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 logging in and completing the Penn State application.

At Penn State, the international student exchange process is managed by two offices within Global Programs, the Directorate of Education Abroad (EA) and the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA). 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

DISSA 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, a DISSA adviser will contact the student and make available the materials to be completed for the DS-2019 visa document. DISSA will indicate separate due dates for these materials.

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

  1. EA Exchange: Passport & Biographical Information
  2. EA Exchange: Financial Documentation
  3. EA Exchange: Academic Information
  4. EA Exchange: Submit Request for Review of Visa

You will receive your DS-2019 from DISSA via express mail service. You are responsible for the mailing fee and will receive instructions about this.

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 in person. 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. DISSA 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 and in U.S. dollars, verifying possession of the money to pay for the portion of their educational and personal expenses not covered by the exchange agreement based on the intended duration of study. Parents and guardians who will financially support a student must also write a letter stating that they intend to use their finances towards the student's expenses. Verification of financial support from the home university or home government is also acceptable. Do not email financial guarantee information. Wait until you are asked to submit it. 

Academic Calendar

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

Please note that there is a mandatory International Student Orientation (ISO) one to two weeks prior to the start of classes. If you have been accepted into the exchange, please do not book your flights until the ISO dates have been announced.

Health Insurance

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


Student Health Insurance
The Pennsylvania State University
302 Student Health Center
University Park, PA  16802

Tel.: 1-814-865-7467