The beauty of the Penn State system of Commonwealth Campuses is choice. Students have opportunities to explore and determine which campus and major best meet their needs. Students may choose to remain at their starting campus, or they may decide to complete their degree at another Penn State campus. Factors that impact this decision may include academic considerations such as program availability, the size of the campus, the campus location, opportunities for involvement, and housing options. Working with academic advisers, faculty, and staff, students can create a transition plan that works seamlessly.
The Penn State Degree
The Penn State undergraduate degree is designed to help students develop a breadth of skills as well as depth of knowledge in a content area. Breadth is structured around general education, and depth is acquired through the major.
General Education Requirements
General Education represents the foundation of a Penn State education and is designed to help students develop a breadth of skills and knowledge. For additional information about general education, see the General Education Reference Guide.
|Writing and Speaking (GWS)
(C or better required)
|9||Communicate clearly in both writing and speaking for a wide variety of audiences|
(C or better required)
|6||Develop proficiency in working with numbers and logic in solving real-world problems|
|Natural Sciences (GN)
(C or better required)
|9||Build knowledge of foundational scientific principles and develop skills to make informed judgements about scientific information and arguments|
|Arts (GA)||6||Explore or create works of art and learn the role that the arts play as expressions of the cultural values of society and the human condition|
|Humanities (GH)||6||Explore works of cultural expression to broaden the understanding of diverse ways of experiencing the self and society|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS)||6||Analyze forces that influence human behaviors and explore perspectives and methodologies for analyzing complex social issues|
|Health and Wellness (GHW)||3||Expand theoretical and practical knowledge about the physical and psychosocial well-being of individuals and communities|
|Inter-domain or linked courses (may also satisfy a Knowledge Domain requirement)||6||Synthesize knowledge across multiple domains and identify linkages between existing knowledge and new information|
Major requirements differ for each major and in each academic college. Generally, major requirements include prescribed courses that all students in the major must take, additional courses that all students choose from a select list, and supporting courses students choose based on individual interests and goals. Students are encouraged to work with an academic adviser to clearly understand the specific requirements of majors of interest. General Education requirements may be partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. In addition, bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) degree requirements may differ. Students are encouraged to work with an academic adviser to identify which degree best meets their needs.
Depending on the college and major, a degree program may also include world language proficiency, internship experience, human diversity courses, and/or electives.
Declaring a Major and Upper-Division Campus Choice
The student’s major choice often plays the most prominent role in determining the upper-division campus. “Upper division” refers to the junior and senior years. Most students will choose their major in the spring of the sophomore year. Academic advisers and staff at each campus guide students in exploring majors based on the student’s goals and then plan the final two years at a campus where that major can be completed.
Students first become eligible to declare a major upon completion of at least 27.1 credits (typically at the end of two semesters) and achieving a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 2.00 and third-semester standing for entrance. While many majors can be started and completed at the student’s original campus, others require the student to transition to another Commonwealth campus or to University Park. Therefore, the student’s major decision drives the upper-division campus choice.
At the time a student has successfully completed 43.1 credits (typically at the end of the third semester) the student is eligible for a change of campus for the junior year as determined by the major choice. Students will be notified by email when to both declare their major and initiate the change of campus as appropriate. Students should consult regularly with an academic adviser to ensure the change of campus process takes place at the appropriate time for the selected major.
Enrollment Controlled Majors
Most majors at Penn State require a minimum cumulative grade-point average (CGPA) of 2.00 and third-semester standing for entrance. Some majors have additional requirements for entrance, such as stronger academic records, completion of specific courses, or demonstration of special talent. A few majors have more applicants than can be accommodated because of space, faculty, or other resource limitations, and are under administrative enrollment control.
To be eligible for entrance to majors with administrative enrollment controls, students must be enrolled in the college offering the major or in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, be within a designated credit window, have completed the required prerequisite courses, and have the minimum CGPA required for the intended major. Additional requirements may also apply. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with an academic adviser and to review the specific entrance criteria for intended majors.
Division of Undergraduate Studies
The Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) enrolls and advises students who are exploring majors in multiple academic colleges. Students choosing from more than one possible major may start in the division and, after exploring and selecting a major/college and meeting eligibility requirements, move into an academic college within their first two years.
Academic Advising at Penn State
Penn State students receive academic advising from professional and/or faculty advisers. Students can find their assigned adviser’s contact information in Starfish.
Academic advising contacts at Penn State are initiated by students. Students are encouraged to meet with their assigned adviser at least once a semester and as often as needed to successfully plan and manage their goals. Students are encouraged to seek a partnership with their assigned adviser to help them be intentional about the educational opportunities available at Penn State.
Academic advisers are prepared to:
- Help students identify and achieve their academic goals
- Promote intellectual discovery
- Encourage students to engage in both in- and out-of-class educational opportunities
- Encourage students to become self-directed learners and decision makers
For additional information, visiting the University’s advising website.
The University expects students to pursue their academics in an honest and ethical manner. Penn State takes violations of academic integrity very seriously.
Students are expected to contact instructors if they have questions or concerns about course content, policies, or academic performance. College instructors are available during their office hours or by appointment. Office hours are typically listed on the course syllabus (an outline of the course content, expectations, and grading basis). Family members should encourage students to contact instructors or academic advisers directly.
Transferring Credit to Penn State
A student who does advanced work in a secondary school may earn credit through the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, which are based on college-level study, depending on the grade earned on the exam and the level of the exam taken. Penn State students may transfer credits to Penn State from courses taken at another institution in order to meet degree requirements. When awarded, all transfer credits are recorded on the student’s transcript, but no grade is recorded, and the student’s grade point average is not affected. Students should discuss with the college adviser the applicability of transfer course credit toward their intended degree. Additionally, because there is a lower- and upper-division tuition differential, students should contact the Office of the Bursar for help in determining the potential impact of transfer credits on their tuition.
|Quality of Performance||Grade||Grade‑Point Equivalent|
|Excellent: Exceptional Achievement||A||4.00|
|Excellent: Exceptional Achievement||A-||3.67|
|Good: Extensive Achievement||B+||3.33|
|Good: Extensive Achievement||B||3.0|
|Good: Extensive Achievement||B-||2.67|
|Satisfactory: Acceptable Achievement||C+||2.33|
|Satisfactory: Acceptable Achievement||C||2.00|
|Poor: Minimal Achievement||D||1.00|
|Failure: Inadequate Achievement||F||0.00|
Items to Know:
SGPA = Semester Grade-Point Average
CGPA = Cumulative Grade-Point Average
Dean’s list = 3.50 SGPA
Minimum acceptable = 2.00 CGPA
Minimal competitive CGPA at application:
Undergraduate internships: 3.00
Medical school: 3.50
Law school: 3.33
For information about medical school or other health professions, contact the Eberly College of Science.
For information about law school contact the Division of Undergraduate Studies.