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Graduate Admission



Admission is granted jointly by the Graduate School and the Department of Mathematics. The Department of Mathematics recommends admission to the Graduate School and the Graduate School, in turn, monitors procedures and minimum requirements and makes the final decision on the admission. The Graduate School requires that all applicants have a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent before entering Penn State. The Department of Mathematics requires applicants to have completed at least 18 credits in mathematics at the advanced undergraduate level.

It is not necessary for an applicant to the Ph.D. program to have a master's degree before applying.

The Graduate School does not act on the application without a recommendation from the Department of Mathematics. Questions regarding the status of the application should be directed to the Department of Mathematics.

The following should be submitted directly to Graduate Enrollment Services:

  1. Graduate School application filed electronically.
  2. A non-refundable application fee.
    (Applications without fees cannot be processed.)
    • Make check payable to The Pennsylvania State University.
    • International money order or a check must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
    • Cancelled check serves as your receipt.
    • Do not send cash.
    • Please attach generated Fee Form if you filed your application electronically and you did not pay by credit card.


The application deadline is January 5th!

The following documents may now be uploaded to the Graduate School Electronic Application and do not need to be sent to the Mathematics Department separately.

  • 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.
  • At least three letters of recommendation from persons who are familiar with the applicant's qualifications to study graduate mathematics. We do not require / supply forms for letters of recommendation. We request plain text letters from recommenders. On the Graduate School application, letters are requested to be uploaded electronically. The individuals that you list will receive an email from the Graduate School with the necessary information for them to upload the documents.
  • Personal statement of purpose.
  • A brief description of the junior, senior and graduate level mathematics courses which the applicant will have completed upon entering graduate school. The description should include the course name, subject matter covered, text(s), instructor and the grade received.
  • Resume/CV
  • Research document/papers. This is OPTIONAL. This is provided for those applicants who have written research documents and/or papers and would like to include them with their application packet.
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are optional, not required for admission.
    • Penn State code: 2660
    • Mathematics Department code: 0703

  • Scores from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are required of all non-native English speakers.
    It is highly suggested that applicants who completed their undergraduate degrees in countries where English is not the language of instruction take the Test of Spoken English (TSE). See below for more information.

Note: Please do not submit information with your application that cannot be used in the admission decision process, e.g., Individual Education Plans (IEPs), medical records, statements from physicians or psychologists, or legal documents. Such information will be returned by your intended program of study.

The Department of Mathematics offers the following degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Education (D.Ed.), Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Education (M.Ed.). Students are admitted in one of these four degree programs.

Entering Ph.D. students are expected to have the necessary prerequisites for at least two of the basic, first-year courses. See the section describing the Ph.D. program for more details.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. The Graduate School requires that non-native speakers of English demonstrate proficiency in the English Language by taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). This is a Graduate School requirement, and the minimum scores are:
TOEFL: 550 (paper test)
213 (computer-based test)
80-19 on the speaking section (internet-based test)
Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work.
IELTS: 6.5

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a masters 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.

Information about the TOEFL can be obtained by visiting their web site at Information about the IELTS can be obtained by visiting its Web site at

Since a high score on the TOEFL does not guarantee the necessary degree of fluency, it is highly suggested that applicants who completed their undergraduate degrees in countries where English is not the language of instruction take the Test of Spoken English (TSE). This test, which is given by the Educational Testing Service, can usually be taken at the same office abroad as the one at which the TOEFL is offered. International students who have been awarded a teaching assistantship must be certified as proficient in English by the Department of Speech Communication; the TSE is administered to such incoming students. If an incoming student has already taken the TSE administered by the Educational Testing Service, his or her score will be accepted. However, any such student may take the TSE offered here. TAs who score below the minimum proficiency level are not permitted to teach. They are assigned other duties (such as grading) and are required to improve their English by taking specially designed English as a Second Language courses administered by the Department of Speech Communication. Students in these courses continue to be barred from teaching until they pass a Post-evaluation examination given at the courses' conclusion. Since such course work is time consuming, incoming international students are urged to work hard on their oral English proficiency before their arrival at Penn State.