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6 User Reviews
LAST UPDATED: April 19th, 2021

Offering high school, career school, and college courses, Penn Foster has hundreds of certificates and degree programs to offer those looking to upgrade their skills or further their knowledge base. The company’s low-cost online educational resources for learning in-demand skills on your own schedule. 

Founded in 1890, Penn Foster has been serving students for over 130 years. The Penn Foster Career School, Penn Foster High School, and Student Services Center are based in Scranton, PA, and the Penn Foster College and Administrative Office are in Scottsdale, AZ. 

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The Good

  • Flexibility 
  • Open Enrollment 
  • Affordability 
  • Accreditation 
  • Programs Available 

Flexibility 

Penn Foster’s courses are flexible. You can set your own schedule and learn at your own pace with the online courses. When you can complete a program around your existing schedule, you’ll be less stressed and more able to complete the work required.

The courses are well-supported by staff. Even while you’re learning at your own pace, you’re getting support from an instructor. Penn Foster has a dedicated online student community where students are able to communicate with others for support and guidance. Professors and teaching assistants are available for students to talk to as well through email and phone for any help you might need for your program.

Courses are mobile-friendly so you can use your mobile device to log in and start learning.  Penn Foster has progress tracking and goal-setting tools within the Study Planner mobile app. Coursework includes virtual simulations and informative videos woven into the learning content. 

Open Enrollment

Penn Foster has an open enrollment model so you can avoid intimidating applications and fees and you can start your classes as soon as you sign up. 

There are some eligibility requirements, but they are minimal and apply only to some of the courses. To register for Penn Foster’s high school diploma degree, you must have completed the 8th grade. To register for some of Penn Foster’s career school courses, you need a high school diploma. And to register for Penn Foster’s college courses, you need either a high diploma or a GED. 

Affordability 

Penn Foster claims its programs are low-cost, and upon browsing the course inventory, that seems to be the case. The average monthly cost for the following programs, for example, is $49: 

  • High school diploma
  • Auto repair technician
  • Certified personal trainer
  • Dental assistant
  • Home inspector
  • Motorcycle repair technician
  • Physical therapy aide
  • Travel and tourism specialist 

Plus, there are flexible payment programs you can utilize. You can start select programs for $1 down. Or, you can pay in full and save up to 20 percent than you would if paying month-to-month. Payments cover the cost of tuition and all course materials, so there are no hidden or surprise fees. 

Prior to signing up for a program, you can see the course overview, program details, tuition, and options for growth opportunities for your employees from a business perspective. 

The company will give you a complete refund of all fees paid if you cancel within the first six days of enrollment. After six days, the refund amount is based on lessons completed, tuition collected, and your enrollment date and may or may not include the registration fee, administrative fee, and shipping and handling fees. 

Accreditation 

All courses through the Penn Foster College program are nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in Washington, D.C. That definitely can’t be said for all or even most career certification websites. 

80 of Penn Foster’s college courses are ACE (Achievement-Centered Education) reviewed. Penn Foster’s programs are also accredited regionally and the organization is a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). AdvanceED accreditations include NCA CASI, NWAC, and SACS CASI credentials as well as the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS). 

Programs Available 

Penn Foster offers associate's, bachelor's and undergraduate certificates through its online programs. Students are able to choose which degree works best for them. Penn Foster also offers diplomas and certificates through its Career College. With hundreds of options, students are able to find a training program that suits their needs. Some of these programs include appliance repair, medical transcriptionist, and paralegal, and we’ll share a sampling of the programs available below. 

Technician and Trade School Careers  
The HVACR Technician course prepares you for the HVAC certification through coursework on all topics heating and air: electricity, refrigeration mechanics, electrical systems, and HVAC system design and installation . The course includes an EPA Certification preparatory manual, EPA Certification test voucher, and exam registration for $799 total. 

The Residential Electrician course teaches you about National Electric Code®, smart home technology, electronic security, telecommunications wiring, and working safely with electricity.  It also costs $799 total when paid monthly. 

Certificate Program Offerings
Accounting Essentials
Anatomy and Physiology
AutoCAD Essentials
Automotive HVAC Essentials
Automotive Transmissions Essentials
Business Management Essentials
Business Security
Career Readiness Bootcamp
Child Development Training Certificate
Child Psychology
Computer Applications in Accounting - Sage 50®
Computer Programming Languages
E-Business Management
Electronic Medical Records
English Comprehensive Skills in Reading and Writing
Fitness and Nutrition
Forensic Computer Examiner
Gourmet Cooking
Green Building Practices
Health Information Management
Human Resources Management Essentials
ICD-10 Training for ICD-9 Coders Certificate
LexisNexis: Legal Research
Medical Terminology
Microsoft Office 2016
National Electrical Code 2017
Natural Health Care for Pets
Paralegal: Advanced Applications
Paralegal: Real Estate, Wills, and Estates
Personal Caregiver Skills
Pet Grooming
Property Management
Public Relations
Solar PV Installation Skills
Solar Thermal Installation Skills
Solar PV and Thermal Installation Skills
Spanish
Sports Nutrition
Starting Your Own Business
Supervisory Skills for the Industrial Workplace
Featured Partner Programs¹

Career Diploma Programs 
ABC® Certified Wedding Planner*
Administrative Assistant*
Appliance Repair
Auto Repair Technician
Basic Electronics
Bookkeeping*
Carpenter
Caterer
Certified Personal Trainer
Child Care Professional
Computer Graphic Artist
Dental Assistant
Desktop Publishing and Design
Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance*
Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor*
Drafting with AutoCAD®
Dressmaking and Design
Electronics Technician
Floral Design
Freelance Writer
Furniture and Cabinet Maker
Guest Service Agent
Gunsmith*
Home Health Aide*
Home Inspector
Home Remodeling and Repair
Hotel/Restaurant Management
HVACR Technician*
Interior Decorator
Jewelry Design and Repair
Landscaping Technology
Legal Secretary
Legal Transcriptionist
Locksmith & Home Security Technician
Medical Administrative Assistant*
Medical Assistant*
Medical Billing and Coding*
Medical Transcriptionist*
Motorcycle Repair Technician
Occupational Therapy Aide
Optician
Paralegal*
PC Maintenance and Repair
Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy Technician Professional*
Physical Therapy Aide
Plumber
Private Investigator
Residential Electrician*
Retail Supervisor
Security Guard
Small Business Management
Small Engine Repair
Travel and Tourism Specialist*
Veterinary Assistant*
Virtual Assistant
Wildlife/Forestry Conservation*

Those with an asterisk are offered through Penn Foster College, which is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). 

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The Bad

  • Some Credits Don't Transfer
  • Additional State Requirements 
  • Online Only 

Some Credits Don't Transfer 

While many Penn Foster courses have been recommended by the ACE for college and university credit, the decision to accept credits is up to the individual school. So it’s safest to operate with the assumption that you can’t apply Penn Foster credits to your college or university.

Additional State Requirements 

While Penn Foster is a nationally accredited college and career school, some degrees or certifications may require additional education in certain states. Potential students should be aware of programs that require additional training and education in their state.

Online Only

Penn Foster offers only online classes. While this allows potential students the flexibility of self-paced learning, some students may prefer the hands-on training experience of in-person classes. 

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The Bottom Line

Penn Foster offers a variety of programs for potential students to choose from. Whether you are looking for a career certification or are working towards your bachelor's degree, Penn Foster's open enrollment allows students to work on their own schedule. Tuition has zero interest and while costs vary by program, some courses cost less than $2 per day. 

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6 Reviews

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