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The following sections walk you through the application and admissions process, from an overview of our academic programs, to steps in the application process, to admission and financial aid. Click on the question to reveal the answer. If you have a question that is not answered on this page, please contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
What Ph.D. programs do you offer?
Penn GSE offers 8 Ph.D. programs.
What Ed.D. programs do you offer?
Penn GSE offers 7 Ed.D. programs.
You offer 3 different Master’s degrees. Which is right for me?
The M.S.Ed., requiring a minimum of 10 course units, is appropriate for advancing your career in education and many other fields. Penn GSE offers 21 M.S.Ed. degrees.
The M.S. degree, requiring a minimum of 8 course units is designed for those who are preparing for advanced graduate study. Penn GSE offers one M.S. degree.
The M.Phil.Ed. degree, requiring a minimum of 6 course units, is appropriate for students who already hold a Master’s degree. Penn GSE offers 2 M.Phil.Ed. degrees.
What executive education programs do you have for the experienced working professional who wants to continue working while persuing their education?
How are executive education programs different from part-time programs? How do I decide which is right for me?
Executive education programs are distinct from part-time programs in two main ways. The first distinction is about experience. The ideal executive education candidate has a great deal of experience in their chosen field of study. The second distinction is about program delivery. Class meetings, structure, and deadlines are much more concentrated and intense when compared to a part-time program. This allows executive education students to focus on two equally important parts of their lives: their Penn GSE study and the high level of responsibility they have in their daily work.
Can I do a joint degree with one of the other 11 graduate schools at Penn?
Penn GSE currently offers the following joint degrees:[ER1]
Which programs can I complete part-time?
Penn GSE offers 4 part-time Ed.D. programs:
Penn GSE offers 13 part-time Master’s degree programs:
Are any of the Ph.D. programs offered part-time?
Can I see examples of recent dissertations? What about Masters’ work?
Sure! Please contact individual programs directly. They will be happy to share titles of dissertations, policy briefs, final papers, and theses with you.
Are there available research opportunities?
Read about our multitude of research centers, including, among others:
Outside of research, what other opportunities are available at GSE?
Penn GSE has a wide variety of projects and initiatives, including:
What is the average class size?
What is the student-faculty ratio?
What is the application fee?
We encourage applicants to apply early. Every year our application fee is waived for all submitted applications between September 15 and March 15. A nonrefundable $75 fee will be imposed thereafter.
What are the required application materials?
If you haven’t already, please review our application instructions page. Note that an application is not considered complete until we have received all required application materials. Please be aware that only complete applications are sent for faculty review. Application deadlines can be found on our application deadlines page.
How will I know if you have received my application materials?
You will receive an email once your application has been processed for the first time, and each time it is updated with newly received items. At that time, you will also be able to log into your application account and see what materials have been received and processed on your behalf. Applications are updated manually by Admissions staff members, so please allow 3-5 business days after delivery of materials for your application account to reflect the receipt of materials. If you have not yet submitted your application, please note that we are not able to confirm receipt of materials.
Should I call or email to ask if you have received my application materials?
Frequent calls and emails take away from our time to process and update applications, so please hold off on making inquiries about the receipt of materials. If you have concerns about the receipt of an application item, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I need to wait until my recommender has submitted his/her letter to submit my application?
No. If you have filled our all required sections of the application, you can submit your application.
Can I make changes to my application after it has been submitted?
Be mindful that you can only submit your application one time. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate any requests to change the statement of purpose, résumé, or any other items after an application has been submitted.
My application status says complete, what does that mean?
We have received all required application materials and your application is under review. You will receive an email once your decision has been made available to you. Decisions for master’s applications are usually rendered about 4-6 weeks from the application complete date. Decision timelines for doctoral applications vary based on program. If your application status is incomplete, we have not received all of your required application materials.
I am re-applying, do I need to submit a new application?
Yes! You will have to create a new account with a new username and password (and possibly a new email if you experience any troubles) and upload a new statement of purpose and résumé. We are not able to “roll over” transcripts from applications that were submitted more than one year ago. Letters of recommendation must be re-submitted. Please send an email at least two weeks prior to applicable application deadline to email@example.com if you wish to roll over transcripts. It is not guaranteed that we can honor requests to roll over transcripts. Please note that our application instructions are subject to change; make sure you follow the current application instructions when you are applying.
I am an international student. Can you review my application without the WES evaluation?
We understand that it can take several weeks for a transcript to be evaluated. However, we are not able to send your application for review until we have received the WES evaluation, and any other required application items. We encourage you to plan early, and start the process as soon as possible.
What should I write about in my statement of purpose?
You should address the factors that have encouraged you to seek an education from Penn GSE. You may also wish to describe your background, significant personal and professional experiences related to your program of study, important aspects of your academic record, and your professional goals upon completion of your desired program.
Are there particular program requirements for statements of purpose?
Some programs have specific instructions for statements of purpose.
What should be included in my résumé?
Applicants should submit a résumé with details of relevant work and other experiences.
Do you have any pointers for writing a solid résumé?
We encourage you to ask yourself the following questions: Does your résumé show related experiences, transferable skills, and/or a commitment to your intended field? If not, consider pursuing volunteer opportunities or employment in these areas.
I have a copy of my official transcripts in a sealed envelope. May I mail or deliver this envelope as part of my application?
No, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be submitted directly from those institutions to Penn GSE.
What should my transcripts illustrate?
Ask yourself whether your transcripts show a history of academic success. If not, consider taking graduate level courses in a related area as a non-degree seeking student to demonstrate your academic ability.
I have a graduate level transcript that is not in English; must I have it evaluated as well?
Course-by-course evaluations performed by any member of the National Association for Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) are required for both undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
I am applying through Fulbright. Do I need to send transcripts?
No. Because Fulbright verifies these documents upon receipt, we will accept them directly.
My undergraduate course of study was not taught in English. Do you need an official copy of my transcripts in addition to the NACES course-by-course evaluation of those transcripts?
No, the NACES evaluation of your official transcripts will suffice.
Although my undergraduate course of study was not taught in English, I have since obtained a graduate degree for which the course of study was taught in English. Do I still need to submit an official copy of my undergraduate transcripts to NACES for a course-by-course evaluation?
Yes, please submit an official copy of your undergraduate transcripts to NACES to be evaluated.
My undergraduate course of study was taught in English, yet I have a graduate degree from a course of study that was not taught in English. Do I need to submit an official copy of my graduate transcript to NACES for evaluation?
Yes, please submit an official copy of your graduate transcript to NACES for evaluation.
One of my undergraduate or graduate transcripts must be evaluated by NACES as the course of study was not in English. Which evaluation should I purchase?
Please select a course-by-course evaluation.
How much time should I allow for an NACES course-by-course evaluation?
Please allow for a minimum of 3 months.
I went to multiple colleges and universities as part of my undergraduate or graduate degrees. Do I need to submit an official transcript and/or an NACES course-by-course evaluation from each institution?
I studied abroad/participated in an exchange program as part of my undergraduate or graduate course of study. Do I need to submit an official transcript from the study abroad or exchange institution?
If the courses, grades, and credit hours appear on your official undergraduate or graduate transcripts, you do not need to submit a transcript from the study abroad or exchange institution. However, programs reserve the right to require applicants to have official transcripts sent from issuing institutions or a course-by-course evaluation sent in lieu of transcripts for courses of study taught outside the United States. If courses, grades, and credit hours do not appear on your undergraduate or graduate transcript, then you must have official transcripts sent from issuing institutions or a course-by-course evaluation sent in lieu of transcripts for courses of study taught outside the United States.
I completed the first few years of my undergraduate career at an institution outside of the United States and then transferred to an institution in the U.S., where I completed/will be completing my degree. Am I required to submit a course-by-course transcript for the coursework from the non-U.S. institution?
Yes, all applicants who completed undergraduate degrees (and graduate degrees, if applicable) outside of the United States are required to submit a course-by-course evaluation in lieu of transcripts. These course-by-course evaluations are available from any of the organizations in NACES.org
How many letters of recommendation are required?
Most programs require 3 letters of recommendation. The following programs only require 2:
Whom should I ask to submit a recommendation on my behalf?
Applicants should request letters of recommendation from people who can speak to their overall ability to study and practice in the field of education. Be sure to carefully read the "Agreement of Confidentiality" in the applicant's section of the form. If you are willing to relinquish your right of access to these recommendations, please make certain you indicate this, since the response of the recommender may be affected by whether or not you relinquish your right of access.
Do I have to take the GRE?
Yes, with the exception of the following programs:
What is Penn GSE’s institutional code that I should use to report my GRE and TOEFL scores?
What is the minimum score that I must obtain to get admission?
There is no minimum score that an applicant has to obtain. Our highly selective admission process is holistic. Applicants are evaluated on all components of their application materials including: type of undergraduate and/or graduate institution(s); rigor of and performance in undergraduate and/or graduate program(s); fit for program; content, quality, usage and mechanics of writing; testing; recommendations; and professional, civic, and academic activities.
What is rolling admission?
Rolling admission means that completed applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis, not after a set deadline. We accept applications until the class reaches capacity. Due to the nature of rolling admission, we can't predict when that will happen. In the past, it has usually happened in mid- to late spring. Once a program is fully enrolled, we will post a notice of capacity.
May I take courses as a non-degree seeking student?
Yes. To apply for general admission, applicants must complete an online application and submit official transcripts indicating an undergraduate degree has been conferred. Please note you may only take up to two courses and those two courses are not guaranteed to be counted toward a degree program.
Can I defer admission?
Yes. Deferring your admission will require approval from your program manager. If approved to defer, you must complete your online enrollment form (a link can be found in your acceptance letter), submit the $250 enrollment deposit, send us a completed deferral form (sent by the program manager), and a $250 deferral deposit check. You can be deferred up to one year. Ph.D. students are not eligible for deferral.
Who should apply for general admission?
General admission is designed for students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents wishing to enroll in one or two courses at the Penn Graduate School of Education to further their career development or to explore a new field of interest.
Are general admission applicants eligible for financial aid?
How do Penn undergraduates submatriculate?
Penn undergraduates who want to submatriculate into a master's degree program must:
Can undergraduates from other institutions submatriculate?
Bryn Mawr and Haverford undergraduates who want to submatriculate into the Teacher Education program must:
Where do your students come from?
Applicants hail from 73 countries and 47 states.
What is the FAFSA?
It is a required application for US Citizens and/or Permanent Residents who are interested in participating in Federal Loan Programs.
How do I file an FAFSA?
Students can file an FAFSA online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. If a student filed taxes in the previous year, he or she will need his or her tax return information. Parents’ information is NOT needed. The University of Pennsylvania institutional code is 003378.
Which FAFSA do I file?
File the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year to be eligible to borrow loans in Summer, Fall, and Spring.
With whom does the University share my billing and academic information?
The University strives to ensure the privacy of each student. To fully comply with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), we would like to remind you to update the "share academic/financial" privacy settings via the Penn Portal. You can designate with whom we can share financial aid or academic information.
Examples of people you may want to authorize us to speak with about your account are spouses, parents, employers, or anyone else involved in funding your education. Without prior authorization, we are limited in what we can discuss with anyone other than you, and this may limit our ability to fully assist you.
I am waiting to receive my letter from Student Financial Services. When will I receive it?
If you have not received a packet by early May and you have officially accepted your offer of admissions to GSE, you should confirm your mailing address in the Student Record System by using Penn InTouch.
If your address is correct and you have not received your packet (after officially accepting your offer of admission and filing your FAFSA), please contact the GSE Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the letter I received from SFS lists “Alternative Loan” in my package, what does that mean?
An alternative loan is a way for students to cover any portion of tuition, fees, and living expenses that are not paid for by other forms of aid.
Students can choose to borrow a private or federal alternative loan. Private alternative loans are not subsidized and generally have tiered interest rates and fees, both based on your credit score.
A GradPLUS loan is a federal form of an alternative loan. We encourage students to utilize federal loans because they qualify for federal repayment and loan forgiveness programs. Please be aware that you must agree to and pass a basic credit check in order to borrow a GradPLUS loan. You can apply for a GradPLUS loan through the Penn Loan System.
Student Financial Services (SFS) has opened access to the Penn Loan System, which will allow you to apply for federal student loans. Contact SFS to speak with an Assistant Director for more detailed information regarding your loans.
How does SFS determine my financial aid eligibility?
SFS bases the financial aid notice on information in your FAFSA and assumes a course load of four course units (CUs) in both the fall and spring. The aid notice does not reflect eligibility for summer sessions.
How much do I need to borrow to cover tuition and fees?
You should borrow enough to cover whatever portion of the tuition and fees are not covered by assistantships, scholarships, or personal savings. Any amount you borrow in excess of your charges will be refunded to you.
How much do I need to borrow to cover living expenses?
The University also allows you to borrow up to $27,310 to cover living expenses during the academic year (fall and spring) and up to $4,440 per summer session.
What loans are available?
Your financial aid notice indicates the loans you are eligible for, including the Perkins, Direct, and Direct GradPLUS and/or private loans. The financial aid notice is posted to PennInTouch and is not emailed. If you have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but do not see a financial aid notice when you log into PennInTouch, contact SFS and ask to speak with an Assistant Director.
How do I apply for loans?
The first step is to file a FAFSA. You should apply for a Direct Loan via the Penn Loan System, apply for a Direct GradPLUS loan on the federal government website, and apply for private loans directly with each lender.
How do I apply for a Direct Loan?
If you completed a FAFSA, and are eligible to receive federal loans, the loan office will automatically begin a Direct Loan on your behalf. You will receive an email from the loan office with instructions to complete the MPN and entrance counseling.
Where do I apply for Direct GradPLUS Loans?
If you choose to apply for the Direct GraduatePLUS Loan, we strongly suggest applying for the Direct GradPLUS Loan on the Federal Government website, and not on the Penn Loan System, to expedite your credit decision.
Are there other loan options?
Students may borrow private/alternative loans which come directly from providers such as banks and credit unions in lieu of Direct GradPLUS Loans.
Where do I apply for private loans?
Apply for private loans via the lender’s website. SFS has listed the six lenders students most frequently use, but does not endorse any specific lender. The list of private lenders is made available for your convenience only.
Do I have to accept the entire loan amount for which I’m eligible?
No. You can always decline or reduce the loan by emailing the loan office at email@example.com.
When will my loans be applied to my bill?
Loans are generally disbursed on the initial bill within 10-15 days after completing the MPN and entrance counseling.
Why is my bill different from my financial aid notice?
Your aid notice reflects your loan eligibility, while the bill will reflect the charges based on your actual registration given that you may be enrolled for more or fewer than 4 CUs.
What do I need to do to receive the loans that were awarded in my financial aid letter?
Students must complete the following steps to ensure that loan funds disburse to their student accounts.
My loan application in the Penn Loan System asks how many courses I will be taking. How will I know how many credit units (CUs) I’m taking?
Program managers advise students on how many CUs they will be taking and whether the program registers the student for classes or the student should register him/herself. Please contact your program manager for this information, if you have not yet received it.
When will my loans disburse?
Loans will usually disburse to students’ accounts two weeks prior to the start of the term, if students have successfully submitted a loan application, completed loan counseling, and signed the Master Promissory Note(s) in ample time for processing.
Please note, if the amount borrowed in loans exceeds the balance on the student’s account, her or she will be issued a refund for the difference. We strongly encourage students to sign-up for Direct Deposit, so refunds can be transferred directly to their personal checking accounts.
How do I know if I received a scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship?
There is no separate application for full-time students to be considered for scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships. These award decisions are made by our faculty and communicated at the time of the admissions decision.
If you received an award, the amount and terms would be listed in your admission letter. All award offers are final and non-negotiable. Students must sign and return offer letters to GSE’s Financial Aid Office, in order to have the funds applied to their student accounts.
Merit scholarships and assistantships for master’s students are applied evenly to a student’s account, paying half of the award in the fall semester and half in the spring. If a student matriculates in the Spring semester the award will disburse half in the Spring and half in the Fall.
Please note that for students in the M.S.Ed. Higher Education program, the Graduate Assistantship process is conducted separately.
Can I receive my scholarship in the Summer or have the entire amount applied in the same semester?
No, merit scholarships and graduate assistantships are applied to a student’s account evenly across Fall & Spring semesters.
Why does my financial aid award letter from SFS not show my GSE Scholarship?
If scholarship agreements are not received and processed by the GSE financial aid office prior to the date that SFS generates financial aid packages then the award will be omitted from the letter.
Student Financial Services will send out a revised letter once the award has posted to a student’s account. Students with questions regarding the posting of their awards can contact GSE’s Financial Aid Office.
How does my scholarship award affect my loan eligibility?
Scholarship and assistantship awards reduce the amount in loans that a student can borrow.
I am a Ph.D. student. When will I receive my fellowship and stipend?
When will I be billed?
Direct deposit links a personal checking account with a student’s Penn account. When a loan disburses to a student’s Penn account, SFS will pay off the balance due on the account and any remaining funds will be issued as a refund to the student.
If a student does not sign-up for direct deposit, his or her refund will be issued on an Aline Card.
How do I access my refund?
How can I qualify to participate in work study?
Any US citizen or permanent resident who successfully completes a FAFSA is eligible to participate in federal work study. GSE will receive a pool of funds that are distributed to students on a first-come, first-served basis.
What do I need to do to receive a work study award?
Students must look on the Student Employment Website for work-study only positions. Once they are in contact with a supervisor who is interested in hiring them, students must contact the GSE Financial Aid office so that the awards can be posted to their student accounts, if available.
How much can I receive in work study?
Students earn an hourly wage until they have earned the total amount of the award. The total amount available varies; last year the average amount awarded was $3,500.
Is there an opportunity to live and work on campus in a residence hall?
Yes, GSE students can apply to be Graduate Associates in a Penn College House (residence hall for undergraduate students). The responsibilities are similar to an undergraduate resident advisor. Students can learn more and apply on the College Houses and Academic Services website. Graduate Associates receive free housing accommodations and a meal plan.
Congratulations on your admission! Now that you are admitted, you may have questions about how to finance a Penn education. We understand that international students have unique questions pertaining to financial aid. We are committed to helping you understand your options so that your transition to Penn GSE is as smooth as possible. If you have further questions, GSE has dedicated financial aid professionals ready to assist you.
Can I ask for more grant funding?
The financial assistance indicated on your award notice is final and should be used to compare offers from other schools and to determine your personal budget. Please note: GSE awards grants and graduate assistantships based on merit as determined by the strength of your application. Our awards are not based on financial need. For general financial aid questions, please contact the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid.
Does grant funding extend into the second year of my program?
Per your award agreement, offers of grant funding or graduate assistantships are guaranteed for the academic year listed. There is no guarantee of funding for additional years.
I was not awarded a grant. What other kinds of assistance are available to me?
Aside from Penn GSE merit scholarships, most international students will finance the remainder of their degree through a combination of personal finances, employee benefits, and outside scholarships. Many of our students apply for a Graduate Associate position in the College Houses, which pays for your housing and a meal plan. You can also apply for non-work-study positions on-campus through the Student Employment Office.
Can I borrow a loan from a US institution to cover my expenses?
International students may consider applying for Alternative Loans, keeping in mind that most will require a U.S. co-signer with at least 3 years of positive credit. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal student loans.
Why is the estimated cost of attendance different on your website than on the I-20?
The immigration office requires this office to report approximate costs for our programs before we officially finalize them for the year, and it is not always possible to reflect the flexibility of our courses of study. In some cases, the numbers may not align with a student's actual enrollment. You can find the actual cost of attendance here.
How do I apply for a Graduate Assistantship? Where do I look for jobs?
The graduate assistantship is part of your financial aid offered by GSE. You will work with your program to determine your assignment; there is no separate employment application. Students admitted into the Higher Education and IEDP Masters programs should contact their programs directly regarding graduate assistantship placement.
Can I work off-campus?
International students studying on F-1 visas are allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week (total, across all on-campus positions in non-work-study positions), but must remain in good academic standing. F-1 students may not work off-campus unless they are approved for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. Students on J-1 visas need to check with their sponsors about eligibility for on-campus or off-campus employment.
Can I live off-campus?
Yes! Students choose to live off-campus for many reasons including personal preferences and affordability. At Penn, “off-campus” means the University does not own the residence. Geographically, though, many off-campus buildings are very close to the actual campus. Penn’s Off-Campus Services Department has a great search option to help you find affordable, safe, off-campus housing. Off-campus rental costs in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia typically range from $750-$1500 per month depending on size and other factors. We also encourage you to become familiar with your rights as a tenant.
When will I receive my acceptance deposit back?
Your deposit will be credited towards the tuition on your first bill; it will not be returned as a refund. If you do not see the admission deposit on your billing statement, please contact GSE.
We have provided a financial aid timeline to assist you in your financial planning.
Click here to view the timeline
Late April – Early May