The beauty of the Penn State system of Commonwealth Campuses is choice. Each campus offers both two and four-year programs. Students may choose to participate in the 2+2 plan, where they would spend the first two years at one campus and then transition to another Penn State campus to complete the remaining two years of their bachelor’s degree. Students have the opportunity to explore and determine which campus(es) and major best meets their needs. Students may choose to remain at their starting campus or complete their degree at another Penn State campus, including University Park. Factors that impact this decision may include the size of the campus, location, academic programs available, involvement opportunities, and housing options. Working with academic advisers, faculty, staff, and families, students can create a plan that works seamlessly.
The Penn State Degree
The Penn State undergraduate degree includes General Education requirements (see below), requirements for the major, and other academic experiences such as minors, internships, and/or undergraduate research. All three components together help students develop a solid foundation upon which they build a breadth of skills as well as a depth of knowledge in a specific content area.
General Education Requirements
Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and thrive while living in interconnected contexts. The four pillars of general education include Foundations, Breadth, Integrative Studies, and Exploration.
|Writing and Speaking (GWS)||9|
Requirements: C or better required; single domain courses only
|Natural Sciences (GN)||3|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS)||3|
|Health and Wellness (GHW)||3|
Requirements: Single domain courses only. Students choose courses outside their initial major prefix for GA, GN, GH, GS.
|Inter-domain or linked courses||6|
Requirements: Select any two inter-domain courses that are not used for major program requirements.
|Additional GA, GH, GN, GS, and Inter-domain courses and up to 3 units of World Language. Must include 3 units of GN which may be Inter-domain.||6|
Requirements: Students choose courses outside their initial major prefix for GA, GN, GH, GS. This category may be reduced to reflect prescribed by major programs. See details of intended major. World languages courses at the 12th credit level of proficiency and beyond exceed the student’s minimum degree requirements.
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 the student chooses from a select list, and supporting courses the student chooses 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 (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) 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 third and fourth years. Most students will apply to enter their major in the spring of the second 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 a number of majors can be started and completed at the student’s original campus, others require the student to transition to another Commonwealth campus or to the University Park campus. Therefore, the student’s choice of major 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 their third 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.
Administrative Enrollment Controls
To be eligible for entrance to majors with administrative enrollment control, 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 cumulative GPA 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 DUS and/or faculty advisers. Students can find their assigned adviser’s contact information in Starfish, the University's online advising platform.
An academic adviser will be assigned sometime between the student’s orientation and the start of classes. If at that point a student does not yet have an assigned adviser, they should contact the advising center for advising-related questions.
Academic adviser relationships at Penn State are initiated by students. Students are encouraged to meet with their adviser at least once a semester and as often as needed to successfully plan and manage their academic goals. Students are encouraged to build a relationship with their assigned adviser to help them be intentional about the educational opportunities available.
Academic advisers are prepared to:
- Help students identify and achieve 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 (see below). Family members should encourage students to contact instructors or academic advisers directly.
A syllabus is a document that summarizes course expectations and should be shared by the instructor on or before the first class meeting. In addition to describing the course and listing goals and objectives, a syllabus includes information about the course instructor(s), office hours, grading, exams, attendance expectations and policy, and required materials for the class. The syllabus should also state information related to instructions for campus closures, academic integrity, procedures for adjustments identified by the Office of Student Disability Resources, educational equity concerns, and available counseling and psychological services. Students are responsible for reading and understanding the syllabus for each class. Any questions a student has regarding the syllabus should be asked early in the semester so that he or she has a clear understanding of what is expected in the course.
Transferring Credit to Penn State
A student who does advanced work in high school may earn credit through the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, which are based on college-level study; the credit earned will depend upon the grade earned on the exam as well as the level of the exam taken. A-level exams completed by international students may also be considered for credit. Penn State students may also transfer credits from courses taken at other higher education institutions in order to meet the degree requirements. The online transfer credit tool can be used to search for courses at other institutions. Credit can also be awarded for non-academic training through prior learning assessment. 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 speak with a college adviser regarding the ability to 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
|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.