Wharton Spring ’21 Semester Plans

This page was last updated on February 8, 2021 @ 5:30pm

Program Dean Announcements

Update from Vice Dean Howard Kaufold

My MBA Program colleagues and I look forward to starting the Spring semester this week with you all. Our commitment to those of you who have chosen to study virtually and those who will join us in the Limited Hybrid Model remains the same; we want to provide programs and support to deliver the best MBA Program.

Our success to launch the Spring semester will depend upon your preparation and staying connected to important updates you can find on the MBA Spring 2021 Planning website. Please also take time to read information provided below. which provides you with information about Wharton School-wide updates.

Together, we have demonstrated resilience and shared values to keep learning and supporting each other as the way to thrive in the semester ahead.

Important Community Updates

  • NEW  Read the latest version of the Limited Hybrid Model: Student Planning Guide, which has information to help MBA students understand the spring semester experience.
  • NEW  The success of the Limited Hybrid Model is dependent upon the set of decisions that we collectively make as a community.
  • NEW  The MBA Program is prepared to pivot our execution as needed to comply with the alert levels outlined by the University during the Spring term. If we need to limit in-person interactions at any time, we will strive to return to in-person as soon as health and safety conditions allow.
  • NEW  Co-curricular activities will be scheduled on M-Th at 4:30 p.m.–6 p.m. beginning in February.

Curricular Overview

The MBA Program is targeting a limited hybrid delivery of curricular and co-curricular offerings for Spring 2021. While many classes will remain virtual and a fully virtual semester is available to all students, some classes will include an in-person classroom component for the duration of the course. Classroom capacity is capped at 25 individuals, including the instructor. For some classes, the professor will be present in-person, and for others, students will be in-person and the professor will teach remotely. On the co-curricular side, we are adapting community building and student leadership events and opportunities to be conducted virtually and/or in small groups. Students will be assigned cohort days on which they can enter Huntsman Hall.

Curricular Details

Academic Calendar

Wharton has moved the start date of the Spring 2021 semester from January 13 to Wednesday, January 20, 2021. To account for the later start, Spring break will be shortened to five days: March 10–14. There will also be no classes on Friday, February 12; Tuesday, March 30; and Monday, April 12. The last day of Quarter 4 and full-semester electives is April 28. The Spring semester is scheduled to conclude with the last day of final exams on Tuesday, May 11. The date of MBA Commencement Ceremony on May 16 remains unchanged.

In-Person Classroom Guidelines

All MBA students are now able to request in-person seats in JMHH for courses for any day of the week (Monday–Thursday), no matter what cohort you are in. There is no requirement for in-person attendance. We will offer a virtual option for all curricular offerings.

Hybrid Courses

Delivering a hybrid course means that some students can be present in the classroom while others participate remotely. There will be two versions of hybrid courses, with the instructor present in the classroom and with the instructor joining remotely. For example, a student is registered for an elective course that meets on Monday and Wednesday. If this student attends on Monday, then the student can be in the classroom with up to 23 peers from the assigned cohort while others participate virtually. The groups switch on Wednesday. Not all courses will be hybrid, there will also be courses for which all students participate virtually.

Course Breakdown & Registration Process

We will utilize our Course Match registration system for all MBA Spring courses. The Seat Management Application allows MBA students to set their attendance preferences for classes which offer an in-person experience.

For-Credit Travel Based Courses

Global Modular Courses and Global Immersion Programs are currently suspended. We have recently launched three Global Virtual Courses: Finance in Europe, Lessons from Israeli Innovation, and Technology, Entrepreneurship and the New Space Age. We are committed to offering GIPs and GMCs as soon as we are able and the following three conditions are met: 1) The University of Pennsylvania lifts travel restrictions for faculty, students, and staff, 2) Foreign governments (in our target countries) lift travel bans on travelers from the U.S. and 3) Companies are willing to welcome student groups to their offices. Our hope is to resume travel courses in Summer 2021.


Prioritized Events/Activities

We are focused on adapting hallmark and foundational events such as Follies, Dance Studio, 1st Year Send Off, Graduation Pub, and Graduation. Events will be either virtual or conducted in small groups in accordance with the Student Campus Compact and government guidelines.

Clubs & Student Leadership

The Office of Student Life is working closely with student clubs and the WGA to empower these groups to develop new means of connecting with their membership and classmates via virtual and small group events. Student leaders continue to serve in partnership with the administration in exemplifying community responsibility and stewardship in this changing environment.

Penn Student Campus Compact Compliance

We continue to work with members of the University health and safety administration to investigate and evaluate scenarios for students to gather safely within the parameters set by the SCC and government guidelines. We are also committed to providing streaming/virtual options to those that choose to remain at home and not come together in-person. The SCC is our commitment to maintaining the health and safety of our community of Wharton MBAs, students of the University of Pennsylvania, and residents living in cities across the world.

School-Wide Safety Protocols


Testing, Health & Safety

Student Testing

Visit Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page to find instructions for undergraduate and graduate students. Please refer to your degree program’s Spring Plans page for specific testing guidelines.

Travel Quarantine

Anyone coming from outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is asked to be mindful of guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the City of Philadelphia. Although this guidance is fluid and changes frequently, the University requires students complete a 14-day precautionary travel quarantine, which is the gold standard of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students will receive gateway testing immediately upon arriving on campus. Results of the gateway test do not change the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. One cannot test out of quarantine.

Faculty & Staff Testing

All faculty, staff, and post-docs who are on campus for four or more hours each week interacting with other community members, or whose activities on campus involve teaching, or who are regularly in an aggregate setting of ten or more people in a single shared space on campus will be required to complete screening testing.


Facilities Access & Guidelines

In-Person Classroom Facilities

Students can only enter a Wharton building where they have a scheduled class or activity. Not all degree programs will use the same facilities. Please refer to your program’s Spring Plans page for specific guidelines.

At this time, we expect the following Wharton buildings to be utilized for the spring semester:

  • Jon M. Huntsman Hall
  • Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall
  • Wharton Academic Research Building

Building Cleaning Protocols

All Penn buildings are maintained, cleansed, and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines. Hospital Grade Disinfectant is utilized when disinfecting buildings daily, and the schools have implemented a fluorescent marking system that allows us to verify cleaning techniques. In addition, Wharton has multiple hand sanitizing stations through the facilities (not just in restrooms) and wipe stations strategically located between classrooms for individuals to access and to wipe down surfaces.

PennOpen Pass

Everyone who comes to campus (faculty, staff, and students) will be required to enroll in PennOpen Pass. PennOpen Pass is a daily symptom checker and exposure reporting system designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the Penn community. Daily symptom checks or exposure reporting on PennOpen Pass are required of those who are on campus.


Student Compact & Governance

Penn Student Compact

All Penn students agree to adhere to the guidelines detailed in the Penn Student Conduct Compact. The updated Compact includes 4 distinct categories of governance: Health & Wellness, Campus Movement, Travel and Guests, and Social Life and Recreation.

The Compact outlines protocols for all Penn students, regardless of where they are living during the Spring 2021 semester. As always, the university is closely monitoring public health guidance and will communicate updates to the Compact as needed.

Compact Violations

Compact violations will be reviewed by the Compact Review Panel and may be forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct for disciplinary review and action per the Disciplinary Charter of the University of Pennsylvania.

Individuals can bring infractions to the attention of the review panel by submitting their information here: https://upenn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6R4DIR9Pm2ziKsl

Frequently Asked Questions

 Current MBA students, be sure to check the MBA Program Spring 2021 Plans website for the latest updates.


How many classes can I expect to be able to take in-person?

We don’t know the answer to this yet. Similar to you participating in a survey about your Spring preferences, we are currently working with faculty and listening to their concerns about going back to in-person teaching. Even though we don’t know the number, for the hybrid classes that we can deliver you can expect to be in the classroom every other session. You will be participating virtually during the remaining sessions.

Will there be a virtual option for all classes?

Yes, you can complete your Spring semester virtually. We have heard from students throughout the Fall semester about health concerns, not being able to travel to Philadelphia, and other difficult individual situations to maneuver. We want all students to be able to make progress towards the MBA degree and will therefore continue to offer this option.

What will the in-person classroom experience be like?

Classrooms in Huntsman Hall are configured such that at most 24 students can be in the room at one time, plus the instructor. Delivering hybrid means that some students will be in-person while others participate virtually at the same time. While this allows us to offer the number of seats needed, it also presents pedagogical challenges. The instructor teaching must decide on how to manage the class. Thus we ask for your support and flexibility while instructors decide on their most inclusive approach. While in class, students will need to follow University guidelines for face coverings and social distancing at all times, as well as refraining from eating and drinking in classrooms at any time.

How do I view and select hybrid courses?

MBA students will use Course Match to view and select courses currently scheduled as part of the hybrid plan. Each course shows the supply of in-person, streaming, and virtual seats. The seat assignment process will be managed with a seat management application.

How do I choose my seat in a Limited Hybrid in-person or streaming class?

The seat management application will allow you to indicate your preferences for in-person and streaming seats. A lottery will then determine the seat allocation. Over the semester, the lottery will provide a fair distribution of in-person seats for the MBA students that request them. The seat management application gives second-year MBAs priority.

Learn more about the seat management application here.

Can I use classroom space to stream courses on my own?

The seat management application will assign a “touchdown” space, if there is capacity, for students to stream on their own — immediately prior or following an in-person section.

Student Life

Will Wharton be providing students with opportunities to socialize and network?

Yes, our goal is to provide — via small, in-person and virtual activities — opportunities for students to continue to develop meaningful connections with their peers. Spring program offerings will include Conversations that Matter (CTM), 60 Second Lectures, Wharton Proud to Know You Program, Wharton MBA Olympics, Student Life Fellow Programming, and events marking Wharton milestones such as Quarter 1 Salute and 1st Year Send Off. We also encourage students to explore their options to connect with their peers that are compliant with the Student Campus Compact and local, state, and federal guidelines.

Can my club or organization reserve space in JMHH?

Student clubs and organizations will NOT be permitted to reserve meeting space in Jon M. Huntsman Hall.


How are internships and full-time opportunities being impacted by the current circumstances?

As of now we are seeing similar levels of recruiting activity/job postings as in prior years (e.g., 130 EISs in 2019 vs 123 EISs in 2020). All our peer schools are fully virtual for recruiting as well and all companies are adapting to the new format. We will keep students informed as we get updates from companies but students should take advantage of the lack of travel necessary for recruiting this year and explore additional options they would like to consider.


Where should I check for updates to student guidelines?

Students should visit Wharton HQ or this MBA 2021 Spring Plans website for MBA Program updates.

Any City/State/National updates affecting our established pivot criterion will be communicated directly to students by the dean’s office via email. Any changes to the Limited Hybrid Model: Student Planning Guide will be communicated directly to students by the Office of the Vice Dean.

I have reviewed all the Spring 2021 resources and still have more questions. Who do I contact?

Students should post their questions in Wharton HQ. Responses will be made within 24 hours of the post by the appropriate staff resource during business hours.