Frequently Asked Questions

Pace handbook

Applying to the program

Program information

When do I need to submit my application?

You may begin the PACE program at the beginning of any PSU term. Applications submitted by the following dates are given priority each term:

  • Fall – July 1
  • Winter – November 1
  • Spring – February 15
  • Summer – May 15

Do I need to take the GRE?

No, the GRE is not required for the PACE program.

Are there other requirements for admission to the PACE program?

In order to be admitted to the program, students must be able to verify that they received their previous degree(s) from an accredited institution. Students must also be able to verify that they received a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for any undergraduate and/or graduate coursework. 

It is a University requirement that students register and pay for at least one credit in the term they are admitted. Failure to do so will result in automatic cancellation of your admission. If you need to change the term for which you intend to begin classes after you have submitted your application, please contact the ELP department at 503-725-4654 to discuss your options.

I’m an international student. Are there any other requirements I should be aware of?

International students must have an official TOEFL score report sent directly to PSU Office of Admission from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). You can check TOEFL requirements here. Have the report mailed to: PSU, Office of Admissions and Records, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207

What is the difference between a Masters of Arts and a Masters of Science?

A Master of Arts requires a second language proficiency whereas the Master of Science does not. You can find additional information on the Office of Graduate Studies website.

How much does the PACE program cost?

COE program costs

Is financial aid available to PACE students?

Financial aid is available through PSU.  For more nformation, visit Financial Aid Resources.

Where can I find information on graduate assistantships at PSU?

Only a few graduate assistantships are available each year. Graduate assistants are required to complete 9 credits of course work each quarter for the entire academic year. The Office of Graduate Studies keeps a list of available assistantships.

I earned research credit for my graduate assistantship. Can I use that credit towards my PACE degree?

Graduate assistantship-related practicum or research credits, designated as 501a or 509a, cannot be applied toward the master’s or doctoral degree. 

Do I need to be admitted to the PACE program to take PACE courses?

No, students may enroll in courses prior to formal admission into the program. No more than 15 pre-admission and transfer credits may count toward the PACE program. Pre-admission credits are defined as credits taken at any institution, including PSU before the term of formal admission. Find more information about taking courses prior to admission.

May I substitute credits earned at another university for specific required courses in the PACE program?

Students may transfer credit hours into the degree program subject to approval by the department. No credits over 7 years old at the time of your PACE graduation can be counted toward a degree. Courses with grades lower than a “B” and those graded as “Pass/No Pass” are not transferable into the program.

May I take PACE courses Pass/Fail?

All coursework applied toward the master’s degree must be letter-graded, except ELP 506: Self-Directed Learning; ELP 507: Comprehensive Examination Project; ELP 509: Internship/Practicum; and ELP 503: Thesis. These courses are only offered Pass/No Pass. 

Is there a minimum grade requirement for PACE courses?

Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in good academic standing. No more than four credits graded as “C” are allowed and must be approved for use towards a degree by your faculty advisor.

Subject to the approval of the instructor, students have a maximum of one year to remove an I (Incomplete) grade. Any course graded M (Missing) can be changed to a letter grade within one term. If the M is not changed to a grade after one term, it will become an X (No Basis for Grade), which cannot be changed to a grade at a future time. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor their grades after each term and contact the instructor if there is an inconsistency.

How do I know who my advisor is?

At the bottom of the acceptance letter sent to you from the PACE department, you will find the name of your faculty advisor and the best way to contact them. Students are encouraged to connect with their advisors and faculty members, as they are all great resources. If for some reason you would like to switch your advisor, you must email the faculty member who you’d like to serve as your new advisor. Once you have confirmation from the new advisor, email your current advisor to let them know of the switch. Faculty want you to have the best possible experience and will not be offended in any way if you find that another faculty member better suits your needs as an advisor.

How do I register for classes?

Once accepted to the PACE program and to the university (you will receive letters from both offices) you will be able to set up your student ODIN account.  You will then be able to register for classes.

When can I register for classes?

Please visit the Academic Calendar to find your registration date.  

Core classes fill up quickly, so make sure to find your registration date with ample time to decide which courses you will be registering for.

What is the difference between summer courses and courses during the other three terms?

Summer classes are accelerated. They are offered in a variety of formats (online, hybrid, face-to-face; four weeks or eight weeks).

What are ELP 506 and ELP 509 and how many credits of each may I take?

ELP 506 is a self-directed learning experience and ELP 509 is an internship or practicum experience. You can apply up to 6 credits of each toward your degree. One credit of either translates to 30 hours of work a term, or about 3 hours a week. The 506 course allows students to explore a topic of their interest, perhaps resulting in a paper, a journal, or a pamphlet demonstrating what was learned. The 509 course offers students a more hands-on experience in an area of interest. The student will set up an internship or practicum experience and write a paper at the end reflecting on what they learned. Many internship opportunities are posted on the PACE listserv.

Do I have to choose one theme and stick with it?

The themes are there to act as a guide, and can be helpful in choosing classes based on your interests or academic goals. With your advisor, you may choose to mix and match classes from different themes to create your own individualized plan.

Why would I add a graduate certificate?

There are many themes within the PACE program, therefore, adding a certificate could serve as an extra area of specialization. If you’d like to add a graduate certificate, you must do so prior to graduation. To find out more about our graduate certificates, please visit:

Can I earn more than one graduate certificate?

You may complete multiple certificates, however, classes taken towards your master’s degree can count towards one graduate certificate, but courses taken for one graduate certificate cannot count towards another graduate certificate.  Additionally, ELP 506 or 509 culminating experience credits cannot be applied toward more than one Graduate Certificate. You must register for separate 2-credit 506s or 509s if you are completing more than one certificate. ELP 507 (PACE master’s culminating project) cannot be counted towards a Graduate Certificate culminating experience requirement if it will be used towards for a Master’s Degree.  

How do I add a graduate certificate?

If you would like to add one of our three graduate certificates to your degree, you must fill out a GO-19M. You can find the form through the Graduate School.

Please email this form to or mail it to:

College of Education
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207

When should I start thinking about COMPS?

Students are encouraged to begin thinking about a Comps project as soon as possible. An identified topic may help guide your focus throughout the program. It is recommended that students save all papers, projects, and reading materials from every course to eventually use in their COMPS project.

Students can also support and observe their fellow PACE students presenting their COMPS. Emails about the dates and times of presentations go out on the PACE listserv toward the end of each term.  

Additional information about Comps is provided in the ELP 510: PACE Orientation course and ELP 510: Introduction to ePortfolios

How do I apply for graduation and/or completion of a graduate certificate?

For both graduation and completion of a graduate certificate, you must apply within the first week of the term you intend to graduate.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact:

  • Kris Smith, Admissions Specialist, (503) 725-4654,
  • Kiley Melicker, Department Coordinator, (503) 725-4617