Application Process

Application Process

Please read the Graduate School requirements before completing your application. Applicants must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates. Applicants who are still completing their baccalaureate requirements at the time of application may be admitted to the Graduate School conditional on the awarding of the baccalaureate degree.

Once you have read the Graduate School requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

For students who have a clear fit to the department’s academic focus areas, and who face financial constraints paying the application fee, an application fee waiver may be available. Please contact Erin Hetzel at

The following supporting documentation must be electronically uploaded through the application portal (you will create an account and do not need to do all of this at one time):

  • A personal statement explaining your educational and career goals and interests and how our program will help you achieve your goals.
  • A resume.
  • A writing sample. Preferably an individually written essay or research paper that you submitted in a college course (Please note: your resume is not considered to be a writing sample).
  • Three letters of recommendation. You will enter the names and email addresses of your references in the graduate application. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each recommender requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment to success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
  • Transcripts. You must electronically upload copies of your transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and copies of an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction). Applicants recommended for admission who accept, an offer through the online graduate admission system will be notified by the Graduate School that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions in the official language of the institution(s) attended (and if the language of instruction is not English, an English translation must also be sent). The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission. An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission If your degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized.
  • International Students: Because the language of instruction at Penn State is English, international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with 19 on the speaking section on the internet-based test (iBT). The minimum acceptable composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.
  • Our program also requires that students have a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.00 to be considered for admission.
    • The TOEFL/IELTS is not needed for permanent residents or anyone with a Penn State or other U.S. institution’s undergraduate or Master’s degree, including international students.
    • International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have or about to receive a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following countries: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean, and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

Application Timeline

All elements of the application must be submitted before our February 1 deadline – this includes all questionnaires completed by references. References will NOT receive an email prompt with instructions until ALL other elements of the application have been submitted by the applicant. It is strongly encouraged that you finish and submit your application ahead of the February 1 deadline to give your references enough time to finish their questionnaire.

Additional Application Information

The Graduate School application must be submitted electronically. This reduces your processing time and ensures receipt of your application. For students desiring to start classes in August, for full financial aid consideration the deadline for fall M.S. Applications is February 1st (ALL materials including the three recommendation letters must be submitted by this deadline).

Because of the time required to secure a visa, all international students must apply by February 1. Applications submitted by students who do not need a visa after February 1 will continue to be considered on a space-available basis.

NOTE: Please do not submit information with your application that cannot be used in the admissions decision process, e.g., photographs, Individual Educations Plans (IEPs), medical records, statements from physicians or psychologists, or legal documents.