Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to many of our frequently asked questions can be found below. If you have additional questions not covered here, please contact us.

Yes. The Academy's primary goal is to instill in its participants an appreciation for and mastery of critical thinking. That goal is not something that can be achieved over the course of a single year. The Presidential Leadership Academy program — the Presidential Seminar during the fall of each participant's sophomore year, the subsequent coursework in their junior and senior years, the annual field trips and experiences that will focus on social and political issues and the completion of a capstone project during the third and final year — will make your three-year commitment resonate over the course of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, no. As noted above, the Academy's leadership development principles are centered on cultivating and applying critical thinking skills. For participants to demonstrate a skilled aptitude for this leadership approach, it is the University's perspective that selecting students during their first year at Penn State and then aligning this program with each participant's sophomore, junior and senior years will maximize its impact.

Students must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher at the time of application to apply to the Academy. Once admitted, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 each semester to remain in the PLA.

Unfortunately, the Academy is only available to students who will be enrolled at University park at the start of their sophomore year. Key components to the PLA, namely the Presidential Seminar each fall and the various activities and events bringing public figures to campus to speak on current events throughout the year, can not be replicated across Penn State's 19 other undergraduate campuses.

While Penn State faculty and staff are encouraged to nominate students whom they believe would benefit from the Academy, a nomination is not required for a student to apply and be considered for selection into the program. Students who are interested in the program are encouraged to take the initiative and apply on their own.

Academy participants do not receive any special monetary awards from the University. However, the costs of the field experiences, which PLA participants are required to participate in annually, will be paid for through the program.

Students can also apply for summer grants for internships and study abroad programs during the spring semester. Grant applications are reviewed by the Director of the Academy and the Dean of the Schreyer Honors College.

Most of the guest speakers appearing at University Park who are sponsored by the Academy will present programs open to the entire University community. As a public program, you are welcome to attend — and bring some of your friends too!

Yes, students do all of these things. Before PLA students schedule their experience, they must meet with the Director of the Academy to accomodate the scheduled PLA courses.

No, due to the volume of applications and letters of recommendation we receive, we are not able to contact students when their materials are received. If something is missing from your application, you will be contacted via e-mail regarding what still needs to be submitted.

Students are required to have two letters of recommendation — one academic and one personal. The academic letter of recommendation can be provided by a Penn State faculty or staff member as an actual letter or as a nomination. A personal letter of recommendation may be provided by an adviser, principal from your high school, scout leader, coach or leader from any group you have worked with.

Yes, the PLA is open to all freshmen from the University Park campus.

Due to the number of applications and letters we receive, we will only accept the first two letters submitted.