Frequently Asked Questions | College of Information Sciences and Technology
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Frequently Asked Questions

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About Our Graduate Programs

Compared to CSE, the graduate program of IST addresses a broader set of issues dealing with computing, particularly those involving a large volume of heterogenous information and considering the human and societal impacts of computing and information systems.

Compared to MIS, the graduate program of IST focuses on information-centric issues of individuals, groups, organizations and other social entities, not just those of business.

Compared to psychology, the graduate program of IST focuses on how cognition, motivation and other human elements affect (and are affected by) computing and information design issues within a particular context.

No, we only admit students for the fall semester.

No, you may apply directly to the Ph.D. program without a master's degree.

Ph.D. applicants are typically students who have previous research experience from their undergraduate, graduate, or work settings, and who have determined that they wish to pursue a research-focused graduate degree. M.S. applicants often have less research experience or are not yet prepared to commit to the more extensive work involved in the Ph.D. program.

Generally, it takes four to five years to complete our doctoral program and approximately two years to complete our master's program.

All applicants will be considered for funding, there are no additional forms to be filled out.

Yes, the College of IST offers three master of professional studies degrees.

No. IST requires full-time matriculation at the University Park campus for both master's and doctoral degrees. The master of professional studies degree can be completed on a part-time basis.

No, we welcome applicants from diverse academic backgrounds including the liberal arts, computer science, engineering, environmental sciences, information sciences, law, life sciences, management, philosophy, mathematics and social sciences.

Application Inquiries

University policy does not allow the waiver or deferment of the application fee. If you cannot pay the fee yourself, a third party (friend or relative) may pay the fee on your behalf. Applications received without the fee cannot be processed.

Exception: The Penn State Graduate School offers application fee waivers for members of selected minority groups, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Black/African Americans. McNair scholars also may be eligible. Students requesting fee waivers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Educational Equity.

No, we do not have a minimum requirement; however, most of our strong candidates have a combined total of 325-340 on the verbal and quantitative tests. We also consider very carefully your score for analytical writing as we have found this to be an excellent predictor of success in our graduate program.

No, for our in-residence M.S. and Ph.D. programs, we do not accept GMAT scores.

Unofficial/self-reported scores can be submitted for application evaluation. Official GRE scores are required for Penn State to  be able to make you an offer.

Yes, all international students must submit an official TOEFL score. However, international applicants are exempt from the TOEFL requirement who have received a baccalaureate 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.

Yes, we accept IELTS scores but we prefer applicants to submit TOEFL iBT scores.

The Graduate School has a total minimum of 80 points on the Internet-based test, with a minimum of 19 on the speaking portion. Since we support many of our graduate students through teaching assistantships, IST requires a minimum of 23 on the speaking portion.

No, we do not have a minimum GPA requirement; however, we have found that most of our strong candidates possess a GPA of at least 3.5 (out of 4.0), or the equivalent.

No, Penn State's Graduate School does not allow students to apply to more than one program at a time.

About Penn State

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