Requirements for Graduation

Students planning to graduate as Paterno Fellows must meet these nine requirements. Questions may be directed to Barb Edwards at

1. Maintain a minimum 3.4 GPA every semester.

  • A student's GPA may NOT fall below 3.4 for two consecutive semesters. This will lead to automatic dismissal.

2. Complete a specified number of honors courses each year.

  • Students must complete 21 honors credits in the first two years (normally four courses in the first year and three in the second, which includes the Rhetoric and Civic Life honors sequence ENGL/CAS 137/138).
  • At least 14 honors credits must be taken in the final two years.
  • Honors courses include advanced 400-level courses taken in the first and second years, and graduate-level courses.

3. Complete a second major or an enhanced minor.

  • Only one of the majors needs to be in the College of the Liberal Arts. An enhanced 24-credit minor will count as a second area of expertise, especially if the particular field does not offer a major. An 18-credit minor is enhanced by adding six credits from the approved course list for the minor.

4. Complete an e-portfolio.

  • Students create an e-portfolio in their first year of honors coursework and continue to demonstrate their ability to communicate in a variety of genres (persuasive, argumentative, reflective, and so on) and in a variety of media (verbal, video, audio, and the like) throughout their years at Penn State. A student's e-portfolio should be submitted for approval through ENGL 397, a 1.5 credit online course, by the end of the third year. (This requirement took effect with the 2014-15 freshman class. Previously aspiring or admitted Fellows are encouragedto complete an e-portfolio, which may be used as a third alternative to meet the Global Awareness requirement.)

5. Complete 3 credits of study in ethics.

  • Students may choose from a variety of ethics courses in liberal arts. Students who wish to propose another course for consideration should contact the director of the Paterno Fellows Program.

6. Complete a study abroad experience or a 3-credit internship.

  • Study abroad experiences must be at least five weeks in-country. Internships typically involve at least 150 hours of internship work. To document a non-credit internship experience, download the Non-Credit Internship Documentation Form; complete and submit it using the contact information on the form.

7. Complete a substantial leadership or service commitment.

  • Fellows are expected to take on a leadership role or offer volunteer services to a community of their choice totaling at least 50 hours during their college career. Participants in the Presidential Leadership Academy automatically meet this requirement. To document a leadership or service experience, download the Leadership or Service Documentation Form; complete and submit it using the contact information on the form.

8. Demonstrate global awareness through one of two options.

  • Complete two additional courses beyond the 12th-credit-level proficiency in one foreign language, or meet 12th-credit-level proficiency in two foreign languages. (Students majoring or minoring in a foreign language, native speakers of a language other than English, and students studying abroad where the courses are taught in a language other than English will automatically meet this requirement.)

  • Take 9 credits in International Cultures (IL) courses beyond the general education requirement.

  • Students who aspired or were admitted prior to 2014-15 may fulfill the Global Awareness requirement with a third option of completing the e-Portfolio. Students who aspired or were admitted after 2014-15 are required to complete the e-portfolio in addition to demonstrating Global Awareness through one of the two options listed under this heading.

  • Plausible scenarios for Communication/Global Awareness requirements for students who aspired or were admitted prior to 2014-15 and for students who aspired or were admitted Summer 2014 or later

9. Complete a senior thesis research project.

For additional information, including year-by-year planning, important policies, advice, and frequently asked questions, please refer to the Student Handbook.
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