Academic Advising Overview


The goals of academic advising in the College of Engineering are to help students succeed as students, to help them identify their educational objectives, and to facilitate the attainment of their educational goals. Students are encouraged to be well informed, take responsibility for their actions, acquire good communications and leadership skills, and to seek diverse cultural experiences.

Students are encouraged and urged to consult an adviser for, although not limited to, the following reasons:

  • Information about majors/minors
  • Information about requirements
  • Planning a schedule of courses for one or more semesters
  • Information about available academic resources
  • Information about strategies to help solve academic difficulties
  • Drop a class, withdraw, or investigate the possibility of any administrative action
  • Discussion of professional goals and opportunities
  • Seek referrals to individuals, resources and programs for help with non academic issues
  • Possible study-abroad programs
  • Questions or concerns about any number of miscellaneous issues

The source of the academic advising for College of Engineering undergraduates depends on the student's major, scholar status, and campus

Roles of Adviser and Advisee

The University Faculty Senate has defined the role of academic advising in the University community. This section is quoted from Faculty Senate Policy 32-30 on Advising:

"Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources. The college or department also will monitor the progress of its advisees towards satisfactory completion of all graduation requirements and inform students of their status each semester.* Advisees in turn will routinely contact their advisers each semester and will assume final responsibility for course scheduling, program planning, and the successful completion of graduation requirements."

*Students can check their progress each semester by using the Degree Audit feature on eLion.

Responsibilities of Advisers

The academic adviser's role is to:

  • Help the advisee to understand the academic and administrative processes of the University and the nature of its academic programs. The adviser also seeks to understand each advisee's particular concerns affecting academic progress. The adviser neither grants nor denies administrative approval for particular academic actions.
  • Help the advisee to understand the expected standards of achievement and likelihood of success in certain areas of study.
  • Discuss the educational and career objectives suited to the advisee's demonstrated abilities and expressed interests. The adviser helps the advisee to understand the relationships among the courses, programs, undergraduate research opportunities, internships, study abroad programs, and other academic experiences provided by the University.
  • Help the advisee to plan a course of study and give advice about courses and the adjustment of course loads. The adviser will inform the advisee about the prerequisites for subsequent courses in the advisee's program.
  • Refer advisees to other resources when appropriate.
  • Participate in the adviser training sessions provided by each college or department to keep informed and current.

Responsibilities of Advisees

The advisee's role in the academic advising process is to:

  • Acquire the information needed to assume final responsibility for course scheduling, program planning, and the successful completion of all graduation requirements.
  • Seek the academic and career information needed to meet educational goals.
  • Become knowledgeable about the relevant policies, procedures, and rules of the University, college, and academic program.
  • Be prepared with accurate information and relevant materials when contacting the adviser.
  • Consult with the adviser at least once a semester to decide on courses, review the accuracy of the audit, check progress towards graduation, and discuss the suitability of other educational opportunities provided by the University.

The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time.

Major Status

All first-year students who are admitted to the College of Engineering are admitted to ENGR (pre-major) status, regardless of location. ENGR is the students' official major until they are admitted to a major, normally after for two years. They participate in the regular entrance-to-major process during the spring semester of their second year. Please note: Students interested in Architectural Engineering (A E) should be ready for the major and seek admission to A E after the first year.

The entrance-to-major process, course requirements, and enrollment control information are all described in Entrance to Major Requirements.

Advising Pre-Major Students at University Park

The Engineering Advising Center (EAC) primarily serves as the academic advising resource for students in pre-major status (ENGR) at University Park. Once students have been admitted to a College of Engineering major, they will be assigned to a faculty adviser in that major.

Regardless of their campus location or major status, students may always contact the EAC for information or referrals. To contact an EAC adviser, email Note: Do not use this email address to request an appointment.

To request an appointment with an adviser, ENGR students at University Park may use the appointment request link, call our front desk at 814-863-1033, or stop by 208 Hammond Building. Students who are not at University Park or who are in another academic college at Penn State may set up a phone appointment with an Engineering adviser by calling 814-863-1033. When requesting an appointment with a professional adviser in the EAC, please use the following guideline:

  • Students whose last names begin with A to I: Jennifer Saltsgiver
  • Students whose last names begin with J to R: Jeff Hill
  • Students whose last names begin with S to Z: Georjanne Williams

Students should meet with an adviser at least once per semester.

During fall and spring semesters, a faculty member from each of the College's University Park majors spends three hours per week in the Engineering Advising Center in 208 Hammond Building. For the name of the faculty member representing each major and the day that they are in the Engineering Advising Center, go to Faculty Adviser Schedule. Meeting with a faculty adviser can be especially helpful when a student is working on long-term scheduling plans (for ROTC, a semester study abroad, concurrent majors, etc.) or would like to learn whether a specific engineering major might be a good fit for his/her interests and goals.

Advising Schreyer Scholars at University Park

Schreyer Scholars who wish to be advised by a faculty member in a particular major are assigned to a scholar's adviser in the major of their choice. Scholars' advisers are available in each department. Dr. Christine Masters, Assistant Dean for Academic Support and Global Programs, is the faculty adviser for Schreyer Scholars in ENGR status who are uncertain of their major, are exploring major choices, and/or do not wish to be advised in a particular department. To request an appointment with Dr. Masters, please call 814-863-1033.

Schreyer Scholars in ENGR status who wish to change the department from which they receive academic advising must notify the Engineering Advising Center of their new major of interest. The new department will then be notified by the EAC and asked to assign the scholar to a departmental scholars' adviser.

Advising Millennium Scholars at University Park

The Penn State Millennium Scholars Program is a program that focuses on academic excellence in STEM through diversity, early exposure to research, peer support, stewardship, and a common goal. Every participant has the goal of obtaining a PhD or MD/PhD.

Penn State Millennium Scholars are provided with an academic adviser to aid them with their academic planning and performance. The program's director will also regularly meet with students to discuss their academic progress or any personal problems that may occur. Georjanne Williams is the academic adviser for Millennium Scholars enrolled in the College of Engineering. Scholars who are currently in engineering or considering majors should meet with Ms. Williams to discuss any academic questions they may have. Scholars may call 814-863-1033 to request an appointment with Ms. Williams.

Advising Pre-Major Students at a Commonwealth Campus

Students in pre-major (ENGR) status (including Schreyer Scholars) are normally assigned at the campus to a faculty adviser who is a member of the engineering teaching staff. Campuses that have an advising center may have a different policy for assigning advisers. The assignments and delivery of academic advising are carried out according to campus policy. The College's Contact and Referral Faculty Representative at each campus is the liaison with the Dean's Office and is the primary provider of information about the College of Engineering, its programs, and degree requirements to the ENGR students at the campus. In addition, support and information to advisers of ENGR students at campuses are provided by the staff of the College of Engineering Advising Center and student services at UP.

Advisers at the campuses are expected to record a summary of every advising session in the web-based Electronic Advising Records System (EARS). The identity of the adviser, comments made, actions taken, and any referrals are recorded in EARS for each student. As students move to a major or to a different campus, their electronic advising file becomes available to their new adviser.


Students may seek waivers, exceptions, or substitutions to university policies, college policies, or degree requirements. Such requests must be done online through the e-Petition portal.

In general, anything that requires a dean's signature for College of Engineering undergraduates (with the exception of the diploma) means the signature of the Assistant Dean for Academic Support and Global Programs.

Requests for waivers, substitutions, and exceptions to requirements that are specific to a major are handled within each department and do not need dean's approval. Departmental faculty members need to become informed of their own departmental process in handling such requests.

Requests that involve General Education requirements begin in a department. Students must first obtain their adviser's signature and then their departmental signature. The forms are then forwarded to the Assistant Dean for the dean's approval and signature. Adjustments and notations are made in students' Degree Audits to reflect approved requests.

All requests for waivers and exceptions to University Faculty Senate Policies must be routed through the Office of the Assistant Dean. Departments, however, may wish to review the petitions to the Faculty Senate from their own students before forwarding them to the Assistant Dean. The Faculty Senate will not accept petitions directly from students—only from the Dean's Office. Examples of such petitions are requests for: retroactive late drop of a course, increase in the number of late drop credits to more than 16, retroactive late add of a course or courses, grade change after one year, and retroactive withdrawal. Approved requests are implemented by the Registrar's Office.

New Student Orientation

All first-year students who accept an offer of admission to Penn State must participate in New Student Orientation (NSO), which consists of taking an online placement tests and attending an on-campus program the summer before the semester of admission.

The College of Engineering portion of NSO at UP is divided into two parts. The first part is an information session for the students and their parents in which critical information about advising and entrance-to-major processes is emphasized. Information is also provided about how students are expected to meet the general education requirements and about College programs. Academic standards and the time that students are expected to spend in out-of-class preparation (homework) are also discussed.

In the second part, after the information session, the students are divided among faculty advisers. Each faculty member works with individual students in his/her group to identify the courses that the student is required to take and to determine the electives that should be scheduled for the first semester. In giving advice to a student about the courses to schedule, each faculty member takes into account the following information:

  • The results of the placement tests
  • AP or transfer credits
  • The student's current major of interest
  • The availability of elective classes

Based on the advice provided by the faculty member, students are shown how to find and register for classes using eLionregister for their first-semester courses using eLion.

Transfer Students

With few exceptions, transfer students (those who have earned at least 18 credits at another institution after graduating from high school) who are admitted to ENGR status, begin at a Commonwealth Campus. They are assigned to a faculty adviser in the same manner as other engineering. It is the responsibility of the admitting campus to provide the students with relevant information, help with scheduling and assign an adviser. It is expected that transfer students consult with the College Representative to ensure that their academic needs are met.

Students who are admitted directly to a major as part of a dual-degree program or as regular transfer students are referred to the department of their major. Each department contacts its students, provides information about its program, and assigns an adviser. Students are urged to meet with or contact their adviser at their earliest convenience to discuss the usefulness and applicability of transfer credits to their Penn State degree requirements and for help in scheduling the courses they need for their first semester of attendance at University Park.

Change-of-Campus Students

Students who begin their Penn State education at one campus are referred to as "change-of-campus" students when they move to another campus to complete their degree requirements. It is not possible to determine a student's campus during the first two years just by looking at a transcript. The course names and numbers that meet degree requirements for all College of Engineering majors are the same at all campuses.

Normally, students in ENGR who begin at a Commonwealth Campus change to University Park for the fall semester of their third year, after they have been formally admitted to their major. Students at Commonwealth Campuses who have completed the appropriate courses and are heading toward biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, or computer science and engineering are expected to move to University Park for the spring semester of their second year. Students who have been admitted to architectural engineering status for their second year must move to University Park for the fall semester of their second year.

Training and Support

Prior to the beginning of each semester, the Assistant Dean, DUS Programs Coordinator, and the Engineering Undergraduate Advisers provide training for faculty advisers assigned to the Engineering Advising Center (EAC). The faculty advisers are encouraged to consult the EAC staff at any time for any information or help. Similar training and encouragement is given to NSO advisers prior to the start of the advising and scheduling sessions. In addition, advising issues and procedures are discussed with new faculty, as needed.

Prior to the beginning of each fall semester, all commonwealth campus engineering faculty who work with pre-major (ENGR) students are invited to a meeting at University Park. Information about changes, requirements, problems, resources, etc. is conveyed and discussion is encouraged. A similar meeting of all departmental undergraduate coordinators and their staff assistants is also held every fall semester.

All who advise ENGR students and all College Representatives are informed about curricular changes by mail, email, notices, publications, and/or meetings. The College of Engineering has established a weekly email newsletter, called E-News, that is distributed to all undergraduate students at all campuses, College Representatives, the Dean's Office, and departments during the fall and spring semesters. E-News provides timely reminders about required actions and information considered relevant for undergraduates. Since students are held responsible for the information disseminated through E-News, they cannot get off the mailing list unless they leave the College. Students can always contact an adviser by sending email to Advisers in the Engineering Advising Center regularly read the messages sent to this address and every attempt is made to respond within one working day. Faculty may also receive advising information through the Faculty Electronic Newsletter.

The College of Engineering DUS Programs Coordinator disseminates information about curricular changes and degree requirements to all DUS advisers and DUS College Coordinators throughout the University. E-News is also forwarded to the DUS staff so that they may be able to keep any DUS students who are interested in a College of Engineering major informed of relevant curricular and non-curricular issues.

Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS)

DUS is part of the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Education and is the administrative unit responsible for exploratory students. Entering first-year students may be admitted directly to DUS, but students transferring from other institutions may not. Students may also change to DUS from any college. However, students may spend no more than four semesters in DUS. Upper division students may spend up to two semesters in DUS while they transition from one program to another.

DUS advisers, located in Grange Building at UP, work with students to help them identify an appropriate college and major. Students may be admitted to a College of Engineering major directly from DUS during the entrance-to-major process, even to majors that are under enrollment control.

Most colleges at UP and all commonwealth campuses have a DUS coordinator. The DUS college coordinators at UP are employees of DUS, unless special college duties are added to their job description. DUS coordinators work with students from their college who seek information about programs in other parts of the university and with DUS students who are interested in changing to the college. DUS coordinators are responsible for informing their college of academic programs and changes in other colleges, and vice versa. They provide information and are a very useful and important referral network throughout the university, at all campuses.

The DUS coordinator in the College of Engineering takes the lead in organizing the college sessions of NSO at UP.