Program Requirements for Admission

Program Requirements for Admission

Note: In addition to the general prerequisites for admission to the Graduate School, the following is required by this degree program:


Requirements More Information

Admission to the PhD program is based on the applicant's academic performance in the past and the compatibility of his/her background and interests with those of the program faculty members.

All applicants must have completed a master’s degree in a relevant field: master of public administration, master of public policy, or a master’s degree in criminal justice, homeland security, health administration, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, social work, or business management. Juris Doctorate degrees (law) will also be considered.

Supporting Materials
  • Official scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) —verbal, quantitative, and analytical—taken within the five years prior to the date of application
  • A resumé that includes work experience, volunteer activities, academic and professional honors, honorary societies, extracurricular activities, offices held, any publications, and other significant activities
  • A statement of goals and research interests, including evidence of research aptitude and interest as well as “fit” with the faculty interests in the PhD program at the Pennsylvania State University. The candidate should make the case why this Ph.D. program would be a good fit for him/her. There is no page or word limit for this statement, but it should be written clearly, coherently, and succinctly.
  • A writing sample that reflects the applicant’s background in conducting academic research and his/her potential to conduct academic research in the future
  • At least three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty members who can comment on the applicant's potential as a doctoral student
  • Two official transcripts from each undergraduate degree-granting college or university and post-graduate college or university the applicant attended


Application Deadline

There are two deadlines for applications for the fall semester of the following academic year: January 15 and March 15 . For those applicants seeking research or teaching assistantships, the deadline to submit all application materials is January 15. Late applications may be considered if assistantships are still available. Applicants who wish to finance their education with their own funds or other sources (foreign governments that fund international students for PhD studies in the United States and other funding agencies, such as Fulbright commissions) are encouraged to submit their applications by January 15, but they may apply any time before March 15.