Contact the Department

Director of Graduate Studies:

Amy Marshall

For information on
The Graduate Program
please contact Sherri Gilliland
(814) 863-1721


Graduate Office
Department of Psychology 
125 Moore Building 
The Pennsylvania State University 
University Park, PA 16802-3106

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by Prospective Students

General Questions

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I only want to pursue a Master’s Degree and not a Ph.D. How do I apply for just the Master’s?

The Psychology Department does not offer a terminal master’s degree program at the University Park campus. We seek applicants whose objective is the Ph.D, although students are commonly awarded an M.S. degree en route to the Ph.D. The Harrisburg Penn State campus offers a Master of Arts in Applied Clinical Psychology as well as a Master of Arts in Applied Psychological Research.

Do you accept applicants who already have a Master’s Degree?

Yes. Decisions about whether a Master’s Degree and coursework from another university will be accepted at Penn State are only made after admission.

Do you accept part-time students?

No. The graduate program is designed for full-time students working toward the doctor of philosophy degree.

I want to apply to more than one area in the Psychology Department. How can I do it?

You may apply to only one doctoral program at a time (cognitive, child clinical, adult clinical, developmental, social, or industrial/organizational). However, during a given admission cycle, you may request to change the program to which you are applying within psychology. If you are denied admission from a specific program, you may request to be considered by another program by contacting the Graduate Administrative Assistant.

I want to work with faculty members across different areas. How can I do it?

As a department, we highly value collaboration across areas. However, in the admissions process, it is important to select at least two faculty from the area in which you are applying (cognitive, child clinical, adult clinical, developmental, social, or industrial/organizational). Your third faculty choice can be from a different area or from the area in which you are applying.

Questions about Admission Requirements

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What are Psychology’s educational requirements for admission to Ph.D programs?

Most of our incoming students have earned an undergraduate degree in psychology; however, students from other majors are admitted. It is expected that applicants will have a background in psychology before applying.

What examinations are required for admission?

The GRE is not required for Fall 2022 admission. However, the I-O area strongly recommends submission of GRE scores for full consideration unless the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your ability to take or perform well on the test in some way. Submission of GRE scores is fully optional for the clinical and cognitive areas (if you include them, they will be considered; if you do not include them, there is no penalty). The developmental and social areas will not request nor consider GRE scores.

Students admitted to the clinical training area are required to take the GRE Psychology Subject Test before, or soon after beginning, the program to demonstrate foundational knowledge.

If you apply to the I-O, clinical, or cognitive training programs and submit GRE scores, but do not think that your scores accurately reflect your ability (due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your ability to study or take the exam in an environment conducive to success, or for any other reason), please feel free to indicate so in the text box associated with the applicant notes in the Graduate School Admissions Portal.

The TOEFL/IELTS exam is required for international students except for those applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a master’s 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.

IELTS should be sent to:

The Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA 16802

All international students admitted to Penn State University, regardless of where they have obtained their baccalaureate or master’s degree, will be required to take the English Proficiency Exam upon arrival at the Penn State campus.

What is Penn State’s institutional code for the GRE examination?

To have your scores sent to Penn State, choose Penn State University or the institutional code of 2660. It is not necessary to use the Departmental code.

What are the minimum GRE and GPA scores required for admission?

There is no minimum score required for the GREs or a minimum GPA. However, click here to see average scores from past entering classes.

What are the requirements for the sample paper?

A full paper that reflects your writing ability should be submitted. Examples include, but are not limited to, an honor’s thesis, a research proposal, or a term paper for a class. A research-based paper in the psychology field is preferable, but not required.  Papers should be sole authored (or first authored if submitting a co-authored published manuscript or a conference submission). There is no page limit.

What are the requirements for the statement of purpose?

The statement of purpose should communicate your motivation for pursuing a doctoral degree at Penn State, your academic and research background, as well as your career goals. Please indicate the specific area in which you would like to study and the professors whose work is aligned with your research interests. There is not a strict page limit, but a typical length is two pages.


Questions about the Application and Application Forms

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What is the application deadline for admission?

December 1 is the deadline for all five areas of Psychology at Penn State: Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Industrial/Organizational and Social. All applications materials need to be uploaded to your application no later than December 1. No materials are to be sent directly to Psychology.

How do I know if my application is complete?

Because of the high volume of applications we receive, we cannot respond to phone calls and/or emails regarding the completion of your application. Please carefully follow our instructions concerning uploading required application materials and check the online admissions portal to see if your application is complete.

When are admissions decisions made?

Admission decisions are generally made by April 15th.

Are there application fee waivers available?

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 our Director, Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, (Earl F. Merritt).  If you do not meet the aforementioned criteria, please provide your contact information here.  We have limited funds and hope to provide support to as many students as we can.


Questions about Funding

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Is there a separate form for requesting Assistantships or Fellowships?

No, there is no separate form. All applicants offered admission are automatically considered for available assistantships or fellowships.

What kind of funding is available?

Admitted students generally receive a monthly stipend as well as a full waiver of tuition and fees. Because we do our best to fund all of our incoming students, we can only admit a limited number of applicants each year.


Questions about the Clinical Program

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Is Psychology’s Clinical Program an accredited program?


Are interviews required for the Clinical program?

Interviews are required and granted at our invitation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these interviews will take place remotely, typically via Zoom.

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