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Undergraduate Certificate inDiversity Studies

Program summary

Gain a greater understanding of ethical issues related to discrimination and intolerance, and learn to use that knowledge to help foster more inclusive policies and attitudes at organizations where you work or volunteer.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by May 5 to start May 13

Credits and costs

12 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Gain Skills to Become a Change Agent in Your Community

  • Expose, critique, and confront historical and contemporary sources of social inequality and how race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and disability have been constructed in the United States and globally.

  • Identify and analyze the multiple ways individuals, communities, and social movements have resisted and remade categories of identity and changed relations of power over time and space.

  • Guide the discourse away from mere tolerance, celebration, or appreciation to a deeper understanding and critique of discrimination, intolerance, and inequality in the historical and contemporary global society.

  • Explore how gender and sexuality play a role in culture, the arts, health, politics, the sciences, and education.

Your Online Diversity Studies Course Work

In this 12-credit program, you will explore the differences and similarities we share with others in our diverse society. By acquiring a deeper understanding of cultures and human interaction, you can lay the groundwork for better communication and enhanced relationships in all facets of your life. This certificate complements a variety of majors, such as psychology and labor and human resources.

Prescribed Course (3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Use literature, film, and scholarly texts to explore how conceptions of social difference, such as those linked to categories of gender, race, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and disability, shape society and everyday interactions historically and today.

Additional Courses (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Explore what it means to be Black in America by engaging with questions about identity and authenticity, freedom and unfreedom, radicalism and reform, gender and sexuality, and the role of music in African American life.

  • 3
    credits

    Review scholarly theories and research pertaining to women’s experiences and women’s status in contemporary American society.

  • 3
    credits

    Explore scholarly theories and research pertaining to women and gender while experiencing examples of contemporary women’s creative practice through the visual arts, media, and popular culture.

    • 3
      credits

      Learn about the dominant themes in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, with an emphasis on both literary and cultural studies. This course explores the history of modern, Western ideas about sexual identity as manifested in literature, theatre, film, and other narrative forms of popular culture.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Learn about the dominant themes in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, with an emphasis on both literary and cultural studies. This course explores the history of modern, Western ideas about sexual identity as manifested in literature, theatre, film, and other narrative forms of popular culture.

Supporting Courses (select 6 credits)

    • 3
      credits

      The impact of inequality and discrimination on individual and group identity among various racial and ethnic groups.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      The impact of inequality and discrimination on individual and group identity among various racial and ethnic groups.

  • 3
    credits

    Consideration of influences and forces shaping modern African society; analysis of current local and global problems and issues facing Africa are the central focus of the course.

  • 3
    credits

    The course aims to cast light on contemporary religious life in the United States by looking at the history of American religion.

  • 3
    credits

    This course tells the story of humankind, how we as a species developed, and how modern Homo sapiens have developed more cultural complexity over time, moving, in the last 12,000 years, from a worldwide small population of hunter-foragers to a population so large that it strains the planet's resources, with nation-states competing for the loyalty of their citizens with powerful ethnic and religious enclaves and also with global corporations.

  • 3
    credits

    This course is designed to introduce students to the concepts and evidence used in understanding the cultural diversity of our planet.

  • 3
    credits

    What are the factors that bind and define a region? What makes a geographical area, a set of cultures, or a certain group of people into a single entity? Who decides? Asian history provides a view of how a region is formed and reshaped over time.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the relationship diverse personal and sociocultural factors (e.g., socioeconomic class, race-ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation) have with health.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100 or SOC 1

  • 3
    credits

    Interdisciplinary study of gender, examining the interaction of biological, behavioral, and sociocultural factors on health differentials throughout the lifespan.

    • Prerequisite

      BBH 101

  • 3
    credits

    Focus on topics such as language, identity, prejudice, and intergroup relations on a domestic/ international level.

  • 3
    credits

    Ethical issues in public and private communication; role of communication in expressing and realizing individual and social values.

  • 3
    credits

    Explores the literature on gender research in the discipline of human communication.

  • 3
    credits

    History and criticism of public discourse; intensive analysis of selected public addresses and social movements.

    • Prerequisite

      6 credits of CAS

  • 3
    credits

    The development of literature around the world - from epic, legend, lyric, etc. in the oral tradition to modern written forms.

  • 3
    credits

    Comparison of narrative techniques employed by literature and film in portraying different cultures, topics may vary each semester.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in media content, media business, and media practice.

    • 3
      credits

      The criminal justice system is a human creation and some errors are expected. Sometimes guilty parties go free and sometimes innocent people are convicted. In this course, we will employ the perspective of the social scientist to understand why and how wrongful convictions occur.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      The criminal justice system is a human creation and some errors are expected. Sometimes guilty parties go free and sometimes innocent people are convicted. In this course, we will employ the perspective of the social scientist to understand why and how wrongful convictions occur.

  • 3
    credits

    Explores the economic, social, psychological, and political aspects of the deaf culture and its interaction with the majority hearing culture.

    • 3
      credits

      Learn about the dominant themes in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, with an emphasis on both literary and cultural studies. This course explores the history of modern, Western ideas about sexual identity as manifested in literature, theatre, film, and other narrative forms of popular culture.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Learn about the dominant themes in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, with an emphasis on both literary and cultural studies. This course explores the history of modern, Western ideas about sexual identity as manifested in literature, theatre, film, and other narrative forms of popular culture.

  • 3
    credits

    Physiological, psychological, and social development and intervention from young adulthood through old age.

  • 3
    credits

    Concepts of affectional and sexual orientation over life span, with emphasis on lesbian and gay male personal, family, and community adaptation.

  • 3
    credits

    Students will explore the way people and their environments interact to influence human development through the integration of memoirs and other personal narratives, humanist themes and methods of inquiry, and social science theory and research.

  • 3
    credits

    Contemporary economic, social, and political aspects of the United States and its role as a world power since 1945.

    • 3
      credits

      A study of selected problems in the history of work in the United States, especially since 1877.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      A study of selected problems in the history of work in the United States, especially since 1877.

  • 3
    credits

    A selective overview of the history of imperialism and nationalism in Africa.

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores the science and practice of leadership around the globe through pertinent scholarly literature and related instructional resources.

  • 3
    credits

    Overviews scholarship relating to women in positions of leadership in groups and organizations, as well as obstacles to their success.

  • 3
    credits

    This course is designed to increase student awareness of personal, interpersonal, and societal aspects of disability, including how disability can be defined and understood differently in varied individual, institutional, and cultural contexts.

  • 3
    credits

    The course introduces students to the academic study of religion as well as to some of the major religious traditions of the world.

  • 3
    credits

    Leisure from historical and contemporary perspectives, including forces shaping leisure behavior, and relationships among leisure, the environment, and social institutions.

  • 3–4
    credits

    Focuses on historical patterns and current status of racial, ethnic and cultural groups and issues locally, nationally, and internationally.

  • 3
    credits

    The role of gender in shaping contemporary North American patterns of employment, occupational roles, and statuses.

  • 3
    credits

    This course will include an overview of characteristics and learning traits, classification systems, assessment strategies/issues, approaches, and interventions related to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Special emphasis will be given to selecting evidence-based practices and enhancing collaboration among individuals with ASD, their families, and supporting professionals.

  • 3
    credits

    Review scholarly theories and research pertaining to women’s experiences and women’s status in contemporary American society.

  • 3
    credits

    Explore scholarly theories and research pertaining to women and gender while experiencing examples of contemporary women’s creative practice through the visual arts, media, and popular culture.

  • 3
    credits

    This introductory course considers core topics in the field of feminist sexuality studies to both unsettle popular mainstream discourses on sexuality and to aid students in developing a more comprehensive, inclusive, and ethical lens through which to view intersections of gender, sexuality, and the body.

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.

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can leverage your understanding of and respect for diversity in almost any industry, but you will find these skills specifically applicable in fields including human resources, social welfare, education, and health and medicine.


Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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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 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

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

Apply by May 5 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

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.

Who Should Apply?

You can benefit from this program if you want to: 

  • translate your curiosities, experiences, passions, and interests into meaningful work 
  • seek out inclusive environments and better understand various points of view 
  • delve into the subjects of gender equity, human rights, and social justice

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester

 

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by May 5 to start May 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by May 5 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by August 18 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by January 1, 2025, to start January 13, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED.

    If you are already enrolled in a World Campus degree program, you can complete this certificate along with your degree program.

    If you are not enrolled in a World Campus degree program, you may still pursue this certificate as a nondegree student. Students pursuing a stand-alone certificate are classified as nondegree. (Nondegree students do receive full college credit for all courses taken in nondegree status; however, financial aid is not available to nondegree students.)

  2. 2. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, email [email protected] or call 814-865-1146.

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

For questions about admissions and applications, please contact World Campus Central:

World Campus Central
Phone: 814-865-1146
Email: [email protected]

To learn more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Diversity Studies, please contact:

Laurie Spielvogel
Director for the Undergraduate Certificate in Diversity Studies
Teaching Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Phone: 814-863-4025
Email: [email protected]

Learn from the Best

One of the primary reasons Penn State is recognized around the globe as a distinguished university is its faculty. The Undergraduate Certificate in Diversity Studies is offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and you will have the opportunity to learn from the same instructors who teach traditional, face-to-face classes on Penn State's campuses across Pennsylvania.


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

Apply by May 5 to start May 13. How to Apply 

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