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Graduate Program

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Applications are now open for matriculation in fall 2022!  Please carefully review this page and our graduate admissions FAQ page for information about how to submit an application.

The Astronomy and Astrophysics department no longer accepts General or Physics GRE scores.

Admission to the Penn State Astronomy and Astrophysics graduate program is highly selective.  Typical successful applicants have a high junior-senior GPA (above 3.0 on a standard U.S. 4-point-scale), research experience, and strong letters of recommendation from those who can attest to their academic and research abilities.  All applicants to the graduate program must have a Bachelor's degree in Physics, Astronomy, or a related area upon their arrival. Be sure to read our graduate admissions FAQ and the requirements for admission to The Graduate School before preparing your application. To begin the application process, go to the admissions site for The Graduate School. Complete the on-line application form for the Ph.D. program of the Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University Park campus of Penn State University. This form will ask you for:

  • Your biographical information.
  • Your educational background.
  • Your work experience.
  • A PDF version of your curriculum vitae.
  • The names and addresses of three people familiar with your qualifications for graduate school.
  • A personal statement (the content of which is detailed in a prompt during the application process).
  • Scores from the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) examination for international students (with the exceptions noted below). A score of at least 620 on the paper test, 260 on the computer based test, or 105 on the internet-based (iBT) test are viewed most favorably, but a lower score does not exclude consideration. In addition, Penn State University also requires a minimum of 19 points on the new speaking portion of the iBT test. Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may still be considered for provisional admission. Provisional admission requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. Students who have received a baccalaureate or a masters degree from a college/university/institution in 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 or Wales are excepted from this requirement.
  • Electronic copies of transcripts (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S.) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and official English translation if the language of instruction is not English). Applicants who accept an offer of admission will be notified by the Graduate School that official/original transcripts and 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.
  • Temporary provisions for English proficiency due to COVID-19

In order for an application to be given fullest consideration, all application materials must arrive by January 21. Late applications may also be considered, but first consideration for admission and financial aid will be given to those which arrive by the deadline. Typically, first year students are awarded teaching assistantships and full tuition is waived. The strongest applicants may receive fellowships, either in place of a teaching assistantship, or in addition to it.

The application fee is $65. If it presents a financial hardship, you are welcome to apply for a fee waiver by contacting the chair of graduate admissions, Jason Wright. Please include your CV.