Penn Graduate Student Center

Resources for International Students

We hope that international graduate and professional students at Penn take advantage of all the activities and resources available to them.

The best way to feel comfortable at Penn and Philadelphia is to get involved with your community. This could mean participating in departmental, school, Grad Center or GAPSA events. This could mean exploring your neighborhood. For example, visit your local greenspaces, cafes, and farmers markets.

There's always something to do in Philly!

New International Graduate Students

Many wonderful resources are provided by ISSS at the Penn Global ISSS webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When applying for services in the U.S., you generally need to show at least 6 months of good credit history.

  • If you need to acquire cell phone service and do not have credit history in the US, you may need to put down a deposit of several hundred dollars. Your alternate option is to use a pre-paid phone or wait 6 months until you have built credit history through the paying of other utility bills. Credit history is not acquired when you live on campus as many of your utilities are already included and Penn does not report your rent payment to the credit bureaus. AT&T and Sprint provide discounts on their contract services for Penn students.
  • If you did not acquire a credit card that works in the U.S. before your arrival, one option is to open a bank account and use your debit card as a credit card. After 6 months, you can usually apply for a credit card (perhaps easiest through your current bank) as long as you have developed a credit history.

Improving your Language Skills

Many international students ask us how they can improve their English language skills. Unfortunately, there's no easy way! Here are some opportunties for practicing your English.

Practice in a Group

Practice One-on-One

Here are some tips to find an English speaking practice partner. In general, you must be able to trade speaking skills. For example, if you are a native Chinese speaker, you will find a native English-speaking partner much faster if you are willing to help the other person learn Chinese.


Penn's academic code of conduct may differ from your home country. Please be sure to understand Penn's code of academic integrity. If you have trouble understanding what to do in a specific situation, please consult with the professor or TA in your classroom, and/or the Office of Student Conduct.

Outside of the classroom, the Weingarten Center offers academic workshops for the new student. If you are a TA in the classroom, you can also consult with the Center for Teaching and Learning and/or the Office of Student Conduct.

Get Involved

Common Room Hours

Monday-Thursday: 9AM - 8PM
Friday: 9AM - 6PM
Saturday-Sunday: 12pm - 6pm

Graduate Student Center

3615 Locust Walk
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia PA 19104-6221