Overview & Guidelines

Academic quality is an important component of any Education Abroad program, and students should select a program that will enrich their collegiate studies. The Education Abroad office encourages students to work closely with both their academic adviser and Education Abroad adviser before, during, and after studying abroad to ensure all academic matters are handled properly. 

Program Types

Penn State Education Abroad offers nearly 300 programs each year, spanning 6 continents and 50 countries, with different program types and program lengths available.

Direct Enrollment

  • Students enroll as an international student at a host university.
  • Students are fully integrated with local students.
  • Housing is often acquired by the student independently or in cooperation with the host university's international office.

Exchange

  • Exchange programs are often, though not always, the least expensive options.
  • Students from Penn State and the host institution are exchanged, typically on a one-to-one basis.
  • Exchange programs have the most competitive admissions process.
  • Each student will enroll as an international student at a host university.
  • Penn State students are fully integrated with local students.
  • Housing is often acquired by the student independently or in cooperation with the host university's international office.

If you are reviewing for an exchange program that is not restricted to your department or college, you will select the students as usual, but EA staff will review the entire selection pool since there will be specific limitations on the number we can take. Reciprocal undergraduate exchanges must balance and we cannot take more than the current balance will allow.  EA staff will notify you if one of your selected students must be redirected to their second or third choice. 

Study Center

  • Programs are often organized by a non-profit educational organization such as IES, CIEE or Arcadia (note: not all programs on the IES, CIEE or Arcadia website are approved by Penn State).
  • The program fee often includes housing, field trips and some meals.
  • On-site staff is provided to assist students.
  • Penn State students are less integrated with local students; courses are usually taken with other U.S. students.
  • Some study centers also offer direct enrollment course options with local universities. Note that there may be a higher language requirement for those courses.
  • Many programs offer homestays. 

Faculty-Led

  • Programs are organized and led by a Penn State faculty member.
  • Typically, courses are taken with Penn State students only.
  • Some programs focus on a single theme or academic discipline, while others are more general.
  • Some programs are only open to students in specific majors.
  • Most programs are offered during the summer.

The selection of students is left to the discretion of the faculty or sponsoring department.  If there are any questions or issues with regard to a particular applicant, EA staff should be consulted, but otherwise we will confirm the accepted students that faculty nominate for acceptance. 

Selection Categories

Upon review of the students application materials, you will be able to make comments that are only viewable to Education Abroad and yourself, and choose one of two admission categories: 

  • Approve

    • This category indicates that you fully expect the student to be successful in their program of choice and would like to recommend approval.
    • The student meets the selection criteria for their program of choice at the time of application review. Criteria may include GPA, correct level of language, strong recommendation, completed appropriate pre-requisites (if applicable), etc.
  • Reject  

    • This category indicates that you do not expect the student to be successful in their program of choice and would not recommend approval.
    • The student does not meet the selection criteria for their program of choice at the time of application review. Criteria for rejection may include low GPA, incorrect level of language, inappropriate recommendation, incomplete pre-requisites (if applicable), etc.
  • Waitlist: Do Not Use This Status   

    • Education Abroad does not use this category. If you would like to waitlist a student, please contact the Education Abroad first regarding your decision. 

When you have completed the review of a student’s Education Abroad application, have entered your comments, and determined a selection category, please click on the “mark as completed” box and hit the “submit” button at the bottom of the application so that your decision is recorded.  If a reviewer does not check the “mark as complete” and “submit” button, the reviewer’s information will not be deployed to the Education Abroad office.

Redirection

Redirection occurs when a student is a strong candidate to study abroad, but cannot be admitted to the program to which they have applied.  

Students are redirected for a number of reasons:

  • They do not have an appropriate GPA or level of language for their first choice program by the time of departure.
  • The program may be limited by the college selecting their own students, and it is the prerogative of the college or Education Abroad to recommend a different program.
  • The program for which they have applied is an exchange, and therefore there are only a limited number of places to offer applicants in a given semester.
  • For a faculty-led program, the program is over-enrolled or is canceled due to low enrollment.

Please do not recommend that students redirect into exchange programs without confirming with EA staff that there is room in the exchange for that student. If you sponsor a program and want to put a cap on enrollment and redirect some applicants, make sure that there is a clear statement of that policy on the EA brochure page for the program.

If you would like to redirect a student for any reason, please first be in contact with the Associate Director of Education Abroad, Dr. Kristi Wormhoudt

Special Considerations for Exchange Programs

Due to the competitive nature of exchange programs, students who are interested in exchange programs are encouraged to apply early. Students who apply to exchange programs as their first choice will have priority. If there is room in the exchange, we can place redirected students without a problem, as long as they meet program prerequisites.