Undergraduate Admissions

High School Course Requirements for 4-Year Degrees

Minimum high school course requirements for admission to baccalaureate (four-year) degree programs are listed below.

Keep in mind that specific programs may have additional requirements or recommendations.


Four units, including one unit each in composition and literature, are required.

Social Studies/Art/Humanities

Three units in any combination of social studies, arts, and humanities are required.

World Language

Two units in a single world language other than English are required. However, a student may be admitted with fewer than two units in a world language other than English, but must correct this deficiency by the time s/he earns 60 credits or graduates from Penn State, whichever comes first. This deficiency may be corrected by passing one three- or four-credit college level world language course or by demonstrating proficiency equivalent to two units of high school world language study.

Either a third unit in the same language or an additional unit in a second world language other than English is recommended.


Three units of science are required

Preparation in chemistry and physics is recommended but not required for:

  • College of Engineering
  • College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
  • Eberly College of Science
  • Science at Penn State Altoona, Abington, Berks, Erie, Harrisburg, and Lehigh Valley
  • Engineering/Engineering Technology at Penn State Erie and Penn State Harrisburg

Preparation in biology and chemistry is recommended but not required for:

  • College of Nursing


Three units of mathematics are required (four are recommended), selected from any combination of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry

Some programs have additional mathematics requirements.

  • Smeal College of Business
  • College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Eberly College of Science
  • all other Business, Engineering/Engineering Technology, and Science programs

The colleges listed above require one-half unit of trigonometry or higher level math within the required three units

Penn State requires proof of graduation or a GED for admission to four-year degree programs.

*In most high school curricula, one unit = one year.