Application Assessment Considerations

No single criterion stands as an adequate forecaster of success in graduate work. Applicants are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Undergraduate junior-senior grade-point average
  • Grade-point average in any graduate work
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) combined verbal and quantitative score or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) score
  • Professional and academic references; and
  • A written essay
  • TOEFL score (for international students)

Most applicants have a previous degree in a professional field, in the social or natural sciences, or in the humanities. The successful applicant's academic and professional references will attest to his/her academic potential.

Successful applicants should have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for master’s degree course work.

International students who need to take the TOEFL would need a score of 550 or above on a paper-based test, 213 or above on a computer-based test, or for the internet-based test a minimum overall total of 80 points (out of 120), with a minimum of 23 points (out of 30) on the new speaking portion. Submit official scores using Penn State's Institution Code: 2660.

The best-qualified applicants are accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Applicants with a total Verbal and Quantitative score above 1100 on the GRE, a junior/senior average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale), and a graduate average of 3.50 are usually admitted to the doctoral program. Applicants of special backgrounds, or with special abilities, and interests may be admitted to the doctoral programs with a junior/senior average of 2.70, a graduate average of 3.20, a GRE total score of 1000 or a baccalaureate degree only.

In the case of the MAT, our program recommends that you get the proper scores (the new test score is now 398 or higher; the old test score is 50 or higher).

Applicants to the doctoral programs must arrange a time with the program secretary at University Park or with the department secretary at Harrisburg to take a proctored writing examination. If you cannot come to the program office to take examination, you may designate a proctor who must be cleared by the program office. The secretary will then forward the appropriate paperwork and guidelines to the proctor who will administer your examination. The exam may be handwritten or done by computer. If done by computer, prospective students must supply their own computer, printer and paper.