International Student Information

Information for international students admitted to the Penn State Smeal MOL Program.

University Office of Global Programs

The University Office of Global Programs' key focus is on internationals coming to Penn State, study abroad students going from Penn State, and building strategic partnerships.

Prospective International Students can contact Pre-Arrival Advising at:
Telephone: 814-865-6348

Directorate of International Student and Scholars Advising (DISSA)

DISSA staff provides advice, information and referrals on matters related to international students. DISSA issues I-20s for F-1 visas or DS-2019s for J-1 visas to most students.  However, they also provide information and services to international students who will study at Penn State in other visa / immigration categories. Pre-Arrival Advising is the source for questions and/or guidance for all new or prospective international students as they navigate the pre-arrival steps required to enroll at Penn State.

I-20/DS-2019 Process & Visa Application

Once admitted into the program, please begin the visa process as soon as possible.  Please visit the webpage Before Your Arrive from Global Program's website for further information on how to obtain your I-20 or DS-2019.  Please then visit this webpage for specific information regarding your visa application, Visa Application & Sevis Fee Instructions.

What to Pack

  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Medical history records, immunizations, prescriptions, etc. for yourself and accompanying dependents
  • At least two business suits
  • Clothing for a variety of weather conditions throughout the year - view our What to Wear section for an idea on what types of clothing to pack.
  • Most students begin their search for housing as soon as possible after admittance into the program.  For more information on local housing options, please see Housing Information.
  • Please note that in most cases, international students need to provide a copy of their I-20 or DS-2019 to secure housing.
  • Temporary housing is often available to international students in August before classes begin.  It typically begins August 1 and goes until mid August, but the dates vary every year.  Please check Global Programs' Orientation website for periodic updates and date confirmations.  This information will also be sent to you via email from their office.
  • For help understanding the housing and renting process here in State College, please check out the resources available on the PSU Student Affairs webpage Off-Campus Housing Resources.  This provides very detailed and thorough information to help you navigate the housing process.


New international students should attend the University Office of Global Program's International Student Orientation for graduate students, which typically takes place the second week of August.  For more information, please visit their website here.

Driver's License Information

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa must provide the information mentioned on the Penn State Global Programs page in order to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's License through the PA Department of Transportation. If you are not eligible for a Pennsylvania Driver's License, you can drive for up to one year if you have a valid foreign driver's license and an international driving permit. View this site to find out where in your country to obtain an International Driver’s Permit.  Please be aware that preparing a PA Driver's License may take some time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on factors such as preparation of paperwork, studying for the exam, paying fees, etc.  Be familiar with the process and plan accordingly, especially should you need your license by a certain date.

Documents for Students on Provisional 2 Status

You may have received notification from either the Graduate School or the MOL Admissions Office that you are currently on a Provisional 2 status until the Graduate School receives official confirmation of your baccalaureate degree or post-secondary degree. While you have submitted your transcripts during the application process, it may not meet the specific requirements of the Graduate School.

If you are on Provisional 2 status, as you are preparing to arrive, please remember to bring one of the following:

  • An official transcript showing the degree awarded and the date of its conferral (this must be a specific date with a month, day, and year)
  • Your original diploma

Health Insurance Requirements

All Penn State international students are required to have health insurance.  You can purchase Penn State's health insurance plan, or purchase another plan that meets the waiver requirements.  If you have a fellowship, this automatically covers enrollment in Penn State's health insurance plan.  For more information, please visit the Penn State University's Health Service webpage on health insurance.

Immunization Requirements

Certain immunizations are required for incoming Penn State students.  Please be aware that students must submit their immunization requirements via web.  More information about this process can be found on Penn State University's Health Services Immunization website.

Additional Resources