The Provost establishes minimum course enrollment threshold expectations that represent a strategic balancing of best practices in teaching and learning, faculty availability and workload, and available fiscal and physical resources. Enrollment policies may be amended from time to time to reflect current university conditions. The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment, in consultation with campus registrars, conducts regular reviews of course enrollments and reports findings to the Provost and to the colleges and course delivering units, including World Campus and Continuing Education. There is an expectation that Deans and other university officers will use the data as a foundational element of sound strategic planning.

As a general rule, courses should be offered only when they meet the minimum enrollment thresholds enumerated below. When a course is shared, enrollment will be determined by aggregating the total number of students in the course. There is recognition that circumstances can arise that necessitate offering, within reasonable tolerances, sections that do not meet the minimum threshold expectation. This could include courses required to ensure timely degree completion, courses requiring special learning spaces, and those generating other strategic issues.

Minimum Enrollment Expectations:

–001 through 399-level courses: 15 students;
–400-level courses: 8 students;
–500-level and 800-level courses: 5 students.

The Registrar will provide a web-based search tool to assist in the identification of courses that do not meet minimum course enrollment expectations. Academic units should regularly analyze their section offerings to identify low-enrollment patterns and causes. Appropriate steps should be taken to minimize their number. When a section will be dropped because of low enrollment, registered students must have sufficient time to enroll in other appropriate courses.

While monitoring and enforcement of the Provost's Minimum Course Enrollment Expectations are generally the purview of the College Deans, the Provost and other University Officers also make use of enrollment data to facilitate strategic planning and to encourage as appropriate compliance with C-3 course enrollment policies.

The following do not fall under the Minimum Course Enrollment Expectations, including:

–600-level courses (graduate thesis, supervised teaching, foreign experience);
–700-level courses (medical);
–900-level courses (law);
–honors courses (i.e. courses with an "H", "M", "T", or "U" suffix);
–individualized instruction courses (i.e. courses numbered 001-599 with a "J" suffix);
–courses numbered X94 (research topic), X95 (internship), X96 (independent study), X99 (foreign studies);
–World Campus courses (courses with location code of WD);
–ROTC courses coded as "MS"

Revised: ACUE (3-4-99)
Revised: ACUE (1-8-09)
Revised: Editorial (12-20-10)
Revised: Editorial (10-31-11)
Revised: ACUE (10-4-12)


The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.