Penn State offers students nationwide licensing information

Changes meet new regulations from U.S. Education Department

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new University-wide website will enable Penn State students to find out if their program of study meets licensing requirements in any state or U.S. territory.

Penn State offers more than 170 academic programs in fields that require some kind of professional licensing, including allied health certificates, teaching certifications, and medical and law licenses. Federal regulations that took effect July 1 require universities to inform current and prospective students whether their programs of study meet professional licensing requirements in every state.

The new website features an interactive map of the United States to help students determine whether a program on any given campus meets the licensing requirements of a specific state.

The new regulations affect undergraduate and graduate, degree and nondegree programs in many departments on every Penn State campus.

Dozens of staff, faculty and administrators representing all University units and campuses worked for six months to compile the information required by the new U.S. Department of Education regulations, said Lance Kennedy-Phillips, vice provost for planning, assessment, and institutional research at Penn State, who co-sponsored the Task Force on Professional Licensure/Certification. The work of the task force was slowed but not stopped by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We appreciate the great cooperation from the academic units throughout the university,” said Renata Engel, vice provost for online education at Penn State and additional co-sponsor of the Professional Licensure/Certification Task Force.  

Universities must provide state-by-state information for every program designed to meet or marketed to meet professional licensing requirements. The law is intended to provide students with more consumer protection so that they don’t find out after graduating from a program that they can’t pursue their career where they want to work, Engel said.

If a student moves from one state to another, Penn State will send that student an individual notice if the program they are enrolled in doesn’t meet the licensing requirements in the new state, Engel said. Likewise, if licensing requirements in a state change so that Penn State’s program no longer meets those requirements, the University will let affected students know.

In the past, universities were required to supply that information only for certain distance education programs, said Traci Piazza, associate director of program planning and management for Penn State World Campus.

“The burden used to be more on the student; now it’s on us,” Piazza said.

Kennedy-Phillips said Penn State went from “few academic departments having to worry about this, to more than 170 across most of our colleges and campuses.”

Compiling the information from all of those programs for every state and territory was a “Herculean” effort, he said. “Penn State draws students from everywhere.”

Much of the required information was gathered by each academic unit on each campus from individual state licensing board websites. 

Long-term, Annette Fetterolf, task force chair and analysis and planning consultant, hopes to automate the information collection and organization processes. 

The task force wants to make sure that academic advisers, admissions staff, faculty and administrators -- “anyone who might get a question from a student” -- are aware of the new resource, and is working with academic units to put links to the website on program pages for students, Fetterolf said.

For more information about professional licensure and certification, faculty and staff members can visit the PLC Toolkit Sharepoint site



Last Updated August 20, 2020