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How to Apply to the McWhirter Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering

Applications to the McWhirter Graduate Program in 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:

A transcript from all institutions attended, both undergraduate and graduate

  • An unofficial copy is sufficient for the review process; if you are recommended for admission by the Admissions Committee, you 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.
  • Current Penn State students do not need to upload transcripts.

Statement of Purpose (and résumé if desired)

  • Write a brief essay of why you want to study in the McWhirter Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering at Penn State and your area(s) of interest.
  • The McWhirter Graduate Program strives to build an inclusive and equitable academic community to promote the advancement of students with diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives. Here you may describe any aspects of your life experience, cultural background, or education that give a more complete picture of you and your capabilities, or any participation in activities that are aligned with the Penn State Values

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.
  • Please ask your references to describe not only your academic and research skills but also your personal qualities relevant to graduate study.

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

  • 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 iBT® is required.
  • A minimum score of 19 on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT® 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: All test scores (TOEFL/IELTS and GRE) should be sent to Penn State electronically from the testing agency.

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.

Official report of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

  • GRE scores are not required.


The McWhirter Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering accepts graduate applications on a continuous, rolling basis. For preferable consideration for admission, the following deadlines apply:

Master of science (M.S.) degree applicants:

  • March 30 for fall admission
  • Reviewing 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

Doctoral (Ph.D.) degree applicants:

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


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

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

  • A letter of recommended acceptance will be sent to the admitted applicant by e-mail. The admission recommendation will be 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 admitted applicants will be 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 credits for the duration of M.S. study (which is one year if there is no delay). 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

Phone: 814-865-2574