Frequently Asked Questions | College of Information Sciences and Technology
Close Open

Please Update Your Browser.

It is recommended that you update your browser to the latest version to view the website's full experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

You are here

First-semester baccalaureate students with a major goal of ISTBS, SRA, Data Science Applied and CYAOP are admitted to the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) in the INFST pre-major. They are eligible to apply for entrance to our majors once they meet the entry criteria through Update Academics in LionPATH.

Specific requirements can be found under each major: ISTBS, SRA, DATSC, CYAOP

Students wishing to declare a minor must use UPDATE ACADEMICS through LionPATH. Intent to pursue a minor may be declared after the student has achieved at least third semester classification (29.1 credits) or has been accepted into his/her major, but prior to the end of the late drop deadline of the student's final semester. If students no longer wish to complete a minor they declared they need to use Update Academics to remove the minor from their student record.

Within the ISTBS major there are three options. Each option offers specific skills and areas of knowledge in the information technology field.  Information regarding the options and course requirements can be found here.

Within the SRA major there are two options.  The SRA major is based on an interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates areas of study in information assurance (both digital and physical security), intelligence analysis, and cyber forensics. Information regarding the options and course requirements can be found here.

The DATSC degree program is part of an intercollege initiative between the College of Information Sciences and Technology, College of Engineering and Eberly College of Science. Students will gain a breadth of knowledge through common core classes, as well as depth in one of the three options. Students will choose among options focused on application, computation and science. More information about the options and course requirements can be found here. Another good reference site for information on the DATSC major is

The College of IST requires all students to be proficient to the 12th credit level in one language. Courses taken in high school can be used to place you in the appropriate level of study if you choose to continue with the same language, or you can begin a new language.  High school courses DO NOT satisfy the graduation requirement for the IST or SRA majors, but assist in the placement of where to begin your college level of study. Please read the policy on World Language placement. There is no World Language requirement for the DATSC major.

Course prerequisites provide the necessary knowledge base to succeed in the next course. These are approved by faculty and Faculty Seante. LionPATH does enforce prerequisites for all IST courses, students will be unable to schedule a course is the prerequisite is not met or scheduled prior to the semester of enrollment. Note- students that have fulfilled a requirement with a course substitution and/or general transfer credit could be blocked from enrollment and should work with their assigned academic adviser.

A students enrollment date is listed along the right column within the Student Center (LionPATH) under the heading of "Enrollment Dates." This is the first day you are eligible to enroll in courses for the corresponding semester.

An option is a specialization within a major. A student can only officially declare one option in a major. Courses in the other option(s) can be taken and can be acknowledged on a resume, for example.

Yes. Penn State has programs that vary in length from a summer to a full academic year in various parts of the world. Credit and grades for courses taken in international institutions with which Penn State has agreements may be used to meet degree requirements. Early planning is essential in determining that course work taken abroad will be appropriate to meet requirements in your degree program. See Global Programs for more information about studying abroad.

IST peer tutoring is typically available during the fall and spring semesters for first and second-year courses. Tutors will aid students in their learning by helping to clarify unclear concepts and by supporting students as they practice skills and apply new understandings. Tutors will not re-teach course material. Please see your instructor for specific times and location. In addition, the following link includes times, dates and locations,

Beginning Fall 2017 students are able to enroll in IST and SRA courses offered through World Campus (WC), Students cannot use LionPATH to enroll in WC IST/SRA courses offered Fall or Spring semesters. Students need to contact the WC Registrar's Office seven (7) days before the semester begins, or call 1-800-252-3592, to enroll in course(s). All listed enrollment requirements must be met and pre-requisites scheduled or completed and there must be space available. Please note: if a substitution has been approved for a pre-requisite course, students will need to take additional action and work with their assigned IST Adviser to verify the substitution and send an approval to WC Registrar.

In LionPATH, if a course is full and a Wait List is available, a student can choose to be automatically added to the class if a seat opens (tutorial: Wait List Frequently Asked Questions). Note: Be sure to uncheck Show Open Classes Only in order to see full sections, including those with Wait List availablity.  Even if you are on the Course Wait List continue to use Search for Classes to monitor seat availability. Not all courses have Wait List as an option.

To schedule more than 19 credits, a student must add the overload credits during the drop/add period.  No additional tuition is charged.  Consultation with your adviser is suggested but not required.

Select 4 credits of a lab/lecture series in Natural Science (GN).  For instance, MICRB 106 (3cr) and MICRB 107 (1cr) are appropriate. Although some GN courses have a lab component, not all meet the 4cr lab/lecture requirement. Students can refer to their SRA major Academic Requirement (audit) or What if Report in LionPATH to see the list of courses that can be taken to satisfy the GN with lab, 4 credit requirement. 

The Link for applying for graduation is located on the My Academics page of the Student Center. Refer to the Intent to Graduate-Activation Period of the University's Academic Calendar to determine the dates when you can apply for graduation. The graduation activation period for a semester typically begins a week before the beginning of classes and continues for two weeks into the semester.

Note: If you are an undergraduate student in concurrent majors, you must apply for graduation in each major separately.  If you meet the requirements of one major and wish to graduate only in that major, you must remove your concurrent major before applying to graduate.

You can be approved to “walk” in the spring ceremony if you are within no more than 2 courses or 8 credits from meeting all graduation requirements and are registered to complete these credits the following semester. See your academic adviser for further discussion.

The drop and add period begins on the first day of class. For full-semester courses, the drop period is the first six calendar days of a semester. The add period extends one calendar day after the end of the drop period. The dates for the drop and add periods are listed on the Academic Calendar.

Dropping a Course During Regular Drop Period
The period of time at the start of each course when dropping a course can be made without receiving a $6 drop/add fee. Dropping a course during this time means that:

  • Length of drop period is 6 calendar days during fall/spring for full-semester courses and is a calculated proportional length for all other courses.
  • No signature(s) required.
  • No fee
Late Dropping a Course
Dropping a course after the regular drop period and before the late drop deadline, (policy 34-89). A student can drop a course with certain restrictions and requirements. They are:
  • No signature(s) required
  • $6.00 fee for each transaction
  • Courses are recorded on the student record

Please refer to the tutorials on the LionPATH help page for directions on dropping courses.

The Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement should be your first resource for all of your career questions including but not limited to:


They are located in the Westgate building on the first floor near the academic advising offices.  In addition to providing one-to-one career coaching,  they coordinate many career events and opportunities to connect with companies who are seeking to hire IST students in a variety of roles.  All students are encouraged to meet with a career coach in their first or second semester within IST.


Penn State’s Career Services in the Bank of America building is an additional resource for IST students.  They also provide similar services and a variety of workshops for students.

When a course has been repeated, all of the credits and grades earned are included when calculating your cumulative grade-point average. However, the course credits counts only once towards total earned credits.

All CAS 100 courses will satisfy the GWS requirement.  CAS 100A has an emphasis on public speaking and presentations. CAS 100B focuses on group problem solving and group presentations. CAS 100C involves message evaluation and analysis.  You may want to consider taking CAS 100B due to the group presentation skills needed in IST/SRA courses.

ENGL 202C (Technical Writing) or ENGL 202D (Business Writing) is required for students in the College of IST.  Which course you select should be based on personal preference or determined by the type of work environment you see yourself pursuing when you graduate.

Yes, you can take summer courses at any Penn State campus or at many other colleges and universities.  Coursework from another institution will transfer either as a specific Penn State course (e.g., ECON 102) or as general credits in a subject area (e.g., Econ – 3 GEN credits). If appropriate, general credits may be used to fulfill degree requirements and may be applied to the program of study in accordance with the policies established by the college of enrollment.

It is always good to check the equivalency BEFORE taking the course and know how the course will be used in your degree program.  Be sure to use the Transfer Evaluation Tool to find equivalent courses (remember General Credits do not equal the direct equivalent for a course) or talk with your adviser to learn more about having a course evaluated for equivalency. You need to earn a C or better for the course to be eligible for transfer, but the grade is not calculated as part of your Penn State gpa.  In other words, the credits transfer but not your grade.

Visit Transfer Credit: Penn State University Undergraduate Admissions for further information.

A course that fulfills the General Education International Cultures (IL) requirement will be accepted as satisfying 3cr of the ISTBS Foreign Culture requirement. When searcing for classes in LionPATH, use the Additional Search Criteria function to narrow the choices of all IL courses offered for that semester. A Foreign Culture course cannot double count with any other general education requirement.

Any IL course can be used to meet the SRA International Course requirement. When searching for courses in LionPATH, use the Additional Search Criteria function to narrow the choices of all IL courses offered for that semester. Six (6) credits of International courses is required for students in the SRA major and is separate from the United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) General Education requirement for all Penn State students. A course that fulfills the General Education International Cultures requirement will be accepted as satisfying 3 credits of the SRA International Courses requirement. Three (3) credits of International courses that are also designated as GH can be in used General Education-Humanities.

Please note: Courses taken to satisfy the SRA major requirement for GEOG/PL SC (GEOG 40 or PL SC 014) cannot be used to satisfy the International Course requirement.

Support of Option selections are meant to help you acquire knowledge of an application domain (i.e., the environment in which you eventually hope to work) and to help you develop supplemental knowledge and competencies related to your option. Students in the Design and Development (ISDEV) option are required to take 9 credits in this area, and students in the other two options Integration and Application (ITINT) and People, Organizations, and Society (ISPP) are required to complete 12 credits of Support of Option coursework. No  more than 6 credits can be at the 100-200 level. Three credits (3 cr) or more must be at the 400 level. Depending on your option, you may take 9-12 credits of IST or SRA coursework to meet this requirement. An overview of this requirement can be found here.

Supporting Courses are meant to supplement knowledge in the areas of study in information assurance, intelligence analysis, and cyber forensics.  These courses recognize the unique interdisciplinary training needed to prepare SRA majors for careers in analysis and assurance within these critical infrastructures. 9 credits are required to fulfill the requirement and each option has a different listing. No more than 6 credits can be at the 100-200 level. Three credits (3 cr) or more must be at the 400 level. Not all courses are offered every semester. Check LionPATH using the Search for Classes tab to determine the availability of specific courses. Some courses have prerequisites so please plan accordingly.

Students can use Update Academics to change, add, or remove majors, options, minors and certificates.

To move into the pre-major, INFST, in The College of IST students need ½ unit of trigonometry or completion of Math 22 at the college level and a 2.0 cumulative GPA.

To move into a major in The College of IST students must be at least 3rd semester classification, earned a C or better in all Entrance to Major courses and a 2.0 cumulative GPA. The ½ unit of trigonometry at the high school level or completion of MATH 22 at the college level also needs to be satisfied.

Changes that are approved during the drop/add period of a term will be approved effective for that current term. Changes that are approved after the drop/add period of a term will be effective for the upcoming term and will be visible in the Student Center at the beginning of that term.

Please refer to the tutorials on the LionPATH help page on using Update Academics.

A What-if Report is used to request an Advisement Report for a plan other than the one(s) in which you are currently enrolled. Students would run a What-if Report for their intended major(s)/option(s).

Please refer to the tutorials on the LionPATH help page for directions on running a What-if Report and Interpreting a Degree Audit.

Sometimes courses can cover more than one requirement and adjustments to your degree audit are needed to correctly reflect how you intended them to be used. Contact your academic adviser.

The Class Details page contains the meeting and enrollment information, class availability, course description, textbook information and additional details including if a course is targeted for a populations (majors, minors, etc.). The Enrollment Information can vary between sections of the same course.

The Academic Requirements (LionPATH degree audit) and What-if Report indicates which courses/requirements are designated as “C or higher required”.

Please refer to the tutorials on the LionPATH help page for tutorial on running a degree audit.

Please be mindful of your academic plan requirement for ROTC, and the time it will take to complete the plan with your adviser. If you need to have your adviser review and sign your academic plan you must send a copy of any forms to your adviser prior to your appointment.  Please be aware that review and approval could take several days so plan accordingly. Having the plans prior to the meeting will allow your adviser time to make comments and provide feedback ahead of the scheduled meeting. ROTC forms cannot be dropped off for signatures.

You should first meet with the instructor to discuss the grade.  If a disagreement about a grade cannot be resolved with the instructor, you may follow the Grade Mediation and Adjudication process.

Students can cancel and/or reschedule IST advising appointments through Starfish. NOTE: if you are feeling ill, as a courtesy to your adviser and other staff members, please reschedule your appointment.

Directions for canceling appointment in Starfish - Click the “x” in the upper right of the appointment block on your Dashboard.
If you do need to cancel, please do so well in advance and give the adviser some reasons why the appointment is being canceled.

A student cannot attempt a course more than three times without the permission of the appropriate dean in their unit of enrollment. (It is important to note that it is the academic official of the student's unit of enrollment; not the unit offering the class.) Under no circumstances will approval be given for more than four attempts. Attempts are tracked in LionPATH; students will be denied enrollment after a third attempt in a given course.

Attempts include all courses on a student's transcript (including courses attempted prior to fall 2016) with a letter grade or a symbol indicating satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading (SA/UN) or (LD, WN, WP, or WF).

Attempts also include courses offered by more than one department that are designated as combined section (cross-listed). For example, if a student attempted CAMS 5 and then attempted HIST 5, it would be considered a course repeat because this is a "combined section course."

Attempts will also include sections of a course differentiated by suffix: for example, attempting CAS 100A and CAS 100B would be two attempts.

Please refer to policy C-7: Course Repeats in excess of three attempts. Student needs to complete and submit the Additional Course Attempt Request form, found within the policy link, to an academic adviser when requesting a fourth attempt.

Advising Resources


Undergraduate Advising Center

E103 Westgate Building
(814) 865-8947

Twitter Facebook

Schedule an appointment