About Penn State

This is Penn State

Penn State is in the top 1 percent of universities worldwide and has the largest alumni network in the nation. Founded in 1855, the University combines academic rigor with a vibrant campus life as it carries out its mission of teaching, research, and service with pride and focuses on the future throughout Pennsylvania and the world. Granted the highest rating for research universities by the Carnegie Foundation, Penn State teaches students to be leaders with a global perspective.

Our leadership in administration, faculty, and staff make our mission come alive every day. The Board of Trustees reviews and approves the budget of the University and guides general goals, policies, and procedures from a big-picture perspective. The President’s office ensures that all aspects of the University are running smoothly and promotes overall principles that students, faculty, and staff abide by for the long term. The University Faculty Senate represents the Penn State faculty with legislative authority on all matters regarding the University's educational interests.

Penn State strives to celebrate diversity in all aspects of its educational and operational activities and the University’s strategic plans are designed to result in ongoing improvements that help prepare future generations of leaders.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University is the corporate body established by the charter with complete responsibility for the government and welfare of the University and all the interests pertaining thereto including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

In the exercise of this responsibility, the Board is guided by the following policies:

  1. The authority for day-to-day management and control of the University, and the establishment of policies and procedures for the educational program and other operations of the University, shall be delegated to the President, and by him/her, either by delegation to or consultation with the faculty and the student body in accordance with a general directive of the Board.

    This delegation of authority requires that the Board rely on the judgment and decisions of those who operate under its authority. However, this reliance of the Board must be based upon its continuing awareness of the operations of the University. Therefore, the Board shall receive and consider thorough and forthright reports on the affairs of the University by the President or those designated by the President. It has a continuing obligation to require information or answers on any University matter with which it is concerned.

    Finally, upon request, the Board shall advise the President on any University matter of concern to him/her.
  2. The Board of Trustees shall carry out certain responsibilities as a Board, without delegation. These responsibilities are:
    1. The selection of the President of the University
    2. The determination of the major goals of the University and the approval of the policies and procedures for implementation of such goals.
    3. The review and approval of the operating and capital budget of the University.
    4. Such other responsibilities as law, governmental directives, or custom require the Board to act upon.
  3. The Board of Trustees shall inform the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of the University's performance of its role in the education of the youth of Pennsylvania.
  4. The Board of Trustees shall assist the President in the development of effective relationships between the University and the various agencies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America which provide to the University assistance and direction.


President's Council



The Pennsylvania State University is a multi-campus, land-grant, public research University that educates students from around the world, and supports individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service.

Our instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, continuing, and extension education, offered through both resident instruction and distance learning. Our educational programs are enriched by the talent, knowledge, diversity, creativity, and teaching and research acumen of our faculty, students, and staff.

Our discovery-oriented, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research and scholarship promote human and economic development, global understanding, and advancement in professional practice through the expansion of knowledge and its applications in the natural and applied sciences, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, technology, arts and humanities, and myriad professions.

As Pennsylvania's land-grant university, we provide unparalleled access to education and public service to support the citizens of the Commonwealth and beyond. We engage in collaborative activities with private sector, educational, and governmental partners worldwide to generate, integrate, apply, and disseminate knowledge that is valuable to society.


As Pennsylvania's only land-grant university, Penn State has a broad mission of teaching, research, and public service. But that mission was not so grandly conceived in 1855, when the Commonwealth chartered it as one of the nation's first colleges of agricultural science, with a goal to apply scientific principles to farming.

Centre County became the site of the new college in response to a gift of 200 acres from gentleman farmer and ironmaster James Irvin of Bellefonte. Founding President Evan Pugh drew on the scientific education he had received in Europe to plan a curriculum that combined theoretical studies with practical applications.

Pugh and similar visionaries in other states championed Congressional passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act in 1862. The act enabled states to sell federal land, invest the proceeds, and use the income to support colleges "where the leading object shall be, without excluding scientific and classical studies ... to teach agriculture and the mechanic arts [engineering] ... in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in all the pursuits and professions of life." The state legislature designated Penn State the land-grant institution of Pennsylvania.

But not until the 1880s, under the leadership of President George W. Atherton, did the college expand its curriculum to match the Land-Grant Act's broad mandate. From that time onward, curricula in engineering, the sciences, the liberal arts, and more began to flourish. In the early 1900s, Penn State introduced cooperative extension and additional outreach programming, extending the reach of its academic mission.

An even greater segment of the Commonwealth's population had opportunities for engagement in the 1930s when Penn State established a series of undergraduate branch campuses, primarily to meet the needs of students who were location-bound during the Great Depression. Those campuses were predecessors of today's system of 24 Penn State campuses located throughout the Commonwealth.

Penn State began offering systematic advanced-degree work in 1922 with the formation of the Graduate School. Graduate education and research evolved hand in hand. By 1950 the University had won international distinction for investigations in dairy science, building insulation, diesel engines, and acoustics, and other specialized fields.

A college of medicine and teaching hospital were established in 1967 with a $50 million gift from the charitable trusts of renowned chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey. In 1989 the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport became an affiliate of the University. Penn State's online World Campus graduated its first students in 2000 and now enrolls more than 12,000. Also in 2000, Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law merged. In 2015, two Penn State law schools, Dickinson Law (in Carlisle, Pennsylvania) and Penn State Law (on University Park campus) were established.


Accreditation Notice

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The Pennsylvania State University was first accredited in 1921 and accreditation was reaffirmed in June 2015.

Annual Institutional Updates are submitted each spring-summer. The last Midpoint Peer Review occurs every four years and last occurred in 2020. The next Self-Study evaluation is scheduled for 2023-2024.

According to MSCHE's policy statement, Accreditation Review Cycle and Monitoring, "The Commission's eight-year cycle of review of accredited institutions begins with an in-depth institutional self-study that is reviewed by peer evaluators during an on-site evaluation visit. The self-study and on-site review are used to assess the institution's compliance with Commission standards and requirements of affiliation, verify compliance with accreditation-relevant federal regulations, and identify areas needing improvement. The review process results in an accreditation decision in accordance with the Commission Policy Accreditation actions. Institutions submit annually an update of institutional data and other information requested by the Commission. In the fourth year following the self-study visit, the Commission conducts an off-site mid-point peer review based on the cumulative information provided by the institution. Institutions are provided a report on the institution's performance with respect to student achievement and financial sustainability."




The Office of the Vice President for Research is responsible for facilitating the $863-million-per-year research enterprise at Penn State by working with a broad range of units across the University.

The mission of the Office of the Vice President for Research is to support a rigorous program of faculty and student research and creative accomplishment by enhancing the environment for scholarly and artistic endeavors, encouraging the highest standards of quality, and fostering ethical conduct in research.

The office is responsible for:

  • the effective administration of sponsored programs which provide the financial support for a substantial share of the research activity at the University;
  • serving as the University's advocate and spokesperson on research issues, and as a representative in activities that may produce major new programs and facilities for research;
  • facilitating strong programs for interdisciplinary research.


University Structure

Undergraduate Campuses

Penn State has more than twenty campuses across Pennsylvania that serve undergraduate students and communities through teaching, research, and service. Through its network of undergraduate campuses and World Campus, Penn State provides students the opportunity to begin and complete a Penn State degree at one campus, transition to complete a degree at another campus or complete a program completely online—this is the hallmark of Penn State's unique one University concept.

The University Park campus, the administrative and research hub of the University is the largest of Penn State's campuses. Across Pennsylvania, Penn State campuses play a critical role in the land-grant mission of the University, by providing access and opportunity—a commitment that remains at the core of each campus's mission. In addition to providing the first two years of more than 160 Penn State majors, campuses confer nearly 5,000 Penn State degrees annually to students who complete their academic programs at a Penn State campus.


Graduate and Professional Campuses

Penn State’s wide range of graduate programs includes traditional residential Ph.D. research programs through part-time degree programs aimed at working professionals.Penn State offers graduate programs at six campuses: Penn State Erie, Penn State Great Valley, Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State University Park, and Penn State World Campus. Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA offers a complete medical education program leading to the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Penn State has two separately accredited Law Schools: Dickinson Law in Carlisle, PA and Penn State Law at University Park.



Penn State's undergraduate majors are divided among academic colleges, which are the units from which students receive their degrees. Examples of colleges are Arts and Architecture, Eberly College of Science, and Education, among others. Academic colleges offer graduate programs as well; however, graduate degrees are awarded by the J. Jeffrey and Ann Marie Fox Graduate School. In addition to the 12 academic colleges at the University Park campus, Penn State has six academic colleges across Pennsylvania that allow students to finish their undergraduate degrees at a campus other than University Park.

With the exception of a few specialized programs, undergraduate students interested in majors offered by the above academic colleges can start their education at any Penn State campus and then transition to University Park following their second year to complete their degree as part of the 2+2 Plan.

In addition, the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport offers undergraduate enrollments in selected degree programs.

For a list of academic colleges, enrollment units, and special academic programs visit the Undergraduate Bulletin Colleges page.

Academic Colleges at Campuses

Six Penn State colleges, located throughout the state, offer undergraduate majors that are typically completed at campuses other than University Park. These colleges are:

  • Abington College, at the Penn State Abington campus
  • Altoona College, at the Penn State Altoona campus
  • Behrend College, at the Penn State Erie campus
  • Berks College, at the Penn State Berks campus
  • Capital College, at the Penn State Harrisburg campus
  • University College, is comprised of the following 14 campuses:
    • Penn State Beaver
    • Penn State Brandywine
    • Penn State DuBois
    • Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus
    • Penn State Greater Allegheny
    • Penn State Hazleton
    • Penn State Lehigh Valley
    • Penn State Mont Alto
    • Penn State New Kensington
    • Penn State Schuylkill
    • Penn State Shenango
    • Penn State Wilkes-Barre
    • Penn State Scranton
    • Penn State York

Students interested in undergraduate majors offered by these colleges can typically start at one campus and finish at another through the 2+2 plan, or they can choose to stay at one campus for all four years if their campus of choice offers the major they want. To see the specific undergraduate majors available at each campus, search majors by campus in the Undergraduate Bulletin.