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Graduate Student Life

Graduate Student Life

Life in State College

State College is a beautiful college town in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. The lively downtown area next to campus features an array of independent restaurants and bars, bookstores, galleries, boutique shops, and a few commercial mainstays. There are multiple theatre and concert venues on and near campus that feature student and community performances, traveling Broadway shows, both large and small concerts, and independent movie features. In the surrounding area, students will find numerous vintage and secondhand shops, a climbing gym, outdoor and sporting outfitters, cozy coffee shops, farm stands, and more.

Centre County is noted for its extraordinary outdoor spaces, including state parks and forests, lakes and reservoirs, and upper Appalachian ridges containing hiking trails, bike trails, boating rentals, and fly-fishing streams. There are also community gardens and a local dog park.

Campus is home to the Palmer Art Museum, two student-run restaurants, the Berkey Creamery, the HUB-Robeson Center, and Penn State’s gorgeous arboretum and botanical gardens.


Graduate student housing is readily available, especially through campus-wide networks. This includes apartment buildings, town houses, and single homes in neighborhoods adjacent to campus and within a few miles. For more information, check out For cost-of-living information, see the most recent fact sheet on the Average Cost of Living in State College, PA.

School District, Daycare, and Children’s Activities

Public schools closest to campus belong to the stellar State College Area School District. The university has on-campus daycare programs, though spaces are limited, and there are many other programs in the area. Additionally, there are many playgrounds, sports fields, scheduled children’s activities, and an excellent public library.

Getting Around Town

The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) maintains a system of buses and ride shares within the county, including free shuttle service on campus. Service beyond campus is extensive, and bus passes are available for purchase, including passes at reduced rates for eligible students. On-campus parking passes are available for purchase to students living either on or off campus. 

Many students, faculty, and staff bike or walk to campus. Those interested in cycling can find resources at Penn State’s “bike den” where students network with other cyclists, use tools, and learn maintenance and repair skills. eBikes and bike shares are widely available. eBike rentals are also available through an eBike Share Program.