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 3.50. 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. 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.
  4. The F grade does not earn credit toward graduation. Students who receive an F in a core course 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 instructor. 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.
  5. 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. 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.
  6. Pass/Fail Option: Each student may take up to one elective course unit on a Pass/Fail basis each semester. Pass grades will be excluded from individual GPA calculations. Fail grades will be included. Courses taken Pass/Fail cannot be counted towards MBA 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 will receive a grade of “Withdrawn” (W) under the following circumstances. The MBA Program has two drop deadlines, the drop/add deadline and the final day to drop deadline. If a course is at capacity as of the drop/add deadline, then withdrawing from a course after that date will warrant a “W” on the transcript for holding a seat that a classmate may have used. Withdrawing from a course after the final day to drop deadline, will warrant a “W” on the transcript and the course unit will be counted towards the 21 CU maximum course load. Students cannot withdraw from a course once the last class session has begun.
  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 only with the department chair. Please note, it is within the exclusive province of the instructor to exercise academic judgment in relation to their 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, a change in one student’s grade can affect another student’s grade.

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

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 or (2) have a semester Wharton GPA that is less than 2.67 in any of the first three semesters. Students placed on probation as a result of their performance in a given semester will be removed from academic probation when they do not satisfy either of the conditions for probation in a subsequent semester.

Once a student is notified, they are required to meet with their academic adviser within two weeks and develop a plan to succeed. This includes reviewing the course load, the balance between non-academic and academic activities, as well as other personal interest and needs. The student’s plan must be in writing. Failure to develop a plan within two weeks after being notified may result in a course registration hold, a suspension of school-sanctioned leadership roles, or a limit on career management services.

(b) Dismissal

Any of the following academic conditions will lead to dismissal from the MBA program during or at the end of the first year: (1) receiving three grades of F in any grading period or in any two contiguous grading periods during the first year; (2) receiving two grades of F while on academic probation during the first year; (3) having a semester Wharton GPA that is less than or equal to 2.33 for both semesters of the first year; or (4) having 5 CU of Wharton courses with a grade less than or equal to 2.33 (C+ or lower) at the end of the first year. In addition, a student will be dismissed if they fail to meet the second-year graduation requirements within the allotted time frame, which is discussed in (c).

(c) Second-year Graduation Requirement

In order to graduate, students must satisfy the following requirements during their second year in the program: (1) maintain a Wharton GPA that is greater than 2.33 in each semester of their second year, and (2) have no more than 4 CU of Wharton courses with a grade less than or equal to 2.33 (C+ or lower) in their second year. Students who fail to satisfy the second-year graduation requirements must successfully complete remedial work as determined by the relevant Program Office in conjunction with the MBA Executive Committee in order to graduate. Students who do not complete the remedial work within the time frame established by the relevant Program Office in conjunction with the MBA Executive Committee will be dismissed from the MBA program.

(d) Appeal

A student who is dismissed from the program for academic or other reasons, may appeal the decision by writing to the Chair of the MBA Executive Committee within seven days of receiving the notice. Similarly, a student who fails to satisfy the second-year graduation requirements, may request a hearing by the MBA Executive Committee to determine the remedial work. Upon receipt of the request, the committee will convene a hearing and give the student seven days advance notice. All MBA Executive Committee decisions are final. There is no further appellate body.

(e) Definitions

The Wharton GPA is based on the letter grades received in Wharton MBA courses. Thus, the GPA reflected on the transcript may not equal the Wharton GPA as the transcript GPA reflects all coursework taken at the University of Pennsylvania. A grading period may be a quarter or a semester. Contiguous grading periods are those immediately adjacent to each other. A semester refers to fall and spring semesters. The two summer terms combined shall be considered a semester if the student carries a full-time course load in the summer.  Students are considered to be in their first year 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, including their first summer term and the subsequent two semesters of full-time residency.

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

Attendance is an important aspect of the Wharton commitment, and the MBA Program seeks to foster a dynamic classroom environment in which students are fully engaged in the learning process, drawing knowledge from in-class instruction while also contributing to the shared knowledge of the class. The MBA Program Attendance Policy was formulated to engender such an experience by helping facilitate the community’s shared commitment to learning.

1.1  Student attendance is expected and required, unless excused by the faculty or the MBA Program Office. Wharton students are admitted in part because of the experiences they bring to the community and what they can contribute to class discussions. Without consistent attendance, learning as a collaborative process cannot exist.

1.2 Wharton’s policy is that only personal illness and personal or family emergencies are excused absences. If a student needs to miss several classes for these reasons, an academic advisor will follow up with them and request documentation. Religious holidays during which classes are scheduled may be excused for observant students. Conflicts due to job interviews, career pursuits, weddings, personal and professional commitments, or travel are not appropriate reasons to request an excused absence.

1.3 Faculty may have additional criteria regarding their specific attendance policy outlined in their class syllabus. Faculty are the final arbiters of their class attendance policy and have the full right to strictly enforce these rules. Faculty may base part of the course grade on attendance, engagement, and participation and each faculty decides on the form of attendance taking. Notice that late arrival is disruptive to the learning environment and promptness is expected. A late arrival may be considered an absence.

Faculty may require attendance in the first few classes as a necessary condition of enrollment in the course regardless of the student’s registration status. Faculty have the full right to strictly enforce the first-class mandatory policy. Some faculty may also require attendance in a minimum number of sessions to remain enrolled or receive a passing grade in the course. It is the student’s responsibility to find out in advance if the course has such requirements.

Faculty are the final arbiters of who is enrolled in their classes. If a student becomes disruptive to the class, the faculty can request that the MBA Program Office remove a student from the course roster.

1.4 Recruiting activities are not a basis for excusable absence. If you find yourself in a conflict due to your career search or recruiting activity, you should work with the MBA Career Management Office to find a resolution. Employers are prohibited from requiring recruiting-related activities, e.g., interviews, events or travel, that conflict with a student’s academic commitments. An employer’s inflexibility on this issue is considered a violation of Wharton’s recruiting policy.

1.5 The foregoing attendance policy is applied stringently in fixed core classes, in that MGMT 6100, MKTG 6110, STAT 6130, STAT6210, MGEC 6110, and MGEC 6120 require student attendance. For these classes, use of the MBA Program Attendance App, described below, is required.

1.6 Attendance is among the selection criteria used to select Fellows and participants in exchange programs. This includes the MBA Program Academic Awards, Leadership Fellows, Student-Life Fellows, Communications Fellows, Admissions Fellows, Venture Fellows, the Semester in San Francisco program, and exchange programs with our overseas partner schools.


MBA Program Attendance App

2.1 Students may check in to a class in which they are enrolled at any time during the Check-In Period, which opens ten minutes before class and closes at the end of class.

2.2 To check in, students must be physically present in the classroom and must use the Program Attendance mobile app or website. Students may not check in on behalf of others. Misuse of the attendance app is a violation of the MBA Code of Ethics.

2.3 Students must file an absence request through the Program Attendance app if they cannot attend a class and the faculty is using the app. They may submit absence requests for class meetings up to 2 weeks in the past as well as for future class meetings.

2.4 Students will receive an email at the close of the day showing a list of classes that require attendance for which they have not checked in.