Part 2: Admission to the Program and Initial Progression
Section 2.1: Admissions
Additional Admissions information is available at the Graduate School website at:
http:// bulletins/whitebook/$aap.htm The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA, 16802-2801, Tel (814) 865-4700/V; (814) 863-1150/TTY.
There is a single admissions process for M.Ed. applicants to the Adult Education Program, and a double admissions process for doctoral applicants. The admissions process for M.Ed. applicants and the initial admissions process for doctoral applicants are the same: whether the applicants are planning to enroll part-time or full-time; whether applying to residential programs at the University Park or Harrisburg campuses, or to the Web-based World Campus M. Ed. In the initial admissions process successful doctoral applicants are temporarily admitted to either the Ph.D., or D.Ed. program. Upon successful completion of candidacy evaluation—a second admissions process, explained in Section IV below—doctoral students are confirmed as candidates to either the Ph.D., or D.Ed. programs.
Students who are in another major and who wish to apply to our doctoral program, must submit a Resume Study/Change of Graduate Degree or Major form. This form is obtained from either your current program staff assistant or from the ADTED program staff assistant. Students who wish to change their degree must submit all application materials, including transcripts, test scores, writing sample, statement of purpose, resume or vitae and three letters of recommendation. One of the letters of recommendation must be from either your faculty advisor or faculty member from the program you are leaving and the other two letters may be from professional or academic references
No single criterion stands as an adequate forecaster of success in graduate work. Applicants to the Adult Education Program are evaluated on the criteria listed below and the best-qualified applicants are accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. For doctoral applicants, a master’s degree is preferred but not required. All applicants are assessed on the following criteria:
- Undergraduate junior/senior grade-point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale,
- Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for graduate level course work,
- Total Verbal and Quantitative score above 1100 on the GRE; or, alternatively, on the MAT, a score of 398 or higher on the new test; or a score is 50 or higher on the old test,
- Professional and academic references that attest to the student’s academic potential
- A writing sample, and for international students a
- TOEFL score. A score of 550 or above on a paper-based test, or 213 or above on a computer-based is required for international students whose first language is not English and/or who have not received baccalaureate or master's degrees from an institution in which the language of instruction is English.
Applicants of special backgrounds or with special abilities and interests may be admitted with lesser test scores and grade-point averages.
Applications to our online M.Ed. program are considered year round.
Applications to our doctoral programs (at Harrisburg and University Park) are considered for the fall semester, only. Following the completion of the steps outlined below, the applicant’s file is forwarded to an Admissions Committee for consideration for admission.
For applicants seeking assistantships and fellowships
All application materials must be received by January 5.
Students who are currently on assistantships in the program and wish to reapply for an assistantship need to complete their application by January 15th. Please be sure to include an updated resume with your application.
For applicants who are not seeking assistantships and fellowships
For the Harrisburg campus, all application materials must be received by March 15.
At University Park, graduate students are admitted on a rolling basis.
All international students and any domestic students seeking graduate assistantships or fellowships should apply for the Fall Semester by January 1, of the same year they wish to enroll.
Domestic students who are not seeking financial assistance may apply for any semester. They must apply at least eight weeks prior to the semester in which they would like to begin the program.
Harrisburg applicants are typically notified of the Admission Committee’s decision by May 15.
There are two parts to the application process: applying to the Graduate School, and applying to the Adult Education Program.
Applying to the Graduate School
Applicants to the Adult Education Program must formally apply to Penn State Graduate School. Applicants MUST do so electronically (online) by visiting our website at:, http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/adult-education/degree-programs/doctoral-degrees/apply-10-08 and completing the Application Process outlined there. If a prospective student applies online but does not pay by credit card, s/he must download a copy of the Application Fee Form, complete and mail it along with payment of the non-refundable application fee. The Application Fee Form is obtainable at the bottom of the Graduate School Online Application page at: http://forms.gradsch.psu.edu/ges/appfee.html . University Park applicants must mail the Application Fee Form to: Graduate Enrollment Services, The Pennsylvania State University, 114 Kern Building, University Park, PA 16802. Harrisburg applicants must mail the Application Fee Form to: Enrollment Services, Penn State Harrisburg Campus, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057.
Students who are in another major and who wish to apply to our doctoral program, must submit a Resume Study/Change of Graduate Degree or Major form. This form is obtained from either your current program staff assistant or from the ADTED program staff assistant. Students who wish to change their degree must submit all application materials, including transcripts, test scores, writing sample, statement of purpose, resume or vitae and three letters of recommendation. One of the letters of recommendation must be from either your faculty advisor or faculty member from the program you are leaving and the other two letters may be from professional or academic references.
Applying to the Adult Education Program
In addition to applying to the Graduate School, applicants must also submit directly to the Adult Education Program the following items:
- Two official transcripts from each collegiate institution attended
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores. Either the GRE or MAT score is accepted for the D. Ed. and M. Ed. programs, but GRE scores are preferred. The Ph.D. program accepts only the GRE. To find out more about the GRE or MAT visit the GRE web site at http://www.gre.org/ or the MAT web site at http://www.pearsonassessments.com/haiweb/Cultures/en-US/site/Community/PostSecondary/Products/MAT/mathome.htm Harrisburg applicants who have not taken either test may arrange with The Sylvan Learning Center in their area to take the GRE or with the Counseling Center at Penn State Harrisburg to take the MAT.
- A statement of purpose describing the applicant’s short and long range career objectives. This statement includes an explanation of how the proposed study of adult education relates to the stated career objectives.
- A current curriculum vitae or resume
- Three letters of recommendation from people who are best qualified to evaluate the applicant’s ability to succeed in graduate study. These letters may be from an academic adviser, instructors who are familiar with the applicant’s academic record, a research project supervisor, an employment supervisor, or others who are able to provide a substantive evaluation of the applicant’s work. Letters of recommendation must address the applicant’s academic ability, motivation, and likelihood of success in completing the program.
- A writing sample: M.Ed. applicants submit a recent writing sample, such as a term paper, report, or publication of 3000 words or more. Ph. D. and D. Ed. applicants submit either a published article; master’s paper; master’s thesis; or a paper from their masters studies.
- The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score for international students whose first language is not English and/or who have not received baccalaureate or master's degrees from an institution in which the language of instruction is English. To find out more about the TOEFL Exam visit the TOEFL web site at http://www.ets.org/toefl/
- Application for Visa Document for international students only. For details visit http://www.global.psu.edu/international_students/visa_doc_app.cfm.
- Assistantship/Fellowship application for those seeking financial support. The form is available on the web at: http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/adult-education/student-resources/graduate-assistantship-applicationw.pdf Alternatively, you may contact the program staff assistant to have a hard copy mailed to you.
University Park applicants must submit the items listed above to: The Adult Education Program, The Pennsylvania State University, 314 Keller Building, University Park, PA 16802. Harrisburg applicants must submit them to: Enrollment Services, Penn State Harrisburg Campus, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057.
Students entering the adult education program are expected to be working in an adult education context and demonstrate proficiency with computers.
Adult Education context: Students must be currently working or volunteering in an adult education context, one in which they facilitate adult learning.
Computer skills: Students must be comfortable with word processing software, have Internet access to e-mail for assignments and program notices (through the program listserv), and must be conversant with basic web use for class discussions, accessing course syllabi and assignments and participating in some online discussion in some courses.
All students are required to develop a Plan of Studies early in the program. In developing the plan, the M.Ed., student is assisted by an assigned academic advisor. Before passing the candidacy evaluation, the doctoral student (Ph.D. and D.Ed.) is assisted by an academic advisor and program committee. After passing the candidacy evaluation, the doctoral student is assisted by a doctoral committee in developing the plan. The Plan of Studies is a personalized road map through the course of the program. In addition, doctoral students must specialize in a specific area within the field, develop in-depth understanding of research methods suitable to their area if specialization, and conduct an independent research project--the dissertation. Master’s and doctoral students are expected to develop a broad knowledge of the field of adult and continuing education, a general knowledge of research designs and methods and write a master’s paper as the culminating experience. Specific requirements for each of the three degrees are outlined in subsequent sections of this handbook and sample Plan of Studies are found in Appendix G, H, or I.
Assigning an Initial Advisor
Upon admission to the Adult Education Program, students are assigned an interim academic advisor by the Professor-in-Charge, in the case of University Park students, or by the Program Coordinator, in the case of Harrisburg students. Ideally, student-advisor matches are based on mutual career and research interests. All academic advisors are full-time Adult Education faculty with Graduate Faculty status. Ideally, student-advisor matches are based on mutual career and research interests.
Advisor and Student Responsibilities
The academic advisor acts as the student’s primary academic and career mentor at Penn State. Her/his primary responsibilities are: (1) to help develop an initial plan of study, (2) to advise and approve course selection each semester, (3) to advise on, and assist in preparing the student for, the candidacy evaluation and the comprehensive examination, (4) to arrange for professional development activities (such as internships, attending and presenting at conferences, authorship and co-authorship of journal articles and book chapters, etc) that would enhance academic preparedness and career prospects, and (5) to serve as the chair (or co-chair) of the student’s doctoral committee.
Communication between student and advisor is a key factor in the progression of one’s graduate studies. It is the student’s responsibility to consult with her/his advisor regularly. Contact may be made by telephone, e-mail, or in person by appointment.
Most faculty members in the Adult Education Program are on 9-month contracts with the University, spanning the fall and spring semesters. Accordingly, they are not legally-obligated to advise students during summer; if and when they do it is purely at their discretion. Please arrange advising meetings, doctoral examinations, and graduation schedules with this in mind.
A student has the right to change academic advisor. Either the student or the incumbent (academic advisor) may suggest this change. Common courtesy dictates that whoever decides to make the change informs the other prior to making the switch. To make the switch official, the student or incumbent faculty advisor should send an email to the program staff assistant, with copies to the relevant parties, i.e., student, incumbent and new advisors.
The University provides numerous resources and services to support prospective adult students considering graduate studies, and currently enrolled adult students.
The Center for Adult Learner Services (CALS) provides prospective and current adult learners with information on financial aid, admissions, child care, housing and community resources. In addition to information, the center also provides assistance to adult students who wish to improve their skills in areas such as computers, math, and writing. Equipped with a lounge, study area, kitchenette and a computer lab, CALS is a place where adult students can meet with peers, study, or relax. Detailed information about CALS can be found at: http://www.outreach.psu.edu/adult-learners/
Adult students can also take advantage of the support provided through The Graduate Student Association (GSA). GSA provides graduate students with information on topics such as taxes and health care options. Students may obtain lists of babysitters and typists/editors from the GSA office. Students can access GSA’s website at the following address: http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/gsa/
Childcare is often a priority concern for adult students with young children. The Work/Life Programs provides quality childcare program information and services for students with family. Descriptions of the programs offered are available at Work/Life website: http://www.ohr.psu.edu/worklife/
Women students facing issues related to sex-based discrimination or harassment can turn to The Center for Women Students (CWS) for assistance and support. CWS is designed to meet the needs of women students. The center addresses campus and classroom issues, campus safety, sexism, etc., etc. More information on the center is available from the following website: http://www.sa.psu.edu/cws/
Information on other Student Services such as Career Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Disability Services, Office of Graduate Educational Equity, Health Insurance and University Health Services, International Student Services, Kern Graduate Commons and Veterans Outreach Office are available on the Graduate School website at:
For those students in the on-line M.Ed. program, technical advice is available through the World Campus on questions related to hardware, software, and other technology-related matters.
Penn State Harrisburg’s program is a cohort-based approach to doctoral studies in adult education. Adult educators begin the program as a cohort and progress through the adult education core courses together. Members of the cohort learn together through courses, seminars, and special projects. The cohort group serves as a base for peer support and collaborative reflection during studies and assignments. Students are admitted to the Harrisburg program only in the Fall of each year in order to accommodate this instructional model.