The Nittany Lion shrine at Penn State Behrend

Fall 2021 plan will expand in-person learning

Penn State Behrend plans to return to a full on-campus experience with in-person academic courses for the fall 2021 semester.

Penn State Behrend plans to return to a full on-campus experience with in-person academic courses for the fall 2021 semester. The plans are being designed with a flexible structure, which will allow the College to quickly respond to changing pandemic conditions, if necessary.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and local community,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “However, with vaccines becoming more available and the public-health data showing gradual but sustained improvement, we are optimistic that we can begin to transition to expanded in-person course delivery while keeping our students, employees and neighbors as safe as possible."

Newly admitted students also will have more options to visit Behrend: In-person visits, including an hour-long tour, are now being offered to admitted students who are Pennsylvania residents, with some safety guidelines in place. Soon, prospective students also will have the option of visiting Behrend. Details are at Behrend’s Visit Us page.

Spring courses are currently being offered in four formats:

  • In-person instruction, with students meeting in an assigned classroom at an assigned time,
  • Mixed-mode instruction, which alternates in-person and remote learning to maintain social distancing requirements in a classroom,
  • Remote synchronous instruction, with students attending classes remotely at a scheduled time, and
  • Remote asynchronous instruction, where course material is made available for students to work through on their own schedules.

Over the summer, Penn State will begin to transition more courses at all campuses to the in-person format, while continuing to offer some courses in alternative modes. Students will continue to have the option of scheduling remote instruction – in both synchronous and asynchronous modes – this fall.

Penn State Behrend will continue to use non-traditional spaces for instruction, such as McGarvey Commons and the new testing center in the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center.

The expansion of in-person learning will be contingent on the evolving health and safety guidelines, which may require continued masking and social distancing. The College is preparing for a variety of scenarios if circumstances or guidance from the government and public health authorities require a reassessment of the plan before or during the fall semester.

“At the start of the pandemic, when conditions required us to pivot to the remote-learning environment, the faculty and staff at Penn State Behrend managed that transition with extraordinary skill, without missing a single day of scheduled instruction,” Ford said. “We know we can adjust again, if necessary. We also know, perhaps more than ever, how important it is for us to be together in a community that is engaged in all that Behrend has to offer.”

The College will share additional information about fall course registration, admissions, housing options and campus activities, including athletics, as details become available. For the latest about the coronavirus and Behrend-specific information, visit