Schedule Planning

Courses are offered through several delivery systems: resident instruction (classroom and Web courses), Continuing Education, and World Campus.

The Semester-by-Semester Planning Worksheet is a fillable form that helps students develop long-range plans.

Scheduling Restrictions

Current policy reflected below. Changes to Faculty Senate Policy 34-60 (Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses) pending implementation.

Summer 2016: A student may register for any course listed in the Schedule of Courses

Fall 2016 and beyond: In LionPATH a student may enroll in any course found in Search for Classes (tutorial: Searching for Classes)


  1. A course that requires prerequisite or concurrent course(s) as indicated in the course description.
  2. A course that essentially duplicates the content of a course already taken for credit (unless it is appropriate to repeat).
  3. A course that is full. (Priority may be given to students with higher semester standing, those for whom the course is a requirement, students enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College, and others with special needs.)
  4. A course that is under departmental control in order to reserve space for a specific population.
  5. 400-level courses, which are reserved for students beyond fourth-semester standing or those with special permission. For policies and procedures, see Course Numbering System.
  6. 500-level courses, which are designed for graduate students. However, it is possible for undergraduates in certain circumstances to schedule 500-level courses. For policies and procedures, see Course Numbering System.
  7. When admission would violate legal, Department of Defense, or special fund agreements.

A student who inappropriately schedules a course with restrictions may be disenrolled from the course. Before disenrolling a student from a course, the instructor must notify the student of this action in writing during the drop/add period for the semester or session (Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, C-5).

Considerations when Planning a Schedule

  1. Student's selection of major. Consider requirements of the University, college, major, option, and emphasis as stated in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin and in What Is General Education?, as well as in college and departmental program guides, Recommended Academic Plans, and Entrance to Major Requirements. A student's degree audit is helpful in determining unfulfilled requirements.
  2. Course Placements guide first-year student decisions about mathematics, chemistry, and first-year writing courses.
  3. World (foreign) Language course selection is determined by the amount of language a student has studied, his/her interests, and academic goals.
  4. Student interests and goals. When appropriate, consider combining a major with a minor or an additional major or incorporating education abroad.
  5. Student's background, characteristics, and current circumstances. Consider a student's academic preparation, strengths, weaknesses, life style, work schedule, extracurricular demands, physical disability, or emotional status (see Auditing/Visiting a Course; Credit/Credit Load; Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading System).
  6. Course demands. Different courses present different demands on the student, e.g., the amount of reading, writing, computing, or memorizing necessary, as well as the laboratory and studio time required. A well-planned schedule should balance the kinds of work demanded. Students may be able to learn more about a course by contacting the course instructor or department.
  7. Course characteristics. Different courses offer different instructional environments. Even the same course may differ in format by section and/or delivery system. Students should consider which course characteristics are most effective in helping them to learn: e.g., large class, small class, or online; lecture or discussion; scheduled meeting times or self-paced; traditional or technology-intensive; and types of projects, papers, and/or exams. Students may be able to learn more about a course by contacting the course instructor or department. Faculty contact information is available in the Penn State Directory. (If an instructor is not listed in Search for Classes results, use the Registrar's directory of contacts and call the appropriate office to ask if an instructor has been assigned.)
  8. Credits that the student earned or plans to earn by other means, such as transfer from another school, Advanced Placement, College-Level Examination Program of the College Entrance Examination Board, or Credit for Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces.
  9. Course availability and prerequisites. Some courses are not offered every semester, and some courses require special academic preparation. A tentative, long-range plan should be established to allow for prerequisites and to accommodate courses offered less frequently.
  10. Special-credit requirements for some programs and agencies (see Credit/Credit Load).
  11. Student's long-range plan. Complete a Semester Planning Worksheet using a degree audit and Recommended Academic Plans, to consider how course selections and credit load affect a student's ability to attain his/her goals.

Time Management

When planning for a semester/session, students should consider demands both in and outside of class. The Weekly Time Tracker can help students to evaluate their use of time. In addition, a Time Management module is available in iStudy for Success!


For detailed instructions on scheduling courses, see Registration.

Last Update: April 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policies 34-58, 34-60