PennSpeak – A Glossary of Penn Acronyms

PennSpeak:  A Glossary of Penn Acronyms

 (Acronyms marked * are generally pronounced as a single word)

ABCSAcademically-Based Community Service.  Special courses that incorporate problem-oriented research and service learning involving West Philadelphia public schools, communities of faith and community organizations. 

APC: Alice Paul Center for Research on Women and Gender.  SAS-based research center.   Also home to the Gender, Culture, and Society undergraduate major.

BBB: Biological Basis of Behavior.  Large interdisciplinary undergraduate major involving faculty from several SAS departments (primarily Biology and Psychology) as well as from the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

BFS: Benjamin Franklin Scholars.  Akin to an “honors” program for specially-selected undergraduates in the College.  Sponsors own series of seminar courses.

BGS: Biomedical Graduate Studies.  Umbrella entity for seven graduate groups in the basic biomedical sciences.  Administered by the School of Medicine, but highly interschool in nature; many SAS faculty are members of these graduate groups.

CAPS*: Counseling and Psychological Services.  University office that provides these services free of charge to students.

CAS: College of Arts and Sciences.  More generally referred to as The College.  The undergraduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences.

CASI*: Center for the Advanced Study of India.  SAS-based research center.

CHAS*: College Houses and Academic Services.  Penn’s undergraduate residential college house system.

CIT: Courses in Touch.  Online application ( that allows instructors to access class lists and to generate email Course Problem Notices (CPN) to students having difficulty with a course.

CPCW: Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing.  Home to Penn’s writing programs:  the Critical Writing Program, the Creative Writing Program, and Kelly Writers House.

CPN: Course Problem Notice.  Email notice generated from Courses in Touch to alert students to potential problems in a course, in time for the student to take steps to correct the problem and obtain the appropriate support.

CTL: Center for Teaching and Learning.  SAS-based resource that provides individual consultation and group programs designed to enhance the quality of faculty instruction. 

CURF*: Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.  University-based center that promotes undergraduate research opportunities (faculty may register opportunities in the office’s database) and coordinates applications for competitive national and international student fellowships (e.g., Rhodes, Marshall). 

CWiC*: Communication within the Curriculum.  SAS-based program that promotes the enhancement of students’ oral communication skills through specially-designated courses, workshops, and advisors.

DP: Daily Pennsylvanian.  Penn’s student-owned newspaper, published Monday to Friday during the academic year.

DRL: David Rittenhouse Laboratories.  Academic building at 33rd and Walnut Streets housing the Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and several large lecture classrooms.

ELP: English Language Programs.  Offers short-term, non-credit courses in English as a Foreign Language.  Also certifies English language competency of graduate students who serve as teaching assistants.

GAPSA*: Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.  Primary student government body for all graduate and professional students. 

GRAM*: Grant Reporting and Management System.  Provides year-to-date balances on active grants with links to supporting transactional and employee payment detail.

GSEGraduate School of Education.  One of Penn’s twelve schools. 

HSS: History and Sociology of Science.  An SAS academic department.

HUP*: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Located at 34th and Spruce Streets.

IACUC*: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.  Reviews research at Penn involving animals.

ICA: Institute of Contemporary Art.  Located at 36th and Sansom Streets.

IR: International Relations.  Large interdisciplinary undergraduate major involving faculty from Political Science, History, and Economics.

IRB: Institutional Review Board.  Approves all research at Penn involving human volunteers.

ISC: Information Systems and Computing.  The central University division that oversees these areas.

ISSS: International Student and Scholar Services. A division of Penn Global that provides advice, information and referrals on matters such as immigration, employment and overseas travel.

LPS: College of Liberal and Professional Studies.  The lifelong learning/continuing education division of the School of Arts and Sciences.  Also serves as the administrative home for all Penn summer courses. 

LRSM: Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter.  Inter-school (SAS and Engineering) research center. Houses the Materials Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC).  

LSP: Local Support Provider.  Member of SAS Computing staff designated to serve specific departments or programs.

MMS: Multimedia Services.  Part of the instructional technology division of SAS Computing.  Provides an array of audio/visual support systems for academic and course-related purposes. 

ORA: Office of Regulatory Affairs.  Enforces compliance with research standards with regard to the treatment of people and animals.

ORS: Office of Research Services.  Provides administrative support to faculty and department staff for sponsored research projects.

OSC: Office of Student Conduct.  Acts on behalf of the University in matters of student discipline; deals with alleged instances of academic dishonesty and other student misconduct.

PCI: Penn Center for Innovation.  Helps to translate Penn discoveries and ideas into new products and businesses for the benefit of society, by facilitating technology development connections between Penn and the private sector.

PLE: The SAS Division of Professional and Liberal Education.  Encompasses the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, the Fels Institute of Government, the Organizational Dynamics Program, and the English Language Program.

PENNCAP*: Pennsylvania College Achievement Program.  Works with academically talented students, many from low-income or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, to support their success during their entire four years at Penn.

PGFI: Penn Genome Frontiers Institute.  University-wide, interdisciplinary research center.

PIK: Penn Integrates Knowledge.  An initiative to recruit to Penn renowned scholars whose work draws from two or more academic disciplines and whose achievements demonstrate a rare ability to thrive at the intersection of multiple fields.  PIK professors have primary appointments in two Penn schools.

PLC: Penn Language Center.  Provides resources to support language teaching generally and offers instruction in a broad range of less-commonly-taught languages. 

PPE: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.  Large interdisciplinary undergraduate major involving faculty from these three areas.

RCM: Responsibility Center Management.  Penn’s financial management structure, under which each school is treated as a revenue-generating center that is responsible for funding the direct cost of its own operation and contributing to the cost of operating the University’s central administrative functions.  The system serves as an incentive for schools to be fiscally responsible and entrepreneurial.

SAC: Student Activities Council.  Student-run body that recognizes and funds undergraduate activities and organizations. 

SAS: School of Arts and Sciences.

SASgov*: Graduate student government of the School of Arts and Sciences, founded in 2007 to represent all graduate students (Ph.D. and master’s) in SAS. 


Student Committee on Undergraduate Education. Independent student organization that seeks to enhance and expand curricular opportunities, advising, and the overall quality of the undergraduate academic experience. Members serve both as advocates for the student voice and as advisors to the faculty and administration.

SEAS: School of Engineering and Applied Science.  One of Penn’s twelve schools. 

SFS: Student Financial Services.  Administers the University’s student financial aid program. 

PSoM: Perelman School of Medicine.  One of Penn’s twelve schools.

SP2: (School of) Social Policy and Practice.  One of Penn’s twelve schools.

SRS: Student Record System.  The University Registrar’s central database of student academic records.

UA: Undergraduate Assembly.  Primary student government body for undergraduates. 

UAB: Undergraduate Advisory Board.  Student boards that exist in many undergraduate majors to serve as liaisons with undergraduate chairs.

ULAR*: University Laboratory Animal Resources.  Provides and documents species-specific training for all individuals who work with laboratory animals.

VPUL: Vice Provost for University Life.  University division that provides a wide range of student support services, from tutoring and career services to student activities to health and psychological services.