Faculty members may be assigned to teach courses through resident instruction, World Campus and/or continuing education. The primary mission of resident instruction is to deliver classroom credit courses to students admitted to degree programs at campus sites and to administer on- and off-campus credit-bearing activities such as internships, practicums, field experiences, and education abroad. Students not formally admitted to a degree program (provisional and nondegree students) may participate in resident instruction, World Campus, and/or continuing education offerings on a space available basis. Continuing Education programs (other than those of the Cooperative Extension) include informal University instruction programs, such as noncredit workshops, conferences, clinics, institutes, short courses, and independent learning courses, as well as credit courses designed largely for nontraditional, part-time students pursuing course work or degrees. World Campus courses typically are taught online.
The colleges of the University are the academic homes for all faculty, programs, and courses in resident instruction, the World Campus, and continuing education.
Penn State provides credit courses to degree candidates at all locations of the University. It also administers on- and off-campus credit-granting activities, including internships, practicums, field trips, and study abroad. Classes meet on a semester calendar and in summer sessions of varying lengths.
All undergraduate degree programs and courses offered by the University are approved by the faculty and are implemented under academic policies and student policies established by the University Faculty Senate and the vice president and dean for undergraduate education. The provost maintains authority for the academic administrative policies and procedures that govern the undergraduate curriculum. The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs approves or rejects all course and curriculum proposals submitted by the various departments, colleges, and other appropriate units of the University. This committee also oversees the General Education Subcommittee, the United States and International Cultures Subcommittee, the Writing Subcommittee, the Bachelor of Arts Requirements Subcommittee and the Retention and Transfer Subcommittee.
All baccalaureate and associate degree candidates must complete a program of General Education, which is defined by the University Faculty Senate as representing "the breadth of knowledge involving the major intellectual and aesthetic achievements of humanity." The baccalaureate General Education program consists of 45 credits: communication (writing/speaking) (9 credits); quantitative (6 credits); and the knowledge domains areas (30 credits), including courses in the sciences (9 credits), arts (6 credits), humanities (6 credits), social and behavioral sciences (6 credits), and health and physical activity (3 credits). Associate degree candidates take a similar array of courses, but fewer credits.
For additional information, consult the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin.
In addition to General Education, Writing Across the Curriculum, and United States Cultures and International Cultures requirements are enhancements approved by the Senate for baccalaureate students. At least 3 credits of writing-intensive courses must be taken prior to graduation. All candidates for a baccalaureate degree or an associate degree are required to take 3 credits of United States Cultures courses and 3 credits of International Cultures courses. In addition, baccalaureate, provisional, and nondegree students are required to complete a First-Year Engagement (FYE) program designed to engage students in learning, acquaint them with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State, and orient them to the scholarly community from the outset of their undergraduate studies in a way that will bridge to later experiences in their chosen majors. All students in a University Park college or in the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park must complete a First-Year Seminar (FYS) for 1 to 3 credits as part of the FYE program.
Individual colleges also have college requirements for undergraduates. For example, all students in Bachelor of Arts programs (most of them in the College of the Liberal Arts) have a 12-credit-level foreign language requirement.