Pre-First Year in Science and Engineering (PREF)

PREF is an academic summer bridge program designed for first-year students in engineering or science-based majors. PREF also includes structured social and cultural activities that invite students to build relationships with each other and relate in-class experiences to out-of-class programs. The overall objective of PREF is to maximize the retention of first-year students in engineering and science majors at Penn State. We do this by guiding participants toward academic success through first-year required courses, giving them a head-start into a challenging, yet rewarding, field.

A Closer Look

PREF students will have a head start in transitioning to the college pace, in particular, to the College of Engineering’s curriculum. Group study sessions will be incorporated into the schedule, along with professional development workshops and a field trip to enhance the in-class experiences.

PREF will preview:

  • College calculus
  • College chemistry
  • College physics
  • College success skills

Why Do It?

After 23 successful years of the PREF program, we have become aware of the specific benefits that the program can bring to our students. Research indicates that participants:

  • Have a higher GPAs than non-participants
  • Are more likely to graduate from the College of Engineering
  • Are more likely to land competitive salaries in internships, co-ops, and full-time employment
  • Earn amazing academic scholarships
  • Acclimate more easily to the college environment
  • Smoothly transition from high school to college before all other first-year students
  • Build extensive networks of lifelong friends

From Former Participants 

Dr. Christopher L. Dancy, assistant professor, Bucknell University (PREF 2006)

My experience in PREF was great! Having an opportunity to get acclimated to the campus and to establish an understanding of what would be expected of me when I began classes in the fall really game me a freedom and maturity that would have been impossible otherwise. 

Ikenna Okafor, M.S., computer science (PREF 2012)

PREF was an amazing experience for me. Not only did it help me make long-lasting friends whom I still talk with to this day, but it also prepared me for a STEM education at Penn State.


The program costs $1,800 and includes room and board, field trips, courses, and tutoring. This is a highly subsidized price; the remaining expenses are covered by corporate sponsorships. If you are unable to pay the fee, please include a statement of financial need with your application, including how much you can contribute.

Apply to PREF. Deadline April 30th, 2018.

2018 PREF June 17 - July 27, 2018

Penn State University Park Apply to PREF. Deadline April 30th, 2018.



The Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion assists women and multicultural students in the pursuit of their undergraduate and graduate degrees. Our support system of faculty and staff encourages current students to become involved with our programs and student organizations.

Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion

College of Engineering

211 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-863-4944