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Programs and Curriculum Policies

GCAC-210 Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree Programs

Purpose: to define integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) degree programs and describes procedures and guidelines for establishing an IUG program.

Academic Goal: to define the benefits of and procedures for creating an integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) degree program. including the creation of program-specific guidelines.

Scope: all graduate programs.



Integrated undergraduate-graduate degrees programs offer select students the opportunity to seamlessly complete a baccalaureate and master’s degree through an integrated program of study. For appropriate students, an IUG offers the opportunity to complete advanced studies before initiating their career at reduced cost and in less time than sequential bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Policy Statement

  1. An integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) degree program combines a Penn State baccalaureate degree with a master's degree as a continuous program of study, and provides several advantages for qualifying students:
    1. It permits coherent planning of studies through the master's degree, with advising informed by not only the requirements of the baccalaureate program, but also the longer-range goals of the master's degree.
    2. For most students, the total time required to reach completion of the master's degree will be shortened versus the total time if each degree were completed separately.
    3. The student will have earlier contact with the rigors of graduate study and with graduate faculty.
    4. The resources of the Graduate School are accessible to these students.
    5. While still undergraduates, students with IUG status benefit from their association with graduate students whose level of work and whose intensity of interest and commitment parallel their own.


In framing these guidelines, Graduate Council and its Committee on Programs and Courses wish to emphasize that participation in newly established and continuing IUG programs is appropriate for some, but not all, students who formally meet the minimum standards for admission to such a program. In particular, minimal performance in the master's degree portion of an IUG program serves no purpose, and marginally prepared students undertake such a program at great risk of failure.

Integrated undergraduate-graduate degree programs should therefore address very clearly, in their program-specific guidelines, the issues of admission and appropriateness of the program to individual students. The selectivity of IUG programs is reflected in the small proportion of students who enroll each year in an IUG program (for example, less than 3 percent of those undergraduate students enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College, a population of students who are already highly selected, pursue an IUG).

Integrated undergraduate-graduate degree programs also should be specific about the mechanisms for evaluating students for admission and for monitoring and mentoring their progress in the program. Although there are many advantages to IUG programs, care must be taken to properly develop and coordinate the plans of students to ensure proper admissions procedures, an adequate level of rigor, efficient sequencing of courses, and expedient completion of the integrated program of study.

Proposals to create IUG degree programs should include a draft version of a student handbook that will provide guidance for prospective students. Note that creation of an IUG degree program requires a program change proposal for the graduate degree program to be submitted for review/approval through the Graduate Council curricular review process. A similar (but not identical) program change proposal for the undergraduate degree program must be submitted for review/approval by the Faculty Senate (questions about how to develop an undergraduate degree program change proposal should be directed to the Faculty Senate). The graduate program change proposal should not contain undergraduate-specific information (signatures of undergraduate education administrators or Undergraduate Bulletin description, for example).

Each point below should be addressed in the graduate program change proposal and in the program's student handbook. Any other points relevant to a specific IUG program should also be addressed.

  • Time of admission to the program: Students shall be admitted to an IUG program no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree, as specified in the proposed IUG plan of study.
  • Graduate admission: Students must apply to and meet admission requirements of the Graduate School, as well as the graduate program in which they intend to receive their master's degree.
  • Plan of study: In consultation with an adviser, students must prepare a plan of study appropriate to the integrated program in which they intend to participate. The plan should cover the entire time period of the integrated program, and it should be reviewed periodically with an adviser.
  • Advising: Students must present their plan of study in person to the head of the graduate program or the appropriate committee overseeing the integrated program prior to being admitted to the program.
  • Sequence of courses: Students should be advised to fulfill basic undergraduate requirements first so that if, for some reason, they cannot continue in the integrated program they will be able to receive their undergraduate degree without a significant loss of time.
  • Reduced course load: As many as 12 of the credits required for the master's degree may be applied to both undergraduate and graduate degree program requirements. A minimum of 50 percent of the courses proposed to count for both degrees must be at the 500 or 800 level. The graduate thesis or other graduate culminating/capstone experience (including any associated credits and/or deliverables) may not be double counted towards any other degree. If the thesis or culminating/capstone experience is recognized as meeting requirements for the undergraduate degree, it will not be recognized and cannot be used to meet requirements for the graduate degree.

Revision History

Approved by Graduate Council May 8, 1996
Revised by Graduate Council December 12, 2012

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