Admissions Information

Ph.D. Admission Requirements

Successful applicants to our program have at the minimum:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning
  • 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA)
  • Master’s degree in a related field
  • 3.5 graduate GPA
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores
  • Three strong letters of recommendation from academic or professional references
  • A strong statement of purpose that outlines the applicant’s scholarly and professional interests and goals in pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics at Penn State
  • One or two well-written samples of academic writing (e.g., M.A. thesis, course paper, published article, etc.)


International applicants without an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution 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 and a minimum score of 24 on the writing section,
  • OR an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum score of 7.0 on the speaking section and a minimum score of 7.0 on the writing section

Admission Deadline

Admission decisions are made once a year, for admission beginning fall semester. The application deadline is February 1.

Application Procedures

All applications are administered and processed on-line 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 Ph.D. program, please submit the following materials:

  • An official Graduate School Application with application fee. The Graduate School application can ONLY be submitted electronically.
  • 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 2903; for the TOEFL use 04; IELTS Penn State’s Institution code is 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 a letter to the system.
  3. Statement of purpose: You must submit a statement of purpose in which you describe your scholarly and professional interests and goals for pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics at The Pennsylvania State University. The statement should be no longer than two double-spaced pages. The statement of purpose should be uploaded to the Graduate School Application system.
  4. Writing Samples: You must submit one or two well-written samples of your academic writing (e.g., M.A. thesis, course paper, published article, etc.). Writing sample(s) should be uploaded to the Graduate School Application system. 
  5. 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 to the applicant. 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.

Request for Application Fee Waiver

The deadline for application fee waiver requests was Nov. 30 for Fall 2024 admission.

Application fees can pose a financial barrier to many applying to graduate school.  We recognize this burden and understand how this has limited many in their application process.  If you are a domestic applicant from an underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged background and would like to be considered for a fee waiver, please contact the Director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, (Earl F. Merritt).  If you do not meet the aforementioned criteria (e.g., you are an international student), please fill out the form here by November 30 (5pm EST). We have limited funds but hope to provide support to as many students as we can.

We prefer to receive these requests via the form. However, if you do not have access to Microsoft services, thus cannot complete the form, please send an email to Celeste Kinginger, Director of Graduate Studies with a copy to Nicole Schwindenhammer, Administrative Support Assistant.

Provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Share more about yourself and how a fee waiver would help
  • Would you still consider applying without the fee waiver?
  • Did you already pay and submit your application?