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Articulations are formal signed agreements that establish expectations and procedures between Penn State University and another university, college or educational institution to enable students to complete their academic work at Penn State and to earn a Penn State degree. Articulation agreements include specific expectations regarding curriculum, and they differ from affiliation and other types of agreements.

The implementing document is referred to as a Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation. Articulation agreements, both global and domestic, are established by University Faculty Senate Policy 06-20 and implemented through AAPP A-11. The Executive Vice President and Provost maintains authority for administratively authorizing, extending, and terminating articulation agreements. The Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education serves as the Provost's signatory agent.

Articulation agreements among Penn State University and international partner institutions generate important educational and cultural opportunities. Senate Policy 06-20 and each of the AAPP A-11 steps apply to the development and approval of international articulation agreements. To ensure timely, coordinated and sound articulations, all Penn State colleges proposing international agreements must work directly with the University Office of Global Programs throughout the development process.

All requests to establish, renew, or terminate articulation prospectuses, proposals and agreements must be initiated by the appropriate office of a degree-granting unit.

The articulation process involves several steps, resulting in a fully signed Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation, including:

International articulations are subject to procedures and sign-offs in addition to those required for domestic agreements and require close collaboration with Global Programs throughout the process. Colleges interested in developing an articulation agreement with an international partner must initiate consultation with Global Programs prior to submitting an ACUE prospectus.

Global Programs will assist the submitting college in identifying issues inherent in international agreements. A key element, for example, involves the evaluation of potential international partners to determine institutional quality, local standing, and academic compatibility with Penn State. Toward this end, Global Programs works with the Undergraduate Admissions Office to provide a reliable assessment. Evidence of this assessment, such as written email consultation between the college and Global Programs, must be included as part of the proposal. The proposal also should include other evidence and/or narrative that establishes a partner institution's compatibility with Penn State, such as prior working relationships and standing in the relevant disciplinary field.

Additionally, Global Programs works closely with the Office of Risk Management on issues of safety and security, the Office of General Counsel regarding policy and liability concerns, and the Office of Ethics and Compliance regarding export control compliance review. Evidence of consultation with these offices will be provided and coordinated by Global Programs during their review process and must be included as part of the proposal.

Global Programs maintains a collection of Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation templates appropriate for use with international partners. Colleges should work closely with Global Programs in developing each proposal and draft agreement.

Change of Major:

Students admitted to Penn State through the International Articulation process are expected to work toward the degree identified in the articulation agreement. On occasion, students discover after arrival that a different major, either within the same college or in another college, would be more appropriate for their interest. These students may change majors, but must first obtain approval from the associate dean of the college or colleges involved and approval from the Global Programs.

Process for New Undergraduate Articulation Agreements:

• Discovery Phase

Prior to developing an articulation agreement, discussions must occur with relevant academic and institutional offices. This may include but not be limited to: the college dean, chancellor and chief academic officer; the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses; and the Office of Global Programs (for international agreements).

• Consultation Phase

   • ACUE Articulation Agreement Prospectus

As early in the process as is feasible, a Penn State degree-granting college must submit a brief ACUE Articulation Agreement Prospectus utilizing the on-line submission form. Prospectuses initiate effective preliminary consultation within disciplines and across the breadth of the University utilizing the ACUE membership.

Prospectuses should be submitted by ACUE deans a minimum of one week before the next ACUE meeting and will be distributed electronically by the Office of Undergraduate Education to the ACUE membership. The prospectus process provides an early opportunity for formative consultation with appropriate colleagues. Each prospectus is placed on the ACUE agenda.

The ACUE prospectus review committee generates an ACUE prospectus memo to provide brief recommendations to the submitting college, taking into consideration the ACUE discussion and strategic and curricular university resources and needs. Copies of the ACUE prospectus memo are provided to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education and others as appropriate. A college may begin its articulation agreement proposal and draft agreement once the ACUE prospectus memo has been reviewed. The ACUE prospectus memo will become part of the articulation process record maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Education. Issues raised in the ACUE prospectus memo must be addressed within the proposal.

• Proposal and Agreement Development

   • Proposal Elements:

Articulation agreement proposals are reviewed on a variety of criteria as appropriate. The proposal must include supporting documentation, and the following:

  1. The rationale for the proposed articulation agreement;
  2. Information about the partner institutions (reputation of the overseas institution and availability of advising and special services at the overseas institution and at Penn State.);
  3. Course equivalency evidence. This must be specific and must show approval from the disciplinary unit authorized to deliver the Penn State course or reference to the Undergraduate Admissions Office course equivalency tables. Newly approved equivalencies must be added to the university course equivalency tables maintained by the Undergraduate Admissions Office;
  4. For international agreements, evidence of consultation with Global Programs confirming the suitability of the partnering institution as a comparable college or university;
  5. A description of how the agreement may be renewed or terminated;
  6. An estimate of the number of students transferring to Penn State annually;
  7. Admission requirements and transfer of academic credits;
  8. Impact on advising and special services;
  9. Impact of the agreement on other programs, colleges, and campuses;
  10. A plan for future program review and renewal;
  11. An exit strategy and accommodation of enrolled students, if the parties to the agreement decide to terminate;
  12. Evidence of consultation, responses to issues generated by consultation, and response(s) to the ACUE prospectus memo.

• Articulation Consultation and Collaboration

Consultation is expected during the proposal writing stage between the proposing college and those likely to have a shared interest, and those who may be impacted by the articulation. Consultation should include all ACUE deans,and academic units within the college from which the proposal is generated, and other colleges in which the proposed program is offered.

Ongoing consultation and collaboration with the college, partner institutions and relevant Penn State offices is essential during the development phase. For international agreements, Global Programs will help facilitate vetting initial proposal ideas with Risk Management, the Office of General Counsel, and the Office of Ethics and Compliance.

ACUE deans are the primary academic conduit among Penn State schools and colleges for purposes of consultation. As such, consultation should be conducted via electronic media. A current ACUE roster is maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Education and is available for purposes of consultation as a listserv.

• Course Equivalency
see (AAPPM A-2: Transfer Student and Transfer Course Processes for academic review procedures)

It is during the consultation process that the office of the dean/chancellor of a proposing college (including University College) has responsibility for securing evidence, normally through consultation, of course equivalence for courses that are program requirements, prerequisites to those requirements, and other courses required by Penn State, such as General Education requirements.

The determination of course equivalence or course substitutions must be conducted by faculty in the discipline. For example, a math equivalency or substitution must be recommended by math faculty, chemistry equivalency by chemistry faculty, etc. The Undergraduate Admissions Office will maintain a record of course equivalency between institutions and Penn State to enable continuity. Once a specific course from a specific institution has been found equivalent, the admissions office will assume that equivalency for future articulations and equivalency determination will be binding across Penn State colleges.

• Review and Approval Phase

   • ACUE Consultation

The draft proposal and draft agreement must be circulated on the ACUE listserv for final consultation from the associate deans. The associate deans should ensure that consultation occurred with relevant areas of their academic units.

   • Finalize and Submit Draft to the Office of Undergraduate Education

Following receipt of ACUE consultation on the proposal and draft agreement, the ACUE dean(s) of the college(s) seeking to enter the articulation agreement must submit the current articulation proposal and the draft agreement to the Office of Undergraduate Education, which will work in consultation with the Senate Committee on Admissions, Records, Scheduling, and Student Aid (ARSSA) to conduct a review.

The Senate Committee on ARSSA will review the proposal and draft agreement and work with proposers to update the documents to reflect the committee’s feedback.  The Senate Committee on ARSSA will forward its recommendations to the Office of Undergraduate Education.

International agreements, following approval by the Office of Undergraduate Education, will be submitted to Global Programs for final review and approval. Global Programs will also initiate the signing process.

The draft Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation should not carry the signatures that will be required on the final document. The University Articulation Agreement Proposal must carry the signature of the appropriate ACUE dean. International agreement requests made by the partner institution may include explicit signatory order and/or required legal translations which may be provided at an additional cost. Such costs vary and are the responsibility of the submitting college or campus. The draft agreement provides an opportunity for the proposing college and the Office of Undergraduate Education to ensure the development of an accurate and complete document in alignment with all Penn State policies before the document is signed by the participating parties. The Office of Undergraduate Education will not begin a review of the proposal and draft agreement prior to receiving the Senate's review recommendations.

Following agreement by the Office of Undergraduate Education, Global Programs (for international agreements), and the proposing college on a final version of the Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation, the submitting college or campus must:

  1. Secure necessary signatures as evidence of support for the proposal. These include:
    • A signature from the dean of the submitting University Park college; or
    • A signature from the chancellor of the partnering Penn State campus college or colleges; or,
    • A signature from the chancellor of the participating University College campus or campuses; and
    • In every case involving a Penn State campus college or University College campus, the signature of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses; and,
    • Each proposal with an international partner must include the signature of the Vice Provost for Global Programs in addition to signatures determined by the Global Programs.
  2. Submit the Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Articulation to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education for final review and signature. The Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education cannot provide that signature until the above Penn State signature or signatures have been obtained.

A copy of the final agreement will be maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Education. The Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education also maintains a register of University Approved Articulation Agreements. All international agreements (original documents) must also be submitted, fully signed, to the Office of Global Programs.

Process for Revision or Renewal of Undergraduate Articulation Agreements:

Each September, Undergraduate Education will notify academic units of those articulation agreements that must be addressed during the current academic year. Articulation agreements will be renewed every five years. If an agreement needs to be revised prior to the five-year review date, please notify the Office of Undergraduate Education. If the revision involves substantive changes, a determination will be made concerning whether a new proposal is required, or whether the revisions could be reviewed in an expedited way by the Office of Undergraduate Education in consultation with the Senate Committee on ARSSA and Global Programs (when appropriate).

To renew an agreement, the following must be submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Education:

  1. Rationale for renewal
  2. Number of participants
  3. An explanation of any changes or revisions to the document
  4. Please note: International agreements must involve consultation with and approval from Global Programs prior to submitting a renewal request to the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Once a renewal is approved, a memo will be issued and the information on the articulation agreement website will be updated.

Process for Closure of Undergraduate Articulation Agreements:

To close an articulation agreement, please submit a letter to the Office of Undergraduate Education indicating that the agreement has come to an end. The letter should be copied to Office of Global Programs and the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses when appropriate. The letter should provide assurances about currently enrolled students and their potential to complete the program, as well as assurance that partner institutions are in agreement with the closure date and any additional considerations.

Senate Policy 06-20 Articulation Agreements

Register of authorized Penn State articulation agreements

Approved: ACUE (3-4-99)
Approved: ACUE (2-4-10)
Revised: ACUE (10-6-11)
Revised: ACUE (3-6-14)
Revised: ACUE (7-7-16); Effective Fall 2016
Revised: ACUE (8/3/17)

Previous Version of A-11