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A history of helping hardworking people learn more

Mission Statement

Penn Foster's mission is to enhance the lives of our students and clients through the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and credentials that can help them work toward their goals of advancing in their chosen field, starting a new career, or pursuing lifelong learning.

Penn Foster Institutional Goals

  • Provide educational programs that enable self-motivated, independent learners to acquire core competencies in their chosen technical and professional fields
  • Employ contemporary learning strategies based on academic standards of good practice in distance education
  • Develop and maintain systems that optimize student opportunities for broadly participative, interactive learning
  • Establish and communicate high standards of academic performance for students and the institution
  • Assess student learning and institutional effectiveness systematically in order to improve student performance
  • Provide an extensive suite of student support services based on student needs and interests
  • Conduct fiscally responsible planning that balances the institution's commitment to academic excellence with its concern for profitable financial performance

The mission is supported by an admissions policy that allows students with appropriate prior education to enroll in programs without regard to race, religion, gender, age, color, national origin, or physical disability.

The school regularly assesses fulfillment of its mission and achievement of its institutional goals through ongoing studies of student learning, measurement of student satisfaction, and evaluation of career outcomes of graduates.

Penn Foster Timeline




How did Penn Foster begin?

In 1890, a newspaper editor named Thomas J. Foster founded the school to provide coal miners with the education they needed to advance in their careers and increase worker safety. At the turn of the century, the school was officially known as the International Correspondence Schools (ICS), and one out of every 27 adults in the US had taken an ICS course.

What is different about Penn Foster?

By 2006, ICS transitioned from correspondence to online education and changed its name to Penn Foster. Enrolling over 13 million students since we opened our doors, we are proven, respected, and offer accredited degree, diploma, and certificate programs. At Penn Foster, you’ll benefit from our expert faculty members, who are highly knowledgeable on the latest trends, opportunities, and challenges in their respective fields. Our dynamic Community of faculty, advisors, and fellow students are here and ready to support your learning goals. Join the Penn Foster movement and start building toward a better future today.

Is Penn Foster affordable?

Yes. Customized monthly payment plans with 0% interest will help you get an education at a price you can afford.

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