Qualifications for Admission
General Admissions Standards Policy GCAC-301
Each step of the educational process, from admission through graduation, requires continuing review and appropriate approval by University officials. The University, therefore, reserves the right to determine whether a student has satisfactorily met its requirements for admission or graduation, and to reject any applicant for admission for any reason the University determines to be material to the applicant's qualification to pursue higher education.
An applicant for admission to the Graduate School should understand that graduate work is not a simple extension of an undergraduate program but, rather, demands scholarship of a higher order, and emphasizes research, creativity, and professional competence with a minimum of formal requirements and a maximum of student initiative and responsibility.
The objective of the admission process of the Graduate School is to identify and admit a qualified graduate student body up to the limit of the University's resources to provide outstanding graduate programs. As at all universities, Penn State's staff, facilities, and other resources are limited, so that not all qualified persons can be admitted. The number accepted will vary by program and from semester to semester. In some graduate programs all vacancies will have been filled long before the deadline for submitting applications, so that even outstanding students cannot be accepted.
- Applicants may apply for admission to only one program at a time.
- For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or (2) a postsecondary degree that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution.
- Ordinarily, an entering student must have completed in a satisfactory manner a minimum of course work in designated areas, the specific courses and amount of work depending upon the intended field of advanced study.
- Admission is granted jointly by the Graduate School and the graduate program in which the student plans to study. The establishment of standards by which applicants are admitted is the responsibility of the graduate program. Individual program requirements for admission are included in the Graduate Bulletin.
- Although the Graduate School has no fixed minimum grade-point requirement for admission, an applicant is generally expected to maintain a junior-senior grade-point average of at least 2.50 on Penn State’s grading scale of A (4.00) to D (1.00). Individual graduate programs often establish higher grade-point average requirements and use other criteria to judge candidates for admission.
- In exceptional cases, graduate programs may also approve admission by reason of special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.
Applicants should obtain application deadlines by contacting the individual graduate program. Because the admission process is time consuming, applications should be submitted as early as possible.
Approved by Graduate Council, May 2, 2018. Effective date: Fall 2018 (8/13/2018)