Frequently Asked Questions

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The MPS-RESS Program

How do I apply to the MPS-RESS degree program?

You can apply for the RESS degree program by following the instructions on the application instruction page for Penn State Online/World Campus.

How hard is it to get into the MPS-RESS degree program?

The RESS is a competitive, world class graduate program.  While we do not set a percentage for admission, only those students who meet the university's requirements for graduate study will be considered.

Can I re-apply to the MPS-RESS Program if my application isn't accepted?

You can re-apply to the RESS Program with your original application within three years of applying the first time. You need to let us know in writing if you want to have your application reconsidered. New material can be submitted (emailed or mailed) and we will update the original application. Please contact us at if you want to re-apply.

Can an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score be used instead of the TOEFL in my application?

Applicants who have taken the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) instead of the TOEFL may request that the TOEFL requirement be waived. Waiver requests should include the applicant's IELTS score.

Can the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) be waived?

GRE scores are currently not required for MPS RESS application.

Technology Requirements

What is an Access Account?

Penn State Access Accounts are unique identification code and password combinations that enable you to connect to Penn State computer systems and online courses. Included with your Access Account, you will receive:

  • User ID
  • E-mail Services
  • 500 MB of electronic storage space (PASS) - *Limit may be increased
  • Personal web space
  • Listing in Penn State Directory Services

An information technology (IT) fee, which will provide you with a Penn State Access Account, is assessed when you register for a course in the program. 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

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 you will need to complete an "Access Account Authorization and Acceptance Statement" form. That document is available electronically in PDF format - see

Your Penn State Access Account is charged each semester based upon your total number of credits. See the Tuition Table for more information.

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

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.

How do I have my Penn State email forwarded to an external email address?

Please note that Penn State will use your Penn State email account (i.e., to keep in touch with you. To have mail forwarded from your Penn State account to another mail server, please visit

Costs and Finances

Is financial aid available?

World Campus makes many options available to help you pay for your education. Full- and half-time degree-seeking students are eligible for federal student aid. For more information, please visit the World Campus Financial Aid page.

What do these courses cost?

Costs to enroll in online RESS courses include charges for tuition and an information technology fee payable each semester. Some courses require that you purchase textbooks and related instructional materials. These items are not included in tuition, but must be purchased separately.

Do I need to pay the information technology fee?

The information technology fee is currently included in tuition. There is no longer a separate charge for information technology for each semester.

Does Penn State offer payment plans?

Yes! See payment plan options.

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
Phone: 800-252-3592
Fax: 814-865-3290

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?

If your company or another third party is paying your tuition and fees, you will still need to take action to complete your registration. Submit the required documentation and then confirm the payment in eLion. You need to provide an official Authorization to Bill or voucher from your company, or a Tuition Assistance Form from the military, to the Bursar Office. It may take approximately one week to process this form, so you should be sure to submit it in time to be processed by the due date on your bill. The staff will adjust your tuition to show expected payment, and the company will be billed. Once the expected payment is reflected in your account, you will be able to pay any remaining tuition or fees not covered by the authorization and complete your registration. See our instructions on how to proceed if a third party is covering the costs of your education for more information.

Taking Courses

Are additional materials required for completing my course? If so, how do I obtain them?

Some courses require that you purchase textbooks and related instructional materials. These items are not included in tuition, but must be purchased separately.  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.) Many courses have online texts that do not need to be purchased. Some of those texts are part of our Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative, which means that they can reviewed at any time, free of charge.

Course textbooks can be purchased from MBS Direct, an online bookstore located in Columbia, Missouri. Textbooks may be available from other vendors as well, but if you purchase your materials from a source other than MBS Direct, please check carefully prior to your purchase to ascertain that you are obtaining the exact edition and ISBN number of the text required for successful course completion.

A side-benefit of being a PSU student, you can purchase a wide range of computer hardware and software products at educational prices from Penn State's Computer Store.

Approximately how much time should I plan to spend per week per class?

Students are expected to devote approximately eight to twelve hours of effort per week per class.

Do I have to complete each course within a certain amount of time?

Yes, as with traditional classroom-based courses, RESS courses have specific start and end dates, and assignments must be completed at certain times.

Penn State Policies and Procedures

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.

Do these courses appear as distance education courses on my transcript?

No distinction is made on your official Penn State transcript that your courses were completed online. 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 a Course." Please also see the Tuition Adjustment Schedule.

What happens if I need to take time off from my studies?

If a student takes a term off, a "Resume Study/Change of Degree or Major" form must be completed registering for subsequent courses. Please write "Rush" at the top of the Resume Study Form and after you fax it to the Graduate School, please notifiy Program Assistant Noelle Capparelle so she can update your status in the graduate database.

Penn State graduate students, including RESS 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 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 deferral period 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." Your instructor will give you the dates of the deferral period.

What do I do if I have a question that isn't answered in this FAQ?

Contact us at for any additional questions you may have. If your question is about the content of the course, you should contact your course instructor. 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