The minimum admissions requirements established by Penn State University's Graduate School and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Graduate School Admission Requirements

  • Applicants may apply for admission to only one (1) program at a time.
  • For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either 1) a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or 2) a post-secondary degree that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution.
  • Ordinarily, an entering student must have completed in a satisfactory manner a minimum of course work in designated areas, the specific courses and amount of work depending upon the intended field of advanced study.
  • Admission is granted jointly by the Graduate School and the graduate program in which the student plans to study. The establishment of standards by which applicants are admitted is the responsibility of the graduate program.

International Students Admission Requirements

  • International applicants must hold either 1) a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or 2) a post-secondary degree that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution.
    • International applicants must submit official or attested university records, with certified translations if the records are not in English. Notarized copies are not sufficient.
  • The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. Individual graduate programs of study may require higher scores for admission.
    • TOEFL:
      • Internet-based test (iBT) - a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the internet-based test (iBT).
        • Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, with Graduate School approval, which requires completion of specified remedial English courses ESL 114G (American Oral English for Academic Purposes) and/or ESL 116G (ESL/Composition for Academic Disciplines) and attainment of a grade of B or higher within the first semester of enrollment.
      • Paper-based test (taken prior to July 2017) – the minimum acceptable score is 550.
      • Paper-based test (taken July 2017 or later) – a combined total of the 3 sections evaluated must be 60 or greater.
    • IELTS: The minimum acceptable composite score for the IELTS Academic Test is 6.5.

International applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate degree in one of the following countries are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement: American Samoa, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada (except Quebec), Cayman Islands, Dominica, England, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wales.

Information about the TOEFL can be obtained by writing to the Educational Testing Service, Box 6155, Princeton, NJ 08541-6155 or visiting their Web site at Local administration at University Park campus of the TOEFL is handled by the IECP. Information about the IELTS can be obtained by contacting IELTS International, 100 East Corson Street, Suite 200, Pasadena, CA 91103 or visiting its Web site at

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management Admission Requirements

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are not required for admission but may be submitted if desired by the applicant.

For admission, an applicant should have at least a 2.75 grade-point average, a 3.00 junior/senior average (on a 4.00 scale), and courses that are basic to the individual's field of specialization. Ordinarily, these include:

  • 12 credits in communication;
  • 12 credits in social sciences and humanities;
  • 10 credits in quantification, including calculus and statistics;
  • 8 credits in chemistry and/or physics;
  • 8 credits in biological sciences; and
  • 18 credits in forest products, forestry, fish, wildlife, or related courses.

Individuals who have earned baccalaureate degrees in forest science, wildlife and fisheries science, wood products programs, or other related science disciplines typically meet the course subject area requirements for our graduate programs. However, students with undergraduate degrees in different fields are still encouraged to apply, but may be accepted on a provisional basis contingent upon addressing any deficiencies. If admitted provisionally, the student will work with a faculty adviser to establish specific conditions that must be fulfilled in order to transition to a regular graduate degree program. Ultimately, the student's graduate committee will have the final say on any course deficiencies that need to be addressed. It is important to note that provisional status is not intended for individuals with poor academic records seeking entry into Ph.D. programs. Our goal is to ensure that all students admitted to our graduate programs have a strong academic foundation in their chosen field of study.

Three reference letters and a brief statement describing the applicant's academic goals, career interests, and special qualifications are required. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces available. Exceptions to admission requirements may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests, at the discretion of the program.

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Forest Resources requires a master's degree in Forest Resources or a closely related field, or a bachelor's degree with a minimum grade-point average of 3.30 and demonstrated research ability.

Evaluation of the Applicant

Faculty evaluate:

  • Master's degree obtained
  • Previous course work
  • Academic performance (grade point average)
  • TOEFL scores (international students)
  • Course deficiencies
  • Personal vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of applicant's academic goals and career interests

Recommendation for acceptance or rejection of an applicant is made to the Graduate School by the Department's Graduate Program Coordinator in consultation with the reviewing faculty members. A favorable (majority) vote and a willing adviser are required for acceptance.

The best-qualified applicants are accepted within the limits of available openings in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management graduate program. Exceptions to the admission criteria may be granted for applicants with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. However, deficiencies must be fulfilled early in the program. Applicants with a large number of deficiencies may be advised to enroll in a second bachelor's program in Forest Science, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, or Wood Products.

Admission to the Ph.D. program requires evidence of research ability, e.g., a master's degree thesis, paper, or equivalent publication and a grade point average of 3.3 or higher in a graduate degree program, exclusive of thesis and special problems. Baccalaureate degree students graduating from an honors program with a required thesis, or who have authored a refereed publication, may be considered for admittance without a master's degree.

All students wishing to pursue a doctoral program must pass a candidacy examination administered by the Department to attain full status as a doctoral candidate. Prior to passing the candidacy exam, the student who has been admitted into a departmental doctoral program is identified as a doctoral student, but not a doctoral candidate.

The Graduate Program Coordinator of graduate studies and the electronic process will supply all necessary application materials and relevant information. Applications should be submitted prior to January 4 for beginning a program in the summer or fall and submitted prior to August 4 for beginning a program in the spring. Many assistantship decisions are made in early February and September; therefore, early applications are encouraged and increases the chances of accessing special support funds.