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Doctoral Frequently Asked Questions

various question and answers pertaining to the doctorate program

Question: What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a D.Ed.?
Answer: Doctoral students pursuing both degrees will complete a rigorous course of study that differs in focus. The Ph.D. program is geared toward students who are interested in “careers in research and scholarly work”. The D.Ed. is “geared toward students who intend to pursue careers in the professional practice of adult education”. A more detailed discussion of the difference between the two degrees can be found in the ADTED student handbook.

Question: Does the College of Education offer any scholarships?
Answer: The College of Education offers numerous academic scholarships in all fields of study. A single online application form is open to all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the College of Education, University Park campus.

All students interested in receiving scholarships should complete the FAFSA form.  Without this you will not be considered for any scholarships.

Question: Can I apply for graduate assistantships in other departments?
Answer: Information about graduate assistantships and fellowships outside our program, and available through the University Park campus, may be found on the following websites:

Question: Are there resources available for international students?
Answer: The University Office of Global Programs (UOGP) works with international students throughout their academic careers, from admission to graduation, by providing services in the areas of initial immigration documents, orientation, immigration and advising, administration of grants and loans for international students, and social and cultural acclimation programs.

UOGP also provides a wide range of quality support services, including pre-arrival services, orientation programs, immigration and general advising, workshops, and cultural programs.

Question: How do I obtain a Student ID Card?
Answer: Student ID cards are only processed following admission confirmation in a Penn State Academic Department.  You can obtain a student ID at 103 HUB-Robeson Center, University Park. The Penn State ID card is a photo-ID, a library card good at any Penn State campus, a record of the student’s ID number, and proof of student status for discounts at many retailers in Pennsylvania. For more information visit the  PSU ID card website.

Question: If I am an admitted student in the program, but missed a semester, how do I go about getting registered?

Answer: If you are an admitted student in the program, but did NOT take a Penn State course during the previous semester, you must complete the Resume Study Form.

  1. Complete the Resume Study Form.
  2. Fax the form to the Graduate School at (814)863-4627 and notify the program staff assistant that you have faxed the form. Once the form has been processed by the Graduate School, it will be sent to the program for further action.
  3. Once the form has been approved, you will be sent an email informing you that you may now register for courses.

Question: What can I expect from my qualifying exam?
Answer: Your qualifying exam will be an interview between yourself, your advisor and another ADTED faculty member. The overarching goal of this interview will be to determine the fit between your professional goals and the goals of the ADTED Program. As stated in the student handbook, the purposes of your qualifying exam will be to:

  • determine the "fit" between the your academic and professional aspirations and what the program offers
  • assess your abilities in areas critical to completion of the dissertation process, including skills of writing, critical thinking, and research
  • confirm admission to either the D.Ed. or Ph.D. program


Question: What do you take in a 15 credit-minor?
Answer: Students may take a minor in both the Ph.D. and D.Ed. degrees. Students must talk with their faculty advisor about taking a minor and also with a faculty member in the minor area. Students then must complete a minor application form which is obtained from the program staff assistant. After listing the courses and obtaining all signatures, the form must be returned to the program staff assistant who then will submit the form to the graduate school for approval. Students taking a minor are required to have a minor person serve on their doctoral committee.

Question:  Are there any dual title options in the department?
Answer: Adult Education offers a dual title program with Comparative and International Education (CI ED).

Question: Who will help me prepare for my comprehensive exams?
Answer: Assistance with preparation for comprehensive exams will vary depending on the members of your committee. Generally a student will work closely with his/her committee chair in selecting topics that the student should review in preparation for comprehensive exams. In addition, committee members having expertise in an area pertinent to the student’s topic, should be consulted during the preparation phase.

Question: What is the role of a student mentor?
Answer: Student mentors are current students that volunteer to help incoming students get acclimated to the ADTED program and State College. Student mentors usually contact new students in the summer months via email to introduce themselves and see if they can assist in any way. In the past, mentors have provided information on housing, the ADTED program, weather, and a host of other topics. In general mentors serve as State College student contacts prior to the arrival of the incoming students.

Question: Is there any place on campus that can assist me with finding off-campus housing?
Answer: The Office of Off-Campus Living is located in the HUB- Robeson Center. Helpful resources are also available on their website. Additionally, has real estate listings as does the local newspaper The Centre Daily Times.

Question: Do you have to have a car to live in State College?
Answer: You do not need a car to live in State College. Public transportation is reasonably priced and reliable. Public transportation is provided by the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA).   When deciding on off-campus housing, students should be sure and inquire about the bus schedule for the area. Some parts of State College receive better service than others.  A number of off campus students take the bus to campus to avoid paying parking fees. Some apartment complexes offer free bus passes to campus.