Spring 2021 Undergraduate Research Guidelines

University Policy on Undergraduate Research

The University policy on undergraduate research during COVID-19 remain in place for Spring 2021.  Research, including research conducted as part of a course or for credit, non-credit research, and work study or other paid or volunteer research positions, must be conducted remotely until further notice except for research required for graduation or as a programmatic requirement. The guiding principle is to limit in-person activities and promote a safe campus environment.  When at all possible, research should be done remotely.

Penn Engineering Guidelines for Undergraduate Research:

Undergraduate research plans in Penn Engineering will align and utilize the research resumption plan developed by the Principal Investigator and/or the Department chair, and be approved by the Associate Dean for Research while respecting  the key role of academic progress for our students.  Undergraduate access to labs will require participation in PennOpen Pass and strict adherence to safety protocols described in the Student Campus Compact.

Undergraduate students involved with research required for graduation or as a programmatic requirement may be allowed in research labs and other in-person research spaces on a limited basis if and only if:

  • The research cannot be conducted remotely
  • The research is conducted in accordance with Penn Engineering’s Research Resumption Plan and the Student Campus Compact.

Students will be required to submit a short justification of (a) why they need to return to campus; (b) what capabilities in your lab or in a core/multi-user facility they need access to; and (c) what programmatic requirements for their degree they are trying to satisfy. Examples of (c) include research for the Clark or Rachleff Scholars programs, the VIPER program, or for independent studies.

Please note lab density requirements may further limit access.


The full approval process may take up to two weeks. Independent Study will follow the normal process via the standard Independent Study form. Other requests to satisfy degree or programmatic (VIPER, Rachleff Scholars, etc.) requirements are noted under Other Requests below. Any access is pending department approval, review of needs, and capacity.

Independent Study

  1. Students submit an independent design project using the standard form https://ugrad.seas.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Independent-Study-Application-COVID-11-2020.pdf
  2. Once the SEAS Registrar signs off on this form, the student will receive a link to complete the Undergraduate Research Resumption webform to opt in to a resumption of research activities.

Other Requests that are degree or programmatic  required

Please note: Scholars programs should justify why they cannot do the work remotely.

If  conditions identified in the Guidelines for Undergraduate Research section above are met, please engage the following process:

  1. Complete and submit webform for Undergraduate Research Resumption to opt in to a resumption of research activities.
    1. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf4q31WHmrVgp6mwk4NFwn3tkvB8mJFxhrSE4N5GxP_J9sM3Q/viewform
  2. Faculty are notified of the student’s submission of an application to opt-in to undergraduate research.
  3. Faculty advisor add students to their Research Resumption Plan
  4. Students complete the Knowledgelink training for a resumption of research https://ehrs.upenn.edu/resumption-research-training-penn-labs prior to returning to campus.
  5. Faculty advisor will work within department and school to process approval