Students sitting at a picnic table in front of the eco-machine.

How to Apply

Application Process

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department accepts online applications only.

Graduate School Online Application

*Please note: If you intend to apply to a graduate program in environmental engineering, please select the ENV ENG application, not the CIVIL ENG application.

Items uploaded as part of the application process: 

Official report of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

  • GRE scores are not required, but are strongly recommeded. 
  • GRE Institution code is 2660, Department code is 1102.

A transcript from all institutions attended, both undergraduate and graduate

Current Penn State students do not 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.

Personal Statement (and résumé if desired)

Please prepare a personal statement that addresses the following items:

  • Reason for pursuing your proposed degree
  • Personal interests in the civil engineering specialty that you previous identified
  • Specific areas of interest within the civil engineering specialty
  • Potential faculty advisers
  • Anticipated career plans upon completion of your degree
  • There is no restriction on the length of your personal statement, but do keep in mind we receive hundreds of applications. 

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 65
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements will be considered for admission on a Provisional basis and required to take an English-speaking course.

PLEASE NOTE: TOEFL and GRE scores are to be sent to Penn State electronically via the Graduate School Online Application.

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, i.e., 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 Penn State Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering accepts graduate applications on a continuous, rolling basis. For strongest consideration of funding, the following deadlines apply:

Master of Engineering degree applicants:

  • May 15 for admission in Fall (only)

Master of Science and Ph.D. degree applicants

  • December 15 for full financial consideration for admission in Fall, otherwise March 15.
  • September 15 for admission in spring.

Completed application packages received before mid-December or mid-September will be reviewed for competitive College of Engineering Fellowships and College of Engineering Recruitment Funds; and will receive preferential consideration for Graduate Research Assistantships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships. Applications received after mid-December (for fall) or mid-September (for spring) will be considered for assistantships on a waiting list basis only. A completed application package consists of all items listed on the Graduate Application page. Applicants are advised to begin the application process early to make sure that the application and supporting documents arrive in time for the deadlines.

Incomplete applications lacking any of the listed application items will not be reviewed by the admissions committee and will not be considered for funding.


Applications completed by the December deadline (fall) will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and decisions emailed during early March. Applications completed after the December deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis with decisions emailed as the reviews are completed.

Applications completed by the September deadline (spring) will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and decisions emailed during mid to late October. 

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 electronic mail. An admission recommendation is also forwarded to the Penn State Graduate School by the Civil and Environmental Engineering department.
  • The Graduate School must approve the department's recommendation of acceptance. If approved, applicants will be notified by the Graduate School.
  • International applicants will then be notified by the International Student and Scholar Advising Office (ISSA), which will issue an I-20 form. Any questions regarding visas, I-20, etc., must be directed to the ISSA office. The Department of Civil and Environmental 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 Department of any assistantship offers or fellowships at the time of admission.

The Penn State Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering receives many more applications from qualified students than can be advised or funded for a master of science (M.S.) thesis. Thus, a certain number of master's applicants may be admitted into the non-thesis program master of engineering (M.Eng.), which would require that the student be able to provide self-support for the 30-credit M.Eng. degree.

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 Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084