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How to Apply to the McWhirter Graduate Program of Chemical Engineering


Considering the inconvenience of taking the GRE in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the McWhirter Graduate Program of Chemical Engineering at Penn State decided to waive the GRE requirement for the application to the Fall 2021 program. If you already have the GRE scores in hand, then you can include them in the application, as we’ll certainly consider the scores.

Applications to the McWhirter Graduate Program of Chemical Engineering are accepted online only through the Penn State Graduate School’s Online Application Portal.

The following items are required as part of the application process:

Official report of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

  • GRE scores are not required, but you can still send the test result if you already have taken it.
  • GRE Institution code is 2660; Department code is 1001

A transcript from all institutions attended, both undergraduate and graduate

  • Current Penn State students do no need to upload transcripts.
  • Applicants recommended for admission will be notified by the Graduate School that official/original transcripts/documents and their official English translation must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School in order to finalize an admission decision. Notarized copies are not sufficient. This step is only required after the application has been reviewed and if the applicant is offered admission.

Statement of Purpose (and résumé if desired)

  • Write a brief essay of why you want to study in the McWhirter Graduate Program at Penn State and your area(s) of interest.

Three letters of recommendation

  • The references you list in the online application will be given directions for submitting their letters.
  • We will accept letters by mail in a sealed and signed envelope if your references choose not to submit their letters online.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for international students only

  • TOEFL/IELTS Institution code is 2660; Department code is 64
  • ALL international students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score.
  • A minimum score of 80 overall of the TOEFL is required.
  • A minimum score of 19 on the speaking section of the TOEFL is required.
  • A minimum of 6.5 is required for all sections of the IELTS exam.
  • EXCEPTION: International students who have obtained a degree from an accredited university in the United States are not required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS score.
  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements will be considered for admission on a provisional basis and required to take English course(s).

PLEASE NOTE: TOEFL and GRE scores are to be sent to Penn State electronically via the Graduate School Online Application. Applicants should send hard copy scores directly from the IELTS testing agency to Penn State’s Graduate School at:

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

Once documents for an application have been received by Penn State, they officially become a University document and cannot be returned to applicants.

Please do not submit information with your application that cannot be used in the admission decision process, e.g., Individual Education Plans (IEP), medical records, statement from physicians or psychologists, or legal documents. Such information will be destroyed and will not be included in the application packet.


The McWhirter Graduate Program of Chemical Engineering accepts graduate applications on a continuous, rolling basis. For strongest consideration of funding, the following deadlines apply:

M.S. degree applicants:

  • March 30 for fall admission
  • Consideration of applications for the M.S. program will begin February 1 and continue on a rolling basis until April 15.
  • No application will be received for spring admission

Ph.D. degree applicants:

  • December 15 for early admission
  • January 8 for regular admission


  • Ph.D. applications completed by the posted January deadline will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and decisions will be informed during early February.
  • M.S. applications completed by the posted April deadline will be reviewed as early as February 1 and continuously on a rolling basis until all positions are filled. Acceptance letters will be e-mailed as reviews are completed.

When an application is approved by the Admissions Committee, the following occurs through different Penn State offices:

  • A letter of recommended acceptance is sent to applicants by e-mail. An admission recommendation is also forwarded to the Penn State Graduate School by the McWhirter Graduate Program of Chemical Engineering.
  • The Graduate School must approve the McWhirter Graduate Program’s recommendation of acceptance. If approved, applicants will be notified by the Graduate School.
  • International applicants will then be notified by the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA), which will issue an I-20 form. Any questions regarding visas, I-20, etc., must be directed to the DISSA Office. The Department of Chemical Engineering is unable to assist with international student visas.
  • All applicants are considered for research or teaching assistantships and applicable fellowships. Applicants will be notified by the McWhirter Graduate Program of any assistantship offers or fellowships at the time of admission.

PLEASE NOTE: The M.S. program requires that the student be able to provide self-support for the 30 credit M.S. degree. Applicants seeking admission to this program will not be considered for financial supports from the Department or University.

The Admissions Committee carefully reviews each application and discusses the potential of each applicant. As such, the decisions of the Admissions Committee are final and not subject to further review.



The Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1948, is recognized as one of the largest and most influential chemical engineering departments in the nation.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry.

Department of Chemical Engineering

121 Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2574