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Laptop Specifications

Current Student Recommendations

Students entering the MBA Program are required to have their own laptop for coursework. Below we have provided some recommendations that were generated by our current MBA students based on what they have needed and used during their time in the program.

Mac Users

  • Apple products are not equipped with HDMI or VGA ports. It is highly recommended that students obtain an attachment to resolve this issue.
  • Students are welcome to use Macbooks or other Apple computers. However, you must have a Windows emulation package installed on your computer. We recommend emulators such as Parallels or FusionBootcamp can also be used.  Once you are a student, these may be purchased through Penn State's Software Site. Additionally, you must also have the Windows version of Excel 2016 installed to run within the Windows emulation package you use. This software is essential for using Palisade Decision Tools.  Note - the Mac version of Excel 2016 will NOT run the required Palisade software. Once MBA students arrive on campus, they can obtain Windows free of charge from Penn State conditional upon Microsoft agreement and license restrictions.

PC Users

  • A thin, light-weight model is recommended. Students tend to carry their laptops with them all the time.
  • An HDMI port or an adapter is recommended.

Additional Guidelines and Recommendations

Recommendations for PC Computers


Intel Core I5 or higher
Memory 8-16 GB
Hard Drive At least 256 GB SATA Hard Disk (5400 RPM or higher) or solid -slate drive (SSD)
Wireless 802.11 A/G/N wireless (WPA2 enterprise compatible)
Video Intel HD or discrete adapter
Ports-Display USB ports and a display port or HDMI port(to connect to external displays at Smeal). You may need to purchase a VGA-compatible cable adapter for your laptop.
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10, fully patched
Battery 6-cell battery
Office Microsoft Office 2016
Warranty A three-year warranty covering parts and labor as well as accidental damage coverage.
Recommendations for MAC Computers
Processor i5 or higher
Memory 8-16 GB
Hard Drive At least 256 GB SATA hard disk (5400 RPM) or solid-state drive (SSD)
Wireless 802.11 A/G/N wireless (WPA2 Enterprise-compatible)
Ports-Display USB ports and a mini-display port/thunderbolt port (to connect to external displays at Smeal).
Operating System Mac OS X Yosemite or El Capitan fully patched
Office Microsoft Office 2016 (Please note: you will need Windows Excel 2016 for use with the Palisade software required for BA 512)
Warranty AppleCare Protection Plan
Other Software WMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop to run Windows (for program specific software that requires Windows to run)


Software Required for Program

Please be aware that software through Penn State will be available to students around August 14.

  • Symantec Endpoint Protection and Cisco VPN - available at no cost through the University
  • Microsoft Office Suite - available at no cost through the University
  • Palisade Decision Tools Software - available at no cost through the University
  • If you own a Mac: Windows 10* for Macs Configured with Parallels**, Fusion**, or similar VM Software or using Bootcamp

*Conditional upon Microsoft agreement and license restrictions.

**Most students purchase an individual copy of Parallels or Fusion

Over the course of the coming months and during orientation, you will be provided with additional information and details to configure your laptop with Smeal MBA systems.

You will need to have your laptop in hand by the first day of Orientation. Planning to purchase your laptop during the first few days of orientation is not feasible given the nature of orientation activities.

Past students have recommended purchasing a PC rather than a Mac as they have found it easier to use a PC with the Penn State and Smeal systems and the specific software applications required for MBA classes.


  1. Penn State has site licenses available to students.  There is typically a significant savings when purchased through Penn State.  HOWEVER, you cannot purchase the software until you are registered as a student which typically occurs in early August.
  2. In the unusual case of your laptop being provided by an organization or employer, be sure the laptop administration is NOT restricted by the organization's IT department. You may be required to install software, make network changes, or make other system configuration changes to your laptop. Laptops with administration lock down or that are only partially configurable will not meet the requirements of this program. It is best to check on restrictions or constraints with that IT Department.

Office of Student Aid Loan Adjustment

Additionally, we have been in contact with the Office of Student Aid and the purchase of your computer can be integrated into your educational costs. Domestic students and international  students accessing private loan funds have an opportunity to borrow funds to pay for the required laptop.  Please note should you choose to purchase a computer that exceeds the specifications cited below, the adjustment to your educational costs may not cover the entirely of your purchase. Should you purchase a laptop and choose to have it be part of your educational costs, simply email your receipt to Paul Simenson so he may adjust your cost of education.