How It Works (FAQs)

These are a few of the common questions that prospective students ask. If you don’t find an answer to your question, contact us.

 What Does the Online Classroom Look Like?

Our online courses are presented through Canvas, a centralized learning management system. After logging in with your Penn State user credentials, you can access syllabi, assignments, course content, grades, discussion forums, and announcements. Canvas Email, Groups, and Discussion Forums provide a means to interact directly with faculty and peers within the platform. You also have access to live chat support and a support hotline.

The courses are created in partnership with our faculty and our instructional designers to ensure a learning experience that is tailored to the subject matter and the expected learning outcomes. We develop our online courses so that they mirror the same quality content you would expect on campus, with the following features:

  • fully online
  • academically equal to campus courses
  • interactive and dynamic
  • adult learner–centric

What's the First Day of Classes Like?

We make sure students know what to expect before classes start and offer easy to navigate courses so you can dive in and start learning.

How Do I Know If I Am Ready to Learn Online?

To help you prepare for online course work, we offer a Student Orientation course hosted in Canvas, the same system you'll use in your courses. We also have a readiness-assessment tool that can measure how prepared you are for online learning and provides valuable resources to help you meet your academic goals.

How Do I Interact with My Classmates and Instructor?

Through the Canvas Dashboard, you’ll have access to numerous methods to interact with your peers and instructors. Each tool provides its own unique vehicle for communication. Communicate through Canvas by using:

  • Email: Send direct messages to your classmates and instructors. While this works similar to regular email, it’s an internal feature.
  • Groups: Work in collaboration with your classmates on group projects and assignments.
  • Announcements: Stay up-to-date with important information that the instructor shares with the entire class.
  • Discussion boards: Share ideas and feedback with the class. Instructors and students have the ability to create discussions within a course. Sometimes these are graded and other times they are used as a means for brainstorming and sharing feedback.

How Flexible Is the Course Schedule?

Penn State World Campus courses are designed with your busy schedule in mind, providing the flexibility you need to study at the times most convenient to you.

Most of the courses are structured for asynchronous learning, meaning the classes are facilitated so students are not required to attend courses at scheduled times.

All of your course assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams, however, must be completed by their assigned due dates. Some courses may also require online group work that you need to take into consideration when allocating your time.

"While I was completing my Master's in HRER, I was a track maintainer, working 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the exception of overtime twice per week. I studied on the subway train rides to my inspection location and during my lunch breaks. I didn't study on days I worked overtime because I was too beat. If it weren't for my wife tending to our two young sons, I would not have made it. I felt bad when I could not attend a lot of their weekend activities, but my weekends were committed to writing papers and studying. That was my life for two years, including vacations. Having a great support system made it worthwhile."

--John Johnson Jr., Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER), summer 2018

What Is the Time Commitment?

Students enrolled in Penn State World Campus undergraduate courses have reported spending approximately 8 to 12 hours per week on readings and assignments for a 3-credit course. Plan to spend extra time when you have papers, projects, or exams. Graduate-level courses will likely require more time per week.

How Long Will It Take Me to Finish My Program?

This answer varies for each student. There are many factors (e.g., transfer credits, course load per semester) that influence how long it will take. Depending on the program, some students are able to complete 12 credits every year — others more than 20 credits. To find out more, contact an admissions counselor.

What Does the Course Content Look Like?

Course content will vary from class to class, but usually consists of a mix between readings, videos, exams, and other interactive activities.

How Do I Submit Course Work and Take Exams?

Your assignments and exams are submitted through Canvas. Your instructor will create assignments, exams, and quizzes, and then you will submit your work electronically through the system.

What Kind of Computer/Internet Access Do I Need?

We try to make our courses as easy as possible to access technically while still maintaining a quality online experience. View the basic technical requirements for Penn State World Campus. You should also review any additional requirements that your program may have.

Can I Take Part in Student Activities?

Being a Penn State student is more than simply taking courses. Whether you’re located around the world or around the corner, you will have the opportunity to participate in some of Penn State’s most popular traditions, develop your leadership skills, and connect with fellow Penn Staters outside the classroom.

In addition, you can get to know fellow Penn Staters by connecting with us through the following social media channels: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And, of course, in the fall you can tune in to a Penn State football game and cheer along with thousands of your closest Penn State friends.

What Happens When It Is Time for Graduation?

When you earn a degree through World Campus, you earn a Penn State degree, so this is a special time for celebration with family and friends. Because we also want to applaud your hard-earned success, we will invite you and your family to a special graduation celebration the night before the commencement ceremony on campus. And as a World Campus graduate, you are invited to attend the same commencement ceremony as those on campus. All Penn State undergraduate and master's degree candidates receive their diplomas in the mail after commencement; doctoral candidates receive their diplomas in person.

This is often the first time that our students set foot on campus as well as meet their classmates, faculty, and academic advisers in person. It is truly an exciting and emotional experience, and we are honored to be able to share in this joyous occasion with you.

How Can I Stay Connected to Penn State After I Graduate?

Once you've become a Penn State graduate, you become part of a worldwide network of more than 692,000 alumni and can choose to join the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest alumni association in the world.

As a member of the Alumni Association, you will gain access to professional development as well as volunteer and friendship-building opportunities with Penn Staters around the world. Members can also take advantage of LionLink, a professional networking program designed to assist Penn State students and alumni in exploring various career fields through information interviews with alumni career coaches.