Students in the Educational Theory and Policy master's program are expected to acquire competencies in their areas of specialization together with research and scholarly skills for investigation of significant problems of education and society. Specific degree requirements are:

  • A minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for work done at the University is required for graduation.
  • A minimum of 36 graduate credits is required, with at least 27 credits in the 500 series of classes.
  • A master's thesis.

Students with a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 will be considered for admission to a master's program. Exceptions to the minimum grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Credit Requirements

A minimum of 36 credits is required. Only 3 credits of EDTHP 596 (independent studies) may be counted toward the M.A. requirements. Students who wish to transfer credits from other programs must receive prior approval from the EDTHP faculty. Students in dual enrollment programs such as an integrated undergraduate degree program or the joint J.D./M.A. program can only have 9 credits (three courses) count for both programs.

Coursework must be at the 500 level or above with two exceptions:

  1. An option of taking up to three 400-level EDTHP elective courses of the required 18 credits in EDTHP.

  2. The introductory statistics course may be at the 400 level.

  3. EDTHP content courses (minimum 12 credits).

  • 500-level coursework in the EDTHP program that is not methods courses

  • Three 400-level EDTHP courses can be substituted in consultation with adviser

Required Courses:

Introduction to the EDTHP Program (3 credits)

EDTHP 500 Proseminar

Research Methods (9 credits)

EDTHP/EDLDR/HI ED 585: Research Design
EDPSY 406 or another approved statistics course
EDTHP/EDLDR/HI ED 586: Qualitative Methods OR a second quantitative methods course

Thesis Research (6 credits)

EDTHP 600 Thesis Research OR EDTHP 610 Thesis Research Off Campus

Master's Plan of Study

When a student is ready to begin thesis research, he/she should fill out an EDTHP Academic Plan for the M.A. Degree form and an EDTHP M.A. Committee form in consultation with his/her academic adviser. Both forms are found in the paper copy of your EDTHP Graduate Student Handbook as Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively, or may be obtained from the EDTHP program assistant. These forms will indicate courses already taken, courses proposed to be taken, and the names of faculty who will serve on the committee to supervise the student's program of studies (see "Master's Committee" below). Upon completion of the plan, the student will begin receiving guidance from his/her thesis adviser, who may or may not be his/her previous academic adviser.

Minimum GPA

A minimum grade point average of 3.00 for work done at Penn State is required for graduation.

Master's Committee

A committee of two faculty members (not including the department chair), selected by the student and academic adviser, will supervise the development and completion of thesis research. The committee chair, who also is the thesis adviser, must be a member of the Graduate Faculty and and EDTHP faculty member. Any Penn State faculty member with at least Assistant Professor rank may participate in the guidance and examination of master's candidates and sign master's signatory pages.

Time Limitation

A master's student may meet the degree requirements by either full-time or part-time enrollment and by attendance in any combination of semesters and summer sessions. All requirements for the degree must be met within eight years or a period spanning nine consecutive summers from the semester of admission.

Change of Degree

Master's students wishing to be admitted to the doctoral program will be considered with the same rigorous process as outside applicants during the EDTHP admissions cycle. In exceptional cases, the faculty will consider a change of degree to the doctoral program after three semesters of enrollment in the master's program.

With approval from the EDTHP faculty, master's students may submit the following alternative admission materials for consideration. These materials will be reviewed by the EDTHP admissions committee during the EDTHP admission cycle:

  1.  Two letters of recommendation from within the program

  2.   A writing sample

  3.   A current transcript

  4.   A statement of purpose that includes research interests and proposal adviser

EDTHP master's students who are seeking to enter the doctoral program will NOT receive the M.A. degree if they do not complete M.A. coursework/thesis. Students accepted into the doctoral program would transfer credits by applying online for a Change of Major/Degree to The Graduate School ( All of the credits in the unfinished M.A. program would be transferred to the doctoral program of study upon acceptance.

Thesis Proposal and Thesis Guidelines

Once a master's committee chair has been selected, a master's candidate must present a thesis proposal to the chair. Only when the chair is satisfied that the proposed topic is academically worthwhile may the student proceed with work on the thesis.

The student is responsible to ensure that both the thesis proposal and the thesis strictly adhere to the guidelines set forth in Penn State's Thesis Guide The Thesis Guide details acceptable format, paper, fonts and other specifics.

Research Protections

To ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws, certain University activities require review and approval by appointed institutional review committees. Projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, and/or biohazards must obtain review and approval through the Office for Research Protections (ORP) before the project is initiated. This approval is mandatory; failure to comply with this policy may result in retraction of the graduate degree. More information can be found on their web site (


Master's students who have met the minimum requirements for the degree and are completing thesis writing off campus are not required to register for classes. However, all international students should be registered for at least one credit during each regular (fall and spring) semester, even if an exception to full-time enrollment has been approved. International students who fail to register may jeopardize their status.

Thesis Completion

Upon completion of the thesis, the student will seek approval of his/her thesis by the committee before the thesis is submitted to The Graduate School. The committee chair will notify the student and staff assistant when the student has sufficiently met the requirements for an acceptable thesis.

Apply to Graduate

It is the student's responsibility to apply to graduate on LionPATH ( Deadlines are listed on The Graduate School calendar ( Students who do not complete graduation requirements by the deadline must re-apply to graduate for the next semester; this does NOT happen automatically.

Commencement Ceremony

Penn State holds commencement exercises for graduate students at the end of the fall and spring semesters and at the end of the summer session. Students are expected to attend commencement exercises. Diplomas for students who do not attend will be mailed to the student's home address or LionPATH diploma mailing address approximately three weeks after commencement.

Commencement Attire

Students are responsible for obtaining appropriate commencement attire (cap and gown), which may be purchased at the Penn State Bookstore. Orders for the cap and gown should be placed as early as possible during the semester of graduation. Caps and gowns may be available to rent as well.

M.A. Application Deadline
Semester of Admission Deadline Date
Fall July 31st
Ready to Apply

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application at

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Where are they now??

Some of Penn State's Educational and Theory and Policy Master students have graduated and are off doing great things!!

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