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Penn StateAdvising @ PSUYour source for academic advising and academic information at Penn State

    FAQ: For Students

This FAQ page provides a list of advising-related questions frequently asked by students. Answers to these questions have been provided by academic advisers at Penn State.

  1. How can I find out who my adviser is?
  2. Can I change advisers?
  3. Can I “double major” at Penn State?
  4. What's a minor?
  5. What happens if I repeat a course?
  6. How can I change campuses?
  7. Should I late drop a course?
  8. What if I want to take summer courses?
  9. How should I handle a problem with an instructor?
  10. What should I take next semester?
  11. When do I register for next semester?
  12. How can I change my major?

  1. How can I find out who my adviser is?

  2. The short answer A longer answer
    • You can find your adviser's name, department, e-mail address, and other directory information through eLion. After logging in, click on the Adviser Information link in the menu.

  3. Can I change advisers?

  4. The short answer
    • Yes (usually).
    A longer answer
    • Most offices will permit students to change advisers, often with "no questions asked." Contact your department, advising center, or campus to make your request.
    Related links

  5. Can I “double major” at Penn State?

  6. The short answer
    • Yes. At Penn State, this is called "concurrent majors."
    A longer answer
    • Through the Concurrent Majors Program, you could earn degrees in two or more majors at Penn State. To complete concurrent majors, you would need to complete all academic requirements for all majors and graduate with all degrees in the same semester. The majors can be in the same or different colleges.
    • Depending on which majors you want to combine, there could be a significant amount of overlap between the majors.
    • You would be assigned to an academic adviser in each major. When you graduate, you would earn a separate diploma for each concurrent major that you completed.
    • In general, you would not be permitted to combine two majors that have administrative enrollment controls, although some exceptions may be possible. You are also not permitted to combine a general major with a departmental major in the same college (for example, the general Science major and the Biology major in the Eberly College of Science).
    • In some cases, such as the Smeal College of Business, you would not be permitted to complete more than one major within the college (i.e., you could not complete two concurrent majors from the same college).
    • If you are seriously considering combining two or more majors at Penn State, you should consult with your adviser or with advisers from the colleges/majors you are considering. Planning ahead is very important.
    • Note: Concurrent majors pertain to students who have not yet earned an undergraduate degree from Penn State. Students who have already graduated from Penn State and want to complete another undergraduate degree must request re-enrollment and apply for a “sequential major.”
    Related links

  7. What's a minor?

  8. The short answer
    • Think of it as a mini-major, or a concentrated “second major” with fewer required credits.
    A longer answer
    • A minor is a concentration of courses in an academic area that may or may not be directly related to your major. For example, you might major in Management and minor in International Business, or you might major in Biology and minor in Music.
    • Most students are not required to complete a minor, but many students do choose to complete one, and some students complete more than one minor.
    • Not all majors offer a corresponding minor (e.g., there are majors in Advertising/Public Relations, Art, Civil Engineering, and Nursing, but there are no minors in those areas).
    • Some minors have no corresponding major (e.g., there are minors in Dance, Entomology, Gerontology, and Marine Sciences, but there are no majors in those areas).
    • Not all minors are available at all campuses.
    • All Penn State minors require a minimum of eighteen credits, of which at least six must be at the 400 level. All courses for the minor require a grade of C or above.
    • In many cases, courses that count towards a minor can double-count with courses that count towards a major, especially in the General Education requirements and in the electives. So it's entirely possible that, with careful planning, a student could graduate with a major and a minor (or multiple minors) and not need any additional time or credits.
    Related links

  9. What happens if I repeat a course?

  10. The short answer
    • The first grade does not get canceled.
    A longer answer
    • If you repeat a course at Penn State, both final grades will remain on your transcript indefinitely.
    • Grades earned in repeated courses do count towards your semester and cumulative grade-point averages.
    • Credits earned in repeated courses do count as part of your semester credit load.
    • Credits earned in repeated courses do not count twice toward meeting requirements. For example, if you repeat a course that you've already passed once (i.e., you earned a grade of D or better in it the first time), the course will count only once toward meeting your General Education requirements, major requirements, or even electives. There will be a note on your degree audit indicating “duplicate course, counts once.”
    • If you repeat a course more than once, all of the credits/grades are averaged together in calculating your cumulative grade-point average, but the credits earned will count only once toward meeting degree requirements.
    • Repeating courses may have an impact on financial aid.
    • Exception: Some courses can be taken more than once for credit and are indicated as such in the University Bulletin (see link below for details).
    Related links

  11. How can I change campuses?

  12. The short answer
    • You need to request an official change of campus.
    A longer answer
    • In order for a student to change his or her campus of enrollment, the student's college and both campuses must approve the change. (The only exception is for students who want to take summer courses at a Penn State campus other than their official campus of enrollment—you do not need an approval to do this.)
    • Ordinarily, students must spend two full years at the campus to which they were admitted before being permitted to change to a different campus.
    • Students may request a change of campus if the campus at which they are enrolled does not offer the courses needed to maintain adequate progress toward graduation.
    • When students apply for a major in their fourth semester through the University's official entrance-to-major process on eLion, they may also request a change of campus.
    Related links

  13. Should I late drop a course?

  14. The short answer
    • Sorry—there is no short answer to this question.
    A longer answer
    • There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to late drop a course. Are you failing the course? Are you passing it with a D, but you're required to earn a C in it? Do you need the course to enter a major or to graduate? Will you become a part-time student if you late drop it? If so, what impact will part-time status have on financial aid, health insurance, student visas, or other important areas? Are there some good alternatives to late dropping?
    • Generally, it is best to discuss your situation with an academic adviser before taking action. You can also receive individualized advice about late dropping courses by using the interactive Late Course Drop application on eLion.
    Related links

  15. What if I want to take summer courses?

  16. The short answer
    • You can take summer courses at any Penn State campus and/or at many other colleges and universities.
    A longer answer
    • You can schedule summer courses at any Penn State campus by using the eLion Registration application.
    • You do not need to request an official change of campus if you plan to take summer courses at a Penn State campus that is not your current campus of enrollment.
    • Summer courses taken at any Penn State campus will be added to your Penn State transcript automatically, and the grades that you earn in these courses will be averaged with all of your other Penn State grades.
    • You may also schedule summer course work through Penn State's World Campus, which offers online courses. World Campus courses and the grades you earn in them will be added to your Penn State transcript automatically.
    • You can schedule summer courses at other colleges and universities, including community colleges, by following the registration procedures at those schools.
    • In order for courses taken at other schools to transfer to Penn State, you must earn a grade of C or better, but the grade will not appear on your Penn State transcript and will not affect your Penn State cumulative grade-point average.
    • Before scheduling summer courses at another school, look first at Penn State's Transfer Course Evaluation Guide. You'll want to make sure that the courses you plan to take will definitely transfer to Penn State. You'll also want to check with your adviser to be sure that the courses will count in your major.
    Related links

  17. How should I handle a problem with an instructor?

  18. The short answer
    • First, try to resolve the problem by talking to your instructor.
    A longer answer
    • Penn State has official policies and procedures for handling student-instructor conflicts. The first step is to try to resolve the problem by working directly with your course instructor. If that is not successful or appropriate, the next step is to discuss the situation with the head of the instructor's department. Additional information can be found in the links listed below.
    Related links

  19. What should I take next semester?

  20. The short answer
    • That depends on your major (or intended major), your semester classification, the courses you still need in order to graduate or to enter a major, etc.
    A longer answer
    • One good way to answer this question is to consult with your academic adviser. However, there are other sources of information that you will find helpful in planning your course schedule each semester, especially in preparation for meeting with your adviser to discuss your schedule.
    • One of the best tools for finding out what courses you still need to complete in order to meet graduation requirements is your degree audit, which you can request through eLion.
    • Check Recommended Academic Plans (semester-by-semester course scheduling recommendations) for suggestions. Also check your college's website; many colleges and departments maintain check sheets and other tools to assist students with schedule planning.
    • Check Entrance-to-College/Major Requirements to see if you need to schedule specific courses to enter a major.
    Related links

  21. When do I register for next semester?

  22. The short answer
    • It depends on your status (graduate, undergraduate, provisional, nondegree), the campus where you plan to take the courses, and the number of credits you have on your record.
    A longer answer
    • Here are two ways to check your first day to register for an upcoming semester.
      1. Check the Registration Timetable. (This information is available on the Registrar's website, in the Schedule of Courses, and in the Registration application in eLion.)
      2. Request a degree audit on eLion. Your specific "first day to register" date will be listed near the top of your audit.

  23. How can I change my major?

  24. The short answer
    • Whether directly or indirectly, it will be through the college that offers the major you want to change to.
    A longer answer
    • Because some entrance-to-major requirements and procedures can be complicated, it is important that you contact the college that offers the major or that college's advising center (see related links below) for the specific details. Depending on a variety of factors, it may or may not be possible for you to actually change to that major at the time you request it.
    • Most majors have entrance requirements that must be met before you can actually enter or change to a major.
    • Some majors have administrative enrollment controls, which means there are deadlines for meeting all entrance-to-major requirements. If you have already missed the deadline for such a major, you may not be able to change to that major at all.
    • Some majors are available only at certain campuses, so in order to change majors, you may also have to change campuses.
    • Most colleges now use the Entrance-to-Major application in eLion, early in a student's fourth semester.
    • If you don't qualify to enter a major yet, you still might qualify to enter the college that offers the major that you want.
    • If you know that you want to change out of your current college/major but aren't sure yet what you do want to major in, contact the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park or at other campuses to discuss your options.
    Related links

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