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Graduate Admission Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about applying

The deadline each year is January 5th.

No, you may apply directly to the Ph.D. program without a master's degree.

No, our first-year graduate courses designed for Ph.D. qualifying examinations are two-semester courses. Granting Spring admissions would put students at a disadvantage.

Yes, under special circumstances we may be able to waive the fee. Please contact Katie Greenland to request this.

No, paper applications are no longer accepted by the Graduate School. Applications must be submitted electronically.

No, we request plain text letters from your recommenders.

No, the TOEFL is a requirement of the Graduate School. A low TOEFL is not accepted by the International Student Services office when preparing visa documents.

Scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are optional, not required for admission.

This is a Graduate School requirement, and the minimum scores are:


550 (paper test)

213 (computer-based test)

80-19 on the speak section (internet-based test)



Year Internet-based Paper Computer-Based
2019 100.91    
2018 89.75    
2017 104.17    
2016 96    
2015 101    
2014 96    
2013 99    
2012 88    
2011 95    
2010 95    
2009 100    
2008 98   255
2007   618  
2005   606 262
2004   611 258
2003   611 258
2002   585  
2001   608  
2000   587 240

While the Graduate School does not require a minimum GPA, it is generally expected that an applicant maintain a junior/senior GPA of 2.50 for admissions. The Department of Mathematics does not have a minimum score required.

Listed below are the average GPAs of students admitted to our program for the last several years.
Year GPA
2019 3.70
2018 3.70
2017 3.78
2016 3.65
2015 3.75
2014 3.65
2013 3.89
2012 3.83
2011 3.62
2010 3.80
2009 3.67
2008 3.68
2007 3.74
2006 3.52
2005 3.75
2004 3.70
2003 3.65
2002 3.68
2001 3.74
2000 3.75

No, the Graduate School does not permit students to apply to more than one program at a time.

The Graduate School discourages the pursuit of a second doctorate:

The Graduate School does not admit applicants to concurrent double Ph.D. degree programs, D.Ed. degree programs, or concurrent Ph.D. and D.Ed. programs. In general, the Graduate School discourages the pursuit of a second Ph.D. or D.Ed. degree. However, if an applicant who holds either of these degrees requests admission to a second doctoral degree program (either Ph.D. or D.Ed.), the applicant is asked to give the Graduate School the reason why the second doctorate is necessary (as opposed to taking course work or a master's degree in the second field). The Graduate School may then solicit responses concerning the necessity of a second doctorate from representatives of the field at Penn State or elsewhere. This information is then given to the Dean of the Graduate School for the final decision. If approved, all Graduate School requirements for the second doctorate must be met de novo.

The justification for a second doctorate must be submitted to the Graduate School for consideration—this is not a decision for the Department of Mathematics.