Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions that we repeatedly receive. Select from the listed topic categories. If you have specific questions not addressed here, please contact the Graduate Program in Acoustics Distance Education office at 814-863-6078 or the Graduate Program in Acoustics Program office at 814-865-6364.

Applications and Admission Requirements

How do I apply?

There are two ways to apply to the Graduate School to take classes. The first is as a non-degree applicant. Non-degree applicants are not registered in a degree program and can complete up to 15 credits that may be, with the department approval, transferred into a degree program. The other is to apply as a degree applicant. The forms can be found on the Graduate School web site. If applying for nondegree status, when the form requests the degree and program, the answers are “nondegree graduate” and “none” respectively. The choice of campus will be “University Park.”

Do I need to take the GRE?

Optional submission of GRE scores. GRE scores are neither required nor expected for admission to the Acoustics Program. If submitted, scores will be reviewed as additional information. School code for Penn State is: 2660. See the FAQ regarding test scores.

What is the department code for use when I take the GRE?

Use 2660, the institution code for Penn State. Centralized data keeping will permit us to access the scores.

Can I mail my letters of recommendation with my application?

No. Two (2) letters of reference from people who are in a position to comment on the candidate’s education and/or abilities are to be uploaded by the author to the Graduate School admissions portal.

Course Registration

How do I register for a course?

Registration material must be submitted electronically through LionPATH. You will receive a confirmation of registration. Registrations received two weeks prior to the start of class are assured of receiving timely receipt of URL and password information.

What is the deadline for course registration?

Course registration must be submitted by the day before the first class each semester. For questions about late registration, contact the Program office at 814-863-6078. To be certain of timely receipt of access information your registration should be submitted two weeks prior to the start of class.

I completed a class before then took a semester off and now I can’t register. What should I do?

Whether you are a degree or nondegree student, if you complete a course and do not enroll the following spring or fall semester, the University’s system blocks your next registration until you file a resume study form. You can find a resume study form at the Graduate School web site. To complete the resume study form, check the box in the top left corner and complete the personal information. If you are a nondegree student enter “nondegree” in the areas requesting present degree, present major, desired degree, and desired major. If you are a degree student, enter “M ENG” in present degree and desired degree, and “ACS” in present major and desired major (unless you are a degree student in another major at Penn State). Enter “UP (Distance Ed)” for choice of campus. Complete the section requesting undergraduate information, sign, date, and fax to the Graduate School at 814-863-4627 and to the Acoustics Program’s Distance Education program at 814-865-3119.

I had to defer completion of my last course and now I can not process my registration for this semester. What should I do?

A student has 9 weeks to complete a deferred course. You must complete your course before you can register for another. Completion of the course means the all homework, papers, and exams have been completed and submitted to the instructor. The instructor must inform the Acoustics Program that all submitted work is acceptable and complete before the student can proceed with a new course. A grade for the deferred course does not need to be assigned before a student enrolls in a new course.

Course Schedule

How do I know what courses are going to be offered?

Click here to see the schedule for the coming semester and a tentative schedule for the following semester. Actual offerings may change. If a course is under enrolled, a course may be cancelled.

I want to complete my course work next semester, but I have taken all of the courses that will be offered then. What can I do?

Depending on your situation, you may be able to schedule an individual studies course. This is not an independent study; an individual studies course requires the instructor and student to be constantly engaged, as in a regularly scheduled course. You may be able to complete a relevant course at a local University. You may request up to 10 credits of such work, earned at a semester based institution and having an earned grade of B or better, be transferred to your degree program. Grades do not transfer, so such courses will not impact your GPA. Requests for transfer are not automatic and do require documentation. For specifics about your own situation, contact the Program office at 814-863-6078.

I want to take a course this semester, but I know that I will need to travel for several weeks. What should I do?

You should contact the Acoustics Program distance education office at 814/863-6078. It would be helpful if you know the dates of your travel and the course(s) in which you want to register. Unless you are traveling to a spot that does not offer the required high speed connection, you should be able to stay up to date using the archived classes. If you will be in a location that does not have the required connection capabilities, you may want to speak directly with the course instructor to determine if this is an appropriate time to take the course. Usually, travel can be accommodated, occasionally accommodation is not possible. If you register for a course and fail to inform the instructor that the travel will or might happen, there is no way to determine if you will be able to continue the course. You would then be responsible for all costs of the course, yet might need to cancel your participation. Unfortunately, you might find yourself taking the same course at a later date and paying the full cost again. It is better to plan ahead.


How do I get help with course logistics, for example where does my homework go and how do I set up exams?

Most courses are assigned a grading assistant. Homework is submitted through the Penn State ANGEL website and exam information is specific to the instructor.

How do exams and homework work in your distance ed program?

Instructors assign homework and a due date. On or before the due date, you should have submitted your homework. Homework solutions may be posted or your homework may be returned to you by email. Each instructor will inform you at the start of each course of their requirements.

My time zone is 12 hours ahead of the one for Acoustics, how can I get the material in the live class without staying up all night?

Fortunately, students in substantially different time zones can access all of the lectures and course material by watching the archived classes and downloading course material from ANGEL. It is advisable to be in the live section of each class presentation, but alternative interaction and engagement is available. All live class sessions are recorded and archived for make-up and review. Archives are available until the final exam is completed. If you view the archives and can not be in the live sessions, you should be sure to have contact with the instructor and grader throughout the duration of the course. All deadlines for homework and exams are fixed per the instructor during the live class.

I must be at work during the scheduled live lectures, what can I do to get the material and complete the course?

See the time zone question and answer above.

Degree Requirements

How long do I have to complete the degree?

An Acoustics student has 8 years from the date of admission to complete the M.Eng degree. Occasionally, a student may have circumstances which prevent completion within the 8 year period. In such cases a student may petition the Program for an extension. The Program will consider approving a 12 month extension up to two times, for a total of 2 years. If a petition for time-to-degree period is approved by the Acoustics Program, a request for extension must be sent by the Head of the Program to the Graduate School. If the Graduate School approves the request, the student will be informed of the extension. Petitions for extension are not automatically approved by the Acoustics Program. Program requests for extension are not automatically granted by the Graduate School.

I already completed some of the required courses at another university, can I transfer those credits to my program?

Credits can not be used twice. If the credits were used to earn a previous degree, you can not use them toward an Acoustics degree. If the credits were not used toward a previous degree, it is possible to transfer them; however, the credits must first be approved by the Acoustics Program Head. The first step in approval process

I completed one of the core courses at my old school, can I get this requirement waived?

If you believe the two courses to be substantially the same in scope and material, you should write a letter, addressed to the Program Chair, Graduate Program in Acoustics, requesting a waiver of the specific course. Enclosed with the waiver request letter should be a copy of the course syllabus (this should be the syllabus from when you took the course, not the current syllabus), a copy of the course description in the university course catalog or bulletin (again dating from your enrollment), and an official transcript indicating the grade you earned. Please be aware that waiving a course does not waive an existing credit requirement. For example, a M. S. or M. Eng. student could be granted a waiver of ACS 597A, Fundamentals of Acoustics, but the 30 credits required to complete the degree would not be decreased. The student would need to complete additional course work.

Fee Payment

I am thinking of taking a course, but I am not sure if I will be able to get through it. What will it cost me to cancel my enrollment?

For a full semester course, cost adjustment is determined by the date your cancellation notice is received by the Acoustics Program distance education office. If cancellation is made during the first week of class, the adjustment will refund you 80% of the cost of the course. After the first week, a decrease of 10% for each week thereafter up to and including the eighth consecutive calendar week.

For a course scheduled eight weeks or less, if cancellation is made during the first week of class, the adjustment will refund you 80% of the cost of the course. After the first week, a decrease of 20% for each week thereafter up to and including the fifth consecutive calendar week.

Master’s Paper

When and how do I get an adviser?

You will probably not need an adviser until you are approaching the end or your course work and are beginning to think about writing the paper. By then you should have some knowledge of the Acoustics faculty and areas of research. Before completing you 24th credit, you should have a general idea of the topic area of the paper. Send a one page synopsis of your idea to the Acoustics Program Office. If you have already contacted a faculty member who has agreed to be your adviser send that name with the synopsis. If you have not obtained an adviser, the Program Office will assist you. Not all faculty are available to advise students. To make the most of your efforts, if you are not certain how to proceed, please contact the Program Office for assistance.

I think I know what a thesis requires, but I am lost thinking about the paper. What is it? What does it look like?

Various paper samples will be uploaded soon so that you can see what it should look like.

Can I get the paper bound locally and just mail you a copy?

No, binding must be done at Penn State Document Services, black with gold lettering. In the past students have used other binding services and the product did not meet Program expectations. You can learn more (cost, logistics, time schedules, contact information) about Document Services at Samples can be found following this link. Before submitting your paper to be bound, the Program strongly encourages you to confirm that the paper contains all required pages. Incomplete papers, bound or unbound, will not be accepted and will delay your graduation. The paper requirement is not completed until the Acoustics Program has received an acceptable version of the bound paper.

Technology Requirements and Assistance

I don’t have the hardware or software that is required. Can I substitute?

No, you can not substitute for any of the required hardware or software. These are specific requirements for participating in the lectures. If you do not have or can not obtain the necessary hardware and software, the Acoustics Program will not be able to accommodate your enrollment. Of course, these are minimum requirements, if your system specs are greater or faster there should be no problem.

How do I get technical help?

Acoustics Program technical assistance: Robert Williams,

Technical Questions during live class: 814-863-2449

Can I use a telephone modem to connect to the video streamed courses?

No, a telephone modem is inadequate. No exceptions can be made concerning the access speed required for student hardware.

Can I use the chat room to talk to other students when class is not in session?

No, the chat room is up only when the live class is being streamed.



Founded in 1965, Penn State's Graduate Program in Acoustics has become the leading resource for graduate education in acoustics in the United States. The interdisciplinary program leads to the degrees: Master of Engineering in Acoustics (M.Eng.), Master of Science in Acoustics (M.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy in Acoustics (Ph.D.)

Graduate Program in Acoustics

College of Engineering

The Pennsylvania State University

201 Applied Science Building

University Park, PA 16802