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Applicant Information

last updated 11/19/20

IMPORTANT ADMISSIONS UPDATE: Please note that we will only be considering applicants who have already completed a master’s degree in School Psychology (or closely related field) for admission to the doctoral program in Fall 2021.

How to Apply

Applications for admission for the fall semester must be submitted by December 1st.

All prospective applicants for doctoral study in the graduate program in School Psychology at Penn State are encouraged to read the Graduate School requirements. After you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, visit the online application portal. The online application portal should answer most questions about admission and other requirements.

The principal qualification for admission is evidence of strong potential for advanced graduate study and research. Such evidence is obtained from an applicant's academic record, letters of reference, scores on standardized tests, and personal statement of academic and vocational interests.

Fellowships, graduate assistantships, and financial aid are available for qualified applicants. To be considered for admission, as well as for fellowships and financial assistance, your complete application - including the required Personal Statement - should be received on or before December 1.  (Please note that if you would like your application to be considered for fellowships, you must also submit a Career Goals statement along with the required application materials.)  Offers of admission are made on or about April 1 for the following Fall Semester. 

Application Requirements

Complete the online Graduate School Application at the Graduate School Admissions and Program Information Portal by submitting the following: 

  1. Current resume or Curriculum Vitae.
  2. Preferred faculty mentors (first and second choice).  Please utilize the School Psychology program faculty Directories for related information.
  3. Personal Statement (Required of all applicants). Please write a brief statement (single space, 2-page maximum) that addresses the following:  (1) Why are you interested in becoming a School Psychologist?  (2) Why are you interested in pursuing a PhD?  (3) Why are you interested in Penn State's doctoral program in School Psychology? 
  4. Career Goals Statement (Required only for fellowship consideration.) This concise statement (single space, 1-page maximum) should describe your research interests, how they align with those of your preferred advisor, and professional goals upon completion of the doctoral program.
  5. Master's thesis (for Fall 2021 applicants) as a writing sample.

  6. Scores from the Graduate Record Examination Aptitude Test (GRE Verbal, Quantitative, and Writing) is not required but recommended.
  7. Copies of transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended (and official English translation if the language of instruction is not English).  (See 'Message from the Graduate School' below for additional information regarding transcripts.)
  8. Two or more recommendations from professional psychologists, professors, and/or former supervisors who are acquainted with your academic record. 
  9. For international students: All international applicants whose first language is not English or who have not received baccalaureate or master's degrees from an institution in which the language of instruction is English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) examination. A TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test or a score of 213 on the computer-based test is required for admission.  Beginning in August 2015, applicants are to send the TOEFL test scores electronically to Penn State University.
  10. Nonrefundable application fee.


Message from the Graduate School

Degree Admission

Admission to the Graduate School at Penn State to pursue a graduate degree requires that prospective students select a specific graduate program (field of study) and graduate degree (e.g., Ph.D.), and submit all application materials required for that graduate degree program, in addition to the University-wide requirements of the Graduate School (i.e., submission of a completed, online Graduate School Application for Admission; payment of the non-refundable graduate application fee; upload of copies of transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended (and official English translation if the language of instruction is not English); submission of official TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants (with the exceptions noted; ); and, if offered admission and the offer is accepted, receipt by the Graduate School of official/original transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended (and official English translation, if the language of instruction is not English).  The Graduate School confirms eligibility for admission of all graduate degree applicants, and programs select and recommend applicants for offers of admission, with final approval of admission to all graduate degree programs by the Graduate School. 

An applicant may apply to only one graduate degree program and campus at a time. The Graduate School will not consider concurrent applications for admission to more than one graduate degree program and does not act upon an application without a program's recommendation to offer admission. If additional degree applications are submitted, only the most recently submitted application will be reviewed. Individuals who already hold a doctorate are discouraged from applying for a second doctoral degree (see policy on Second Doctorates).

EFFECTIVE 11/10/14:  As part of the online application process, applicants are required to electronically upload copies of transcripts (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) 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 official 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.  For applicants whose 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.

To apply for admission to a graduate degree program at Penn State, review the instructions on the respective program's website. A list of degree program web sites may be found on the Graduate Programs of Study web page. The website of the each graduate program will direct you to the Graduate School online application.

Individuals applying for Level I Instructional, Supervisory, Educational Specialist, and Administrative certification issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education upon the recommendation of the University, must apply using the degree application and choose "Pennsylvania Educators Level I Certification" as the degree selection. Additional information regarding certification may be found at The Penn State College of Education or by calling (814) 865-0488.


Selection Process

Each year, we invite to campus those applicants who appear most qualified and compatible with the program's scientist-practitioner training model. In most years, two or three times as many students are invited for interviews as can be admitted. (Applicants who reside more than a day's drive away may be interviewed by telephone or web-based video conference.)  During their time on campus, the Program Coordinator meets with applicants to explain the program and our expectations in greater detail than can be effectively on our web pages. Then, following a tour of the facilities, prospective students have individual conferences with members of the Admissions Committee (i.e., core program faculty) and with several students. During the interview day, questions can be answered by both faculty and students and, if necessary, by other persons in the University community. This visit gives potential students an opportunity to see the setting and people with whom they may be working for the next several years, as well as giving Penn State faculty the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about the applicants.  All applicants will be notified of their admission status by early April.

Whom to Contact

Questions regarding our application process and receipt of your application materials should be directed to our program assistant:

Lan Conrad

125G CEDAR Building