Admissions Information

Admission Requirements

Successful applicants to our program have at the minimum:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA)
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores*
  • Three strong letters of recommendation from academic and professional references
  • A strong statement of purpose describing the applicant’s professional interests and reasons for wanting to pursue an MA TESL degree at Penn State.

International applicants without an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution must also have:

  • a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper), 250 (computer-based), or 100 (internet-based) with a minimum score of 23 on the speaking section,
  • OR an IELTS score of 7.0.

*GRE scores are optional for applicants applying for the 2024-2025 academic year. Applications will be considered without GRE scores.

Applications will be reviewed when OFFICIAL test scores have been received by Penn State.

Application Deadlines

U. S. citizens may apply for the MA TESL program at any time. However, if you are an international student, you must apply by May 1 for the following fall semester or by October 1 to be admitted for the spring semester. This time is required for the processing of your international status.

Application Procedures

All applications are administered and processed online through The Pennsylvania State University Graduate School.  If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Requirements for Graduate Admission, please visit that website at

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application at

To apply to the MA TESL program, please submit the following materials:

  • Copies of transcripts: As part of the online application process, applicants are required to electronically upload copies of transcripts (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) from ALL post-secondary institutions attended in the language of instruction and copies of an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction.

Applicants recommended for admission who accept an offer through the online graduate admission system will be notified by the Graduate School that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions in the official language of the institution(s) attended. 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.

Also required are the following:

  1. Standardized test scores: These should be reported directly to the department through the testing agencies. The department code for the Department of Applied Linguistics for the GRE is 3907; for the TOEFL use 04; IELTS Penn State’s Institution code: 2660.
  2. Letters of Reference:  Three letters of reference are required.  You will be required to enter e-mail addresses for your references on the Graduate School Application. Once your application is submitted, an e-mail will be generated by the system and sent directly to your references asking them to submit the letter to the system.
  3. Statement of Purpose: You must submit a statement of purpose in which you describe your professional interests and reasons for wanting to pursue an MA TESL degree at Penn State. The statement should be no longer than two double-spaced pages. The statement of purpose should be uploaded through the Graduate School Application system.
  4. VISA DOCUMENTATION FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: No paperwork regarding an applicant’s visa is required at the time of application.  If an applicant is admitted to the program, the University Office of Global Programs Pre-Arrival Advising Office will send an e-mail notification.  The e-mail will provide the applicant with a set of instructions for completing electronic forms that are part of the admission process including visa documentation.