Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

The University of Pennsylvania continues to monitor the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and is committed to supporting students whose semesters are disrupted by these unprecedented circumstances.  This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation.

We understand that students and families have many questions about how their global program may be affected, and what resources are available to you from Penn. Please consult the below FAQs for the most updated information available.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the University of Pennsylvania’s recommendations regarding travel abroad at this time?

The University of Pennsylvania has aligned all travel recommendations with travel guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as with additional travel recommendations from the US Department of State (DOS) as of March 19, 2020.  Full CDC and DOS information for travel regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is available here:  

Please also visit the University of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources webpage for more information. 

What do the University of Pennsylvania travel guidelines mean for students currently studying abroad in the spring semester 2020?

Based on DOS and CDC guidance at this time:

Penn is strongly urging the departure of all students from their abroad programs immediately. While it will always remain the student’s choice to stay abroad or depart, we want all students to strongly consider the rapidly changing situation in all international locations. The most recent information along with some important considerations can be found in the most recent email information sent to students currently abroad (March 19, 2020). 

For students who will depart: 

  • Penn will fully reimburse the cost of a flight ticket change fee or a one-way return ticket (economy class only) booked by April 1, including baggage fees, from their study abroad location to return either to their home location or to Philadelphia. Penn will not reimburse a ticket to a third-country location. Students who wish to be reimbursed must first try to rebook an existing ticket and Penn will cover the change fee and any additional fees. Students unable to rebook their existing ticket are expected to book an economy class one-way fare to Philadelphia or their home location. Booking information instructions have been emailed to all students and a record can be found at the bottom of this page.  

  • Students who choose to depart should do so by April 1st, but are strongly urged to do so as soon as possibleDeparting students should be aware of flight availability and travel restrictions for their current location and destination location. There may be further impacts to mobility for specific locations put into place in the days ahead. 

For students who choose to remain in their abroad program location: 

  • Students may depart at any time after April 1, however, it will be at their own expense. 

  • We require all students remaining abroad to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk form, which will be provided to them by their Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager. 

  • Students will continue to have access to International SOS for the duration of their abroad program.  

  • Penn further discourages any and all travel outside of the host city while students are abroad, as remaining in a single location helps to mitigate potential exposure and health and safety risk increase with increased mobility. 

How will COVID-19 and Penn’s travel recommendations impact my academics this spring semester?

Regarding academics, every abroad program is managing this evolving situation differently. Some programs have temporarily suspended courses for a short period of time, while others have moved to online teaching for a short or long period of time. First and foremost, please stay up to date on all information being circulated by your host program and follow all instructions that you receive. You are expected to complete all coursework as outlined by your abroad program, through and including final exams.  

We know it is a challenging decision to depart a program if you are not certain about your academic plan. Home School advisors continue to work with all returning students to discuss implications of this disruption on your academic plan. Even if the details are not firm at this time, we strongly encourage departure and continuation of these conversations as you return home. A full or partial tuition credit continues to be available to students who receive no or partial academic credit as a result of leaving an abroad program early due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

  • If your abroad program moves to entirely online teaching for the full remainder of your study abroad term, including the remote proctoring of final exams, we strongly urge you to depart your abroad location and return home. Please contact your Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager to communicate your departure plans. 

  • If your abroad program does not move to entirely online teaching for the full remainder of your study abroad term, Penn Schools will make every effort to support you. Please reach out directly to your school advisor to discuss your academic plan. Penn will offer a full or partial tuition credit to students who receive no or partial academic credit as a result of leaving an abroad program early due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

  • Anyone leaving a study abroad program must consult with their school advisor directly in order to determine any impact on their academic plan.

School Advisor List 

How would my departure from my study abroad program impact tuition and financial aid?

Penn’s undergraduate Schools are discussing how best to academically support undergraduate students who, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, are unable to continue in their study abroad coursework. In response to these unprecedented circumstances, Penn is allowing undergraduate students who withdraw from their study abroad program or those who cannot receive full academic credit due to COVID-19 to be eligible for a tuition credit. This credit may be applied toward tuition charges for Penn summer courses or for tuition charges in any future Fall or Spring term of enrollment at Penn. This credit is not refundable to you and is not applicable to tuition charges at other institutions in the US or abroad. Further, this credit is applicable toward tuition charges for courses that contribute to the requirements of your current program of study at Penn only and is not applicable toward tuition charges for extra coursework that is otherwise not required for your current program of study at Penn, such as a submatriculated Master’s degree or second Bachelor’s degree for single degree undergraduate students.

If you decide to withdraw from your study abroad program, you must consult with your School advisor and with SRFS to work out your academic plan going forward and to make a determination of how the tuition credit can be applied to your account. We are sympathetic to the unprecedented nature of this situation and its impact on your plans, and will work with each student to find the best solution under the circumstances.

Please contact the Office of Student Registration and Financial Services (SRFS) with questions by phone at 215-898-1988 or by email sfsmail@pobox.upenn.edu.  

I’m an international student currently study abroad, and I have concerns about my visa status. What should I do?

If you are an international student studying abroad this spring semester, it is important that you contact ISSS to discuss how a decision to remain or depart early may affect your US international student visa status. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at: isss@pobox.upenn.edu.

How can I find further information on COVID-19 and relevant health and wellness guidance?

We encourage all students to continue to stay healthy and well, especially if planning to travel or if using public or private transportation. While there is a high level of uncertainty as the disease spreads around the country and the world, every member of the Penn community has a responsibility to manage their own health and to practice social distancing to limit the spread of disease and protect the most vulnerable. Please visit Penn’s COVID-19 resource page for tips on how to stay healthy, as well as Penn’s main COVID-19 page for updated information.

We also want to remind you that CAPS and International SOS are accessible to you 24 hours a day to address additional concerns or stress this uncertain situation may be causing you. Here are relevant contact numbers for your reference:

  • International SOS (+1 215 942 8478 / 11BSGC000012)

  • Penn CAPS (+1 215 898 7021)

  • Penn Abroad (+1 215 898 9073) *Note, Penn Abroad operating hours are Monday – Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm ET

Email Updates Sent to Spring 2020 Study Abroad Students