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First-Year Student Admissions Requirements

Admission decisions are based on a variety of factors. The most important factor, the high school grade-point average (GPA), accounts for approximately two-thirds of the admission decision. The remaining one-third of the decision is based on other factors, which may include standardized test scores, class rank, personal statements, and activities lists.

High School Course Requirements for Admission to Baccalaureate Degree Programs

The minimum high school units required for admission to baccalaureate degree programs are as follows:

English – 4 units of english are required

A composite of 1 unit each in composition and literature

Foreign Language/Social Students/Art/Humanities – 5 units of any combination are required

2 units of the same foreign language are required by the College of Communications and recommended for all other programs

Note:  Students who graduated from high school in the year 2001 or later and have not completed the recommended 2 high school units of the same foreign language, or who have not completed one 3-4 semester credit foreign language course with a grade of C (2.0) or higher at the collegiate level will need to schedule the appropriate foreign language course work at Penn State within their first two years of study.

Science – 3 units of science are required

Preparation in chemistry and physics is recommended for the following colleges:

  • Engineering
  • Earth and Mineral Sciences
  • Science (this includes University Park’s Eberly College of Science, as well as Penn State Altoona, Abington, Berks, and Lehigh Valley)
  • Penn State Erie or Penn State Harrisburg’s Science or Engineering/Engineering Technology programs

Math – 3 units of math are required (4 units are recommended)

1 and 1/2 units of algebra, 1 unit of plane geometry, 1/2 unit of trigonometry are required by the following colleges:

  • Business
  • Earth and Mineral Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Science
  • Penn State Altoona and Penn State Abington’s Business and Science programs
  • Penn State Berks and Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Science programs
  • Penn State Erie and Penn State Harrisburg’s Business, Engineering/Engineering Technology, and Science programs

All other colleges, as well as the Division of Undergraduate Studies, require 3 units of math (4 units are recommended) selected from any combination of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

High School Course Requirements for Admission to Associate Degree Programs

The minimum high school units required for admission to associate degree programs are as follows:

English – 4 units of english are required

A composite of one unit each in composition and literature

Foreign Language/Social Studies/Art/Humanities -- 4 units of any combination are required

These units may include advanced placement courses in the arts

Science – 2 units of science are required

  • 1 unit each in biology and chemistry are recommended for admission to Medical Laboratory Technology and are required for admission to Nursing
  • Applicants to the Physical Therapist Assistant program should have 1 unit in biology and 1 other science unit

Math – 2 units of mathematics are required

Types of courses vary according to degree program

1 unit of algebra and 1 unit of any combination of advanced algebra, plane geometry, solid geometry, or trigonometry are required for the following associate degree programs:

  • Radiological Sciences
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Medial Laboratory Technology
  • Science
  • Surveying Technology
  • Telecommunications Technology
  • All Engineering Technology programs

Any combination of algebra, trigonometry, or general mathematics are required for the following associate degree programs:

  • Agricultural Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Letters, Arts, and Sciences
  • Occupational Therapy

1 unit of algebra and 1 additional unit of mathematics are required for the following associate degree programs (for the second unit, plane geometry is recommended for the asterisked degrees):

  • Business Administration*
  • Forest Technology*
  • Manufacturing Technology*
  • Nursing
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Wildlife Technology*

Estimating First-Year Student Eligibility for Baccalaureate Majors

Placing in the upper end of both ranges increases the likelihood of being offered your first choice of campus/major. Placing in the lower end of both ranges may require you to be more flexible in making your campus (and perhaps major) choices.

Middle 50% Ranges

High school GPA (high school GPA range is based on a 4.0 scale)

  • University Park: 3.46 – 3.87
  • All other campuses: 2.80 – 3.34

Composite SAT (Critical reading and math scores only. Penn State will incorporate scores from the writing portion of the new SAT and ACT for students applying in 2008 and entering in 2009.)

  • University Park: 1160 – 1340
  • All other campuses: 930 – 1150

Composite ACT (Critical reading and math scores only. Penn State will incorporate scores from the writing portion of the new SAT and ACT for students applying in 2008 and entering in 2009.)

  • University Park: 26 – 30
  • All other campuses: 20 – 25