Application Process

Thank you for your interest in Penn State! Please review the following steps to complete the application process. Please note that you must be nominated by your host institution before applying to the Penn State exchange program.

How to Apply as an Exchange Student

Please contact the international office at your home institution to see whether an exchange at Penn State is available. Once you have been nominated by your home institution, you will receive instructions for loggin and completing the Penn State application.

At Penn State, the international student exchange process is managed by two offices within Penn State Global, the Education Abroad office (EA) and the International Student and Scholar Advising office (ISSA). The student can expect to be in communication with staff from both offices throughout the application process.

EA is responsible for processing non-degree enrollment, academic matters such as course scheduling and setting academic advising, coordinating housing, and providing general information about the exchange program. EA can be reached at

Once you are granted access to the application system, you will need to complete the following:

Application Questionnaires:

  1. Upload an academic Transcript
  2. Complete the Advance Course Registration Form
  3. Complete the Non-Degree Enrollment Form
  4. Complete the On-Campus Housing Request Form

ISSA is responsible for items pertaining to the students’ immigration documents, including the DS-2019, visa-related questions, and pre-arrival information. After the EA application is completed by the student, an ISSA Pre-Arrival adviser will contact the student with instructions for completing the DS-2019 visa document request. ISSA will indicate separate due dates for these materials. Questions can be sent to 

Items to be completed once the student has been contacted by their ISSA adviser:

  1. Non-U.S. Address
  2. Passport & Biographical Information
  3. Academic Information
  4. Financial Documentation
  5. Submit DS-2019 Request

Students will receive the DS-2019 from ISSA via email. Students are responsible to review, print, and sign the document. Students are responsible to obtain the J-1 visa from the U.S. Embassy. Students will receive instructions about this process and can read more here:

Exchange at a Penn State Commonwealth Campus

Most exchange programs take place at Penn State’s University Park campus. However, exchanges are available at several other campuses as well:

For non-University Park exchanges, you will follow many of the same processes, but will also work with staff at the campus regarding course enrollment and accommodation.

Important Dates

  Fall Semester and Academic Year Spring Semester
Nomination Period Opens Mid-January Mid-July
Nominations Due March 1 September 1
EA Applications Open February 15 August 15
EA Application Deadline April 1 October 1
Confirmation Date June 1 December 1
Official Transcripts Sent to Home Institution  February June


Academic Requirements 

All programs are contingent upon exchange partner nomination. Some colleges and academic departments at Penn State restrict enrollment in specific courses. See Academics at Penn State for course restrictions. In many cases, the level of ability in the area of study needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Whether you can add these courses may not be known until you arrive and talk to the instructor/adviser. 

English Proficiency 

International students whose native language is not English must submit proof of English language proficiency. ISSA will require the student to submit this.

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) minimum score of 80 on internet-based or 550 on paper exam
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) minimum score of 6.5 on the academic test

Financial Guarantee 

Students must provide an official letter from a bank, in English verifying possession of the money to pay for expenses not covered by the exchange agreement. Funding must cover the entire duration of the exchange program. Parents and guardians who will financially support a student must also sign a Certification of Financial Support letter. Verification of financial support from the home university or home government is also acceptable. Do not email financial guarantee information. Documents will be uploaded to the secure iStart system.

Academic Calendar

For important dates at Penn State please refer to the Academic Calendar

Please note that there is a mandatory in-person International Student Welcome (ISW) in the days before the start of classes. If you have been accepted into the exchange program, please do not book your flights until the ISW dates have been announced.

Health Insurance

Exchange students are required to purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan for Penn State, offered by University Health Services.


Student Health Insurance
The Pennsylvania State University
228 Bank of America Career Services Center
University Park, PA  16802

Tel.: 1-814-865-4847