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Doctor of Philosophy Program of Studies

Credit Requirements

The EDTHP doctoral program requirements include required courses (proseminar, qualitative and quantitative methods, research design, and EDTHP theory and policy classes, and a focused area of study.) The plan of study and any additional coursework will be discussed with the student’s academic adviser, including relevant course experiences at other universities that could allow a student to be exempt from required coursework. Depending on the nature of the courses, up to 9 credits may be taken in 400-level courses.

Credit Transfer

Requests for academic or professional credit transfers may be submitted after the first semester of coursework through the time of filing of the candidacy portfolio at which time the faculty as a group will review the request and make a decision. For students who enroll with higher qualifications (already have completed much doctoral coursework elsewhere), advisers can petition the EDTHP faculty for modification of the typical procedure for advancement to doctoral candidacy, and faculty will decide these on a case-by-case basis.
Note: Students cannot receive course credit for courses that have been credited to complete a previous degree program; they can, however, petition to wave out of requirements.

Graduate credits (a maximum of 10) may be transferred from another university if the following stipulations are met:

  1. Courses to be transferred must have been taken five years prior to the date of first degree registration at The Graduate School;
  2. Grades in courses to be transferred must be of at least a B quality (no pass/fail grades);
  3. Courses must be relevant to the student’s program of study in EDTHP; and
  4. Credits have not been counted toward a prior degree.

A maximum of 9 professional credits may be awarded to those who have professional experience in education policy. The student must submit to the Program Coordinator a letter outlining his/her experience and the number of credits being requested.


Over some 12-month period during the interval between admission to and completion of the Ph.D. program, the candidate must spend at least two semesters (excluding summer) as a registered full-time student engaged in academic work on the University Park campus. Full-time Penn State employees must be certified by the department as devoting half-time or more to graduate studies and/or thesis research to meet the residency requirement.

Communication and Foreign Language Competence

A candidate for a doctoral degree at Penn State is required to demonstrate a high level of competence in the use of the English language, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Proficiency is expected at the time of admission to The Graduate School or must be achieved before admission to candidacy. No other language is required by the EDTHP program.