Admissions

Global Programs is not involved in the academic portion of the admissions process.  Here is some information regarding admission...

Students may be admitted as undergraduates, graduate students, or professional students.  After an admission offer has been made, DISSA contacts the student to gather materials required for issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 or J-1 visa, (Forms I-20 or DS-2019).  Requested materials may include biographical information, financial guarantee, or documentation of current visa status.

For complete Admissions information, visit Penn State Admissions.

Non-Degree Study

Penn State will not issue an I-20 or DS-2019 to a casual non-degree student.  Approval for study as a full time non-degree student in F-1 or J-1 status is rare. If approved, an I-20 or DS-2019 would be issued for one semester, except in extenuating circumstances.

Sometimes Penn State academic departments will invite students from overseas institutions to study at Penn State as non-degree students. An academic department must indicate the reason it is supporting the request.

F-2 dependents may study part time without violating their status.

Further Information

  • Individuals in B-1 or B-2 status are prohibited from studying in the United States. If you currently hold B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to enroll in classes, you may apply for a change of status to F-1.
  • Non-degree students who are issued a Penn State I-20 or DS-2019 must be enrolled full time and maintain health insurance.
  • If an I-20 or DS-2019 is not requested from our office, the financial guarantee documentation is not required.
  • You may be asked to provide documentation of your current immigration status if currently in the United States.

Undergraduate Non-Degree Enrollment

Please submit the following to DISSA-Adviser@psu.edu:

  1. A letter from the Penn State academic department that states:
    • Reason the department is making the request
    • Plan of how the department will provide guidance and guarantee courses for full-time enrollment
  2. A letter from the non-degree applicant that states:
    • Purpose of non-degree study
    • Understanding that full-time registration is required
    • Understanding that health insurance coverage is mandatory
    • Understanding that non-degree study is limited to one semester
    • Understanding that non-degree study does not guarantee degree admission
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency
  4. Financial guarantee for the duration of non-degree study (typically one semester only)
  5. Completed Penn State non-degree application (Refer to University Registrar enrollment form).
  6. Evidence of current immigration status if you are in the U.S.

Graduate Non-Degree Enrollment

Please submit the following to DISSA-Adviser@psu.edu:

  1. A letter from the Penn State academic department stating
    • Reason the department is making the request
    • Plan of how the department will provide guidance and guarantee courses for full-time enrollment
  2. A letter from the prospective non-degree student indicating
    • Purpose of the non-degree study
    • Understanding that full-time registration is required
    • Understanding that health insurance coverage is mandatory
    • Understanding that non-degree study is limited to one semester
    • Understanding that non-degree study does not guarantee degree admission
  3. Evidence of English proficiency
  4. Financial guarantee for the duration of non-degree study (typically one semester only)
  5. Evidence of current immigration status if you are in the U.S.

If an I-20 or DS-2019 can be processed, you will be asked to apply to The Graduate School for non-degree enrollment. Please follow these directions. Please forward any questions regarding the on-line application to gswww@psu.edu.

Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) Admissions

The Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) helps students learn English as a foreign language in an intensive program. 

Steps to Arrive for IECP Classes:

1.  Apply to the IECP.  

Please complete the Application Process with the IECP, including paying the application fee.  

2.  Gain admission to the IECP.  

Students first must be accepted by the program prior to requesting I-20/DS-2019 documents.

3.  Prepare financial guarantee information.  

IECP students must show proof of finances for one full year of study unless approved by the Director of the IECP for less than one year of study. Please refer to the chart below for a full explanation of financial guarantee requirements.  Bank documents should be accompanied by a Letter of Support or I-134, Affidavit of Support (if sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident).  


Estimated Annual Expenses for IECP Financial Guarantee Requirements:
Semester and Dates: Expense Type: Estimated Amount in USD ($):
Summer 2018 3 Semesters Tuition $18,700
May 14, 2018 - May 5, 2019 12 Months Living $19,400
  Mandatory Medical Insurance $3,400
  Books / Supplies $900
  Total for Financial Guarantee: $42,400
     
Fall 2018 2 Semesters Tuition $14,000
August 20, 2018-May 2019 9 Months Living $15,900
  Mandatory Medical Insurance $2,700
  Books / Supplies $600
  Total for Financial Guarantee $33,200

Please note:  If you will be accompanied by dependents (spouse and/or children), you are fully responsible for their support and additional funds are required to show support for both living expenses and mandatory medical insurance.

Summer 2018:

Additional support for spouse:  $9,400 (Includes $3,400 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional support for first child: $6,900 (Includes $3,400 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional support for second child: $6,900 (Includes $3,400 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional living support for additional children: $3,500 (Mandatory medical insurance covered for more than 2 children.)

Fall 2018:

Additional annual support for spouse:  $7,100 (Includes $2,700 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional annual support for first child:  $5,300 (Includes $2,700 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional annual support for second child:  $5,300 (Includes $2,700 for mandatory medical insurance)

Additional annual living support for additional children:  $2,600 (Mandatory medical insurance covered for more than 2 children)

Please inquire with uhs-insurance@psu.edu for more information about medical insurance.

4.  Request I-20/DS-2019 through iStart

After an IECP student is admitted to the program, he/she is contacted by Pre-Arrival Advising, a unit within the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA). Admitted students are asked to log onto iStart and complete a form to request an I-20 or DS-2019.  The log in information will be provided in the email sent by Pre-Arrival Advising.

Once all required documents are submitted, Pre-Arrival Advising will review your case.  It may take 3 weeks to review each case during peak periods.  You will be informed by email when your case is approved and your I-20/DS-2019 is issued. 

5. Set up Shipping.

  • SHIPPING TO A U.S. ADDRESS:  If you are currently in the U.S. the I-20/DS-2019 can be shipped via U.S. Post at no charge. 
  • SHIPPING TO AN ADDRESS OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.:  If the I-20/DS-2019 will be shipped to a location outside of the U.S., complete the "Express Mail Shipping Request eForm" through iStart when you request your I-20/DS-2019.

6. Apply for a U.S. Visa.

We recommend Study in the States as a resource for learning more about the visa process.  

Your visa interview will be very short.  You should be prepared to tell the Consular officer:

  • Why you want to study English in the United States
  • Why you want to study in the IECP at Penn State
  • Your plans after you finish studies with the IECP
  • Ties with your home country - for example, family members who will remain in your home country, career plans in your home country, property in your home country, family members who have returned to your home country
  • Honest answers-you should answer each question truthfully
  • If you do not understand the question--it is OK to ask the consular officer to repeat a question

7. Make travel plans and prepare for arrival.

UOGP has many resources to help you transition to you new home in State College, PA.  The following links have a lot of information to help you prepare:

EA International Exchange Students

EA International Exchange Students

International students who are interested in applying to the exchange program with Penn State must be nominated by their home university.  Please contact the international office at your home institution to see whether an exchange at Penn State is available.

At Penn State, the international student exchange process is managed by two offices: the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) and the Directorate of Education Abroad (EA), both located within Global Programs. The student can expect to be in communication with staff from both offices regarding the application process.

DISSA is responsible for items pertaining to the students’ immigration documents including the DS-2019, visa-related questions and pre-arrival information.  DISSA can be reached at (814) 865-6348 or DISSA-Adviser@psu.edu.

EA is responsible for academic matters such as course scheduling, setting academic advising, providing the students’ academic transcript for their time at Penn State, and providing information about the exchange agreement.  EA can be reached at (814) 865-7681 or educationabroad@psu.edu.

Both offices are located on the 4th floor of Boucke Building, University Park, PA  16802.

Important Dates for Potential Education Abroad International Exchanges

  Coming Fall Semester Coming Spring Semester
Nominations by Partner Institutions November July
Nomination Roster Due December 1 September 1
Application Cycle Begins January 1 September 1
Application Deadline March 15 October 15
Decision/Confirmation Date June 1 December 1


Most students who attend Penn State on an exchange do so as a non-degree, undergraduate student. There are a few exceptions and those are set forth by the exchange agreement with the partner institution.

Most exchange programs take place at Penn State’s University Park campus.  However, exchanges are available at several of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses as well.
Information about commonwealth campuses can be found by using the hyperlinks below:

For non-University Park exchanges, your exchange coordinator must work with staff at the Commonwealth Campus regarding the nomination and application process.