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Review: Penn State World Campus Online Degree Programs

"We are ... Penn State!" If you're a college football fan, that cheer probably sounds familiar. But even if sports aren't your thing, your probably know that Penn State is a school that is known for the rabid school spirit of its students and alumni. The exuberance can be contagious.

But, fun as it may be, traveling out to "Happy Valley" in central Pennsylvania just isn't in the cards for everyone who wants to enroll in one of Penn State's world-class programs.  However, it's still possible to graduate with a Penn State degree without setting foot on any of their many campuses. 

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Penn State has one of the most robust online campuses in the country (and possibly the world), offering a wide range of undergrad and grad programs to students around the globe. Is Penn State's online program right  for you? Here's what you need to know.

What is Penn State World Campus?

Penn State World Campus (PSWC) is the online campus of Penn State University. While nearly every college has some online learning offerings today, Penn State is one of the few schools that can boast to being at the leading edge of digital learning,. The school has been offering online classes since 1998.

The goal of PSWC is to deliver affordable, flexible, high-quality educational options to students who are unable to attend classes at one of Penn State's physical campuses. Students around the world can earn a degree or certificate through PSWC in over 150 different areas of study. (Scroll down to the bottom of this article for a list of options.)

How does it work?

All PSWC classes are delivered via a digital learning platform. So if you enroll, you'll need have a computer and a reliable internet connection to complete your classwork. 

Most classes are asynchronous, meaning that you can complete your coursework at any time of the day or night, with assignments generally due on a weekly basis. You'll view lectures, complete readings, and submit assignments via the PSWC content management system. 

However, you won't be working in a vacuum. The online learning platform allows for a high degree of interaction between students and their professors, as well as their fellow classmates. Some classes may require participation in group discussions via online forums. Others may require group projects, where you'll need to coordinate "meeting" online with other students. 

You may complete your degree or certificate on a full- or part-time schedule. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, 68% of PSWC students attend part-time and 32% attend full-time. Because you can set your own schedule, many students are able to work while completing their programs of study. 

Is PSWC accredited?

Yes, PSWC holds a regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This is the same accreditation held by Penn State University.

Regional accreditation means that a college or university has passed rigorous peer review and has been found to meet the levels of quality expected from a legitimate academic institution.

How much is tuition?

Tuition rates vary depending on your academic background, how many credits you're taking during a given semester, and your program of study. Current tuition rates for the 2019-2020 school year are as follows:

Undergraduate Programs

If you have 59 or fewer credits:

  • If you are taking fewer than 12 credits per semester: $576 per credit
  • If you are taking 12 or more credits per semester (flat rate): $6,994

If you have 60 or more credits:

  • If you are taking fewer than 12 credits per semester: $617 per credit
  • If you are taking 12 or more credits per semester (flat rate): $7,549

Graduate Programs

Graduate tuition varies by major. Us PSWC's tuition estimator to get a sense of potential costs. 

Is there financial aid?

Yes. PSWC generally offers the same financial aid options as the physical campuses, including Pell Grants and other types of aid distributed through FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education reports that 51% of students at PSWC receive federal student loans. Typical debt after graduation is just over $26,000, with average monthly payments of $278. (See more here.)

The school also offers several scholarship opportunities, all of which can be applied for by filling out a single application, which can be found here

Students may also take advantage of paying tuition via an installment plan, which spaces out payments over several months. 

What is PSWC's ranking?

U.S. News and World Report puts PSWC in its top five for online bachelor's programs. 

Here at Nitro, we have singled out PSWC's Master of Professional Studies in Psychology of Leadership as our top pick among graduate leadership programs. 

What degrees are offered?

Current programs include:

Doctorate programs

  • Nursing

Master’s degree programs

  • Accounting
  • Additive Manufacturing and Design
  • Applied Demography
  • Applied Statistics
  • Art Education
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Criminal Justice Policy and Administration
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Data Analytics
  • Data Analytics – Business Analytics Option
  • Data Analytics – Marketing Analytics Option
  • Earth Sciences
  • Ecosystem Management and Administration
  • Educational Leadership
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering Management
  • Enterprise Architecture and Business Transformation
  • Finance
  • Geodesign
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Health Policy and Administration
  • Higher Education
  • Homeland Security Base Program
  • Homeland Security – Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense Option
  • Homeland Security – Counterterrorism Option
  • Homeland Security – Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention Option
  • Homeland Security – Geospatial Intelligence Option
  • Homeland Security – Information Security and Forensics Option
  • Homeland Security – Public Health Preparedness Option
  • Human Resources and Employment Relations
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Information Sciences – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
  • Learning, Design, and Technology
  • Lifelong Learning and Adult Education
  • Marketing Analytics and Insights
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Nursing
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Organization Development and Change
  • Project Management
  • Psychology of Leadership
  • Public Administration
  • Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems – Solar Energy Option
  • Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems – Sustainability Management and Policy Option
  • Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems Base Program
  • Software Engineering
  • Special Education
  • Strategic Communications
  • Strategic Management and Executive Leadership
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Systems Engineering
  • Turfgrass Management

Bachelor's degree programs

  • Accounting
  • Agribusiness Management
  • Biobehavioral Health
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Digital Journalism and Media
  • Digital Multimedia and Design
  • Economics
  • Energy and Sustainability Policy
  • Finance
  • Health Policy and Administration
  • History
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Integrated Social Sciences
  • International Policies
  • Labor and Human Resources
  • Law and Society
  • Letters, Arts, and Sciences
  • Marketing
  • Nursing
  • Organizational and Professional Communication
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management – Commercial Recreation and Tourism Management Option
  • Security and Risk Analysis
  • Software Engineering
  • Strategic Communications
  • Turfgrass Science

Associate’s degree programs

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Labor and Human Resources
  • Letters, Arts, and Sciences
  • Turfgrass Science and Management

Graduate certificate programs

  • Accounting
  • Accounting Foundations
  • Additive Manufacturing and Design
  • Adult Basic Education
  • Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Applied Demography
  • Applied Statistics
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Architecture
  • Business Management Foundations
  • Business Sustainability Strategy
  • Children’s Literature
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Counterterrorism
  • Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention
  • Distance Education
  • E-Learning Design
  • Earth Science Education
  • Ecosystem Measurements and Data Analysis
  • Educating Individuals with Autism
  • Educational Technology Integration
  • Engineering Leadership and Innovation Management
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Enterprise Information and Security Technology Architecture
  • Family Literacy
  • Fundraising Leadership
  • Geodesign
  • Geographic Information Systems – GIS
  • Geospatial Intelligence Analytics
  • Geospatial Intelligence Applications
  • Geospatial Programming and Web Map Development
  • Homeland Security
  • Hospital and Health System Preparedness
  • Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics
  • Information Systems Cybersecurity
  • Institutional Research
  • International Human Resources and Employment Relations
  • Leadership and Communication Skills for Ecosystem Managers
  • Management Consulting
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Negotiation and Influence
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Educator
  • Organizational Development and Change Analytics
  • Organizational Development and Change Consulting Skills
  • Organizational Development and Change Essentials
  • Organizational Development and Change Occupational Safety and Health
  • Organizational Development and Change Operational Excellence
  • Principalship
  • Project Management
  • Public Budgeting and Financial Management
  • Public Health Preparedness
  • Public Sector Human Resources Management
  • Remote Sensing and Earth Observation
  • Sensory and Consumer Science
  • Solar Energy
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainability Management and Policy
  • Teaching and Learning Online in K-12 Settings
  • Weather and Climate Analytics

Undergraduate certificate programs

  • Adult Development and Aging Services
  • Children, Youth, and Family Services
  • Digital Arts
  • Diversity Studies
  • Earth Sustainability
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Certificate with SAP
  • Financial Planning
  • Fundraising and Advancement
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • Labor and Human Resources
  • Nursing Forensics
  • Nursing Management
  • Organizational Communication
  • Security and Risk Analysis
  • Turfgrass Management, Advanced
  • Turfgrass Management, Basic
  • Weather Forecasting

Our takeaway: Seamless online experience from a respected school

If you're considering pursuing a degree or professional certificate online, PSWC is a choice worth considering. With a multitude of degree and certificate options, flexible class schedules, and the assurance of Penn State quality, there is a lot to like.

In addition, being part of Penn State's enormous alumni network can have the potential to open important doors throughout your career. 

Not sure if online college right for you? Check out 8 Reasons Why Online Education is Better than Traditional.

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