We will continue to add additional FAQs about university integration as questions arise. You may also view the State System’s FAQs for more general information about university integrations.
View the PennWest website.
The State System's mission is to provide affordable, high-quality public higher education across the commonwealth, and this approach is designed to bolster that mission. At a time when universities across the country are financially challenged, it's incumbent upon the State System to creatively ensure that its institutions are open, vibrant and centered on student success. The goals of an integrations approach are to maintain or expand premier educational opportunities for students across the state, position institutions for growth, and meet regional economic and workforce needs.
Students can expect to see the benefits of these changes for Fall 2022, provided we receive all required approvals from the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education and other regulatory agencies.
The integrated institution will be known as Pennsylvania Western University*, or PennWest, for short. Our campus will keep its location name, and PennWest Clarion will still be known for its beautiful campus, outstanding academic programs and numerous student activities.
The PennWest name was selected through a months-long process that included workshops and focus groups with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Research confirmed that the name will perform well online, where most students begin their college search, and market testing verified its appeal to future students and their families.
The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education affirmed the name Oct. 14, 2021.
* Pending approval by the Middles States Commission for Higher Education
Contingent upon approval of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (our institutional accreditor) – “Pennsylvania Western University” will become the accredited, degree-granting university that results from the integration California, Clarion and Edinboro Universities. Leveraging the continued distinctive identities of the three partner institutions that contribute to it, PennWest University will offer a range of benefits to its students and communities, notably in the number of programs, separate complement of athletic teams, as well as co-curricular and career preparation opportunities that will be available.
As the accredited entity, PennWest University will:
- Confer degrees upon students at all three historic campuses
- Employ faculty and staff at all campus locations
- Develop a single academic curriculum, assess student learning, and evaluate and improve institutional effectiveness
- Be the official repository of all student records
- Hold institutional accreditation and all special program accreditations
- Recruit and enroll students on all of its campuses through a single admissions process
- Package student financial aid through a single OPEID number and three unique campus identifiers, allowing students to select a home campus of their choosing.
Yes. As a current student, you will be able to complete the program in which you're currently enrolled. We intend to honor the Clarion name and include it on your diploma.
I'm a prospective student. Will I be able to start and finish the degree I'm interested in at Clarion?
Yes. In fact, it has never been a better time to be a student at Clarion. You will be able to finish your program of study and earn your degree at Clarion. You also will have access to many new opportunities, experiences and degree programs that will arise from university integrations.
I am a transfer student considering coming to Clarion. If I transfer, will my credits be accepted by the new integrated university?
Yes. We will continue to keep the transfer process simple and maximize the credits you can transfer to the integrated university. As a transfer student, you will be able to complete your declared major at Clarion and earn your degree.
Current students will be able to complete their declared major on the campus where whey started. Some courses may be delivered through flexible delivery formats, virtually or by faculty located on another campus. You will not be required to travel between campuses, although you may choose to do so.
Future students will find that an integrated university with multiple campus locations, including a virtual campus, offers an expanded selection of academic programs, courses and faculty expertise, and potential access to more internships and experiential learning opportunities. This broad selection of academic programs and opportunities creates pathways for you to start anywhere in the western Pennsylvania region and finish both your undergraduate and graduate degrees at any of our three campus locations, online, or through a combination of online and in-person classes at the campus of your choice.
This integration also is intended to expand academic support, so you'll have greater opportunities for academic success. No matter which campus you choose, we are committed to providing you with a premier education at an affordable price.
Not unless you choose to enroll fully online. If you prefer a traditional college experience, you'll have that opportunity. As has always been true, you can expect a residential (or commuter) campus experience at Clarion, with courses delivered on campus and with the close personal interaction with your faculty for which Clarion is known. Integration will create many new opportunities to access courses, majors, minors, degrees and stackable credentials. Some courses and programs may be conducted remotely or through hybrid modalities across the identified campuses. This is a model that Clarion already has undertaken with great success.
Yes, your financial aid and scholarship commitments will carry over. As always, privately funded scholarships will be awarded and disbursed based on the donor's criteria.
The integrated university is being designed to reduce the financial burden on students and their families while supporting the financial sustainability of our campuses.
If I wish to apply to more than one location, will I be able to fill out one application and then indicate my campus preference(s)?
Yes, we expect to have a single application process for students across the integrated universities as part of a seamless admissions process for students enrolling in Fall 2022.
For now, you will enroll at the campus you choose – California, Clarion or Edinboro. Once the integrated university is formally approved, incoming students will enroll in the "New U," then choose the courses and campus location they prefer.
Students enrolled at New U will have access to an even greater list of undergraduate and graduate programs and courses of study. Faculty and staff at Clarion and our partner campuses are reviewing all academic programs and consolidating them. The goal is to provide a single portfolio of excellent, career-relevant academic programs to meet your needs and the needs of your future employers.
Current students who have declared a major will be able to complete a degree within that major.
We are pursuing a path with the NCAA that allows us to continue our current complement of sports at Clarion and our partner campuses. For student-athletes currently being recruited, this path would provide the ability to retain our existing sports teams.
Yes. The integration process is designed to include student input. Students have broad representation as part of the System-level advisory group, regional student advisory groups, and through individual working group engagement.
No. You still must earn a cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 or higher to be considered in Good Academic Standing. Some accredited programs may continue to require a higher cumulative and/or major GPA to be admitted or to continue in the major.
Yes! There will still be many opportunities to engage in student government and other campus activities and grow your leadership skills through these organizations, no matter which campus you choose.
The State System is at the beginning of what will be a lengthy review, consultation and planning process, with an estimated time of more than a year from review to final proposal. It would be inappropriate to speculate on the potential employment impacts of any potential multi-university integration, but the State System remains committed to an open, transparent and consultative process from start to finish.
The process for integrating State System universities is defined by law in Act 50. It is transparent, consultative, analytical and intended to seek solutions, not implement solutions that have been predetermined. The process is conducted in partnership with the General Assembly through quarterly check-ins with House and Senate Education and Appropriations Committees.
As an implementation plan is developed between now and April, Clarion and the State System will engage with stakeholders throughout the process to keep them informed and help to inform our decisions. The plan development process will be broadly consultative and transparent. This is the beginning of a lengthy process and there is no predetermined plan or outcome. Our charge is to work together with our sister institutions to develop a plan that follows the State System's vision for university integrations.
Our top priority is to keep students at the center of this process and to maintain access and affordability while meeting local workforce needs, leveraging our combined strengths, and improving our financial condition.
1. What if my current degree program is not listed in the PennWest program array?
You'll still be able to complete the version of your degree program in which you are currently enrolled. A plan of study will be developed for you to ensure you meet degree requirements and stay on track for graduation.
2. What happens if my current degree program will become a concentration in another degree?
You will still be able to complete the version of your degree program in which you are currently enrolled, if you wish to do so. You may also change to the new concentration version of the program and carry forward all of your completed credits.
3. I noticed that the name of the degree I am in will have a somewhat different name. How will this affect me?
You will have the option of completing the degree you are currently enrolled in, including the degree name and its course requirements. Or, you may change to the new degree title and move all of your earned credits forward toward that degree. As the requirements for the new versions of the degrees are finalized, your advisor will have information explaining how the options will work for your interests and circumstances.
4. When will I know what campus will house my degree program, and is it possible that I will have to move to another campus?
You will NOT have to move to another campus. While campus locations will be shared in the spring, all currently enrolled students will be able to complete their degrees on the campus where they are currently enrolled.