59-00 Minors and Certificates
Minors and certificates are available to help Penn State students showcase their various interests, abilities, specializations, intellectual curiosity, and skills. Both minors and certificates are course-based and indicated on a transcript. Minors are more robust; like majors, a minor requires advanced 400 level course work and may only be earned by degree candidates. A certificate is typically a smaller number of credits than a minor and may be available to non-degree seeking students. Certificates should not be confused with professional certification or licensure.
Initial Legislation: 3/15/16 (Formerly Requirements for the Minor only)
59-10 Requirements for the Minor
Revisions to this policy were approved at the April 25, 2017 Senate meeting. To view revisions, see the legislative report.
A minor is an academic program of at least 18 credits. A minor program may consist of course work in a single area or from several disciplines, but must include at least six credits at the 400-level. Total requirements for a minor are to be specified and generally limited to 18 to 21 credits. All courses for a minor must be completed with a grade of ‘C’ or above. At least six (6) credits of the minor must be completed in courses offered by the University or in cooperative degree programs that have been established by formal agreement and approved by the University Faculty Senate. At least six (6) credits of the minor must be unique from any other degree or minor earned by the student.
Some minors are generally intended to add breadth to the student’s academic experience and often will have minimal prerequisite preparation required to begin the minor. Other minors are intended to add depth or specialization to the student’s major. Therefore, entrance to some minors may require the completion of a number of prerequisites including courses, portfolios, auditions, or other forms of documentation that are not included in the total requirements for the minor. Any prerequisites necessary to complete minor requirements must be clearly detailed in the minor description.
Requirements for a minor may be completed at any campus location offering the specified courses for the minor. Students may not change from a campus that offers their major to a campus that does not offer their major for the purpose of completing a minor.
Minors should be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs every five (5) years for enrollment and currency.
Initial Legislation: 4/26/88 (as 59-00)
Revised: 12/3/02 (as 59-00)
Revised: 10/19/10 (as 59-00)
Revised: 3/15/16 – Effective Fall 2016 (previously Policy Number 59-00) – Archive
Revised: 4/19/16 – Effective Fall 2016 – Archive
59-20 Requirements for Certificates
Certificates can reflect emerging academic areas, necessary professional development requirements, or groups of courses that do not constitute a degree program. A certificate is intended to foster incremental or targeted development in an area of specialty or competency within a discipline or field of study. Certificates are earned either in conjunction with a major or independently of associate or baccalaureate degrees, so they may be suitable for both degree-candidates and non-degree candidates.
Certificates are designed by academic units to accommodate the parameters of the discipline or field of study as well as the specific educational needs of the intended students. A certificate consists of a group of courses, typically 9-15 credits, developed, supervised, and evaluated by the offering academic unit(s). At least two-thirds (2/3) of the credits used to complete a certificate must be earned at Penn State. In exceptional circumstances, a certificate may have fewer than 9 credits or more than 15 credits, provided adequate justification is given to explain why. Certificates should be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs every 5 years for enrollment and currency.
Initial Legislation: 3/15/16 – Effective Fall 2016