Useful Terminology

If you haven’t realized yet, the University of Pennsylvania has created a language of its own! Below is a list of keywords that will be useful for you while you are a student in the MPA or a Certificate program.

As you would do if you started a new job, your first step in starting the MGA or a Certificate program is to pick up a PennCard. This card is your University of Pennsylvania identification. More importantly, it allows you to access many of Penn’s resources and facilities (including the Fels Institute of Government).

Your PennKey is the username assigned to you while you are a student at the University of Pennsylvania. This is a unique identifier. You must create a PennKey in order to access any restricted or personal services on the University of Pennsylvania website. The PennKey consists of your username and password. For example, karener is my username and xxxxxx is my password. Together, these are referred to as my PennKey.

PennKey versus PennCard
Use your PennCard to enter the Fels Institute of Government before or after business hours.

Use your PennKey to change your address, review your grades, register for classes, access Blackboard, and access your email account.

Your PennName is the username piece of your PennKey. For example, my PennName is ‘karener.’ When you are setting up your email address the Penn System will provide you with a list of PennNames that have not been used yet. Please take your time in selecting your PennName, since you will not be able to change it.

The Fels Institute of Government is a unit of the School of Arts & Sciences (SAS). The School of Arts & Sciences has 2 divisions: the College (undergraduate) and GAS (graduate division of the School of Arts & Sciences).

‘GAFL’ is the subject code assigned to Fels Institute courses. For example, you may be registering for GAFL 783 in your first term. In any listing of organizational units (e.g. registrar), Fels is listed on the Penn web site under ‘G’ for Government Administration.

Social Science Computing (SSC) is the acronym used to describe our hardware/technology support. For example, if you need assistance with your email account, you should email

SFS is the abbreviation for Student Financial Services. Per the SFS web site, “Penn believes that coordinating all aspects of student finance in one office provides the best possible solutions and service to students and their families. Therefore, student finance areas such as financial aid, payment option programs, billing, loan processing and a counseling center join together to form Student Financial Services (SFS) at Penn.”