Can an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score be used instead of the TOEFL in my application?
Yes. The language of instruction at Penn State is English. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 20 on the speaking section for the internet-based test. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a masters degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States and Wales.
How do I get an "Access Account Authorization and Acceptance Statement" for my first course registration?
In order to obtain a Penn State Access Account, a unique identification code and password combination that enables you to connect to Penn State computer systems and online courses, you will need to complete an "Access Account Authorization and Acceptance Statement" form. That document is available electronically in PDF format - see http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/search/forms/access_form_01.pdf.
If you have any questions or concerns about your Penn State Access Account, please call World Campus Student Services at 800-252-3592 (or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org).
When will my Penn State Access Account expire?
An information technology (IT) fee, which will provide you with a Penn State Access Account, is assessed when you register for your first course in the program. Your Access Account will then be valid for one year from the start of that course (this policy begins January 2008). You will not be charged another IT fee for additional World Campus credit courses you take during that year of access. If your course/program extends beyond the expiration date, you will be able to extend your Access Account by paying an additional IT fee. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Penn State Access Account, please call World Campus Student Services at 800-252-3592 (or send an e-mail to email@example.com).
How many courses can I take at one time?
While there is nothing to prevent you from taking multiple courses at a time, we recommend taking one course at a time while working full-time. However, if you have a financial aid package that requires you to be a full-time student that usually means you will need to take two courses at a time to meet the 6-credit minimum for the aid package.
What do these courses and programs cost?
Costs to enroll in online M. Ed. in Earth Science courses include charges for tuition and an information technology fee payable each semester.
The information technology fee entitles you to a Penn State Access Account, which you will need in order to access to your online courses. Once your fee is paid, your Penn State Access Account is good for one year. If you are uncertain about whether you need to pay for the information technology fee, please call us at 800-252-3592 (or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can check when your account to set to expire.
Does World Campus bill students or offer payment plans?
A deferred payment plan is currently available to students. Two-thirds of the current semester's net payable tuition and fees may be deferred beyond the first due date. There is a $45 deferred payment fee. All eligible aid and loans must be applied to reduce current charges before the deferment option may be taken. Penn State has the right to refuse a deferred payment option to any student who has not met prior payment agreements. Prior semester balances cannot be deferred; they must be paid in full with the first one-third payment.
Can I get financial aid?
Financial aid eligibility for World Campus degree students is possible under stringent parameters. For more information, please contact a Distance Education adviser at 800-252-3592 or visit this URL: http://www.psu.edu/studentaid/aidprog/disted.shtml
Can I use a Stafford Loan or Pell Grant to pay for my courses?
I need a receipt for reimbursement. How can I get one?
Contact the staff at the World Campus, provide your social security number, and request that a receipt be sent to you.
Penn State World Campus
128 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802-3601
My employer will pay for my tuition and information technology fee. What do I need to provide so that World Campus will invoice my employer?
You will need to provide the World Campus with a tuition assistance form from your employer which includes the course name and/or course number, amount your employer authorizes the World Campus to bill (including information technology fee, if applicable), a billing address, and a signature from an authorized employer representative. You need to provide a new tuition assistance form for each semester's registration. We will process your registration once we have your payment information.
Are additional materials required for completing my course? If so, how do I obtain them?
Few courses in the M.Ed. program require additional materials beyond the content in the course website. Specific information regarding what materials are required for a given course and how to obtain them will be provided when you register. (That information is also part of each course's online syllabus.)
A side-benefit of being a PSU student, you can purchase a wide range of software products at educational prices from Penn State's Software Store at http://software.psu.edu/.
Do I have to complete the program within a certain amount of time?
Yes, all requirements for the master's degree (including acceptance of your capstone project) must be met within eight years of admission to degree status. Extensions may be granted by the Director of Graduate Enrollment Services in appropriate circumstances.
Do I have to complete a course within a certain amount of time?
Yes, M.Ed. in Earth Sciences courses have specific start and end dates. Assignments must be completed at certain times. See your course syllabus for specific dates.
What happens if I need to take time off from my studies?
Penn State's Graduate School requires that degree-seeking students maintain "continuous enrollment" in their program of study. Since most Penn State programs follow a 15-week semester schedule, continuous enrollment means enrollment in both the Spring and Fall semesters every year until the degree is earned. Enrollment is Summer semesters is optional.
Graduate students, including M.Ed. in Earth Sciences students, are allowed up to eight years from the date of admission to complete all requirements for the degree.
What if I need more time to complete a course?
Penn State policy (https://handbook.psu.edu/content/deferred-grade) allows instructors to temporarily defer grades for students who were unable to complete course assignments on schedule due to circumstances beyond their control. To request a deferred grade ("DF"), submit your request in writing to your instructor by e-mail. If your request for a deferred grade is approved by your instructor, you will have until the end of the sixth week of the following quarter to complete your assignments. At that time, the temporary grade of "F" must be changed, either to an appropriate grade if assignments were completed, or to an "F."
Can I submit my lesson assignments electronically?
Yes, in fact, this is the preferred method. Built-in discussion forums, e-mail systems, and electronic "drop boxes" within the courses are typically used to submit assignments electronically.
Do these courses require Internet access?
Yes, courses in this program require Internet access to access course content, activities, assignments, and communication tools.
What kind of computer and software do I need to successfully complete this course?
What if I need help using the Internet to access my online course materials?
The World Campus Help Desk is available to help you online or by telephone (800-252-3592 or 814-865-0047, weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, EST and weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., EST).
Penn State Policies and Procedures
Will I be certified to teach in a public school after completing this program?
This program is not a certification pathway. You need to contact your state's Department of Education to find out what the certification criteria are in your state. Penn State's School of Education offers residential graduate programs that are certification pathways. See http://www.ed.psu.edu/certification/ for more details.
What is accreditation, and why is it important?
Accreditation is a national system of monitoring the quality of credits you receive from an institution of higher education. Because Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Association, our courses are accepted for transfer by most other colleges and universities. If there is a specific program you are enrolled in at another institution and you are hoping to transfer this course into it, you should check first with the other institution to make sure the credits will transfer.
Can I transfer credits earned from another institution?
A maximum of 10 credits of high-quality graduate work completed at an accredited institution may be applied toward the M.Ed. in Earth Sciences degree. To be eligible for transfer, academic work must have been completed within five years prior to the date of first degree registration at the Graduate School of Penn State (as a degree-seeking or non-degree graduate student), must be of at least B quality, must appear on an official graduate transcript of an accredited university, and must be documented in a course syllabus or other authoritative description. Credits earned to complete a previous degree, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, may not be applied to the M.Ed. in Earth Sciences degree.
Students should direct requests for credit transfers to Program Director Eliza Richardson (email@example.com). Approval to apply any transferred credits toward a graduate degree program must be granted by the student's academic adviser or program and the Graduate School.
Do these courses appear as correspondence courses on my transcript?
No distinction is made on your official Penn State transcript that your courses were completed at a distance. The credits that you receive are exactly the same as those awarded to on-campus students. Penn State values distance education as highly as it does resident instruction.
Can I drop a course once I've begun?
Yes, it is possible to drop a course. Procedures vary slightly depending on your student status and the course timeframe. For specific World Campus procedures regarding dropping a course, please see "Dropping or Withdrawing from a Course."
How will I find out my final course grade?
Upon completion of the course, your instructor will send you an unofficial notice of your final course grade through the course e-mail system (i.e. Canvas). Your official course grade will be available through the University's LionPATH system approximately four weeks later.
Click on the "Graduate Students" link in the menu.
Log in to the LionPATH Student Center with your Penn State Access Account user ID and password (the same one you use to log in to our course)
Select "Grades" in the drop down menu under the Academics section --Select the appropriate semester for which you want to retrieve grades, then click on the "Continue" button
Unofficial "advising" transcripts can also be viewed through LionPATH (for instructions see "Requesting Your Transcript"). Official transcripts can also be ordered through that same link.
Learning at a Distance
How will this be different from taking courses on campus?
While it is true that your distance education courses will take place in a different kind of environment than a typical face-to-face course, in many ways your courses will be similar to on-campus instruction, with an instructor, other students, and course materials. But the courses themselves allow more flexibility than face-to-face classes.
How will I interact with my instructor and other students?
You will be part of a group (or cohort) of students in this course, all starting and ending the course at the same time. We use a variety of means to bring students and instructors together, including:
paper-based letters ("surface mail")
telephone (one-on-one and conference calls)
online discussion forums and chat space
a Web conferencing system that enables us to interact with one another in real-time using voice, text, and even video.
How quickly should I expect responses from my instructor?
When you take a course in a traditional face-to-face classroom, you can ask a question of your professor and receive an instant response. In online courses, you can still ask questions of your instructors with ease through telephone, e-mail, online discussion forums, or other means--but unless the communication takes place in real time, the response probably won't be immediate! Instructors are not sitting next to their telephones or computers, waiting for questions to come through. However, they are available on a regular basis and are able to respond to their students in a timely manner. As a distance education student, you simply need to become familiar with your instructor's schedule and availability so that you can know when to expect responses to your questions and feedback on your work.
What do I do if I have a question that isn't answered in this FAQ?
If your question is about the content of a course, you should contact your course instructor. If your question is about the the M.Ed. program in general, you should contact the Program Director, Dr. Eliza Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org. If your question is about World Campus policies or procedures, you should contact a distance education staff member by calling 800-252-3592 or by e-mailing email@example.com.