Admissions & Financial Aid FAQs

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.


Application Requirements

What is the application fee?

We encourage applicants to apply early. Every year our application fee is waived for all submitted applications between September 1 and March 1. 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  

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 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.

Statements of Purpose

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?

Yes, some programs have specific instructions for statements of purpose. Please review the Statement of Purpose page for details.


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.  

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

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation are required?

Most programs require 3 letters of recommendation. The following programs only require 2:

  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management (Ed.D.)
  • Med Ed (Medical Educators Program) (Medical Educator Certification)
  • Penn CLO Executive Doctoral Program Ed.D.
  • Reading/Writing/Literacy (Reading Specialist Certification) M.S.Ed. or cert. only
  • School Leadership M.S.Ed. or principal cert. only

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:

  • Education Entrepreneurship, M.S.Ed.
  • Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management, Ed.D.
  • Executive Program in School & Mental Health Counseling, M.S.Ed.
  • Educational Leadership, Mid-Career Doctorate in
  • Independent School Teaching Residency, M.S.Ed.
  • Intercultural Communication, M.S.Ed.
  • Penn CLO Executive Doctoral Program
  • Reading/Writing/Literacy (Reading Specialist Certification), M.S.Ed.
  • TESOL, M.S.Ed.
  • School Leadership, M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Residency, M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Apprenticeship, M.S.Ed. 

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.

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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:

  • Submit written approval from their undergraduate advisor
  • Meet with a Penn GSE academic advisor in the program to which they are applying
  • File all application materials required by their master’s program at Penn GSE by the stated program deadlines

Can undergraduates from other institutions submatriculate?

Bryn Mawr and Haverford undergraduates who want to submatriculate into the Teacher Education program must:

  • Submit written approval from their undergraduate advisor
  • Meet with a Penn GSE academic advisor in the program to which they are applying
  • File all application materials required by their master’s program at Penn GSE by the stated program deadlines

Where do your students come from?

Applicants hail from 73 countries and 47 states.

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Financial Aid

Click here to review specific questions regarding Financial Aid.

International Students FAQ

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 (GA)? 

Programs that offer GA opportunities will extend an offer to apply for a GA in eligible applicants' admission letter in the admissions portal. GAs have the potential to earn up to $3,500 per year performing academically relevant coursework. Interested students should contact their program directly for more information on how to apply. 

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.

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