Pennsylvania State University - World Campus Review

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus offers five graduate engineering degrees and top mentoring and networking opportunities to encourage strong professional development.

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The Good

Five online graduate engineering degrees offered

The online graduate engineering program at Pennsylvania State University-World Campus (Penn State) includes five different degrees. Master of engineering degrees include systems engineering and nuclear engineering, and master of science degrees include engineering management, mechanical engineering, and software engineering. You can be considered a strong applicant if you are an engineering professional with an undergraduate degree in engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics. Each program takes about two years to complete and require 30 to 36 credits.

Cohort-based program

Penn State’s online engineering program is designed around a cohort model, meaning you will progress through your online degree with a set group of classmates as a cohort. Attending small online classes with a regular set of classmates creates an online learning environment that encourages greater collaboration and networking. You will begin the online degree program with the same set of classmates that you will graduate with, and the connections you make with your peers during your degree program may prove to be a useful networking resource after graduation and throughout your career.

Mentoring program

The Penn State Mechanical Engineering Society alumni organization collaborates with the department of mechanical and nuclear engineering to bring a mentoring program to engineering students, including online students. It is rare to find online degree programs that offer such a strong mentoring program, but Penn State has designed a mentoring environment that provides online students with helpful career advice and networking opportunities. The mentoring program is not a requirement, but as an online student you have every chance to participate if you are interested.

Strong history and reputation with online education

There is a long history of distance and online education at Penn State. The school founded one of the first correspondence courses in the country and has over 100 years experience with distance education. Penn State was one of the first major accredited universities to offer online education and currently has over a decade of experience. The entire set of online programs is housed under the university’s World Campus which provides you with the same academically challenging courses, taught by the same world-renowned faculty that teach on campus. An online degree from Penn State carries all the same prestige and respect as one earned on-campus.

The Bad

Student services and technology need improvement

In the latest U.S. News & World Report survey, Penn State received a score of 57 for their student services and technology. This category is made up of student indebtedness, the technologies accessible to students, and services available to students. To be fair, 57 isn’t too far off the median score among top online graduate engineering programs, so Penn State is not the worst offender. But the school definitely has room for improvement. One particular service worth mentioning is the absence of 24/7 live tech support. Online students often work full-time and have to get their course work done at night, and being able to reach out and get support at all hours of the night or day is a valuable service offered by many of the top online graduate engineering programs.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 1999-2000
  • Application Deadline: June 1
  • Application Fee: $65
  • Location: PA
  • Number of Graduate Engineering Programs: 4
  • Region: Northeast
  • School Type: Public
  • Term Schedule: Other

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • In-State: $930
  • Out-of-State: $930


  • Master in Engineering Management
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
  • Master of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering
  • Master of Software Engineering
  • Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering


  • Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Average Student Age: 31
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.32
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: 4.0
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: 156
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: 155
  • Gender Ratio: 19.3% female, 80.7% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 35
  • Total Enrollment: 565


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 3 years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 30
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 4

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009): 95%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010): 95%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011): 86%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2013): 84%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): 88%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): 82%

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 17
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 58/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 2
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 90/100
  • Peer Reputation Mean Score (1-5): 3.7
  • Student Engagement Rank: 6
  • Student Engagement Score: 78/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 13
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 57/100

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