Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Learn about Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA. Read about its admission info, financial aid and degree programs to make an informed education decision.

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About Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA

Pennsylvania State University, commonly known as Penn State, is a large public research university with 24 locations throughout the state. The University Park campus serves as the main campus and administrative center of the university. It's located in State College, which is in central Pennsylvania.

Penn State originated as an agricultural college in 1855, and in 1863, it became Pennsylvania's only land grant institution. The university mission is focused on research, teaching and public service. Although Penn State receives state funding and has the qualities of a public university, it is not owned by the state. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn State 45th best among national universities.


The School of Nursing and 11 undergraduate colleges offer about 150 bachelor's degree programs at Penn State's University Park campus. The Graduate School, School of International Affairs, Honors College, College of Medicine and School of Law are also located there. Penn State offers over 130 graduate degree programs. Additionally, Penn State's World Campus offers over 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs online in subjects such as business, political science, engineering management, turfgrass management and nursing.

The University Park campus includes 2 main libraries, the Paterno and Pattee libraries. This campus also hosts 5 branch libraries covering architecture, mineral sciences, engineering, mathematics and law.


Penn State has an online application process. Prospective students can begin applying on September 1 and should submit applications by November 30 for summer or fall admission. Although Penn State has a rolling admissions policy, those who submit applications after November 30 may have limited selection of campus and major if they're accepted to the school. Decision notification is January 31 or sooner for all students whose completed applications were submitted by November 30. Some programs have a mandatory application deadline of November 30, including architecture, nursing, premedical and professional golf management.

Penn State bases admission on a combination of high school GPA, standardized test scores, personal statement, class rank and extracurricular activities. Although there is no minimum GPA requirement, GPA counts for about two-thirds of the admission decision.

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Tuition & Financial Aid

For the 2011-2012 school year, total estimated expenses for in-state, full-time, first-year undergraduate students living on campus were $31,002 (out-of-state students paid an estimated $43,084). This included $15,984 for tuition and fees ($28,066 for out-of-state students), $1,536 for books and supplies, $9,432 for room and board and $4,050 for other expenses.

That same academic year, 37% of full-time, first-year students and 72% of all undergraduate students received grant or scholarship aid. For the same year, 53% of full-time, first-year students received student loan aid, with an average amount of $7,680 per student.

School Type Public, 4-year*
Degrees Offered Associate's, bachelor's, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's, doctorate (research), doctorate (professional practice)*
Religious Affiliation None*
Academic Calendar Semesters*
School Setting Small city*
Student Body 45,628 (38,954 undergraduates) as of Fall 2011*
Student Housing On-campus housing required for all first-year students**
Schools and Programs 17 colleges and schools, 148 bachelor's degrees, over 130 graduate degrees**
Student-Faculty Ratio 17 to 1**
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Bachelor's: Information sciences/studies (757)
Master's: Business administration and management (271)
Doctoral: Law (102)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 62% in 4 years
85% in 6 years
86% in 8 years (for students who began in Fall 2003)*
Admission Rate 55% in 2010*
Entering Class Size 7,312 in 2010*
First-Year Retention Rates 92% (full-time students)
57% (part-time students) *
SAT and ACT Score of Middle 50% of Admitted Students SAT scores: 1750-1990
Combined ACT scores: 26-30 (2012 admissions data)*
Application Due Date November 30**
Decision Notification Date January 31**
Tuition $31,002 per year for in-state students
$43,084 per year out-of-state students
(for 2011-2012 ; includes all estimated student expenses)*
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Students Receiving it) In 2010-2011: Federal grants (16%), state and local grants (16%), institutional scholarships (29%), federal loans (52%)*
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 72% for 2010-2011 academic year*

Sources: *IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics, **Pennsylvania State University.

School Contact Information

  • Address: Penn State Undergraduate Admissions, 201 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802-1294
  • Phone: (814) 865-5471
  • Website:

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