A graduate student may be admitted as a degree student, a certificate student, or a nondegree student, depending upon the student's objectives. A student who has held only nondegree status and who later wants to apply for degree status should contact his or her intended program of study. Admission as a nondegree student neither guarantees nor implies subsequent admission to a degree program. Any other change in classification must be arranged through the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services, 114 Kern Building.
Degree Student--A degree student is one who plans to become a candidate for an advanced degree at Penn State and who has been formally admitted for advanced studies in a particular program. The program of study is developed under the guidance of an adviser appointed by the head of the student's major program. A degree student who has passed a candidacy examination is classified as a doctoral candidate.
Provisional Admission--Provisional admission is a temporary classification in which an applicant may remain for a period of either one or two semesters (depending on the provisional type) following admission. If the conditions of provisional admission are not met within that time, the student may be dropped from the program. In addition, all provisional conditions must be met before a student reaches an academic benchmark. Benchmarks include completion of a master’s program, the doctoral candidacy, comprehensive, and the final oral examinations. A student will not be permitted to graduate who has not met the conditions of his or her provisional admission.
Nondegree Student--If you do not intend to pursue a graduate degree, but want to take graduate-level courses for personal enrichment, professional development, permanent certification, or to apply for degree status at a later date, you can seek admission as a nondegree graduate student. Information on applying for nondegree graduate status may be obtained via the Web site at www.gradsch.psu.edu/prospective/apply.
A maximum of 15 graduate credits taken as a nondegree student prior to admission to a graduate degree program may be applied to a graduate program, with departmental approval. The credits must have been earned within five years preceding entry into the degree program. For additional information, see Transfer of Nondegree Graduate Credits, under Transfer Credits. Forms for transfer of nondegree credits may be obtained from the graduate program.
Applicants for nondegree admission must have received from a regionally accredited institution a baccalaureate degree earned under residence and credit conditions substantially equivalent to those required by Penn State.
Certificate Student--A certificate student is one who is engaged in a program of study leading to a certificate or equivalent recognition of accomplishment rather than a graduate degree program at Penn State. Certification students, i.e., candidates for Instructional, Supervisory, Educational Specialist, and Administrative certificates, have the same University privileges and responsibilities as graduate degree students. (See additional information under Pennsylvania Department of Education Certificate Candidates.)
Undergraduate Student--Such a student is not a graduate student because a baccalaureate degree has not been attained. The student may not register for graduate courses (500 or 800 series) unless he or she is a senior with at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA or with at least a 3.0 GPA and special permission from the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. Forms to request permission to take 500- or 800-level courses are available in the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services, 114 Kern Building.