An Education for Leadership
The Paterno Fellows Program is an innovative program offered jointly by the College of the Liberal Arts and Schreyer Honors College that encourages students to challenge themselves academically and distinguish themselves in areas traditionally associated with the liberal arts: ethics, service, and leadership; excellence in communication; and intercultural awareness. As Liberal Arts students, Fellows are eligible to receive financial support to participate in enriching out-of-classroom experiences like internships, education abroad, and research.
Benefits of the Program
The most significant benefit of the Paterno Fellows Program is the challenge it puts before students to undertake a rigorous and stimulating academic experience while building out their résumés.
The program is one of the only pathways at the University for students not initially admitted into Schreyer Honors College to demonstrate their potential and earn their way into Schreyer.
- Graduate with strong academic credentials in at least two fields.
- Develop ethical reasoning and leadership abilities.
- Gain the ability to think critically, do independent research, and communicate effectively.
- Demonstrate global and intercultural sophistication.
While all Liberal Arts students gain such an education at Penn State, Fellows pursue an education of exceptional ambition, depth, and distinction.
Receive financial support to participate in internships, education abroad, and research to build an impressive portfolio of experiences. These opportunities prepare you for leadership, and alumni describe them as the most defining and unforgettable moments in their college careers.
Learn more about enrichment funding
Paterno Fellows can also apply for student programming grants.
- Applications should be submitted at least thirty days before the intended program date.
- All requests for funding must show documentation of expenses and list all proposed expenses in an itemized budget.
- All events must be advertised on the college events calendar.
- Proposals may include a request for funds for food to complement an event.
- Funding for needed supplies (e.g., art supplies) may be included within reason.
- Sample events: Paterno Fellows Program student meeting with a guest speaker; a film screening with an invited guest; or attendance at a performance
Sustained Discussion/Reading Groups
- Discussion groups should contain between five and fifteen participants.
- All meetings of discussion/reading groups must be advertised on the college events calendar.
- Attendance: Students should keep a list of students who attend each meeting.
- Accounting: Students should keep receipts for all purchases using Paterno Fellows Program funds.
- Continuity: Discussion groups may occur over multiple semesters but will be asked to submit an application each semester.
- Books: Reading groups can buy up to fifteen copies of the same book. All books should be returned after use for future discussion groups.
- Sample Discussion/Reading Groups: foreign language conversation groups, special interest reading groups, discussion groups to complement ongoing Penn State programing, i.e., College Town Film Festival, IAH Cities Project, and State of State
How to Apply
- Send an email to PaternoFellows@psu.edu, being sure to include your contact information, Paterno Fellows status, and all programming information as outlined here. Successful applications will enhance students’ education, ignite an interest, or make students consider a topic more deeply.
Once you have chosen a major and have been accepted as a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, a faculty honors adviser will be assigned to help you develop a thesis topic, conduct research, and complete the thesis project.
Nora Van Horn
There is no application. You can simply decide to become an “Aspirant”—ie., a student who aspires to be a Paterno Fellow—during your New Student Orientation session. After that, you’ll begin to complete the Fellows requirements and participate in Paterno Fellows events.
The majority of Paterno Fellows begin as Aspirants and stay in Aspirant status until you satisfy entrance requirements as well as any requirements stipulated by your intended major department. The deadline for meeting these requirements is the end of your second year. Therefore, Aspirants can expect to be admitted as Paterno Fellows and Schreyer Scholars anywhere between their first and third year.
Aspirants may be admitted to the Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College at one of three points:
After Two Semesters
- Completion of at least four honors courses during the first year at Penn State, including the Rhetoric and Civic Life (RCL) sequence ENGL/CAS 137H/138T, for a minimum of 12 honors credits
- Completion of any department requirements
- A second semester grade-point average no lower than a 3.40 and a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50
After Three Semesters
- Completion of five honors courses for a cumulative total of 15 honors credits, including ENGL/CAS 137H/138T
- Completion of any department requirements
- A third semester grade-point average no lower than a 3.40 and a cumulative grade-point average of 3.4
After Four Semesters
- Completion of seven honors courses for a cumulative total of 21 honors credits, including ENGL/CAS 137H/138T
- Completion of any department requirements
- A fourth semester grade-point average no lower than a 3.4 and a cumulative grade-point average of 3.4
Aspirants who have two consecutive semester grade-point averages below a 3.40, regardless of their cumulative grade-point average, will not be admitted into the Paterno Fellows Program.
Only the departments listed below have additional entrance requirements. All other departments follow the general Paterno Fellows grade-point average and honors credit requirements.
Complete CRIM 012, CRIM 100, CRIM 249, and STAT 200 with an average grade-point average of at least 3.67 in these courses.
Complete ECON 102, 104, 302, and 304 (or their honors counterparts) with an average grade-point average of at least 3.67 in these courses.
Political Science/International Politics/Social Data Analytics
Complete PSYCH 100 (or get a 5 on the AP exam), PSYCH 105, PSYCH 200 or STAT 200, and PSYCH 301W with an A. Students who receive three As and one A- will still qualify if they have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.80 or higher.
- Seek advice early and often from many different sources.
- Develop a good relationship with your academic adviser and meet with them to schedule courses and to get answers to questions or if you find yourself struggling for any reason.
- Visit faculty members in your major during their office hours to learn about courses in the major that interest you, research opportunities, and possible career paths for students with your interests. Take advantage of the mentoring that faculty members can provide.
- Check in with the Career Enrichment Network to learn about out-of-classroom opportunities and funding.
- Excel in your courses so that you achieve the required cumulative grade-point average.
- Become and remain active in the Penn State community in ways that are personally meaningful to you.
- Maintain and update your student information in the Paterno Fellows database as you complete the various Paterno Fellows requirements.
- Read the weekly Paterno Fellows newsletter for updates.
As a Paterno Fellow, we encourage you to challenge yourself academically and distinguish yourself in areas traditionally associated with the liberal arts:
- Ethics, service, and leadership
- Excellence in communication
- Intercultural awareness
As a Liberal Arts student, you have the opportunity to receive financial support to participate in enriching out-of-classroom experiences like internships, education abroad, and research.
- Maintain a minimum 3.40 grade-point average every semester.
Your grade-point average may not fall below 3.40 for two consecutive semesters. This will lead to automatic dismissal.
- 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 (RCL) honors sequence CAS/ENGL 137H/138T).
- 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.
- Complete a second major or an enhanced minor.
Only one of your 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.
- Complete 3 credits of study in ethics.
Students may choose from a variety of ethics courses in the College of the Liberal Arts. Students who wish to propose another course for consideration should contact the director of the Paterno Fellows Program.
- Complete a global experience or a 3-credit internship.
Global experiences must be at least five weeks in-country. Internships typically involve at least one hundred and fifty hours of internship work. To document a non-credit internship experience, download and complete the Non-Credit Internship Form, and submit it using the contact information on the form.
- 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 fifty hours during their college career. Participants in the Presidential Leadership Academy automatically meet this requirement. To document a leadership or service experience, download and complete the Leadership or Service Experience Form, and submit it using the contact information on the form.
- 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.
- Complete a senior thesis research project.
Fellows must demonstrate strong research and critical thinking skills within an “Area of Honors,” usually the student’s primary major. Visit the Honors Thesis section of Schreyer’s website to learn more.
Follow these steps to make sure you’re staying on track to meet entrance and graduation requirements.
- Register online in the Paterno Fellows database. The database helps us track your progress through the program.
- Schedule at least one honors course in addition to CAS/ENGL 137H.
- Meet with your academic adviser early in the semester to discuss your academic interests and progress.
- Meet with your academic adviser again in October or November to plan your spring schedule.
- Schedule CAS/ENGL 138T and any additional honors courses necessary to meet the 9–12 credit total expected in the first year.
- Discuss additional Paterno Fellows entrance requirements for your intended major(s), if there are any. While some students may enter the program at the end of the first year, all students have until the end of your second year to do so.
- Review your fall grades and discuss your options with your academic adviser, the program assistant, or the program director.
- Begin thinking about and discussing with your academic adviser:
- Which second major or enhanced minor might be of interest to you?
- Which ethics course or suitable leadership or service experience is right for you?
- When would it be appropriate for the College of the Liberal Arts to endorse your entrance into the Paterno Fellows Program and the Schreyer Honors College (after your second, third, or fourth semester)?
- Which honors courses will you take to reach 21 honors credits by the end of your second year? Remember that 400-level courses count as honors equivalents for first-year and second-year students.
- Review your spring grades and discuss your options with your academic adviser, the program assistant, or the program director.
- Update all your information in the Paterno Fellows database.
- If you have met the entrance requirements, see your academic adviser to declare your first major at the end of your first year in preparation to become a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar.
- Continue to excel in your courses so that you achieve the required cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.40.
- Continue to meet regularly with your academic adviser to discuss your academic interests and progress.
- Discuss how and when you plan to:
- Complete the entrance requirements for your intended major
- Complete a global experience or internship prior to graduation
- Complete 3 credits in ethics
- Complete a suitable leadership or service experience
- Complete the foreign language proficiency requirement or the International Cultures (IL) course requirement
- Declare your first major by the time you have completed 60 cumulative credits.
- Declare your second major or enhanced minor at the end of your second year.
- Update all your information in the Paterno Fellows database at least once every semester by marking any requirements you have met as “Claimed Satisfied.”
Third and Fourth Years
- Carefully read the Schreyer Honors College Scholar Handbook. Make sure you understand its requirements and expectations.
- Meet with your honors adviser to discuss your completion of graduation and Paterno Fellows requirements.
- Apply for financial support for internships, education abroad, and research.
- Complete your second major or enhanced minor.
- Complete 3 credits in ethics.
- Aim to complete a leadership or service experience by the end of your third year, and submit the documentation form.
- Aspiring Paterno Fellows must complete all requirements by the end of your fourth semester in order to be admitted to the Paterno Fellows Program.
- To be a Paterno Fellow, you must have at least one major in the College of the Liberal Arts.
- Aspiring Paterno Fellows who receive an insufficient grade in a required course may take it again if a certain grade is needed for entrance to the Paterno Fellows Program.
- Students should seek the advice of their academic adviser before deciding to retake a course.
- Aspirants or Paterno Fellows who have two consecutive semesters with grade-point averages below 3.40, regardless of their cumulative grade-point average, forfeit their aspirant or Paterno Fellow standing permanently.
- Only aspiring Paterno Fellows with an Economics major may be enrolled in the College of the Liberal Arts while they pursue a second major in the Smeal College of Business.
Support from alumni allows Paterno Fellows to pursue an education of exceptional depth, ambition, and distinction.
The Paterno Fellows Podcast addresses matters of interest to the Penn State community. Learn about the Paterno Fellows Program, hear about the research and creative work of Penn State students and faculty, get in-depth information about goings-on in and around campus, and tap into discussions about contemporary issues that affect the campus community.
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Paterno Fellows Program Administration
Faculty Advisory Board
Director of the Penn State Humanities Institute, Professor of Philosophy, Political Science and Women’s Studies
Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies
Teaching Professor of Psychology
Assistant Director of the Rock Ethics Institute, and Associate Research Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Bioethics, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Distinguished Professor of English, Visual Culture, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Art History
Associate Teaching Professor of Criminology
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Chinese
Student Advisory Board
Cara Arnoldi ’25
Lilly Capezzuto ’26
Samantha Escobar ’24
Maria Pavlenko ’24
Joshua Ross ’25
Micaela Zelinsky ’24