Who We Are

Online Education at Penn State is more than an office. We are the vision, the framework, and the online education community of the University. We look forward to opportunities to partner as we transform 125+ years of distance education experience into the future of online learning.

The History of Online Education at Penn State

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  • 1892

    Pennsylvania State College offers distance courses via U.S. Mail.

  • 1930

    At least 38,000 people have taken at least one course via correspondence.

  • 1950s

    Penn State installs a live instructional television system connecting 24 classrooms with a studio that allows for a one-way video feed and two-way audio transmission of courses on campus.

  • 1965

    WPSX-TV launches, reaching about 250,000 students in 22 Pennsylvania counties with for-credit courses.

  • 1977

    Total number of Pennsylvania State College enrollees, since the inception of distance education, tops 400,000.

  • 1978

    Founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream take the Penn State short course on ice cream–making by correspondence.

  • Early 1990s

    College of Agricultural Sciences delivers live workshops via satellite network to farmers, child-care providers, and others at Penn State Extension’s 67 county offices.

  • 1998

    Penn State World Campus launches online with more than 40 students and five programs. 

  • 2007

    World Campus and (Sloan) Online Learning Consortium launch the Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning (IELOL) leadership program.

  • 2013

    Penn State joins the massive open online course (MOOC) platform Coursera with five courses.

  • 2014

    College of Nursing offers the first World Campus online doctoral degree program — Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.).

  • 2019

    First student-elected government for World Campus represents the voices of its thousands of online learners.

  • 2021

    U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn State World Campus as the number one provider of online bachelor’s degrees in the country in their Best Online Programs rankings.