applied demography group

Graduate Certificate in
Applied Demography

Program summary

Learn how to rely on population projection knowledge to make informed decisions and forecasts. This online applied demography graduate certificate program explores methods and problems in both the public and private sectors and provides the skills necessary to perform demographic analysis.

Application deadline

Apply by April 1 to start May 15

Credits and costs

12 Credits $1,007 per credit

Learn how to analyze and apply demography to shape the future

The online Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography program, delivered through Penn State World Campus, can help you recognize and anticipate the consequences of demographic trends and propose policy options that can help the populations affected by them. As such, you can play an important role in planning for and shaping the future in both the public and private sectors.

In this program, you can use your knowledge of demographic principles, analytical techniques, and application skills to address problems and answer practical questions for businesses, the government sector, not-for-profits, health systems, and environmental executives and decision-makers. You can collect, analyze, and interpret aggregate statistical population data for clearly defined areas (e.g., counties, cities, states, and countries) that are, in turn, used to inform public policy decisions and investments.

Understanding applied demography

Demography is the scientific study of human populations. It focuses on population size, distribution, dynamic processes — births, health and mortality, internal and international migrations, population aging, changing family structure — and the demographics (statistical data) of population sub-groups by race, age, sex, education, income, employment, and many more characteristics.

According to the Committee on Applied Demography of the Population Association of America, applied demography is the subfield of demography that focuses on practical applications of demographic methods and materials for decision-making purposes. Its practitioners come from a variety of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds and are employed primarily by government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Their work often includes data collection, demographic analysis, the interpretation and communication of demographic trends, strategic planning, and the development and evaluation of population estimates and projections.

What can you do with an applied demography certificate?

The 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography provides training in demography with an emphasis on application in both the public and private sectors. As a working professional who is seeking to use demographic analysis to enhance your career, support organizational objectives, and better anticipate population change, you can benefit directly from this program. This online applied demography certificate is ideal for:

  • market research analysts
  • political scientists
  • data analysts
  • statisticians
  • local and regional planners
  • economists

The Penn State difference

The Penn State residential demography program consistently ranks in the top five among the 120 schools that offer a demography or population science program. As a student in the online program, you will be mentored by resident instructors and other highly qualified applied demography faculty.

In this program, you will have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines.


The Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography comprises four courses totaling 12 credits.

All certificate students are required to become familiar with materials relating to responsible conduct of research resources and must register for and complete the online Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training through Penn State's Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program). This will also apply if you will be pursuing the master's in applied demography.

Required Courses (12 credits)

  • 3

    This course examines fundamental concepts and ideas in demography and U.S. and world population trends associated with these concepts.

  • 3

    This course provides an overview of key demographic data sets, and promotes familiarity with, and appropriate use of, these data.

  • 3

    This course provides an overview of applications in applied demography in business, nonprofit organizations, public policy, and health, including a focus on international applications.

  • 3

    Models and measures of vital processes (fertility, mortality, migration) and their effects on growth and age structure of human populations.

    • Prerequisite

      STAT 200

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? Cost
11 or fewer $1,007 per credit
12 or more $12,082 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Summer DeadlineApply by April 1 to start May 15

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

If you are interested in taking a course for professional development, you may apply as a nondegree graduate student.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

GPA and Test Scores — Postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required.

No GRE or GMAT scores are required.

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

References (3) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete. 

Program-Specific Questions

Vita or Résumé — A one- to two-page listing of your professional experience. Upload to the online application.

Statement of Purpose — A two- to three- page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrate your written communication skills and basic statistical knowledge.

Start Your Application

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  • Choose "Applied Demography" as the certificate

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Applying as a Nondegree Graduate Student

Apply as a "nondegree" graduate student to begin taking courses right away. You may take up to 6 credits in nondegree status that will apply to the master's or certificate before submitting your application portfolio. Nondegree applicants may be asked to submit undergraduate transcripts. If you apply as a nondegree graduate student, you must re-apply to the master's degree or the certificate to be considered for admission into the program. Admission as a nondegree student does not guarantee admission to either of these programs.

To apply as a nondegree graduate student:

  1. Begin the application process
  2. Select "Nondegree Admission"
  3. Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

Technical Requirements 

Review the general technical requirements for this program.

Start or Advance Your Career

Hiring manager reviewing a resume or CV with a job candidate

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields in both the public and private sectors.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

As a working professional who is seeking to use demographic analysis to enhance your career, support organizational objectives, and better anticipate population change, you can benefit directly from this program. This online applied demography certificate is ideal for:

  • market research analysts
  • political scientists
  • data analysts
  • statisticians
  • local and regional planners
  • economists

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Contact Us

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Applied Demography, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, please contact:

Dr. Nicolás Sacco 
Assistant Teaching Professor of Sociology and Demography 
Program Coordinator, Graduate Studies in Applied Demography 
The Pennsylvania State University 
[email protected]


Dr. Stephen A. Matthews
Director, Graduate Program in Demography 
Liberal Arts Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, Demography, and Geography
Faculty Director, Graduate Programs in Applied Demography
The Pennsylvania State University
[email protected]

For admissions questions please contact: 

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]


  • Nicolás Sacco

    Program coordinator, graduate studies in applied demography

    Ph.D., Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires

    Dr. Nicolás Sacco’s teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of demography and sociology. He is interested in how social inequality interplays with fertility and mortality changes, in particular in Latin America. Dr. Sacco primarily uses population censuses and housing surveys, with a wide range of quantitative research methods.
    Dr. Sacco is an assistant teaching professor of sociology and demography and a former postdoctoral scholar at The Population Research Institute (PRI) (2018–19) and the Center for Development and Regional Planning (Cedeplar) in Brazil (2017–18).

    Census 2021: Experiences from South America

  • Stephen A. Matthews

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Planning, University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST)/Cardiff University, United Kingdom
    • Degree
      B.A., Geography, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

    Dr. Stephen A. Matthews is a liberal arts professor of sociology, anthropology, and demography (with courtesy appointments in geography and the School of International Affairs). He is also the director of the dual-title graduate program in demography, one of the oldest and largest dual-title programs at Penn State. He is an interdisciplinary scholar with a research and teaching focus on the reciprocal relations between people and places, spatial inequalities, the social determinants of health, and spatial analytical approaches to demographic and health outcomes.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by April 1 to start May 15. How to Apply