Entrance to and Changes in College/Major

MajorQuest helps students find and learn about majors that match selected interest areas. The College Information Chart provides major-related information organized by college. Both tools can assist students as they explore majors and make informed academic decisions.

First-Year Admission

First-semester baccalaureate students are admitted to a college (e.g., Engineering, Education, Liberal Arts) or to the Division of Undergraduate Studies. They usually seek entrance to a major during their first two years of enrollment unless they are admitted to one of the direct-admission programs described below.

Direct-Admission Majors

The following are direct-admission programs at University Park: Architecture, the Golf Management option in Recreation and Park Management, Landscape Architecture, the School of Music, the College of Nursing, the six- or seven-year Premedical-Medical major, the five-year Science B.S./M.B.A. program, the School of Theatre, the School of Visual Arts, and Workforce Education and Development. Other Penn State campuses offer direct-admission programs. For more information, contact Undergraduate Admissions. Students who have not been admitted to one of these programs may explore the possibility of enrolling by contacting the appropriate department or the appropriate academic advising center.

Requirements for Entrance-to-Majors

Entrance-to-college/major requirements for every Penn State college and major are listed on the Web. These requirements reflect the following criteria:

When deemed academically appropriate, the dean of the college, with approval of the program faculty, may approve exceptions for individual students.

For additional information, contact the appropriate advising center.


The time for declaration of major varies among the colleges. However, before attaining fifth-semester classification, students enrolled in a college generally must gain entrance to a major in order to continue registration as degree candidates unless an exception has been granted.

Changing from One Major to Another Major

Students who have declared a major may change their major if the requirements for entrance are met.

Credit Limitation

The student may apply no more than 91 credits of previous work toward a degree in the new college. Exceptions are allowed under Senate Policy 37-30 (1.d.) provided any controlled majors have not reached approved control limits.

Entrance-to-Major Procedures

 Designation of Selection Pools

(Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, D-2): All entering baccalaureate degree candidates are assigned a selection pool semester, normally the spring of their sophomore year. Students entering the University in the spring semester are generally in the pool for the following spring. Under exceptional circumstances, the college dean may designate an alternative selection pool for a student. Advanced standing students (students who transfer to Penn State from other institutions with 18 or more credits) are assigned a selection pool by the dean at the time of their admission to the college. The student's pool designation is indicated on the ISIS ARUEA screen and in the eLion Academic Summary application.

Students who want a major that does not have administrative enrollment controls can request entrance to that major by (1) contacting the appropriate department or the appropriate academic advising center at University Park or another Penn State campus before their pool semester or (2) by following the eLion entrance-to-major procedures during their pool semester. The request for entrance will be approved if the student meets the entrance requirements for the college and/or major.

Students who want a major with administrative enrollment controls must apply for the major through the eLion entrance-to-major process described below.

Entrance-to-Major Process on eLion

Students who are not in majors before the beginning of their pool semester will be included in the group of applicants for the entrance-to-major process. Their college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies (if they are enrolled in the division) will inform them about the entrance-to-major process.

Identifying Major Preferences

Each student may identify up to three major preferences in priority order. They are collected and updated in the following manner:

  1. Major preferences are initially collected when the student submits his/her Educational Planning Survey in preparation for New Student Orientation.
  2. The student can change these preferences until the deadline in February of his/her pool semester by using the Entrance-to-Major application on eLion. When the student updates major preferences on eLion, they are displayed on the ARUEA screen in ISIS.
  3. Until the beginning of the student's pool semester, advisers can update the student's preferences on ARUEA by entering the appropriate major codes. (Entering college codes will not update the student's preferences on eLion.) When the adviser updates the student's preferences on ARUEA, the eLion Entrance-to-Major application will display the update.

Identifying a Campus

In addition to University Park, Penn State offers baccalaureate majors at campuses throughout the Commonwealth. If the student's major preference is located at more than one campus, he/she must indicate a preferred campus using the eLion Entrance-to-Major application by the deadline in February of his/her pool semester. If the student's major preference is offered at only one campus, then he/she does not have to indicate a campus. The campus will automatically be displayed on the eLion Entrance-to-Major application.

Confirming Major and Campus Preferences

Students in the selection pool will receive an email from the Registrar's office instructing them to confirm their eLion major and campus preferences by the deadline in February of their pool semester. It is important that the student's preferences accurately reflect his/her goals because these preferences are used for the entrance-to-major approval process. Authorized advisers may use ISIS screen ARUES to see if a student has confirmed his/her choices. When a student has confirmed his/her choices, a date appears in the "CONFIRMED" field. The student's major preferences may be listed even if he/she has not confirmed them.

Approval Process

Soon after the confirmation time period has expired, the college administrators begin the entrance-to-major approval process. Students in the pool of applicants who have confirmed their major and campus preferences will be included in this process. The administrators will determine if the student will be accepted, accepted conditionally, or denied entrance to his/her desired major. A student who has not yet completed the course entrance requirements but is currently enrolled in these courses is informed that entrance to the major is conditional, pending appropriate current semester performance. A student who is not accepted into his/her first choice is considered for his/her second and, if necessary, third choice. A student can be accepted into no more than one major and campus through this process.

Credit Requirement for Change of Campus

In order to be approved to change to a different campus for the next fall semester, a student must be classified as fourth semester or higher at the beginning of his/her pool semester. A student in the selection pool who has less than fourth semester standing may be admitted to a major offered at a different campus. However, the student's campus assignment will not be changed as part of the entrance-to-major process. In this case, change of campus will be determined on an individual basis by college administrators.


Adviser: Before the selection process is completed, preliminary decision codes are displayed on ISIS screen ARUES. However, these codes may change. They do not reflect the final decision until the selection process has been completed. At this time students are notified by email. The decision codes are A: approved, D: denied; E: denied, cumulative grade-point average is below 2.00; F: denied, student failed audit (entrance-to-major courses will not be completed by the end of the student's pool semester); and N: the major is not participating in the entrance-to-major process.

Student: After the selection process is completed, the student is notified by email that he/she has been accepted, accepted conditionally, or denied entrance to his/her desired major. This notification will be received before the beginning of the registration period for the following fall semester. It will include information on change of campus if appropriate.

Student Action After Notification

If the student is accepted into a major, he/she is enrolled in that major and no additional student action is required. If the student is denied all of his/her choices, other majors may be appropriate; the student should consult with his/her academic adviser.

Last Update: August 2014

Reference(s): Senate Policy 37-30