Frequently Asked Questions

Who Should Apply?

I was an Econ,French, English, etc. major.  Can I apply?  Is an undergraduate degree in sociology or criminology required?

Our programs are interdisciplinary; you can apply with any major. Most of our students have undergraduate degrees in sociology, psychology, political science, criminology, criminal justice, or education.


Can I transfer credits that I've taken in another graduate program?

Yes. Transfer requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


Do you have a terminal master's program?

We do not offer a terminal masters degree. All of our students earn a masters degree as they fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D..


How long does the program typically take?

Five years for those entering with a bachelors degree; four years for those entering with a masters degree.


What kind of jobs do people get with a Ph.D. from this program?

Most of our graduates obtain academic positions. Others work as researchers in government agencies, in the private sector, and for think tanks and nonprofits.


How To Apply?

What GRE test should I take?

The General Test.


As an international applicant, what test or tests should I take?

The GRE (General Test) and TOEFL.


How many applications do you generally receive?

Approximately 175 students apply


Can I apply to start in the winter or spring?

Because of the required course sequence, all incoming students must start in the fall.


How Are Decisions Made?

How and when does the department make admissions decisions?

Admissions decisions are made by a committee of faculty and advanced graduate students. Most admissions decisions are made by the end of February.


When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?

By April 15.


Who Gets Admitted

What is the average GRE score of students admitted to your program?

The vast majority of students admitted to the program score above 310 on the GRE (verbal and quantitative combined). Most students admitted to the program have GPAs above 3.7.


What is the cut-off point for GRE scores and GPA?

There is no cut-off. We weigh GRE scores and GPA against other qualifications and achievements.


How many are admitted to your program each year? How many apply?

The department will admit about 25 students each year to its graduate programs. About 175 students apply.


What if I am admitted and then want to delay entering the program?

Although most students start immediately, a delayed admission is possible. Such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.


What About Funding?

I will need financial aid. How does that work?

All students admitted to the program receive research assistantships or teaching assistantships. This funding package includes a stipend and a tuition waiver. We also have a strong record of providing summer support.


Are there funds available outside of the standard funding package?

Yes, for those with outstanding qualifications and/or achievements. See the Penn State Graduate School for more information: