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Undergraduate Education Programs and Strategic Priorities

UE Vision

Undergraduate Education will be a dynamic force for excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State, recognized for leadership, innovation, and a focus on students.

UE Mission

The mission of Undergraduate Education is to:

  • Recruit, enroll, support, and retain a diverse student body across all Penn State undergraduate campuses
  • Engage students in learning through quality academic advising and curricular and co-curricular academic opportunities
  • Promote innovation, integrity, and excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning 

See the full Undergraduate Education Strategic Plan at


1. Access and Affordability

Our goal is to educate a diverse cohort of qualified students reflective of the land-grant mission of access, our 
multicultural society, and the global higher education landscape.

Objectives and Initiatives:

  • increase avenues of access to Penn State admissions through agile, creative, and collaborative service, to students, families, school counselors, campuses, and colleges
  • target recruitment efforts to enroll a diverse and inclusive population including multicultural and international students, Pennsylvania and out-of-state students, and adult learners
  • address financial barriers for students and families
  • improve retention of low income and minority students

2. Student Success and Financial Literacy Center

Our goal is to provide students with expanded and integrated services to ensure academic success and financial literacy.

Objectives and Initiatives: 

  • reinforce the interrelationship between the tools for academic achievement and success and those needed to promote financial wellness and security
  • meet the growing demand for learning support resources (academic and curricular advising, guidance in study skills, and development and tutoring in writing, technology, quantification, economics and business basics, scientific concepts, global languages) and for financial literacy (money and debt/loan management, personal budgeting, health care decisions, taxes and retirement planning) before and after graduation

3. Student Engagement and Learning

Our goal is to nurture the intellectual, social, and professional development of students through rigorous and broad-based undergraduate curricular and co-curricular activities and academic support.

Objectives and Initiatives:

  • enhance the undergraduate learning experience and outcomes
  • provide programs and services responsive to the needs of today’s students
  • improve academic administrative processes to be more responsive to students

4. Complete Penn State

Our goal is to provide micro-grant funding and academic support to Penn State students who are in good academic standing but face financial hardship in their final semesters of study.

Objectives and Initiatives:

  • create a pilot program that provides early alerts generated by the Starfish advising platform to identify students that may need interventions at the sign of academic or personal challenges, as well as financial support to ensure retention and degree completion
  • aim to increase the degree completion rates of students pursuing a Penn State education, including first generation students, adult learners, and students from historically underrepresented groups
  • assist students who have made significant progress toward their degree but have encountered financial, personal, or academic issues that may prevent them from ultimately completing their degree


Office of the Vice President and Dean (Office of Undergraduate Education)

The Office of the Vice President and Dean leads, coordinates, and collaborates on a wide range of undergraduate education matters across the University. The office also serves as a source and clearinghouse for institutional research and data pertaining to undergraduate enrollments and student success and retention.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • coordinate the curricular development and review process
  • inspire teaching excellence and innovation
  • develop and maintain academic policies and procedures
  • ensure academic integrity is upheld at Penn State
  • facilitate digital and online learning
  • manage instructional facilities
  • manage the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, University Registrar, Prior Learning Assessment, and General Education, as well as units listed in this booklet
  • lead the Student Engagement Network initiative (in partnership with Student Affairs and Outreach and Online Education)
  • administer programs including the Bachelor of Philosophy, the Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Penn State Reads (in partnership with Student Affairs),, annual Undergraduate Exhibition, Erickson Discovery Grants, and conference travel support for undergraduates
  • serve the needs of all UE units through the Office of Communications, Finance and Administration, Information Technology (IT), and Research and Analysis

Division of Undergraduate Studies

The Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) is the academic home for students exploring multiple academic programs before committing to a course of study and serves as a model of academic advising for the University and other institutions across the nation. DUS is the largest enrollment unit for first-year students across the University.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • enroll and advise students who are exploring majors
  • manage the educational planning session and academic consultation components of New Student Orientation (NSO) (These sessions teach students about Penn State’s academic colleges, the General Education program, graduation requirements, and includes time to meet with an academic adviser.)
  • provide academic information through a network of DUS program coordinators and advisers that support the University’s academic advising programs through the coordination, development, and dissemination of up-to-date information about academic programs, policies, and procedures
  • offer consultations, academic information, and educational planning services for University students, prospective students, and others requesting advising assistance

Office of Student Aid

The Office of Student Aid (OSA) helps students finance their education by administering federal, state, institutional, and private funds for the University. It is OSA’s belief that access to education should be possible for all, regardless of family ability to pay, and that through financial aid programs access may be possible. Nearly three-quarters of all Penn State undergraduates and well over half of graduate students receive some type of financial assistance.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • process over 90,000 applications for financial aid each year
  • facilitate the disbursement of student financial aid for Penn State students; this totaled $1.2 billion that assisted 75,102 students in 2014-15
  • provide financial aid to students in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, and work/study programs
  • offer outreach services to area high school counselors, students, and parents to inform and assist in applying for financial aid

Office for Summer Session

The Office for Summer Session works with Penn State colleges to expand opportunities for students and to develop creative offerings for summer study. The office provides students with the requisite information needed about summer session course offerings.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • coordinate the Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) for first-year students entering University Park in the summer
  • manage the Student Transitional Experiences Program (STEP) for change-of-campus students and summer programs for international students
  • make students aware of the many advantages of taking summer session courses including the opportunity to catch up on missed requirements or incomplete credits, focus on challenging classes, and receive individual attention in smaller classes
  • encourage students to stay on track, get ahead in their program, and graduate on time

Morgan Academic Center

The Morgan Academic Center (MAC) provides support and comprehensive services to Penn State’s 800 student-athletes as they strive to be successful in their academic and athletic pursuits.

Throughout its history, Penn State has had 189 Academic All-Americans, the third highest total in the NCAA.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • provide academic and personal counseling to student-athletes, as well as learning support services that include access to a learning specialist, peer tutors, and academic mentor
  • enhance the collegiate experience of student-athletes through career and life skills development opportunities, including personal development, leadership, and community service
  • produce periodic reports to the University Faculty Senate, NCAA, and Big Ten Conference

Penn State Learning

Penn State Learning is a multi-disciplinary, tuition-covered academic assistance program staffed by undergraduate peer tutors and scholars in residence who are content experts in their respective fields.

Penn State Learning employs over 150 peer tutors in writing, math, languages, sciences, economics, statistics, philosophy, and public speaking, conducting upwards of 35,000 tutorials a year with 10,000 students, along with approximately 400 online tutorials per semester. Course-embedded tutors lead approximately sixty Guided Study Group sessions per week for twenty high-enrollment General Education courses.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • help all undergraduates at University Park meet or exceed the skill standards required to succeed as scholars in their chosen programs and to thrive as cooperative citizens and peer educators within a global society
  • support individual and group tutoring, learning community development, and collaborative projects with academic departments to assess learning and improve academic assistance resources for undergraduates
  • train tutors through a credited tutoring training course and continue training through observations, peer mentoring, and staff meetings

University Fellowships Office

The University Fellowships Office (UFO) supports students who apply for competitive national and international fellowships in addition to managing the University’s nomination process for several prominent award opportunities. The staff work closely with students to help them articulate their own learning and exploration goals, navigate the various nomination processes for their areas of interest, and prepare them for written applications and oral interviews to help make them competitive applicants.

Penn State students have repeatedly won a wide range of fellowships at all levels including the Marshall, Gates Cambridge, and Churchill, among others. Penn State consistently ranks as a ‘Top Producing Institution’ for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • inform undergraduates, faculty, and staff about major fellowship opportunities
  • help students find fellowship opportunities which match their goals and accomplishments
  • advise students through the logistics of the fellowship application process
  • provide writing assistance on most fellowship application materials
  • prepare students for national fellowship interviews

Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs

The Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs (SOTP) provides a comprehensive learning experience for Penn State undergraduate students that supports a successful academic, social, and personal transition to the University. In addition to full-time Penn State staff, undergraduate student leaders volunteer their time throughout the academic year and are employed throughout the summer to assist new students, parents, and family members at each stage of their transition to the University. SOTP is operated in partnership with Student Affairs.

Key responsibilities of this office include the management of the following programs:

  • Change-of-Campus Welcome assists Penn State campus students in their transition to University Park.
  • Link UP is a visit program for students considering a Penn State campus change.
  • New Student Orientation (NSO) is a two-day, on-campus summer orientation for new, first-year students.
  • Transfer Student Orientation (TSO) is a specifically designed program for students who have previous experience at another college or university.
  • Welcome Week programs are comprised of activities to help students get to know Penn State. Welcome Week takes place at the start of each semester.

Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence

The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence (SITE) works to continually improve teaching and learning at Penn State through instructional consulting services and programs for both new and experienced faculty, graduate students, and administrators. SITE also operates the University Testing Center in the Pollock Building, working with faculty to schedule and administer computer-based tests to students in the eTesting Lab and to process “bubble sheets” from multiple-choice tests administered in classrooms across the University.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • work with faculty to explore new teaching methods
  • develop assignments and tests
  • conduct course-based research
  • administer the end-of-semester Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTE) and the University’s teaching awards election processes

Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) teaches Penn State students the foundational skills needed to position themselves as successful entrepreneurs and innovators. The ENTI minor is open to students of all disciplines and includes three core courses and three courses specific to a student’s area of concentration called a cluster. Clusters are designed to provide students with the skills necessary to achieve their career goals.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • coordinate all aspects of the ENTI minor across all colleges and campuses
  • lead co-curricular initiatives that support undergraduate student entrepreneurship
  • collaborate with faculty, students, alumni, and other stakeholders across the Penn State entrepreneurship eco-system to advance the University’s mission of teaching, research, and service

Lion LaunchPad

Lion LaunchPad is a business accelerator program that helps student entrepreneurs turn innovative product and service concepts into viable startup companies by offering mentoring, work space, and micro-grants.

The program supports students in all majors as they develop the entrepreneurial mindset, skills, and desire to look for opportunities for innovation and positive change.

Key responsibilities of this program include the following:

  • advise and guide students on pitching their ideas to investors
  • help connect students to other resources in the Penn State entrepreneurship ecosystem
  • provide micro-grants
  • administer a business accelerator program
  • introduce undergraduates to entrepreneurial experiences and innovation through extracurricular activities, including an on-campus special living option, maker space, field trips, and guest speakers

Undergraduate Research and Student Engagement Network

Undergraduate Research and the Student Engagement Network (SEN) work to create and support a culture of undergraduate scholarly inquiry in order for Penn State students to know and appreciate the process of being curious, asking questions, and finding answers.

Through Undergraduate Research, students work with faculty mentors and engage in active learning in the laboratory, library, studio, and field. These experiences allow students to share in the excitement of discovery, develop important skills, and explore career choices. Many publish, perform, exhibit, or present their work, sharing it with audiences beyond Penn State.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • raise student awareness of scholarly inquiry opportunities, benefits of undergraduate research, and impact of creative activities through development of structure that facilitates the promotion of these activities
  • create greater access to inquiry, research, and creative activities for all Penn State students through scholarships, internships, grants, and connection points that bring together students and faculty with mutual curiosities
  • promote and celebrate, on and off of campus, the outstanding work being done by Penn State undergraduates in scholarly inquiry, research and creative activity through a new undergraduate research journal, increased partnerships with academic units and other means of sharing the excellence of the work in these areas across the state

The Student Engagement Network works to enhance curricular and co-curricular opportunities beyond the classroom for Penn State undergraduate students through student engagement, engaged scholarship, and community partnerships. Examples include research, student organization involvement, community leadership, internships, and many more. SEN is a joint initiative of the Office of Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, and Outreach and Online Education.

Key responsibilities of this office include the following:

  • create a highly visible, technology-enhanced, interactive information portal for students across Penn State by combining a busy and highly trafficked location in the HUB Robeson-Center with virtual accessibility from all campuses
  • inspire students to explore, grow, and develop identity and competencies outside of the classroom by connecting them to opportunities
  • provide digital pathways, resources, and support teams to assist students with their desired experiences and transformative work

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

Air Force ROTC | Army ROTC | Naval ROTC

Military training has been part of Penn State since its founding in 1855 as part of its duties as a land-grant university. Today, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) trains undergraduate students to become commissioned officers in the United States Armed Forces. Students in ROTC must attend service specific ROTC academic classes, which count for college credit, and participate in weekly leadership labs and physical fitness training as part of the program. Students may receive a competitive, merit-based scholarship, covering all or part of college tuition and fees.

ROTC graduates serve in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and incur a four-year active duty service obligation (ADSO) and an eight-year military service obligation (MSO) if they accept a commission as a regular officer.

Penn State’s ROTC program is the largest in the Big 10 and one of the largest and highest performing in the nation.

Key responsibilities of these offices include the following:

  • offer students in the ROTC program specialized professional training for military officer positions after college
  • develop strong technical and leadership skills in ROTC students
  • encourage mental and physical growth in ROTC students

Contribute to the success of Penn State students today.
Andrea M. Pagano-Reyes
Development Director for University Programs
2601 Gateway Drive, Suite 150 | State College, PA 16801
814-865-7698 |