FAQ

How can I tell if Penn State is for me?

We want to work collaboratively with students who share our intellectual excitement and devotion to applied linguistics, and who will themselves someday be independent scholars and scientists. This joint venture works best when doctoral students feel a creative synergy with faculty members who share their interests.  As you decide whether to apply to Applied Linguistics at Penn State, make sure that you look carefully through the faculty web pages to see if you find kindred spirits who might serve as mentors. Look through the course descriptions to see if the topics seem stimulating and thought-provoking.  Should you decide to apply, you'll want to address this "fit" in your personal narrative.

Do I need to have a bachelor's or master's degree in linguistics or applied linguistics to apply for the doctoral program?

No.  Applicants to the program may come with a master’s degree in any related field.

If I am accepted in the Department of Applied Linguistics, may I take courses in other departments as well?

Yes. We encourage students to make use of whatever resources the university offers that help them in their chosen field of study within applied linguistics. For example, students with interests in languages other than English might want to take courses in one of the language departments in the College of the Liberal Arts.  Students who want to pursue research in language education at K-12 levels might want to take courses in the College of Education. Students in the Language, Health, and Aging sequence within the department will want to round out their programs with courses from the College of Health and Human Development. In every case, decisions about crafting a program of study are made jointly by the student and his or her advisor.

Are my GRE scores the only thing that the admissions committee considers?

In our admissions process, we attend to the entire picture generated by an applicant's record of achievements, personal narrative, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

What are the minimum GRE scores necessary for admission?

Given that we emphasize the entire application package and not just standardized scores, we do not have minimum acceptable scores. However, we note that the average scores (published by ETS) for individuals intending to pursue graduate work in the social science are 487 (or 152 on the new scale) on the GRE Verbal subtest and 565 (or 146 on the new scale) on the GRE Quantitative subtest. Successful applicants to our program generally score above these means, along with a score of 3.5 or higher on the GRE Analytical Writing section.

What are the minimum TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission?

International students may take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. The minimum requirements for the TOEFL are 600 on the paper test, 250 on the computer-based test, and 100 on the internet-based test, with a minimum score of 23 on the speaking section and a minimum score of 24 on the writing section. Applicants taking the IELTS must score at least 7.0, with a minimum score of 7.0 on the speaking section and a minimum score of 7.0 on the writing section. International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate 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. However, the admissions committee does recommend that all international applicants submit a TOEFL/IELTS score.

What is usually included in letters of recommendation?

We ask that you have 3 letters of recommendation sent by individuals who are familiar with your academic and/or professional work. Usually such letters indicate how long and in what capacity the recommender knows you, his or her opinion of your academic work, your ability to do creative intellectual work with others, your work habits, and some estimation of your capacity as a potential researcher.

Whom should I contact to see if my application materials arrived?

Please direct queries about your application to the Ms. Sally Arnold (), Department of Applied Linguistics, Administrative Support Coordinator.

What are my chances of being accepted into the program?

Our average acceptance rate ranges from 5-10%. When making admissions decisions we consider each applicant's academic record, type and range of teaching and professional experiences, and specified research interests. In addition to selecting only those applicants with top ratings in all of these categories, we look for those whose research interests closely match the scholarly expertise of the department's faculty. Thus, each year we reject applicants with strong applications but with research interests that are not the best fit.

When will I find out if I am accepted?

Usually within 2-3 weeks of the deadline for admissions, the departmental admissions committee meets to consider the applications. Once decisions are made, individual offers are extended. If for some reason, one or the other of these individuals does not accept the offer, we return to a consideration of the whole pool of applicants. This takes time. However, all decisions are made by April 15 at the very latest.

When will I find out about funding?

Funding decisions are made at the same time as admissions decisions.

What is included in funding?

Students who receive funding receive a grant-in-aid that covers tuition costs, health insurance, and a stipend. The amount of the stipend is calculated by the Graduate School each year. Applicants with particularly impressive records of achievement often receive additional scholarships from the university.

What if I have funding from another source?

Sometimes applicants have funding from a private foundation or the government in their country of origin. We welcome such applicants, and we evaluate them according to the same criteria as those who are seeking funding.

Where can I find information for international applicants?

The University Office of Global Programs at Penn State provides assistance for international students in all administrative, regulatory, and legal matters. It also provides a variety of educational, cultural, and social programs to help international students adjust to campus life. For more information, please visit the website at http://global.psu.edu