The Pennsylvania State University The Graduate School at Penn State

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here you will find answers to the common questions that prospective students ask.
If you don’t find an answer to your question, please contact us by utilizing the "Request Help" tab on the right margin of this page.

Please select a category that relates to your specific question, or scroll down to see all FAQ below

Application Fee
Application Status
Applying for Admission
Certificate Program
Changing Information to the Application after Submission

Electronic Theses and Dissertation (eTD)

Financial Aid
Funding
Housing
Reference Questions
Supplemental Materials
Technical Problems
Test Scores
Transcripts/Records


Application Fee

Q:    How much is the application fee?

The degree and certificate application fee is $65 U.S. The nondegree application is $30 U.S.

Q:    Can the application fee be waived?

The Graduate School does not waive application fees. Your application will not be processed in the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services without receipt of the application fee.

Q:    Can the application fee be paid after my application is submitted?

Yes, you or another individual may pay the application fee by credit card via the Graduate School Payment Portal, or by check/money order using the Application Fee Form.

Q:    When is my fee processed?

Fees are processed as soon as the payment is received.

IMPORTANT: The application fee is processed immediately; however, your application status may not be available during the first 24 hours (until the application uploads to Penn State’s Student System).

Q:    What methods of payment are accepted?

The Graduate School accepts Visa, Master Card, Discover Card, American Express credit cards and checks or money orders. Checks or money orders must be payable to “The Pennsylvania State University” in U.S. dollars, and must be drawn from a U.S. bank.

A debit card may be used only if it is processed as a credit card payment (without the PIN). Credit card gift cards are also acceptable.

Q:    Are wire transfers accepted?

No, wire transfers are not accepted.

Q:    May another individual or company pay the application fee on my behalf?

Yes, you or another individual may pay the application fee by credit card via the Graduate School Payment Portal, or by check/money order using the Application Fee Form.

Q:    Is the application fee refundable?

No, application fees are nonrefundable.

Q:    Why does my credit card statement show multiple application fee transactions?

This may happen if you hit the credit card payment button more than once while waiting for the fee payment to be processed. Check your credit card statement for duplicate payments. Typically, one transaction is only a hold and will resolve within 7-10 business days. If both transactions still appear on your account, please contact gradschoolfee@psu.edu.

Q:    Will I be charged multiple times if I hit the “Submit” button more than once?

Yes, you may be charged multiple times if you hit the credit card payment button more than once while waiting for the fee payment to be processed. If you don’t see a refund within 7-10 business days, please contact gradschoolfee@psu.edu.

Q:    I am applying for degree and certificate admission. Do I need to complete an application and pay a fee for both?

Yes, an application and a fee is required for each application submitted.

IMPORTANT: You may only apply to one degree program at a time. If you submit additional degree applications, only your most recently submitted degree application will be reviewed.

You may apply for multiple certificates or for a degree and multiple certificates; however, you must wait 24 hours between submission of each application.

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Application Status

IMPORTANT: Although the application fee is processed immediately, your application status may not be available during the first 24 hours (until the application uploads to Penn State’s Student System).

Q:    Where do I check the status of my application?

You may check your status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.  You may also contact your intended program of study.

Q:    When will I know if I am admitted?

Please contact your intended program of study, as each program has its own admission deadlines and processes.

Q:    When is my application reviewed?

The Graduate School reviews the application for academic admissibility when it is submitted; however, a recommendation for admission is made by the program of study. Each program has its own application review process and timeframe. Please contact your intended program of study for more information.

Q:    How will I know if my application is complete?

You may check your status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.  You may also contact your intended program of study.

Q:    How will I know if my mailed application documents have been received?

You may check your status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.  You may also contact your intended program of study.

Q:    What is the status of my application?

You may check your status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.  You may also contact your intended program of study.

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Applying for Admission

Q:    Where may I view Penn State’s academic calendar?

The academic calendar is maintained by the Office of the University Registrar.

Q:    How do I apply as a transfer student?

Transfer students are subject to the same requirements for admission as regular students. They are required to submit Penn State’s Graduate School application, pay the application fee and submit official copies of their academic transcripts. In addition, students in a doctoral program at another institution would have to meet Penn State’s general requirements for doctoral candidates which are residency, candidacy, the passing of a comprehensive and final oral examination, and the writing of a satisfactory dissertation and its acceptance by the doctoral committee and the Graduate School.

Q:    I was denied admission and wish to reapply to the same or different program/degree/semester. How do I reapply and submit the required documents?

You will need to complete a new graduate online application and provide the required program documents. If you are reapplying to the same program, please contact your intended program of study to determine if updated documents are necessary.

Q:    Can I be accepted conditionally if I have not yet taken the TOEFL test?

No. The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All 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 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. Graduate programs may have more stringent requirements.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: 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.

Please note that specific graduate programs may require all international applicants to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score, regardless of their academic background and country of origin.

Q:    Who makes the admission or denial decision, the program or the Graduate School?

The program will recommend your acceptance to the Graduate School. After final review by the Graduate School, you will receive formal notification of your admission. Questions concerning your admission or denial should be directed to your intended program of study.

The graduate program is responsible for sending its own refusal notifications.

Q:    Will the Graduate School or the graduate program contact me if there are questions regarding my application?

Because admission is granted jointly by the Graduate School and the academic program, you may be contacted by either office. Each program has its own procedures for evaluating applications. The programs recommend admission to the Graduate School and the Graduate School, in turn, monitors procedures and minimum requirements and makes the final decision on your admission.

Q:    Do all my materials need to be received by the deadline?

Programs set and enforce deadlines. Please check with your intended program of study. International applicants must submit materials at least four months prior to the semester they plan to enroll; however, the application deadline for some programs is much earlier than this. All applicants should consult their intended program of study for specific requirements.

Q:    I incorrectly reported my test results on the application. How do I correct them?

Please contact your intended program of study with this information. Official scores must be sent directly to Penn State from the appropriate reporting agency (ETS, Pearson Vue, etc.).

Q:    Where should I have my test scores sent?

The institution code for Penn State is 2660. Most scores are sent electronically directly from the testing service to Penn State. If you have a paper copy of your scores, or if your scores are only available online, please notify your intended program of study.

Q:    How do I know if my test scores have been received?

You may check your status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.

Q:    Do I need to calculate my junior/senior GPA?

Some programs do require the junior/senior GPA. Please refer to your intended program of study website for more information.

Q:    I have questions about my junior/senior GPA. Who do I ask?

Any questions regarding the junior/senior GPA should be directed to your intended program of study.

Q:    May I apply to more than one program at a time?

You may only apply to one degree program at a time. If you submit additional degree applications, only your most recently submitted degree application will be reviewed.

You may apply for multiple certificates or for a degree and multiple certificates; however, you must wait 24 hours between the submission of each application.

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Certificate Program

Q:    How do I indicate that I am applying for a certificate program?

Select “Certificate” from the application selection menu.

Q:    May I apply for multiple certificate programs?

You may apply for multiple certificates or for a degree and multiple certificates; however, you must wait 24 hours between submission of each application. An application fee is required for each certificate.

Q:    May I apply for a certificate program if I am in a degree program?

Yes.

Q:    I applied to the wrong certificate program. What do I do?

Submit a new certificate application to the correct program and IMMEDIATELY submit a request for help by utilizing the "Request Help" tab on the right margin of this page and explain the situation there. One of the Graduate Enrollment Services staff will get back to you with further instructions.

Q:    Which documents are required for admission into a certificate program?

Each program has its own requirements for admission. Please refer to your intended program of study.

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Changing Information to the Application after Submission

Q:    How can I make changes to my application after it has been submitted?

To check, add or make changes to your reference information, log into your existing account in the Graduate School application. Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.

To make changes to program-specific questions or uploaded documents, or to change the admission semester or degree, you must contact your intended program of study.

To change your address, social security number, or to change your rights to your references, please access the "Request Help" tab on the right margin of this page.

Q:    How do I change my intended program of study?

To request a change of your intended program of study, please contact the new program of study to determine if a new application is required.

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Electronic Theses and Dissertation (eTD)

Creation and Submission

Q:    Where do I find specifications on submission format: margins, point sizes, writing style, etc.?

Thesis and dissertation guidelines and format requirements can be found in the "Thesis Guide" on the Graduate School's website.

Q:    What if I want to have a journal article as a chapter in my thesis or dissertation?

If you have already published an article that you want to use, in whole or in substantial part, as a chapter in your thesis or dissertation, you should first check any contract you signed with the publisher of the journal to see if you need to seek permission for reuse of it. (If you signed no contract, then the publisher only obtained the right of first publication in that journal and all other rights reside with you.) If your contract is unclear on this point, you should seek clarification from the publisher about any restrictions there may be on your reuse of it in your dissertation and, if that is approved, the subsequent availability of your dissertation over the Internet.

Q:    How do I cite an eTD?

Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style and see also "The Elements of Citation."

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html

Q:    Why should I submit electronically?

By preparing an eTD and submitting it electronically you will learn about electronic document preparation and about digital libraries. These skills can help prepare you for your future role in the Information Age, whether you teach, conduct research, or use the research results of others.

Furthermore, you may be able to better convey the message of your thesis or dissertation in an electronic document. Color diagrams, color images, hypertext links, audio, video, animations, spreadsheets, databases, simulations, and virtual reality worlds can be included in your document.

By submitting electronically you also allow your university to fulfill more economically its responsibilities of recording and archiving your thesis or dissertation. This is a key responsibility of the university, which is easier and less costly to fulfill when the work flow involves electronic documents.

Q:    Should I urge my committee members to review my document electronically?

A PDF file created in Acrobat allows viewers to mark up the file and add notes that can be sent back electronically to the author. The choice is strictly up to the committee members. However, there are advantages to reviewing the work electronically. For example, a committee member on sabbatical may have access to the Internet and could review your work online from a distant location.

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Publication

Q:    What are the options regarding electronic access?

The first option is to make your eTD available worldwide (Open Access). This option may be viewed by some as publishing the work, so that book or journal publishers may see a conflict with their publishing a portion or your entire dissertation.

The second option is to make your eTD available only to holders of an active Penn State Access Account (Penn State Only). This option addresses situations such as when a book is planned and the book publisher is concerned that prior publishing through a digital library may hurt sales. This option is for 2 years. Afterward the eTD automatically reverts to open access.

The third option is to disallow access to the eTD, with the exception of the abstract (Restricted). This option addresses situations such as when a patent application is planned or when proprietary interests are at stake. In such cases, Penn State may have some rights to related intellectual property and so does not want you to release the work without its permission. This option is for 2 years. Afterward the eTD automatically reverts to open access.

You should consider these options carefully. Discuss this with your advisor, and feel free to ask Penn State's Intellectual Property Office or Legal Counsel for advice. If you intend to work with a publisher regarding journal or book publications, be sure you understand their policies and agreements before you sign anything.

Q:    Why should I make my eTD freely available?

The basic aim of the NDLTD project is to increase the availability of theses and dissertations to students and scholars worldwide for the purpose of enhancing the growth of knowledge. If you have no concerns about how this wide circulation might affect your ability to republish parts of your work later, as journal articles or in a book, then we encourage you to share what you have learned with others who may be interested in the subject. The easy accessibility of your work may even lead to invitations to speak and write about it later and bring you other kinds of recognition and reward.

Q:    What if I want to write a book related to my dissertation?

If you are pursuing a career in higher education and hope to gain tenure, it may prove advantageous for you to use your dissertation as the basis for your first book. But you should be careful to check with several publishers that you consider the most prestigious in your field about their policies regarding submission of books based on Internet-accessible eTDs before you choose the option of open access.

Q:    What do I need to know about signing agreements with publishers?

Typically, an academic publisher will ask you to sign an agreement transferring &quot;all rights&quot; in your article or book that are derived from your dissertation, including electronic rights. Unless you receive specific permission from the publisher to have your dissertation remain freely available over the Internet, such an agreement once signed will require you to take action to make it electronically inaccessible outside of Penn State. Read your publishing contract carefully, consult your advisor if you have any questions about it, and seek answers from the publisher on any matters that remain unclear to you. This is a legal document that, once signed by both parties, imposes certain liabilities and responsibilities on you that are fully enforceable in a court of law, and it behooves you to understand what action or inaction of yours could lead to a violation of the contract and the legal consequences ensuing therefrom.

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