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Eligibility and Requirements icon-olus-circle

Applicants should be college graduates with an undergraduate (BA or BS) or master's degree, or a health professions degree in a relevant field (e.g., Psychology, Neuroscience, Health Promotion, Biology, Microbiology, Epidemiology, Biobehavioral Health, or others). A competitive candidate will tend to have: a 3.5 GPA or higher (3.0 minimum required ); GRE scores at 50th percentile or higher in all three core domains; three strong letters of recommendation; research or lab experience; and at least some basic training in statistical /quantitative methods (e.g., Introductory Statistics and Research Methods). Coursework or a Master’s degree is not required but is recognized as valuable. Similarly, publications and other accomplishments are valued but not required.

GRE scores are required for all prospective students. International students must also demonstrate competency in English (details below).

Start Your Application icon-olus-circle

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials. When all materials have been received, we will notify you about your status and provide guidance about the next steps in becoming a Penn State student.

For guaranteed full consideration, please submit all application materials for the BBH graduate program (to start Fall semester) by December 1st. (Note, applications submitted after this date may be considered; eligibility for certain fellowships happens very early in December).

Application Materials icon-olus-circle

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee.

You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

A copy of an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. For institutions outside the U.S., documents may include marksheets, record of courses, degree/study certificate, original diploma, etc. If the language of instruction is not English, an official English translation is required. Applicants will be directed to upload digital copies of documents during the electronic application process. Upon admission and your acceptance of admission, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

Official scores from Graduate Record Examination Aptitude Test (GRE). Typical candidates have a GRE score at 50th percentile or higher in all three core domains. The GRE institution code is 2660.

Biographical sketch or curriculum vitae - applicants will be directed to upload digital copies of documents during the electronic application process

Personal statement / essay - applicants will be directed to upload digital copies of documents during the electronic application process

Minimum GPA - applicants should have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.

Three letters of recommendation. You will need to initiate the referral process through the online application by entering names and email addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, those individuals will each receive an email asking them to complete a recommendation letter/form for you. Please inform all references that they must submit their recommendation for your application to be complete. (If you are not submitting your application until close to the deadline, it is strongly suggested that you notify your references well in advance, so they know to expect the email asking them to complete the recommendation for you by Dec. 1).

Student Interest Form - please complete this form and upload to the electronic application

If admission is offered and accepted, you will be notified directly, via email, by the Graduate School at Penn State with further instructions to complete the admissions process.

International Applicants Only icon-olus-circle

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants whose first language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOELF). Please have scores sent to institution code 2660.

TOFEL for The Department of Biobehavioral Health requires a minimum score of:

  • Paper-based: 600 for paper-based test
  • Computer-based: 250 for the computer-based test
  • Internet-based: Total score of 80 with a 20 on the speaking section for the internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with an iBT speaking score between 15 and 19 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work.
  • The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.

International applicants are only exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they 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. If deemed necessary, the admissions committee may require an applicant to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score, regardless of their academic background and country of origin.

If the decision is made to extend offer of admission, the applicant will receive an offer letter. This offer is contingent upon verification of all academic credentials such as, to include but not limited to, academic transcripts, diplomas, test scores, etc. by the Graduate School. If approved, the Graduate School will process the offer and will automatically notify the University Office of Global Programs (UOGP) for action to commence the visa paperwork process. If the Graduate School does not approve the academic credentials, the offer of admission will automatically be withdrawn.

If approved, the University Office of Global Programs (UOGP) will contact the applicant directly to request all visa related documents.

If you are an international student who is interested in applying to the Graduate School at Penn State, please refer to the University Office of Global Programs for detailed information regarding the admissions process, essential pre-arrival information and other useful information for international students who are exploring the possibility of applying to Penn State.

The Graduate School will make the final admission decision.