ESE Graduate Admissions:


Applying to the Ph.D. Program in ESE


Electrical and Systems Engineering Ph.D. applicants must submit their complete applications no later than December 15 to be considered for matriculation in the following fall term.  Applications that are full and complete will be reviewed after the December 15 deadline.

Application Process

Application to a graduate program in the Electrical and Systems Engineering Department is made via an online graduate application. All materials needed to complete the application - transcripts, test scores, recommendations, personal statement, etc. - should be submitted online to insure accuracy and a swift completion of the application dossier. Paper applications are no longer available. For more information about the application process, please see the information provided by Graduate Admissions. Graduate Admissions also provides an FAQ for potential applicants.

Applicants may check their status online and should actively ensure that their applications are complete. Applications will not be reviewed until complete. It is not possible to evaluate a candidate's potential for admission to the graduate program until the application is complete: transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, test scores, application fee, etc. - have been submitted.  Test scores, grades, recommendations, etc. are all considered equally in the evaluation for our graduate programs.

Due to the large numbers of applications received there can be some delay in response; we ask that applicants be patient. When an application is complete, it is evaluated by faculty who render a decision. Candidates are notified by email of admissions decisions by the Associate Dean for Academics of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Financial awards to Ph.D. students are announced by the ESE Admissions Chair. Please note that decisions cannot be revealed by telephone.

Application Requirements

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): The GRE is required for all graduate students, both Master's and Ph.D. applicants. Our institution code for submitting scores is 2888 (no department code is needed).  Minimum scores of 700 quantitative and 400 verbal are recommended.  Applications are evaluated as a whole portfolio and not on a single criterion. Thus, we do not adhere to strict minimums pertaining to test scores.

TOEFL/IELTS: International students and permanent residents whose native language is not English must submit proof of English proficiency.  This may be done in one of the following ways:

  • Submission of an official TOEFL score. Our TOEFL Institution Code (University of Pennsylvania, Engineering & Applied Science) is 2888 (no department code is needed).  Information about the TOEFL can be found at Applications are evaluated as a whole portfolio and not on a single criterion. Thus, we do not adhere to strict minimums pertaining to test scores.
    • A total score of at least 600 is recommended for the paper-based exam.
    • A total score of at least 250 is recommended for the computer-based exam.
    • A total score of at least 100 is recommended for the internet-based exam.
  • Submission of an official score report for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a score of at least 7.5.  Information about the IELTS can be found at
  • Completion of at least three (3) years of academic work on a full-time basis at a university-level institution in the United States or in a country in which English is recognized as the official language or where the medium of instruction is English. Any time less than three years at any of the above-mentioned institutions will not be considered for English Language Proficiency equivalency.

Recommendations: Two (2) letters of recommendations are required, at least one of which must be from a faculty member who is familiar with the applicant's academic record. Electronic and paper-based recommendations are accepted; paper-based letters must arrive in envelopes signed and sealed by the recommender. Further instructions are within the electronic application.



Unofficial Transcript - submitted with application

One [1] transcript form each university or college attended where course credit was earned, to be uploaded and submitted with the online application.

Official Transcript- submitted when offer of admission is received

Official transcripts or documents are defined as materials issued by your institution in a sealed envelope. It must be mailed to the Graduate Admissions office address below.

One [1] official transcript from each university or college attended where course credit was earned. This must be submitted by the issuing institution.

One [1] official final transcript, showing completion of the degree. You must also send a certificate of graduation, when the transcript does not list the degree earned. This must be submitted by the issuing institution.

Statement of Purpose: A discussion of academic and career objectives. PhD applicants must specify a Research Area.

Application Fee: A non-refundable fee of $80 must accompany every application.

Additional Documents/Evaluation: Candidates who wish to have their papers, abstracts, talks, portfolios, etc., reviewed as part of the application dossier should not send hard copies; please link these materials on your web page and list the appropriate url's in your personal statement. International applicants are not required to provide proof of financial support at the time of submission of an application to the ESE graduate program and should not submit this information with the application. International applicants may wish to provide an evaluation of their transcripts provided by the World Education Services -