Application Process

Students who have completed the Steps to Study Abroad and are ready to open a Penn State application for their selected education abroad program, must follow the instructions and process outlined on this page. All students are required to submit an online application through the online Penn State application portal by the appropriate deadline for the term they are applying to (see "Application Timeline" on this page). To assist students with the process, we have detailed application instructions and an explanation of how to request an electronic academic recommendation.

Please note: If you are interested in an embedded program, deadlines and instructions listed on this page do not apply to you. Please contact the faculty leader of your selected embedded program for more information.

Application Timeline

Please review the Penn State education abroad application timeline for the approriate term. Penn State applications are opened well in advance of the deadlines and exceptions will not be made for missing them. Students with questions about the Penn State application timeline or deadlines for specific programs should contact their Penn State education abroad adviser.

Penn State Application Deadlines, Notifications, and Commitments

Term Penn State Application Deadline Penn State Application Decision Penn State Commitment Deadline
Summer January 24 February 7 February 26
Fall and Academic Year March 1* March 12 March 24
Spring (Early Action Deadline) May 15** June 12 October 7
Spring (Final Deadline) September 10 September 27 October 7

Applications for summer, fall, and academic year programs typically open in early October. Applications for spring programs typically open in late January.

*Fall and Academic Year Deadline Exceptions

The following programs have an early Penn State application deadline of January 24 for the fall and academic year terms due to early partner application deadlines:

  • Dept ENGR & EMS: Sendai, Tohoku University
  • IES: Nagoya, Nanzan University
  • Mito: Ibaraki University
  • IES: Oxford, St. Catherine's College
    • The January 24 deadline for the IES Oxford program is for the fall, academic year, and spring terms

**Spring Term Deadline Exceptions

Students interested in applying to any of the following education abroad programs for the spring semester, should submit their Penn State applications by the May 15 early action deadline.

  • Florence: International Studies Institute (ISI) at Palazzo Rucellai
  • IES: Amsterdam
  • IES: London, University College London
  • IES: Nagoya, Nanzan University
  • National University of Singapore (exchange program)
  • SFS: Australia
  • SFS: Bhutan
  • SFS: Costa Rica
  • SFS: Panama

If you have any questions about the Penn State application process, please consult with the appropriate Penn State education abroad adviser.

Application Instructions

Detailed Penn State application instructions are listed at the top of every student's application portal once they've opened an application. Below is a summary of what students can expect for submitting a Penn State education abroad application.

Note: Students applying to an education abroad program in partnership with a host institution abroad (e.g., exchanges, direct enrollments, and third-party provider programs) will also be required to submit an application directly with that host institution. Students should consider the Penn State application as "step 1" in the process and the host institution application as "step 2." The Penn State application portal will include details for students applying to these programs.

Step-by-step Application Instructions

  1. Once you've selected your education abroad program, click the "Apply Now" button listed on the Penn State program brochure page to open your application
  2. Log in using your Penn State access ID and password
  3. Select the term you are applying to and click "Continue"
  4. Review the list of requirements. Examples of requirements for most applications include:
    • Penn State Education Abroad Application Questionnaire (reflection questions & reviewing eligibility requirements)
    • Academic Recommendation (see "Requesting an Academic Recommendation" section on this page for details)
    • Additional documents students must read and electronically sign to acknowledge their understanding of our policies and procedures
  5. Submit the Penn State application by the deadline listed in the application portal. Guidance for submitting a complete application include:
    • Your responses will automatically save so you can return to them and make edits at any time before the application deadline. Do not click “Submit” on an individual requirement until you have filled in answers for each question in a requirement.
    • You do not need to complete the requirements in the order they appear, nor do you need to complete all requirements at once. Please invest sufficient time into writing a strong application.
    • Once you have completed at least one requirement, a progress circle will appear near the top of the page, tracking your progress toward completion. Your application is complete when the progress circle is fully closed.
    • After all application requirements are complete, and the progress circle has been fully closed, a "Submit your application" button will appear at the top of the page. Clicking this button will finalize the submission of your application.
    • Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed after the application deadline.

Requesting an Academic Recommendation

An academic recommendation is a requirement for the Penn State education abroad application. Recommendations are an important part of the selection process because they reflect how a member of the Penn State academic community perceives your preparedness to study abroad. The recommendation is completed electronically and must be submitted by the application deadline.

Recommendation Guidelines

  • The academic recommendation must be from a professor or graduate teaching assistant (TA) who has had you in class or your academic adviser at Penn State. All academic recommendations must be submitted by someone who can assess your academic preparedness for the program. Your recommender should know your academic capabilities and your interest in studying abroad.
  • If you are applying to a faculty-led program, you should not request the recommendation from the Penn State faculty member, staff member, or teaching assistant who will be leading the program.
  • Recommendations cannot be copied across semesters or reused for another application.

Recommendation Instructions

  • Meet with your recommender to discuss your education abroad plans well in advance of the application deadline. (Plan ahead! Allow up to four weeks for a recommender to complete the online form.)
  • Ask if this person is willing to complete your electronic recommendation.
  • In your Penn State application portan, select the “Academic Recommendation Required" requirement.
  • Enter your recommender's Penn State email address or full name and click "search."
  • Select the correct recommender.
  • List any coursework taken with your recommender, if applicable. If you selected an academic adviser, please indicate that in the text field provided.
  • Answer the question concerning waiving your right to read or obtain copies of the recommendation and click "Send Request."
  • Your recommender will receive an email notification with a link to log in and complete your recommendation. There are only a few questions that should take 5-10 minutes to complete.
  • Before the application deadline, verify that the recommendation was received in your Penn State application portal. If it has not been received, send a brief, polite reminder email to your recommender requesting they submit their recommendation by the deadline.
  • Once the recommendation is complete, send a thank you note to the professor, instructor, or academic adviser who completed the recommendation. Also, if you are ultimately accepted to the program, don’t forget to share the good news!

Note: If your academic recommendation is not submitted by the Penn State application deadline, your application will be considered incomplete.

Will I Be Approved?

A student's approval or acceptance into a Penn State education abroad program depends on a variety of factors and Education Abroad, in conjunction with program partners when applicable, reserves the right to make admission decisions regarding all approved programs. Applicants are not guaranteed acceptance into any program. Since each program has its own set of academic and admission standards and capacity requirements, students should investigate the requirements of their desired program before applying.

Factors that may impact admissions outcome

  • Age (all Penn State students must be at least 18 years old by program start date)
  • GPA and/or grades earned in specific courses
  • Semester standing or credits completed before the program/at time of application review
  • Course pre-requisite(s) completion, recommended pre-travel coursework, or academic preparation
  • Language proficiency
  • Student conduct history at Penn State
  • Interview process (some internship or faculty-led programs require this)
  • Program capacity limitations
  • University Restricted Travel or health and safety protocol
  • Vaccination or health requirements

Additonal Application Considerations

  • Please make time to complete the Penn State application requirements and open your application well before the deadline. 
  • Applications are evaluated on an individual basis. Education abroad does not guarantee requests to study abroad with friends.
  • Even if Penn State Education Abroad approves a student's application, this does not guarantee they will be accepted by the host institution abroad, if applicable.
  • Penn State applications cannot be deferred. Students must withdraw and reapply to a later semester.

For more information about Penn State application requirements and eligibility, please visit the Education Abroad Policies page.