Wharton Doctoral New Student Orientation

Welcome to Wharton Doctoral Programs!

The information below is available to help as you navigate your first year as a Wharton Doctoral student. We encourage you to bookmark this page and refer back as needed.

Be sure to review the deadlines and complete the steps in the New Wharton PhD Checklist at the bottom of the page.

If you have questions at any time, please reach out to Wharton Doctoral Programs Directors, Gidget Murray (gmurray@wharton.upenn.edu) and Maggie Saia (msaia@wharton.upenn.edu).

Wharton Doctoral Inside

Wharton Doctoral Inside is the one-stop site for all Wharton Doctoral students. Here you will find policies, resources and forms as your progress through the program: https://doctoral-inside.wharton.upenn.edu/

In addition, the Wharton Doctoral Inside includes the Wharton Doctoral Programs Policies & Procedures Handbook on the Doctoral Inside website: https://doctoral-inside.wharton.upenn.edu/policies-procedures/.

 This handbook defines the minimum standards to which all of the school’s Doctoral concentrations and programs must adhere.  The most up to date version can always be found online on the Doctoral Inside website by clicking the Policies & Procedures tab.

Graduate Student Center New Student Hub

Learn about groups, clubs, resources and event for new graduate students across Penn: https://gsc.upenn.edu/welcome

Wharton Doctoral Student Groups


The Wharton Doctoral Council (WDC) is a student-run committee that endeavors to offer opportunities for socialization and fun for current Wharton Ph.D. students.


Wharton Society for the Advancement of Women in Business Academia (WSAWBA), our mission is to provide a professional and social support network for women in business academia, to identify challenges faced by women in building research careers in business-related fields, and to work to address these challenges.


The Mack Innovation Doctoral Association (MIDAS) is a student-run cross-departmental organization of Wharton PhD students interested in research topics related to innovation, including technology strategy, financing and organizing of innovation, entrepreneurship, and digitization. Its main activities include a seminar series for in-progress student research and the Wharton Innovation Doctoral Symposium (WINDS), a multi-disciplinary doctoral conference that takes place annually.


The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) has been an important initiator of change at the University of Pennsylvania. Since its founding over 30 years ago, the organization has striven to enhance the Penn graduate student experience through a diversified array of initiatives with an emphasis on promoting interdisciplinary research and bringing students from different disciplines together. GAPSA accomplishments are featured in the Daily Pennsylvanian and Penn Almanac and further discussions can be found in Board of Trustees Minutes.


The Purpose of the Black Graduate and Professional Students Assembly (BGAPSA) shall be to enhance the quality of life for graduate and professional students of the African Diaspora at the University of Pennsylvania through a centralized, campus-wide organizational structure that addresses their academic, social, political and cultural needs and concerns.

Fontaine Society

In 1970 an endowment was established posthumously in honor of Dr. William Fontaine, Professor of Philosophy, the first African-American appointed to the Standing Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. From its inception, the endowment, known as the “Fontaine Fellowship” has been used to advance the University’s goals related to enrolling a diverse student body and fostering a vibrant intellectual environment. Originally restricted to students from groups “traditionally and historically underrepresented” in higher education – specifically U.S. African American, Native American, and Hispanic students – diversity is now more broadly defined, and may include, for example, first-generation college students who are from low income families, or students whose backgrounds are most underrepresented in a specific discipline or field.

Diversity and Inclusion

Business research is driven by innovations contributed by a diverse population of cultures and identities.  At Wharton Doctoral Programs, our community is filled with global voices expressing divergent views and opinions. Our creative students are encouraged to find common ground in solving challenging problems by sharing their unique perspectives, equally respected and valued.

Join us in celebrating multiculturalism.

We are committed to providing students the support and mentorship to succeed as individuals, as doctoral students, and, ultimately, as academic leaders in their fields.

Below are resources for students, allies, and advocates.

Fontaine Society

In 1970 an endowment was established posthumously in honor of Dr. William Fontaine, Professor of Philosophy, the first African-American appointed to the Standing Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. From its inception, the endowment, known as the “Fontaine Fellowship” has been used to advance the University’s goals related to enrolling a diverse student body and fostering a vibrant intellectual environment. Today, the Fontaine Society is comprised of nearly 400 current PhD students spanning a wide range of disciplines.

PhD Project

The PhD Project was founded upon the premise that increasing the diversity of business school faculty could propel advancements in workplace diversity . Today, our expansive network of supporters, sponsors and universities support Black/African-Americans, Latinx/Hispanic-American and Native Americans attain their business PhD and become the business professors who will mentor the next generation of leaders.

Each November, Wharton Doctoral Programs attends the PhD Project Conference in Chicago. The goals of the Conference are to inform and educate attendees about all aspects of a business doctoral program, and to encourage them to pursue a career in business research and academia. The conference welcomes participation from current PhD Project members and alumni. In addition, the PhD Project hosts area conferences each summer.

To learn about area conferences: https://phdproject.org/events/.

Wharton Society for the Advancement of Women in Business Academia (WSAWBA)

WSAWBA is a Wharton PhD student-run group that provides professional development and social support for women in business academia. Women working to build a research career in a business-related field can face unique challenges, and we work towards identifying and addressing them through events throughout the year.  Since our inception in 2013, our hope has been to connect scholars across years and disciplines to create a formal support network to encourage their continued professional success.

Connect to Diversity Resources at Penn

For more information on pre-doctoral training and Wharton Doctoral recruitment activities including IDDEAS@WhartonLeadership Alliance and SUMR@Penn LDIclick here.

We welcome your ideas and encourage you to express concerns as we continue to foster diversity, promote a sense of belonging for all individuals, and eliminate the harmful divisions and fractures that lead to discrimination and injustice among individuals and groups in our communities.

If you would like to submit feedback or questions to the Doctoral Programs Office (name optional) or schedule a time to meet with the Vice Dean, please use this form: Wharton Doctoral Programs Feedback Form.

Wellness at Penn

Support, resources, and practical tools for health and wellness across the Penn community: https://wellness.upenn.edu/

Communications Program

Who We Are:

The Wharton Communication Program mission is to equip students with the knowledge and tools needed to communicate effectively in a variety of business settings, empowering them to achieve their professional goals. In addition to teaching courses for MBA, Executive MBA and undergraduate students, we help Wharton doctoral students with their research presentations and job talks.

What We Do:

Each year we provide the following support to doctoral students from all departments:

  • Communication workshops (generally offered in the Fall semester)
  • One-on-one communication coaching for:
    • Research paper presentations (typically 3rd and 4th year papers)
    • Dissertation proposal presentations
    • Job talk presentations

In addition, we occasionally help doctoral students with job interviews.

Our Process:

A key part of our coaching philosophy is the use of a robust feedback system. We execute this in two ways:

  • Video recording of every presentation
  • Written evaluation forms completed by faculty and other doctoral students. This form is particularly important because it often highlights unanswered questions raised by faculty members.

Typically, our coaches meet with students twice for each presentation: once before the presentation to review the structure of the talk and slide deck, and again after the presentation to review the video and faculty/doctoral student feedback.

How to Reach Us:

If you are interested in coaching or have questions, please contact Antionnette McDermott at mcdera@wharton.upenn.edu or Sunida Witayakarn at sunida@wharton.upenn.edu.

Writing Coaching

Writing Support and Coaching

Lynn Selhat provides one-on-one coaching for doctoral students. One-on-One Coaching includes structural help: positioning an argument, creating a logical flow, organizing the introduction and copy editing: cutting to fit length requirements, tightening for better flow, editing for more active and clear language. Please check with your department for any required writing coaching for research or job market papers.

For writing support, please contact Lynn directly at selhat@wharton.upenn.edu.

Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS)



ITA Language Testing

Under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all prospective teaching assistants who will teach undergraduates and whose native language is other than English must undergo an evaluation of their ability to communicate in spoken English before they can undertake teaching responsibilities. This includes U.S. citizens, prospective ITAs who have matriculated from other institutions of higher education in the United States and/or who may also have teaching experience in English (For details, see section VI.H. of the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators ).

To help us determine if you need to take the Interactive Performance Test (IPT) administered by the English Language Programs, please complete the Language Testing Form by September 8th. 

**Please note, all students, both domestic and international, must complete and submit this form.

Thrive at Penn (TAP)

All new Wharton Doctoral students are enrolled in the Thrive at Penn course via Canvas, which you will have access to during your tenure at the University. Thrive at Penn covers topics such as wellness and health, alcohol and drugs, healthy relationships and sexual violence prevention and knowing how to thrive at a research university.

All new Wharton Doctoral students are required to view the series of videos focused on Academic Integrity (Module 1) and Healthy Relationships & Sexual Violence Prevention (Module 2). The deadline to view the videos is September 30th, 2023.

Click here to access Canvas and the Thrive at Penn course.  To view the videos click on Modules from the home screen. The required series are in Module 2: Academic Policies & Support and Module 3: Healthy Relationships & Sexual Violence Prevention.

Partner & Family Resources

The Family Resource Center at Penn is a hub for information, resources, activities, and advocacy for students and post-docs with children.

The University has created two grant programs for PhD students to help offset the cost of childcare and family expenses, and health insurance for dependents. To learn more and apply: https://familycenter.upenn.edu/grants 

Useful Mailing Lists

There are fantastic research, academic and social groups on campus. The best way to hear from these groups is through their mailing lists. Below are highly suggested groups and how to subscribe to their mailing list.

  • Analytics at Wharton– Analytics at Wharton unites the School’s trail-blazing teaching, research, and industry engagement initiatives that use data to improve decision-making and generate actionable insights. Made possible by an anonymous $15 million gift, Analytics at Wharton seeks to accelerate Wharton’s innovations in applying sophisticated analytical tools to solve challenges and leverage the opportunities for business and society generated by the data and technology revolution.
  • Wharton Research Seminar listserv – Weekly email, sent each Friday, which highlights upcoming local research colloquia, conferences, symposia, and workshops which may be of interest to our faculty, staff,  and other researchers. This weekly email also occasionally serves as a mechanism to provide information on smaller workshops or upcoming speakers and events.
    • All new PhD students are subscribed to the listserv. Please contact me if are not receiving the emails.
  • Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) – The official student government body for graduate and professional students at the University of Pennsylvania. The organization represents over 13,000 students across Penn’s twelve graduate schools. GAPSA’s activities include funding opportunities, events and advocacy.
    • All new PhD students are subscribed to the newsletter.
  • Wharton Society for the Advancement of Women in Business Academia  (WSAWBA) – Student led group to provide a professional and social support network for women in business academia, to identify challenges faced by women in building research careers in business-related fields, and to work to address these challenges.
  • Mack Innovation Doctoral Association (MIDAs) – The Mack Innovation Doctoral Association (MIDAs) is a student-led cross-department seminar series for Wharton PhD students interested in innovation research.
  • Grad Center at Penn – Weekly email sent by the Graduate Student Center that lists events, opportunities and resources for grad students (and their families) across the University. Topics include weekly announcements, volunteer opportunities, student group activities, academic support programs.
    • All new PhD students are subscribed to the newsletter.

New Wharton PhD Checklist


  • Set your alarm for New Student Orientation on Monday, August 28th! Opening remarks begin with Wharton Doctoral Programs Vice Dean, Dr. Nancy Zhang
  • We will provide light breakfast items. Plan to arrive no later than 8:30 AM to have time to pick up your name badge and eat before we begin our orientation program. 
  • NSO is mandatory and will not be recorded.