Incoming International Exchange Students Taking Courses- Part A.1

Application Materials and Admission Requirements: Agreements should specify a deadline for submitting all application materials. In addition, departments should ask the collaborating institution to send a list of nominated students so that their applications can be tracked more easily at Penn State.

Graduate students from the international institution who will be taking courses at Penn State must hold the equivalent of an American four-year baccalaureate degree from an officially-recognized degree-granting institution. Candidates cannot be admitted into a graduate program if they have not received their post-secondary level degree from their home institution.

  • All graduate students taking courses (degree, non-degree, provisional-no-time limit, certificate) are required to submit the Graduate School online application, including the following:
  • Application fee ($30 USD if non-degree students or $65 USD if degree, provisional-no-time-limit, certificate-students). NOTE: the program can pay this fee to the Graduate School under an agreement;
  • Proof of English proficiency commensurate with Penn State Graduate School requirements.  Penn State’s English language requirements cannot be waived.  NOTE: specific departments/programs may have stricter language requirements.
  • Students admitted as non-degree students must submit all documents required by the college/department, such as letter(s) of recommendation; curriculum vitae; statement of interests and goals, etc.
  • Students admitted to degree or provisional-no-time limit status or into a certificate program must submit official academic records of course work (transcripts, mark sheets, diplomas, graduation certificates, etc.), as well as any other requirements of the college/department, such as letter(s) of recommendation; curriculum vitae; statement of interests and goals, etc.
  • Admission is granted jointly by the Graduate School and the program in which the applicant plans to study.  Because the admissions process is decentralized, an applicant must apply for admission to a particular program of study.

Acceptance into the Program and Visa Procedure:  Acceptance into the program is at the discretion of Penn State and dependent on meeting Penn State application and admission requirements.

If the exchange takes place under an agreement, once the international student has accepted an offer of admission, the respective Penn State graduate program must notify the Directorate for International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) and provide DISSA with a list of accepted students, their IDs, and any financial arrangements. DISSA will then contact the student with instructions on the financial guarantee requirements and the procedure to apply for an I-20. Although Penn State will provide assistance in the visa process, it is the responsibility of each student to obtain a visa in compliance with all U.S. laws and regulations.

Admission and Status: International graduate students must maintain full-time status (equivalent of 9 or more credits of course work).  In some circumstances, a reduced course load is permissible but requires consultation with DISSA. Students admitted to Penn State who will be taking courses pursuant to an agreement on provisional no-time-limit status or as non-degree students may stay a maximum of 24 months at Penn State under current regulations. Non-degree exchange students will typically stay one semester or up to one year under Penn State policy.  

Health Insurance: International students and their dependents who are on a J-1 visa or F-1 visa must have health insurance coverage which meets Penn State’s insurance standards. This can be accomplished by purchasing Penn State’s medical insurance plan or by providing proof (in English) of comparable alternate health and accident insurance coverage. For more information, visit the University Health Services website.