Become a Fellow

You are here: Home / Current Students / Undergraduate Students (old) / Paterno Fellows / Become a Fellow

How to Participate

There is no application.  Students simply decide to accept the Paterno Fellows challenge. If not already a Schreyer Scholar, a Liberal Arts student becomes an "Aspirant"--ie., a student who aspires to be a Paterno Fellow--by registering on the Paterno Fellows database, beginning to complete the Fellows requirements, and participating in PFP events. About two-thirds of Paterno Fellows begin as Aspirants. If a student is already a Schreyer Scholar with a major in the Liberal Arts, he or she simply registers on the Paterno Fellows database and begins to complete the Fellows requirements and to participate in PFP events.

The Paterno Fellows Aspirant

Liberal Arts students who decide to pursue the Paterno Fellows Program will be in Aspirant status until they satisfy entrance requirements as well as any requirements stipulated by their intended major department (below). The deadline for meeting these requirements is the end of the sophomore year. Therefore, the majority of Aspirants can expect to be Paterno Fellows and Schreyer Scholars during their junior and senior years. Students in majors that do not have additional requirements will be able to enter the Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College after their first year if they achieve a 3.5 grade point average.

In most cases, students register as Paterno Fellows Aspirants during their New Student Orientation (NSO) session. Students will indicate a preferred major at that time and will be assigned an academic adviser. Although Aspirants may change majors, their major at the time they are admitted as Paterno Fellows will be the major in which they earn honors and write their thesis. If they decide to opt out of the program altogether, they simply notify the . There is no penalty for discontinuing and nothing will show on the student’s record.

Benefits of the Paterno Fellows Program

The most significant benefit of the Paterno Fellows Program is the challenge it puts before students to undertake a rigorous and stimulating academic experience.

Transformative Academic Enrichment in the Liberal Arts

Paterno Fellows will graduate with strong academic credentials in at least two fields; develop ethical reasoning and leadership abilities; gain the ability to think critically, do independent research, and communicate effectively; and demonstrate global and intercultural sophistication. While all Liberal Arts students gain such an education at Penn State, Fellows pursue an education of exceptional ambition, depth, and distinction.

Financial Support for Enrichment Activities

Paterno Fellows receive financial support from the College of the Liberal Arts toward meeting their research, study abroad, and internship goals to build an impressive portfolio of experiences. These experiences prepare students for leadership, and alumni describe them as the most defining and unforgettable moments in their college careers. To apply, students fill out the Liberal Arts Enrichment Funds application

Participation in a Distinguished Academic Community

Every academic year offers a variety of events open to all Fellows and Aspirants, such as weekly lunch meetings, film screenings, artistic performances, seminars with visiting scholars, off-campus trips, and social events. Informal events take place throughout the academic year in the Liberal Arts Paterno Fellows Special Living Option.


All PFP students are assigned an academic adviser to ensure that they are meeting expectations in a timely way and to help identify departments, institutes, and other University programs that provide academic and co-curricular opportunities for students. Once a student has chosen a major and has been accepted as a Paterno Fellow, a faculty honors adviser will be assigned as well. All Fellows work with a faculty honors adviser to develop a thesis topic, conduct research, and complete the thesis project. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in the College of the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program.

Entrance Requirements 

Aspirants may be admitted to the Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College at one of three points:

After Two Semesters

  • Completion of at least 4 honors courses during the first year at University Park, including the Rhetoric and Civic Life sequence ENGL/CAS 137/138, for a minimum of 12 honors credits
  • Completion of any department requirements
  • A second semester GPA no lower than a 3.4, and a cumulative GPA of 3.5

After Three Semesters

  • Completion of 5 honors courses for a cumulative total of 15 honors credits, including ENGL/CAS 137/138
  • Completion of any department requirements
  • A third semester GPA no lower than a 3.4, and a cumulative GPA of 3.4

After Four Semesters

  • Completion of 7 honors courses for a cumulative total of 21 honors credits, including ENGL/CAS 137/138
  • Completion of any department requirements
  • A fourth semester GPA no lower than a 3.4, and a cumulative GPA of 3.4
Aspirants who have two consecutive semester GPAs below a 3.4, regardless of their cumulative GPA, will not be admitted into the Paterno Fellows Program.

Department Requirements

Only the departments listed below have additional entrance requirements. All other departments follow the PFP GPA and honors credit requirements.

MajorDepartment Requirements
Credits / Courses / Grades / Major GPA


Effective 4/13/18, Criminology no longer requires a 3.7 GPA in these courses.

Complete CRIM 012, CRIM 100, CRIM 250, and STAT 200.


Complete ECON 102, 104, 302, and 304 (or their honors counterparts) with an average GPA of at least 3.67 in these courses.

Political Science / International Politics / Social Data Analytics

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher.
  • Complete at least two of the following courses at Penn State with an A- or higher: PLSC 001, 003, 007, 010, 014, or 017. (Students may not use both PLSC 007 and 017 to fulfill this requirement.)
  • Complete PLSC 309 with a B+ or higher.


Complete PSYCH 100 (or a 5 on the AP exam), PSYCH 105, PSYCH 200 or STAT 200, and PSYCH 301W with a grade of A. Students who receive three As and one A- will still qualify if they have a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or higher.

Return to Top