Robotics Master's FAQs

Below is a compilation of frequently asked questions by students. If you have any additional questions, please email Charity Payne at

Propective Students | Submatriculants | Transfer Students | Current Students | Alumni

Prospective Students:

  • What advantages does the Robotics Master’s program offer compared to other majors in the School of Engineering? 
ROBO offers you the unique advantage and benefits associated with the GRASP Lab with interdisciplinary curriculum while being housed under the CIS department. As a ROBO student, you will receive all of the announcements of GRASP academic and industry related events as well as the job and internship opportunities that are passed through our email lists from our industry connections and alumni network. The opportunity to do research under the amazing GRASP lab faculty in our lab is in high demand by all and at your fingertips as a ROBO student as well. I hope this gives you a little bit of an idea and helps answer your question.  
  • What are the requirements for the one-page personal statement (also required for internal submatriculant, Master’s transfer and dual Master’s requests)?
Please provide a one-page statement that will give us more insight into your current robotic-related achievements and future goals. 
You may feel free to describe your background, why you're interested in the program, if you have any research experience and what you plan to do with the ROBO degree after graduation. 
  • Is there any Financial Aid for the Robotics Master‘s Program?
There is no departmental funding for Master's students. A link to alternative funding sources can be found at - and here for employment opportunities,
  • Is there a “Potential Student” visit day?
Yes, there will be a Prospective Student Visit Day for admitted students only in late March/early April after admission decisions have been released.
  • Is the MSE program based on coursework or research?
The Robotics M.S.E. requirements consist of a total of ten courses–at least three foundational courses, five technical elective courses, and at most two general elective courses. The thesis project is optional.
  • Can my TOEFL score be waived?
The TOEFL/IELTS requirement is not required for US Citizens/Permanent Residents that reside in the US and for whom English is their native language. It can be waived if an applicant has completed at least three (3) years of academic work on a full-time basis by the time of matriculation at a school where English is the language of instruction or  The academic work can be at a university-level institution in the United States, in a country in which English is recognized as the official language or where the medium of instruction is English. If you have less than three (3) years, it will not be waived. If you have questions about this, please email
For those that attended school outside of the US, the transcript must note that the medium of instruction was in English in order for you to have the test waived. If this information is not noted on the transcript then your school will have to send official verification to our office.
  • How long is the program?
The Robotics MSE program is usually 2 years and requires 10 course units. 
  • Can I transfer courses from other schools to count towards my Master’s degree?
Transferring in a course requires a petition process. If approved, a maximum of two courses may be transferred to a Master’s program and credit will only be awarded for courses earning a grade of ‘B’ or higher. A final transcript is required as well and a statement (either on the transcript or in a letter from your undergraduate department) that the course(s) was not counted towards your undergraduate degree.


  • When should I apply?
You may apply for submatriculation at any point before the start of your senior year at Penn. 
  • Additional Application Requirements for Submatriculants:
In addition to the Penn Engineering requirements undergraduate applicants must 1) include a personal statement (1 page or less) along with their application; 2) have a minimum cumulative STEM GPA of 3.2 in order to apply. Your application form and personal statement may then be submitted to Charity Payne, in Levine 459, to start the review process.

Transfer Students

  • I was accepted to another MS program at Penn, could I transfer to the Robotic’s Master Program?
Due to the high demand we are unable to automatically accept transfer or dual masters requests from students in other Masters programs at Penn. Students who are interested in applying to the robotics masters program from other programs at Penn will be afforded an opportunity to be considered as part of the regular admission process with the deadline of February 1st. Please note that acceptance to the robotics program is highly competitive and that there are typically many more applicants than places available. Applications will only be accepted after 1 semester is completed in your current program at Penn.
For those that wish to apply: 1) Permission will need to be given to access your original graduate application to Penn 2) Updated materials such as personal statements, resume, letter of recommendation, etc may be submitted as well to complete your application 3) The paper petition form to transfer signed by your current program and additional documents must be submitted to Joy McManus by February 1st. Decisions will be released 6-8 weeks after the deadline.
  • How do I submit a recommendation letter?
Please have your letter writer email their letter directly to the ROBO Graduate Coordinator,

Current Students:

  • How do I select an advisor?
A welcome email will be sent to all admitted students that accepted their admission after June 1st with details on course selection and advisor preferences. There is no need to reach out to an advisor ahead of time since we will be assigning the students to our faculty members.
  • How do I request to a permit to enroll in a class or to be added to a waitlist? 
For CIS you may use this form:
Other Departments you may email the faculty member directly. 
  • I would like a course to be counted as a technical elective, how can I do that?
Students are welcome to petition for a course to be counted as a technical elective with valid reasoning, but it is not a guaranteed approval. Here is the form that you will need to fill out and have signed by your ROBO faculty advisor. Once complete, please submit the form to Levine 459 or in the plastic bin on the door. 
  • Are there any TA/RA positions available in your department?
TA positions are provided through the departments. RA positions through the GRASP Lab are limited and setup directly with the faculty. 
  • A new course is available but not on the Robotics master’s list, can I count it towards my degree?
Any graduate level course (500 level or above) in Mathematics, MCIT, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering will automatically count as a general elective. If you feel you have good reasoning, you may petition for it to count as a technical elective. 
  • (International Students) If I plan to graduate with ten courses taken, do I have to take three courses for two semesters and four courses for one semester? 
Many ROBO students decide to take courses with these splits 3-3-2-2 or 3-2-3-2 in the Fall and Spring Semesters. Some have also split up their courses 3-3-3-1. Summers are usually set aside for internships (CPT for International students) and research opportunities. The program is very flexible in that way! In all cases, international students must apply for a reduced course load during any semester they take under 3 courses. 
  • Is it possible to transfer to another MSE program in SEAS?
Yes, you may apply to transfer to another Master's Program after the completion of your first semester. Please see corresponding MSE program requirements. 
  • I need a letter to (examples listed): (1) verify my Full-time status, (2) verify that I am in good academic standing, (3) verify my expected date of graduation, (4) verify my dates of enrollment, (5) verify my degree awarded, (6) confirm that Penn does not rank students, or (7) invitation letter for graduation ceremony? 
Use the “Request a Letter” Form here:


  • How do I get my Alumni email? 
  • How do I request a letter:
Email with your specific request.