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College of IST Admission Requirements and Deadlines

The deadline for all application materials for Fall 2016, including the application and test scores, is December 15, 2015. All applications received by this date will be given full consideration for Fall 2016 admission. New students are only admitted to the program for the fall semester.

All applicants must satisfy the requirements of the Penn State Graduate School. Please see the degree requirements section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Because our program is multidisciplinary, individuals from nearly any discipline may be accepted. A master's degree in a related area is not necessary for admission to the Ph.D. program, but may be helpful for successful completion of the degree.

Penn State's Graduate School Application

All Penn State graduate applicants must complete an application electronically available at the Graduate School Admissions and Program Information Portal. Please refer to the Graduate School's How to Apply page for information concerning application fees.

You will be applying for the M.S. or Ph.D. degree program in Information Sciences and Technology at the University Park campus.

No single item is used to determine your admission status. Therefore, it is important that you provide all the requested information. Below is a list of required documents/information that must be uploaded to your electronic application:

  • Three (3) letters of academic recommendation (for applicants currently active in the workforce, letters of recommendation from professional colleagues will be accepted). A letter on college or company letterhead is acceptable—no special form is necessary. Each reference will receive an e-mail when the applicant submits the form that details the reference submission portal on the electronic application.
  • A résumé that includes present position and any publications.
  • A one to three page statement of research background and goals related to pursuing an advanced degree and career in Information Sciences and Technology. Also, in the statement please briefly discuss your personal motivation for obtaining a Ph.D. (or M.S.). To learn about research by IST faculty, visit the research section of this site.
  • A sample of the applicant's writing. This could be a journal article, conference paper, or final paper for a course.
  • Results from a recent (within the past five years) Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Select 2660 and "Penn State" as your choice for ETS to send your scores to our central mainframe/database. Department codes are no longer used. Please do not send GMAT scores, we only accept GRE scores.
  • Upload unofficial transcripts (do NOT send) from every institution of higher education attended, both undergraduate and graduate. 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.

Check the status of your application

Please do not send information that cannot be used in the admission decision process. Examples include: Individual Education Plans (IEPs), medical records, statements from physicians or psychologists, or legal documents.