Pennsylvania State University

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#97, overall score 50.42/100

Fun Fact:

Founded in 1865, Berkey Creamery is one of the oldest and largest campus ice creameries in the United States. They have a strict no-mixing-flavors policy — the only person they have allowed to break the rule was Bill Clinton.

Why should Jewish students attend Penn State? “Penn State Hillel seeks to enrich the lives of the estimated 5,000 Jewish students at Penn State so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. Our student leaders, staff, and lay leaders are dedicated to creating a pluralistic, welcoming, and inclusive environment for Jewish college students, where they are encouraged to grow intellectually, spiritually, and socially. Our staff and student leaders help students navigate the complexities of their growth into Jewish adults by engaging them in leadership development opportunities, immersive experiences, and Jewish and Israel-focused educational programming.” — Hannah Giterman, Director of Community Engagement, Penn State Hillel

“Chabad is a home away from home for every PSJew! From matzah ball soup for the sniffles, top-rated Mayanot Birthright trip, trips to Poland, and our famous homemade Shabbat dinners, Chabad is the place to be! Chabad is a place where every student can feel comfortable, regardless of background. As we always say… Labels are for shirts! It’s a place where every Jew is family and can find a place to eat, lead, be inspired…and find their home. — _Miri Gurarie, co-director, PSJews


  • Location: University Park, Pa.
  • Region: Mid-Atlantic
  • Campus type: College town
  • Public/Private: Public
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 41,359
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 5,000
  • Jewish population share: 12%
  • Student origin: 66% in-state / 34% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: Daily Collegian
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Nittany Lions
  • Ultimate Frisbee teams: Spank / Crisis

COST & AID Score: 1.67/15

  • Score: 1.67/15
  • In-state tuition: $18,436
  • Out-of-state tuition: $33,664
  • Room & board costs: $11,280
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $9,340
  • Average loan debt: $37,307
  • Starting median salary: $55,200
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: No

ACADEMICS Score: 5/20

  • Score: 5/20
  • Acceptance rate: 50%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 16.2:1
  • Median SAT range: 1160-1340
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Yes
  • Hebrew major: Minor

ISRAEL Score: 15/20

  • Score: 15/20
  • Size of Birthright trip: 207
  • School-approved study abroad program in Israel: Yes
  • Israel Studies center: No
  • Israel-related clubs: SSI, IAC Mishelanu, TAMID
  • Jewish Agency for Israel fellow: Yes
  • BDS vote in last four years: Never Introduced

SAFETY Score: 5.67/11

  • Score: 5.67/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 1
  • Campus crime rate: 4.21/1,000 students (medium-low)
  • City crime rate: 4.21/1,000 people (low)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 23.08/34

  • Score: 23.08/34
  • Hillel: Penn State Hillel
  • Chabad: PSJews
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Jewish fraternities: AEPi, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: SDT
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan? Yes
  • Chicken soup hotline: Yes
  • Active Hillel clubs: 11
  • Hillel Friday night services: 2
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Hillel: 150
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Chabad: 150
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 1 (Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Julius J. Epstein
  • Most unique/noteworthy club: Students are encouraged to innovate through Penn State Hillel’s Jewish Programming Allocation Committee (JewPAC), an entrepreneurial micro-grant program that allocates funds to students with ideas for Jewish experiences. JewPAC is a student-run initiative devoted to promoting Jewish life across campus by strengthening the community and helping students create their own meaningful experiences.
  • Where do Jewish students come from? Our students come from all of the country, and the world, with larger populations coming from the East Coast and South Florida.
  • Kosher food details: Kosher food is available in the East Food District in Findlay Commons.

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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