Academics at Penn State

The Pennsylvania State University, founded in 1855, is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant institution and its largest public university. Penn State’s land-grant mission embraces teaching, research, and public service in order to support the citizens of the Commonwealth, collaborating with industrial, educational, and agricultural partners to create, disseminate, integrate, and apply knowledge that is valuable to society. 

Academic Status and Credit Load

  • Participants in the Penn State Education Abroad (EA) exchange program are enrolled on non-degree undergraduate students.
  • Undergraduate students are required to enroll in 12 credits per semester, with an average semester load being 15 credits. 

Course Enrollment

  • You will be enrolled in courses based on the requests that you submit in your Advance Course Registration Form in the EA application.
  • We cannot guarantee enrollment in any course. Academic departments do their best to accommodate your choices, however all of your course selections may not be available. Please be as flexible as possible in selecting courses!
  • Course descriptions, pre-requisites and credits can be found in Penn State’s Course Catalog.
  • Refer to Penn State’s Class Search for course availability for a specific semester.
  • Exchange students will finalize their schedule of courses after arriving on campus and in consultation with an assigned academic adviser. 

Course Restrictions

Some colleges and academic departments at Penn State restrict enrollment in specific courses. The departments/colleges listed below may not be able to accommodate students’ requests. In many cases, level of ability in the area of study needs to be determined in person. Whether you can add these courses may not be known until you arrive and talk to the instructor/adviser. 

If you are interested in courses that are restricted or full, please list them on your Advance Course Registration Form. Although EA is unable to schedule restricted or full courses, our staff will share your selection(s) with your academic adviser for consideration. There are no exceptions to enroll in courses that are indicated to be unavailable (e.g.: Musical Theatre, Nursing).

College of Arts and Architecture

  • Availability in Architecture, Landscape Architecture studio courses are limited.
  • Availability in Music, Theatre, and Dance performance courses are limited.
  • Availability in Graphic Design and Digital Arts courses are limited and interested applicants may be required to submit a portfolio of representative work if courses are available.
  • Musical Theatre & Acting major courses are not available.
  • For courses in the School of Visual Arts (outside of Digital Arts), you may be required to submit a portfolio of representative work.

College of Education

  • Not available unless specified in the exchange agreement.

College of Engineering

  • Mechanical Engineering Courses can be difficult to schedule. Please have back up options.

College of Health and Human Development

  • Kinesiology courses are very limited.
  • Nursing courses are not available unless specified in the exchange agreement. 

College of the Liberal Arts

  • Courses in Political Science and History fill quickly.
  • It is not advisable to schedule more than two 400 level courses in Political Science (PL SC). Do not select writing intensive (“W”) courses in PL SC. 

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

  • Studio and production courses not available.

College of Information Sciences and Technology

  • Limit of three (3) College of Information Science and Technology courses per semester.
  • Do not select writing intensive (“W”) courses for any College of Information Sciences and Technology courses. College of Information Sciences and Technology course codes are IST, SRA, DS, CYBER, and HCDD.

Smeal College of Business

  • You must be a business major at your home university to take Smeal College of Business courses at Penn State. Please note, economics courses are considered College of the Liberal Arts courses, not Business, at Penn State. 
  • You must have been working toward your business degree prior to your arrival at Penn State to take advanced courses. Business major courses have pre-requisites. Those available to exchange students assume students have an equivalent academic background at their home institutions as the following: 
  • The college guarantees each exchange student two Business courses each semester, if they meet the prerequisites for the course space is available in the courses. Smeal College of Business courses are in high demand with limited seating capacity. Some semesters the offerings are very limited.
  • Courses in the Real Estate major are currently not available for exchange students.
  • The rest of the courses selected must be from other colleges/disciplines. 
  • You will be provided with a list of courses that permit exchange students after your nomination.

Academic Transcripts

Official academic transcripts will be sent to partners within six weeks of the program ending (from last day of finals). Students are able to order copies of their Penn State Official Academic Transcript for their records through the Registrar’s Office for an additional fee. Please note that your transcript may be withheld if there are balances or holds on your Penn State Bursar account.