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How to Apply

Follow these instructions to apply to the Agricultural and Biological Engineering or the BioRenewable Systems graduate programs at Penn State University.

Application Deadlines

Although we accept applications throughout the year, most of our incoming students join us during the fall and spring semesters.  We recommend that you send in your application by January 15 if you would like to be considered for an assistantship starting in the fall semester, and by August 15 if you would like to be considered for an assistantship starting in the spring semester.  This is to receive maximum consideration for financial assistance.

Step 1: Apply to the Graduate School

    • If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.  An application fee is required.
    • If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit that website.
    • For FAQ's and other important general information proceed to the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Upload these documents in your graduate application:

1.    Statement of Purpose

  • Please submit a 1- to 2-page (2-page maximum) written essay describing your purpose in pursuing graduate study.  You may want to include the following types of information in your statement:
  • Reasons for wanting to pursue a graduate degree
  • Specific area of interest within the degree you plan to pursue
  • Long-term plans for professional career
  • Experiences from previous graduate or professional work that have influenced your decision to pursue graduate study
  • Previous experience in engineering design, research, and/or teaching and outreach
  • Other information that will help us to better understand your purpose for applying to join our graduate program.

2.    Resume

       Resume or Curriculum Vita

3.    Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required from teachers and/or professional colleagues, who are knowledgeable about your character and qualifications as they relate to your potential to succeed in an advanced graduate degree program.  You can identify them in the online application. You may provide four letters of recommendation if you are concerned that one of your references may not provide a letter by the deadline. Applications which do not have 3 letters of recommendation by the deadline will not be reviewed. Note: Please do NOT submit Individual Education Plans (IEPs), medical records, statements from medical physicians or psychologists, legal documents, or and other documents that have not been requested, especially if they have personal identifiable information. No documents will be returned!

Admission into the ABENG and BRS graduate programs in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is granted jointly by the graduate school and the department.  No single item is used to determine your admission status. Therefore, it is important that you provide all the requested information below promptly for processing your application.

4.    Official Transcripts

  • Scan official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended, both undergraduate and graduate.
  • Upload scans of official transcripts to online application
  • Notarized copies are not sufficient
  • International applicants must submit official or attested university records, with certified translations, if the records are not in English.
  • Graduate School will request official transcripts when an offer of admission is accepted.

Step 2: How to Send Required Test Scores

Test Scores should be sent directly from testing service to the Graduate School.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

All students must submit an original report of GRE scores electronically to Penn State using the institutional code 2660.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
To qualify for admission, all international applicants must take and submit an original report of scores for the TOEFL or the IELTS. (Please see exceptions noted below.) 

TOEFL: International applicants whose first language is not English or who have not received a baccalaureate or master’s degree from an institution in which the language of instruction is English must complete the TOEFL.  International students must obtain a TOEFL score of at least 213 on the computer-based test, 550 on the paper-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the internet-based test. The TOEFL exam must be taken within three years of the application date.  Applicants must send scores electronically to Penn State using the institutional code 2660.

IELTS: The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.  Applicants must send hard copy IELTS scores directly from IELTS testing agency to Penn State's Graduate School. IELTS scores should be mailed to:

     The Pennsylvania Sate University
     Graduate Enrollment Services
     114 Kern Building
     University Park, PA  16802

Exceptions: International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master’s degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

Step 3:  Timeline 

The admissions process consists of many steps:

  1. Department will make decision concerning all graduate applications received for the semester.
  2. Letter will be sent to the applicant based on:  acceptance or conditional acceptance into the program, or rejection.  Information concerning any assistantship (if applicable) will also be sent at that time.
  3. Once the offer of acceptance has been received from the applicant, the graduate school will review all application materials and make the final admission decision.
  4. For international students, after the applicant has notified the department of acceptance of the offer of admission, the University Office of Global Programs will contact the applicant with a set of instructions from the Directorate of International Student Advising (DISA) with a link so that the applicant can enter the immigration information and/or upload the financial documentation directly into an electronic file.  Please note that this electronic file cannot be created or pre-completed until the applicant has accepted the offer of admission.
  5. After we receive all required items, we will notify you about the status of your application.  Should you have questions about the application process, please contact the person in charge of your program of interest.
  6. Check the status of your online graduate application go to the Access an Existing Application site.