Learning at Home

If you are unable or choose not to come to a Penn State campus this fall, you can still connect with the Penn State community and have opportunities to stay engaged and motivated. You will be part of either the Start at Home or Continue at Home program, depending on when you began your studies.

Start at Home — for first-year students

First-year students who participate in Start at Home will be able to experience student support through a dedicated first-semester experience provided by their campus or academic college. Our goal is to help you get a strong academic start, build relationships with other first-year students, learn about the opportunities and resources available to you at Penn State, and engage with staff and faculty until you can come to campus. Contact the Admissions Office at the campus you are attending with any questions.

New international students may also use this option if they are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19. You will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the United States. Visit Penn State Global or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.

Continue at Home — for returning and transfer students

The Continue at Home program is for returning and transfer students who are unable or choose not to come to campus in the fall. Your resident-life experience changed due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean your Penn State experience was put on hold. You have learned to adapt to new situations, and you discovered new Penn State resources. You’ve learned critical skills such as problem solving and time management. The resilience you’ve developed will bring you through this experience more skilled and ready to take on the professional world than before.

Continue at Home is also an option for returning international students who are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19. You will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the United States. Visit Penn State Global or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.


Five steps to figure out your best enrollment option

There are multiple campus options for learning at home during fall 2020. Each of these options comes with several critical differences and limitations, so it is important that you understand these differences before making a final decision. We strongly recommend following these steps to make the best choice for your situation:

  1. Determine whether your program requires in-person components
  2. Review your enrollment options
  3. Talk to your academic adviser
  4. Review your available schedule of courses
  5. Consider financial aid implications

Step 1: Determine whether your program requires in-person components

Some programs may require you to study on campus to make full progress toward your degree, for example in laboratories, studios, etc. These programs include Allied Health programs such as Occupational Therapy Assistant, Radiological Sciences, Physical Therapist Assistant, and some performance-based or design-studio programs. Students who are unable to return to in-person instruction may be able to complete the lecture components of required courses remotely, but the clinical components of these courses will need to be completed when they are able to return to campus. This may delay degree progress and graduation. Students in these programs should contact their academic department to learn how specific courses will be delivered and should consult with their academic adviser to understand the implications of any decision that they might make.

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Step 2: Review your enrollment options

As you consider the following options for fall 2020, please note that all campus changes are temporary. This is not an official transfer to a different campus, and you will maintain your enrollment in your degree program while you temporarily take courses from a different campus. When you decide to return to in-person instruction on campus, you may return to your original campus or decide to remain at your temporary campus if the courses for your program are available there.

If you choose to temporarily attend a campus different than your home campus for fall semester, remember that regardless of your campus choice, all courses are Penn State courses and are taught by Penn State faculty.

Option: Stay enrolled at your home campus

You can start or continue with remote synchronous or remote asynchronous courses that your current home campus of enrollment offers. In a remote synchronous learning environment, you will attend class remotely at the scheduled time. Faculty will identify the communication and collaboration tools appropriate for real-time student interaction and engagement for each course. In a remote asynchronous learning environment, the course material will be made available to you so that you can work through the material on your own schedule, with deadlines for activities and assessments. The remote asynchronous learning environment uses a variety of communication and collaboration tools for student interaction and engagement. Through this option for fall 2020, you also will be able to engage remotely with all Student Support Services and co-curricular experiences provided at your home campus, including student engagement, tutoring, and clubs and organizations.

First-year students will have access to a remote designed first-year engagement opportunity, and all students will have networking and mentoring through their home campus and opportunities to connect with others in their class. Tuition will be charged at the rate of the campus and in-state/out-of-state rates will apply, as will the home campus student activity fee. Use the Tuition Calculator for a detailed estimate of costs at your home campus.

Option: Temporarily enroll at another Penn State campus

We have streamlined the process for you to temporarily switch your campus of enrollment. You can temporarily enroll at any of our Penn State campuses and select from remote synchronous and remote asynchronous courses that the campus offers. You will be able to engage remotely with all Student Support Services and co-curricular experiences provided at your temporary campus, including student engagement, tutoring, and clubs and organizations.

First-year students will have access to a remote designed first-year engagement opportunity, and all students will have networking and mentoring through their temporary campus and opportunities to connect with others in their class. Tuition will be charged at the rate of your temporary campus and in-state/out-of-state rates will apply, as will the campus student activity fee. Use the Tuition Calculator for a detailed estimate of costs at any campus.

Option: Temporarily enroll in Penn State World Campus

You can temporarily enroll in Penn State World Campus and select from the World Campus portfolio of asynchronous online courses, which feature engagement with peers and faculty built into the course design. Please note, however, that World Campus does not offer the full range of courses available either at University Park or other Penn State campuses. Like all campuses, there is a limited availability for enrollment. Student engagement, tutoring, and student support services will be provided by World Campus. Tuition will be charged at the World Campus rate and in-state/out-of-state rates will not apply. There is no student activity fee. Use the Tuition Calculator for a detailed estimate of costs at Penn State World Campus.

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Step 3: Talk to your academic adviser

You should not adjust your schedule until you have talked to your academic adviser, as not all campuses have the same range of course offerings. Note that the schedule of courses is still being finalized through mid-July and you should wait until this point to talk with your adviser about your options.

Talking with your academic adviser is a critical step to ensure that you can make progress toward your degree. You also should consult with any advisers for special programs that you are part of and that may have additional requirements, such as athletics or special academic programs. Transfer students who have questions about Continue at Home can contact the Admissions Office at the campus they are attending.

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Step 4: Review your available schedule of courses

The schedule of courses available to you is based on your campus of enrollment. The course portfolio and the instructional model for each course may vary and may continue to evolve between now and the start of the fall semester. While we expect most changes to the schedule of courses to be finalized through mid-July, this may continue to change before and during the semester as the public health situation continues to evolve and as new requirements are put in place by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Be aware that each campus may have different restrictions on course delivery depending on the public health requirements in effect at its location within the Commonwealth.

For more information on the modes in which courses will be delivered, visit the Flexible Instructional Modes page.

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Step 5: Consider financial aid implications

If you are thinking about a campus change, you should consider how it would affect your financial aid. Many scholarships are tied to your home campus. You may lose eligibility for these scholarships if you choose an option that involves a temporary change to another campus. Making a temporary campus change for the fall 2020 semester also may impact the amount of financial aid that is available to you. Talk with Student Aid before making any decisions.

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