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Application Overview

Special announcement: For the last three years, the MAPP program successfully transitioned from a hybrid delivery to an all-online model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2023-2024, the program format will change. On-sites 1, 3, and 5 will be delivered on our Philadelphia campus and on-sites 2 and 4 will be delivered on our virtual campus. Synchronous attendance for all on-sites is required. Please read more about our decision and see the updated Program Format & Schedule page for more information.

Application deadline

Thank you for your interest in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program! MAPP is designed for individuals from a variety of backgrounds and requires no specific prerequisite courses. We start a new cohort every fall! Your application portfolio, including all transcripts, must be received by the following deadline. MAPP does not have rolling admissions—all completed applications will be reviewed after the deadline in roughly the order they are completed, and applicants will receive decisions on or before the last day of June.

Term of Entry Deadline
Fall 2023 March 1, 2023

Start your application now

Please note, it is your responsibility to make sure we have all of your application materials by the deadline.

We recommend starting your application early and following it closely because some materials, such as test scores, transcript evaluations, and letters of recommendations can take a long time to arrive. Additionally, pay close attention to our emails which will notify you of missing materials and inform you when your application is complete. We do not review applications until all required materials are received, confirmed, and marked complete.

Application material

Applications must contain all of the following:

  • Completed online application
  • $75 nonrefundable application fee
  • Current resume
  • Application essay
    Your essay should address each question thoroughly, be no longer than four typed pages, and be submitted as a single document. You can answer each question separately, or write a single narrative that incorporates all four questions. The essay questions are:
    • How did your interest in positive psychology develop? How familiar are you with the field?
    • What do you hope to learn in the MAPP program, and how do you expect to apply that knowledge in your professional career?
    • How will this affect your career?
    • How will this affect the profession in which you are (or will be) working?
  • Unofficial transcripts from each post-secondary school you have attended need to be uploaded through the online application system. A common problem that delays applications from completing on time is that some schools list “The University of Pennsylvania,” and not “The College of Liberal and Professional Studies.” If your transcripts get sent to “The University of Pennsylvania,” they will likely go to the undergraduate division where we cannot access them. Please be very specific when you order your transcripts and ensure that they are sent to “The College of Liberal and Professional Studies,” (address is at the bottom of our website) or lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu with “MAPP applicant (and your name)” in the subject line.

    Note: If you don’t yet have your transcripts and wish to work on other parts of the application while you wait, you can temporarily bypass the transcript section. To do so, upload something in each transcript slot such as a simple Word document that briefly indicates why the transcript isn’t there (such as “official transcripts have been sent to Penn” or “waiting for unofficial transcripts to arrive”).
  • Three letters of recommendation
    Letters should come from individuals with whom you have had a close professional or academic association and who know of your desire to study positive psychology at an advanced level. In the application, you’ll be prompted to enter email addresses of your letter writers and “submit recommendation request” which will prompt our system to email them instructions on how to submit their letter through the online recommendation portal. Letters of recommendation must be sent directly from your letter writers. There is no required length, although they are usually about one page long. Please urge your recommenders to submit their letters through the online system promptly. If they have difficulties with the online system, they can submit your letter by emailing lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu, with “MAPP applicant (and your name)” in the subject line. Letters can be received before you submit your application, however they will not be marked as received until roughly 24-48 hours after you submit your application.
  • GRE test scores, if applicable
    If you have completed your bachelor’s degree less than three years prior to the year you are applying, then the General Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required.

    For example, if you are applying for fall 2025 and you graduated after the spring semester of 2022, you will have to submit a General GRE score (not a Psychology GRE score). Applicants should score above the 50th percentile on each section.

    GRE scores must be sent electronically from ETS to the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), testing school code: 2986.

    To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the GRE website. (Please note the at-home GRE exams are available and acceptable through the 2023-2024 admissions year.)
  • TOEFL or IELTS test scores, if applicable
    A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit either an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or unofficial or official International English Language Testing System (IELTS). (Please note the at-home TOEFL or IELTS exams (“IELTS Indicator”) are available and acceptable through the 2023-2024 admissions year.)

    TOEFL: To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website. We do NOT accept the TOEFL Essentials exam scores. TOEFL scores must be sent electronically from ETS to the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), testing school code: 2986. The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are: Internet Test (iBT) = 100; with no subscore below 23, and listening/speaking score of 26+; Computer-Based Test (CBT) = 250: Paper-Based Test (PBT) = 600

    IELTS: The minimum score for consideration is a 7.0 composite with no subscore below 6.5, writing score of 7.0+. You may upload an official or unofficial copy of your IELTS test to the standardized test score section of your application or email it to lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu. To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the IELTS website.

    This is a strict requirement for the MAPP application process to ensure all students who enter the MAPP program can be successful in a fast-paced learning environment. Please note, working in the US for many years, having a degree from a school where the instruction was in English, and/or working or living in an English-speaking country is not enough to request an exception. Additionally, it is important to know that requesting an exception will delay your application and may keep it from being complete and entering review. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you take the TOEFL or IELTS if English is not your native language to complete and strengthen your application. If you have questions about how this requirement impacts you, please email lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu.
  • CertiFile or WES for all international transcripts
    Applicants who have attended a college or university outside the US are required to have a course-by-course credential evaluation (with grade point average and course levels) performed by an outside evaluation service. Credential evaluations will be reviewed by our administrators, and the determination of degree equivalency to US degrees is at the discretion of the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The following two evaluation services are acceptable:

    CertiFile/CollegeNET Document Service: Applicants from international institutions are encouraged to use the CertiFile/CollegeNET Document Service within the College of Liberal and Professional Studies application to request and submit authenticated transcript(s) and other academic documents. This service provides certified documents and course evaluations which are then included as part of your application materials. If using this service, Penn requires the “Evaluation” service at a cost of $190.

    World Education Services Inc. (WES): WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all post-secondary credentials. The course-by-course evaluation should include the comparability level of your education and list each of your courses along with the equivalent US marks and credit. Please select the WES basic course-by-course evaluation (with grade point average and course levels) and request that WES send your evaluation to Penn College of Liberal and Professional Studies Admissions. The school can be found by searching the University of Pennsylvania and then selecting College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The evaluation becomes an official academic record and sole property of the University upon its receipt. For additional information about the WES application and their review process, please visit the WES website.

    Please note that these services charge a fee for the evaluation.

Since all required supporting documents are submitted through the online application system, hard copy material other than official transcripts or letters of recommendation will not be accepted.

Unsolicited material will not be used for review.

All application materials become the property of the University of Pennsylvania and will not be returned, therefore please retain a personal copy of your application.

Evaluation criteria

How are MAPP applications evaluated?

There are three areas of focus in the application evaluation process. Strong applications demonstrate excellence and contain robust evidence to substantiate performance in all three categories; particular excellence in one category may compensate for areas of lesser strength, so applications will be considered holistically.

Academic performance

  • The applicant should have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
  • The applicant should have a demonstrated ability for quantitative and analytical coursework based on transcript-visible courses that required students to analyze numerical or symbolic data (e.g., math, economics, statistics, biology, genetics, logic, linguistics, engineering); OR high quantitative scores on the GRE; OR practical experience demonstrating skills in quantitative analysis (e.g., financial management or marketing).
  • The applicant should score above the 50% tile on each section of the GRE (if required).
  • Non-native speakers of English must take the TOEFL and reach the following acceptable minimum scores:
    • Internet Test = 100, no subscore below 23, listening/speaking score of 26+
    • Computer-Based Test = 250
    • Paper-Based Test = 600

Professional accomplishment or promise

This piece is mostly assessed through the applicant’s resume but can also be found in their essay or letters of recommendation. The committee is looking for people who are successful in their profession and are in a position to influence their workplace. For applicants without much professional experience, the committee will assess professional promise. Indicators of professional promise include leadership roles in extracurricular and/or volunteer activities, awards, and/or strong letters of recommendation from supervisors, professors, etc.

Program fit

This is a broad category that is made up of three sub-categories and is mostly evaluated through the applicant’s essay.

  • Knowledge of positive psychology: How much does the applicant already know about positive psychology? Can they cite and intelligently discuss authors, books, and concepts from the field?
  • Dedication: Does the applicant see MAPP as a necessary step in their professional development? Has the applicant already been applying positive psychology in their work?
  • Vision: The admissions committee likes to see an applicant with a strong vision for how they want to apply positive psychology to their profession. The vision should also be achievable, given the applicant’s professional position and experience.

COVID-19 and admissions reviews

Recognizing the challenges of teaching, learning, and assessing academic performance during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Penn’s admissions committees for graduate and professional programs will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant. In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/Fail and other grading options during the period of COVID-19 disruptions. An applicant will not be adversely affected in the admissions process if their academic institution implemented a mandatory pass/fail (or similar) system for the term or if the applicant chose to participate in an optional pass/fail (or similar) system for the term. Penn’s longstanding commitment remains to admit graduate and professional student classes composed of outstanding individuals who demonstrate the resilience and aptitude to succeed in their academic pursuits.

Program format

Learn more about MAPP's innovative hybrid program delivery model.

MAPP information session

Meet our program team and learn more about the MAPP curriculum, application process, faculty, and more.

Applied Positive Psychology faculty

Dr. James Pawelski is the MAPP Program Director and one of the many outstanding members of the MAPP faculty team.