Prearrival and Arrival

Once you have been accepted into the ExCEL Program, a member of the ExCEL team will work with you to find suitable housing in State College based on your needs and preferences.  Please understand that rental housing quickly fills to capacity in the spring, so it is imperative to act quickly in securing housing once you have been accepted into the program.

Orientation will take place the week before the academic semester begins.  For 2024-25, the start date will be August 19th.  All participants should plan to arrive before this date.  During orientation, ExCEL participants and Hubert Humphrey Fellows will be introduced to the State College community, learn about resources available at Penn State, and get set up with the basics (cell phone setup, opening a bank account, PSU ID cards, etc).

Questions about the ExCEL program.

Yes! Tell us about your research goals in your application. We'll facilitate a connection with a suitable faculty member to explore potential collaborations.

We partner with each participant to co-create a personalized program plan that aligns with their individual goals. This collaborative approach sets you up for success and empowers you to achieve your aspirations.

To make the most of your experience, active participation is essential. This includes attending our engaging weekly leadership seminars, actively contributing to planned activities, and sharing your unique voice. You'll also have the exciting opportunity to showcase your story and expertise by presenting to our community about your country or work.

We strongly recommend that all participants actively engage in at least one national conference relevant to their field of study. These conferences offer invaluable opportunities to:

  • Stay abreast of the latest research advancements: Immerse yourself in cutting-edge discoveries and gain insights from leading experts.

  • Expand your professional network: Connect with colleagues, build meaningful relationships, and forge potential collaborations.

  • Explore partnership possibilities: Discover potential partners and collaborators who share your interests and goals.

Penn State offers numerous resources to help participants improve their professional English skills.  We can also assist in finding language exchange partners and tutors in the community.

For those who may require more intensive instruction, there is an option to add five hours per week of intensive English instruction in the fall semester for an additional fee.   

Health Insurance and Cost of Living

For those who take medications regularly, we strongly encourage you to consider bringing enough medication with you to last the duration of the program.  It is not guaranteed that you will find an exact match in the US, and prices for medication may be much higher than at home.

The yearly cost of the Student Health Insurance Plan was $3665 for the 2023-24 year.  The cost for 2024-25 will be shared in the summer.  This cost is not included in the ExCEL program fee.

No, in the United States vision and dental insurance are separate from health insurance.  It is highly encouraged that you receive any necessary treatments/checkups before your arrival.  

Bringing Family/Dependents

Yes!  You may bring immediate dependents (spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21) to join you on a J-2 visa.  Please note that you will need to demonstrate proof of funds to support any J-2 dependents.  You will also be required to purchase health insurance for any dependents for the duration of their stay.  Note that your family receiving a J-2 visa is not guaranteed, even if you receive a J-1 visa.

A J-2 dependent visa can be obtained by your spouse or any unmarried children under the age of 21.  

Yes!  Any school-aged children who join you on a J-2 visa will be required to enroll in school upon their arrival.  The public school system in State College provides a high quality and inclusive learning environment.  Public school is free to everyone.  

Note that preschool and daycare for children under five are not public or free.  The costs of full-time childcare can easily amount to over $1000 per month per child.