Non-Penn State Programs

Students may choose to participate on a study abroad program that is not officially approved by Penn State Education Abroad. These programs are referred to as "non-Penn State programs," and they often involve several additional steps that students must complete in order to receive academic credit. Before making this decision we highly recommend that you research options approved by Penn State to see if one of our programs meets your needs. If you do decide to pursue a non-approved program then there are many factors you will need to consider and discuss with your family.

How Do I Know if My Study Abroad Program is a Penn State Program?

  • Did you find the program on this website? Then it is a Penn State program!
  • Every program listed on this site has been reviewed and approved by Penn State.
  • For-credit, faculty-led programs are official Penn State programs, even if they are not yet listed on the website.
  • Contact an Education Abroad if you are unsure whether your program is an official Penn State program.

What If I Missed the Penn State Deadline for an Approved Program?

Penn State sets internal deadlines that typically differ from the deadline of the host institution or provider. In order to go on an approved program as a Penn State student, students must apply by the Penn State internal deadline. Students who have missed the internal deadline can still apply for that program by applying directly to the host institution or provider, but they will have to go on the program "non-Penn State". 

What Do I Need to Know About Choosing a Non-PSU Program? 

Students can still apply to and participate on programs that are not official PSU programs. However, there are several important differences between Penn State and non-Penn State programs of which students must be aware:

  • Students participating on a non-Penn State program cannot receive financial aid through Penn State. Students are not registered for credit at Penn State while on a non-approved program and therefore are not eligible to receive federal aid, student loans, or other types of aid that runs through the Office of Student Aid. 
  • Students must take a leave of absence for the semester(s) spent abroad (not applicable for summer). While on leave of absence, students will be unable to register for future courses at Penn State. Course registration is possible only after returning from the leave of absence. 
  • Students must meet with the Admissions Office prior to applying to the program to see if Penn State will accept transfer credits on a non-Penn State program. Contact the Admissions Office for more information.
  • Students must research and apply for the program individually.
  • The Education Abroad office cannot advise students or sign documents for non-Penn State programs.
  • Students must meet with their academic adviser to determine if transfer credits could meet degree requirements.
  • Students must arrange for an official transcript to be sent to the Undergraduate Admissions Office once coursework is completed. Most programs will charge a fee to send an official transcript.
  • Once the transcript is received, Penn State's Admissions Office will then evaluate the transcript and add appropriate credit.

How Do I Know if a Non-Penn State Program is Reputable?

Ultimately, students participating on non-Penn State programs are responsible for doing their own research to determine if the program provider is a reputable organization.  Penn State Education Abroad cannot assist students in evaluating the quality of a program that is not an official partner of the University.

If you are considering studying abroad on a non-Penn State program, please understand that you assume all risks and liabilities associated with your participation.  Additionally, Penn State cannot provide planning or emergency assistance for students on non-Penn State programs.

Penn State approves some of but not all programs offered by organizations such as IES, CIEE, Arcadia, and School for Field Studies. You can search for the Penn State approved programs from these organizations. The additional programs offered by these organizations are considered non-Penn State programs but may be of interest to students considering taking a leave of absence while studying abroad.

The following websites include searchable databases of alternate international opportunities.  Please note, the programs listed on these sites have not been reviewed or vetted by Penn State: