The Penn State World Campus Admissions Application Review Process

My name is Amber and I’m an admissions counselor with Penn State World Campus Admission Services and Financial Aid. I’m one of the many staff members here at Penn State that reviews incoming applications for admission to Penn State World Campus. I’d like to share some of what I look for during the review process, and why I look for it, so that you can better understand how the application review process works. Hopefully, this will help you to be better prepared as you complete your online application!

First Look

The first thing I do is verify that you have completed your application, paid the application fee, and provided all of your prior transcripts. I take a look at your college transcripts to ensure that your prior credits are properly documented. For example, transcripts from all institutions attended are required, even if the credits from the first school are listed in the transcript from the second school.

High School Records

Next, I will verify that we have your high school transcripts and/or GED records on file. If you earned a GED, official high school transcripts through the last year you completed and an official GED transcript are required. A common question is, “Why do you need high school records?” There are a couple answers to this question:

  1. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply for all Penn State World Campus programs.
  2. Transcripts are used to determine whether prerequisite units of study have been completed for admission to certain programs.

Once I confirm that we have all of your prior records on file, I review the admission requirements for your intended program. Admission to most of our online programs requires a 2.00 or higher cumulative grade-point average.

NOTE: Some programs do require slightly higher grade-point averages.

Academic Forgiveness

Some students are concerned about applying due to poor grades from prior college experiences. An option that may be available is academic forgiveness. Applicants may be considered for academic forgiveness if the poor grades were received more than four years prior to the semester that they are applying for. Determining academic forgiveness is done on a case-by-case basis and it is not available for all programs offered through Penn State World Campus.

Entrance to Major (ETM) Requirements

Another concern for many students is meeting the ETM requirements for certain programs. For example, our online Bachelor of Science in Finance program requires students transferring directly into the major to have:

  • completed 29.1 or more transferrable credits
  • have a cumulative grade-point average of 2.50 or higher and have completed ACCTG 211, ECON 102, ENGL 015 or ENGL 030, MATH 110 or MATH 140, SCM 200 or their equivalents

If you do not immediately meet ETM requirements, that is completely OK! There are still options available to help you become a Penn State World Campus student.


If you are missing some prerequisite courses, your application could be reviewed for admission as a pre-major. The pre-major is a way for students to complete a collection of core courses prior to being admitted to their intended major. Courses taken while in the pre-major status will count toward the completion of your intended degree.

Conditional Admission

If you do not meet ETM requirements for admission to a specific program, but you have a minimum grade-point average of 2.0, you could be placed into the Division of Undergraduate Studies with conditions. The Division of Undergraduate Studies with conditions (DUSC) is a University-wide major for students who are missing prerequisites for their desired program. Admission to DUSC provides an opportunity to prepare for admission to a specific academic college or major. While in DUSC status, you will be assigned an academic adviser for your intended degree program, will be able to take courses useful towards your intended degree program, and will be eligible to use financial aid (if awarded). Before you are considered eligible to enter a degree program, you must complete 18 credits with a 2.0 or higher GPA and complete ETM requirements. If you are still missing any requirements for the major after completing 18 credits, it may be possible for you to then go into a pre-major.

Transfer Credits

If you completed credits at a prior institution, those credits may transfer and count toward your degree here at Penn State World Campus. Transfer credits are evaluated once you are admitted to a degree program and have been assigned to an adviser. Your adviser will review your transfer courses to see if any meet your degree program’s requirements. Transferable credits are credits earned from other regionally accredited universities for courses in which you have earned a C or better. They must also be comparable to a course offered at Penn State and they must be relevant to your intended degree program.

This wraps up the review process! To recap, we need the following things before we can begin reviewing your application for admission to Penn State World Campus:

  1. Completed online application
  2. Paid application fee
  3. High school and/or GED transcripts
  4. College transcripts from all prior institutions you have attended

We want to ensure that you succeed in your chosen career path and we look forward to discussing your options as you prepare for your future! Try not to feel overwhelmed with the admission process. I went through this exact same process as a current Penn State World Campus student and it will all be worth it in the end.