Congratulations on your admission, and welcome to the Penn State family! As a new student, you will need to complete several important steps prior to beginning your courses.

The steps listed on this page include some actions that you can start right now and others that you can focus on closer to when your courses begin. We’ve included all the required and recommended actions that will help you enroll and succeed in your courses.

All new students are assigned an academic adviser to help with any questions about the actions on this list. Your adviser will be your lifeline to Penn State and will help you navigate the University, understand your academic program, and choose courses. They will also be available to answer any questions that you have or direct you to the appropriate staff member or office who can answer.

Your academic experience is of paramount importance. If you experience challenges during your time as a Penn State World Campus student that impact your emotional well-being, please review the mental health services available to you. You are encouraged to contact us for Care and Concern resources and assistance with any academic or personal situations that may impact your performance. Our office can advise you on your individual needs and help you balance your personal health with your academic pursuits.

Getting Started — Steps You Can Take Right Now

Start by completing these tasks to begin using Penn State systems and resources and enroll in courses.

You will be prompted to activate your Access Account after you receive an offer of admission to Penn State. This important account will allow you to access Penn State's online resources, including:

  • LionPATH — our web-based system in which you will complete many activities, including registering for courses and accessing your academic and financial records
  • Canvas — our online course environment where you will access your World Campus courses
  • Penn State email account — you will receive an account before course registration begins for the semester in which you plan to start. You will be notified at your personal email account when you have access to begin using your Penn State email account. Then, you'll need to start checking your Penn State email using the Outlook application in Office 365.

It is very important to begin checking your Penn State email account once you have access to it and check it frequently throughout your time as a student. To maintain privacy and security, Penn State staff will always use your Penn State email address to contact you.

You will also be required to begin using multifactor authentication when you activate your Penn State Access Account.

To stay informed and receive important updates from Penn State World Campus, we recommend that you opt in to receive text messages. We send text messages with alerts and reminders about registration, deadlines, billing, and financial aid.

The FAFSA is your application for financial aid, and you must submit a new FAFSA for each academic year. Be sure to submit the correct FAFSA for the academic year in which you plan to take classes. Find additional information in our guide to securing financial aid.

The FAFSA is required for you to apply for federal, state, and University financial aid programs, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study arrangements. When submitting the FAFSA, note that Penn State’s federal school code is 003329.

You will not receive a financial aid award if you do not submit the FAFSA. You should submit the FAFSA even if you do not believe you will be eligible for certain types of federal financial aid. You may still be eligible for grants or scholarships from Penn State.

Prepare for Success is a self-paced, nongraded course in Canvas. The course can be completed within one hour. You should complete the course before meeting with your academic adviser, to ensure that you are prepared for your meeting.

You will have access to the Prepare for Success course in Canvas within one week after you accept your offer of admission.

If you plan to transfer any credits from another institution to Penn State, your credits will be evaluated to see how they might apply to your degree requirements. Penn State has a two-step transfer credit process:

  1. The credits that Penn State accepted are outlined in your acceptance letter if you have already provided the required information about them. Please note that not all credits may apply to your degree requirements.
  2. Your academic department determines whether to apply some or all of those credits to your degree requirements.

View our Understanding the Transfer Credit Process video for a detailed explanation of the process and information that you will receive.

If you provided information about your transfer courses when you applied, a member of our Transfer Credit Services team will prepare an unofficial check sheet for you and your adviser, to give you a sense of how those courses might apply to your degree requirements. Note that this information will be unofficial and could change based on the departmental evaluation of your transfer credits.

A syllabus for courses taken from the year 2000 to the current date may be required and will be noted on your Transfer Credit Evaluation letter from Undergraduate Admissions.

Send any requested syllabi via email to [email protected] or via postal mail to the Undergraduate Admissions Office at 201 Shields Building, University Park, PA, 16802. For questions about transfer credits or the syllabus requirement, please call Penn State Undergraduate Admissions at 814-865-5471.

You will be contacted by your academic adviser, who will give you specific information about your degree requirements, the use of any transfer credits you may have, and next steps to take to choose and enroll in courses.

After you complete the Prepare for Success course, you will be ready to meet with your academic adviser. Our academic advising team will contact you to schedule this meeting.

Your adviser will help you select your courses, balancing your course load with other life responsibilities and priorities. You can find planning tools, including a list of courses you need to take to complete your degree, by using the My Program selector.

LionPATH is the system you will use to complete actions like registering for courses, receiving and paying your tuition bill, completing financial aid tasks, and accessing your academic record. Review LionPATH tutorials to learn how to use the system.

Once all other requirements are met and your Enrollment Appointment Date arrives, you can enroll in courses. Your Enrollment Appointment Date is the first date that you can enroll in courses, and you will learn more about this in the Prepare for Success course.

You can schedule most courses independently in LionPATH, but some courses may require adviser approval. Ask your adviser for assistance if you would like to schedule one of these courses.

Penn State World Campus provides resources to help you succeed with your course work. Tutoring, exam preparation, writing support, and subject-area resources are available, and our Academic Success Kit includes modules covering skills that are applicable to all types of courses, including using a course syllabus, note-taking, and time management.

Our military support team is ready to answer any questions you have. Learn more about our support services and financial aid for military and veteran students.

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable accommodations, contact our support team to learn more.

Preparing for Courses — Steps to Complete as Your First Semester Approaches

Once you finish the “getting started” tasks, you can work through the tasks on this list to prepare to start courses.

Canvas is Penn State World Campus’s learning management system, in which you will complete the Prepare for Success pre-orientation course, New Student Orientation (NSO), and your academic courses. Visit the Canvas orientation course to learn how to use the system.

Before you start courses, you will also need to complete New Student Orientation (NSO). NSO is another self-paced, noncredit course in Canvas, and it will take you approximately 7–10 hours to complete. Due to the interactive nature of NSO, you will be accessing the course over multiple days and cannot complete it in a single session. NSO doesn’t take place at a specific time of day, so you have flexibility to access the material on your own schedule.

You will receive an invitation to NSO. Invitations to NSO are sent beginning March 1 for students starting in the summer or fall semester and beginning November 1 for students starting in the spring semester. You can complete NSO after completing other steps on this page, or at the same time, depending on your timing as you get started.

It is important to complete NSO when you are invited, so you learn what to expect and how things work at Penn State World Campus, including information about courses, enrollment, billing, financial aid, student services, and more. You will also be aligned with other new students in your section of NSO, so that you can interact and learn together.

As part of NSO, you will complete SmarterMeasure, an online assessment tool that will help you gauge your readiness for online learning. Your adviser will use your SmarterMeasure results to better guide you through your Penn State career.

You can take the SmarterMeasure assessment at any time. If you take it before you are prompted to do so in NSO, be sure to save your results for a related NSO activity.

Log in to SmarterMeasure

Username: pennstate 
Password: pennstate

The ALEKS Math and Statistics Assessment is required before taking certain courses (for example, STAT 200 and CHEM 110). Even if you don't plan to take these courses right away, we recommend taking this assessment immediately because it gives you valuable feedback about your skills, as well as the opportunity to practice and build confidence before your class starts. Work with your adviser to see how the results impact when you should take math-related courses.

There are many ways to get involved — you can join one of many student organizations or connect with staff, faculty, and students through our events and online social media communities.

Penn State World Campus students are eligible to receive Penn State student identification cards, which can be used wherever student discounts are offered. You must submit a request to receive your id+ card, and you can upload your own photo.

Get ready for courses by learning about textbooks and course materials, deadlines, technical support, and more. The Penn State IT Service Desk supports students with technical issues and provides minimum technical specifications for Penn State World Campus courses.

Additional Requirements for Conditional Students

Conditional students must meet a few additional requirements to become eligible for a degree program.

Students whose previous educational record does not meet minimum admission requirements are admitted to the Division of Undergraduate Studies with Conditions and are considered to be in conditional status. While in conditional status, you can complete course work and work toward meeting credit and GPA requirements to be admitted to your intended major.

You must complete 9 Penn State credits with a 2.0 GPA or higher to become eligible for an associate degree program, or 18 credits with a 2.0 GPA or higher for a bachelor’s degree.

If your degree program has any entrance-to-major requirements, you will need to meet these requirements before being admitted to your major. Your academic adviser will review your degree program with you, including any entrance-to-major requirements.