The graduate school application process involves multiple important steps, each of which must be completed according to directions. Skipping any steps or submitting incorrect or incomplete items could result in delays in processing your application or even cause your application to be flagged or rejected.

Here are the steps involved in applying to graduate school at Penn State World Campus. Note that this is the standard, universal process. Each program also has its own individual requirements, so the details may vary depending on the specific program you choose.

Review general minimum admission requirements. These are the basic requirements set by the Graduate School, but many programs have additional requirements.

Identify your program of interest. You can only apply to one Penn State graduate degree program at a time. You can, however, apply to more than one certificate program simultaneously if you wish.  

Learn about specific program details. Visit the program page for the specific program you are interested in, paying particular attention to important deadlines. As a first step, it’s helpful to make a checklist of all of the required application components so you can check each one off as you gather everything you need. You should also import the deadlines onto your calendar, perhaps creating your own intermittent mini-deadlines for when you aim to complete certain steps of the process, such as obtaining your transcripts or updating your résumé.

Create a Penn State account (or confirm your existing one). If you don’t already have a Penn State account, you will need to create one. If you have an account but haven’t used it in a while or have forgotten your account ID or password, you may need to reactivate your account or retrieve your information.

Explore financial aid options. Once you have identified your program of interest, you can get an estimate of the cost involved and begin to plan ways to fund your education. A variety of financial aid programs or other assistance resources may be available to you. You will need to submit separate applications and documentation in order to apply for these programs, and it may take time for your documents to be processed, so it’s a good idea to start as early as possible. Learn more about tuition and financial aid.

Start your application. Each program page has an “Apply Now” link that will walk you through the process. The system automatically saves your progress as you go, so you can complete the steps as you are able and then return to your application at your convenience to continue.

Submit required components. Every grad school applicant — regardless of which program you select — is required to submit transcripts from any post-secondary institution they have previously attended. All applicants must also attest to English proficiency, and many international applicants must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Certain international applicants are exempt from this requirement. Many programs require additional items, such as a résumé or references.

Pay the required application fees. Mandatory application fees are:

  • $65 for degree and postbaccalaureate (including graduate) credit certificate program admission
  • $30 for nondegree admission

Application fees are nonrefundable and should be paid as the last step of the application process. Applications will not be reviewed until the fee is paid. The Graduate School does not offer general application fee waivers, but prospective applicants can contact the specific graduate program to find out if any fee waivers are available directly from the program.

Check your status and keep your information current. After you submit your application, your application Status Page will be your central destination for news and updates. This is where you can see notifications and communications from the graduate program to which you have applied. Pay attention to any steps that are indicated as incomplete or any materials that still need to be uploaded. This is where you can also update your contact information or other details. You will want to check this page frequently, and also make sure to watch your email for any messages from Penn State.

Watch for a decision. You will receive an email from the Graduate School — along with communication from the program of study — when a decision has been made. If an offer of admission has been made, you will receive instructions on further steps you must take to formally accept and proceed to the next phase — that of an accepted, official Penn State graduate student!

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