Pennsylvania State University is home to thousands of undergraduates. About 8,000 were admitted as freshmen at Penn State in 2012, and about 19,000 were admitted to satellite campuses. If you want to join these students, you need good grades, which are weighed more heavily than any other factor, according to admissions officials. Make sure you fill out your application accurately and on time for your best shot to enroll.

Starting Your Application

To apply to Penn State, you need to set up a profile at the university admissions website and fill out an application. Students must designate a starting campus and finishing campus. Many study for two years at one of 19 available satellite campuses and then finish the final two years at the main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania. The university recommends submitting the application by November 30 for fall admission. Missing the deadline could limit your major and campus choices. Your guidance counselor must fill out a form and have your academic transcript sent to Penn State. Students must take the SAT or ACT standardized tests. SAT subject tests are not required, nor are letters of recommendation.

Academic Requirements

Applicants must have four years of high school English, including at least one each in composition and literature. They must have three years of any combination of social studies, arts and humanities courses. Two years of a foreign language is required, but three years is recommended. Students who have less than two years of a foreign language can be admitted, but they need to make up the course work before they graduate from Penn State. Three years each of science and math are required. Four years of math is recommended from any combination of algebra, geometry and trigonometry courses.

Target Grades and Test Scores

An applicant’s grades account for about two-thirds of admissions decision. The remaining factors are standardized test scores, class rank and an optional personal statement and activities list. Penn State doesn’t have a minimum GPA for applicants, but the average GPA for a freshman at University Park was 3.52 to 3.97 on a 4.0 scale at the time of publication. First-year students accepted to satellite campuses had GPAs around 2.94 to 3.46. There isn’t a minimum score for the SAT or ACT tests, but the average freshman at the University Park campus scored 1730 to 1980 on the combined SAT and 25 to 30 on the combined ACT. Students starting at satellite campuses scored 1450 to 1680 on the SAT and 20 to 25 on the ACT.

Special Program Requirements

Areas of specialized or advanced instruction include additional requirements. Music majors must schedule an audition, and theater majors must schedule an interview no later than February 1 for fall admission. Visual arts and interdisciplinary digital studio majors must submit portfolios. Graphic design majors must submit an essay and a solution to a design problem. Students applying for the accelerated pre-medical program, accelerated science or MBA program must be in the top 10 percent of their class. The pre-med program requires an SAT score of 2100 or an ACT score of 32. The science program requires a 1310 combined SAT score in critical reading and math. Golf management students must verify their handicap.

Learn More

Students with more questions about Penn State University are encouraged to schedule a tour of any of its 20 campuses. Penn State has dozens of receptions planned in 16 different states where you can meet local admissions representatives and alumni. Prospective students are invited to chat online through the university admissions website. They’ll also find student blogs on the website, links to the Penn State Facebook page, the university Twitter feed and a list of university publications.