of their first three full-time semesters, which includes their first summer term and the subsequent two semesters of full-time residency.

(h) The two summer sessions combined shall be considered as one semester (regardless of whether one or two sessions are attended) for the above purposes of probation or dismissal.

(i) Except when an error is made, only those grades initially reported by instructors will be considered in determining whether a student is subject to probation or dismissal.

*A grading period may be a quarter or a semester.

**Note that a “semester” generally refers to fall and spring semesters and that summer terms may count if the student carries a full-time course load in that term, but are to be considered on an individual basis.

***Contiguous grading periods are those that are immediately adjacent to each other. For instance, the contiguous grading period for a full semester course would be the full semester immediately succeeding or preceding (e.g., spring follows fall; fall follows spring). The contiguous grading period for a half semester course would be the half semester immediately succeeding or preceding (e.g., Q2 is contiguous to Q1 and Q3 is contiguous to Q2; however, Q3 is not contiguous with Q1).  In addition Q3 is contiguous to the fall semester. Q4 would not be contiguous to the prior fall semester, but would be contiguous to the following fall semester. 

****For Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, we will not be enforcing an upper limit for the MBA grade point average. When faculty assign grades in MBA courses that are typically bound by a B+ average (3.33), then this upper limit will not apply. Additionally, faculty will not assign LT indicators. Academic performance standards, however, will be enforced. In other words, you cannot get LTs, but accruing F grades can risk your academic standing.

Wharton Grade Disclosure Policy

Wharton students are free to disclose any aspect of their own academic transcripts to prospective employers or any other interested parties, and are encouraged to do so. Such disclosure is a legal right and it is Wharton policy to protect this right. Prospective employers are free to request from students any aspect of their academic transcripts.

Examination Conflict Policy

Examinations (including both midterms and finals) in Wharton courses are governed by the University policies on examinations which are published periodically in the University Almanac and can also be found in the Pennbook. You should be aware that examinations are given on Fridays and evenings, including Thursday evenings, and you should check the examination calendar carefully.

If you have documentable special circumstances such as time conflicts between multiple exams, illness, or grave personal difficulties such as a death in the family, you should petition the MBA Program Office, which will work with the faculty in appropriate cases to find a resolution. The MBA Program Office will require documentation of your conflict as a matter of course. See the Pennbook for policies covering absences resulting from religious observances. You should never approach an instructor with a request to reschedule an exam or make a special accommodation. Approaching an instructor with a request to reschedule an exam or to make a special accommodation can be considered use of a dishonest method to gain unfair advantage over other students.

If you find yourself with a conflict due to your career search or recruiting activity, you should work with the MBA Career Management Office to find a resolution. Employers cannot require a student, as a condition of his or her employment candidacy, to participate in recruiting-related activities at a time that conflicts with his or her academic schedule. An employer’s inflexibility on this issue is considered a violation of Wharton’s recruiting policies. A time conflict due to a job interview, a career pursuit or travel is not an appropriate reason to request accommodation on an academic commitment.

Academic Course Load

The Wharton MBA degree requires 19 CU of graduate level courses, but allows up to 21 CU to be taken without incurring additional tuition charges. If you elect to waive courses, you must replace the waived credit units with elective coursework. The minimum requirement for graduation remains 19 CU at the graduate level regardless of courses waived. Thus, the typical course load in any semester is approximately 5 CU. In order to maintain status as a full-time student, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 3 CU per semester.

If you have a strong academic record, and wish to take more than 6 CU per semester, you may petition the MBA Program Office for permission. You must be in good academic standing and must demonstrate the ability to handle the extra workload. Course loads and limits differ for dual degree students.

Leave of Absence Policy

If you need to interrupt the normal two-year course of study in the MBA Program, you must request a leave of absence by writing a letter to the Deputy Vice Dean of Academic Affairs stating the reason for the request and the length of the expected absence. Depending on the circumstances, a leave of absence may be granted for a semester or a full academic year. The MBA Program only grants leaves to students in good academic standing, and handles requests for extension of the leave on a case-by-case basis. The maximum total duration for a leave of absence from the MBA Program is five years.

MBA Program Attendance Policy

1.1 Student attendance is expected and required, unless excused by the professor or the MBA Program Office/Academic Affairs.

1.2. Absences may be excused. Three types of absences are always excused: Illness, Personal or Family Emergency and Religious holidays. Conflicts due to job interviews, career pursuits, weddings, personal/professional commitments or travel are not appropriate reasons to request an excused absence.

1.3 Please note that faculty determine the form of attendance taking used in their classroom (TAs, Canvas, etc). Students can request that their absence be excused by reaching out directly to their faculty, either via email or the attendance feature in Canvas.

1.4 Academic Advisors can help determine if an absence falls within the excused absence guidelines. They are also available to review documentation and assist with communication to faculty.

1.5 Faculty may have additional criteria regarding their specific attendance policy outlined in their class syllabus. For example, some faculty may have a first class attendance requirement in which students who do not attend the first session are dropped from the course. Additionally, faculty may base part of the course grade on attendance and participation. Attendance may also be among the selection criteria used to select Fellows in the MBA administration