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Graduate Certificate inInternational Affairs

Program summary

Gain global perspective and deepen your understanding of unique issues facing the world. The 12-credit online Graduate Certificate in International Affairs program was designed to help prepare the next generation of global leaders and can offer essential foundations to the field.

100% Online

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

Application deadline

Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Skills to Impact the World on a Global Scale

  • Analyze global issues and effectively communicate recommendations so government leadership can make informed decisions.

  • Apply understanding of the history of weapons of mass destruction and military affairs to aid international security and help maintain peace.

  • Collaborate with governments and international organizations as they gather information and weigh the impact of their intelligence findings on the actions of policymakers and international law.

  • Serve as a global liaison while negotiating the inner workings of policy.

Expand Your Knowledge with Online International Affairs Courses

This graduate certificate program’s required courses will cover topics such as:  

  • foundations of diplomacy and international relations 
  • the role of intelligence in international relations 
  • weapons of mass destruction and international security 
  • current policy challenges to international affairs

Required Courses (12 credits)

In some cases, at the discretion of the head of the certificate program, substitution of one (3-credit) relevant course from an appropriate unit may be possible.

  • 3

    Address the central tenets of diplomacy and international relations and theories and concepts that underpin the study of international relations.

  • 3

    Examine how governments gather intelligence, how intelligence is analyzed, and what impact it has on policymakers.

  • 3

    Explore how nuclear weapons revolutionized thinking about war and peace among major powers and how they can become a primary focus of international diplomacy.

  • 3

    Continuing seminars that consist of series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers. Introduces students to quantitative methods applicable to various issue areas, including international relations, economics, business, law, education, health, and environment.

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 use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

As a graduate of this program, you can build a career in areas such as international relations, public policy, intelligence, defense policy, military affairs, counterterrorism, diplomacy, international organizations, law enforcement, international business, international law, international education, economic development, international environmental policy, and international energy policy. Some positions for which you may be qualified include:

  • research analyst
  • research associate
  • program associate
  • program coordinator
  • communications coordinator
  • program officer
  • foreign service officer
  • intelligence analyst
  • risk analyst
  • intelligence officer
  • project associate
  • data analyst

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 graduate certificate?

Apply by July 1 to start August 26. 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

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.

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?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

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?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

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.

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.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

A Head Start toward a Master's Degree

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Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

Some or all credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree program:

Learn from one of the first and most comprehensive homeland security programs. Students may complete the base program or choose from a diverse range of specialization options — all designed to develop highly trained future leaders in roles that include national security.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security

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.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 1 to start August 26

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.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 1 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 1 to start January 13

Steps to Apply

  1. 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.

    • 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.

      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.

      Test Scores — GRE and GMAT Test Scores are NOT required.

      References (2) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each recommender 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/Materials

      Statement of Purpose — The admissions committee seeks students that show promise for success. As such, the statement of purpose is a critical part of the application.

      Statements should be saved in PDF format before being uploaded to your application. There is no required length for the statement of purpose, but they are typically 500–750 words. Your statement of purpose should address one of the two topics below:

      • Describe your academic and research interests, career objectives, and how this certificate will enable you to achieve your goals. Focus on the unique skills, talents and/or perspectives you will bring to the program. Please be specific.
      • Discuss an issue of global importance that you wish to address in your professional career and explain how the international affairs certificate program will help prepare you.
    • To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

      Create a New Penn State Account

      If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

      Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

    • 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.

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

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

      Technical Requirements  
      Review the technical requirements for this program.

    • 5. Complete the application.

    Admissions Help

    If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Contact Us

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

    To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in International Affairs, please contact:

    Mitchell Smith
    Penn State School of International Affairs
    253 Lewis Katz Building
    University Park, PA 16802 
    Phone: 814-867-2242
    Email: [email protected]

    For general questions about Penn State World Campus, please contact:

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

    Learn from the Best

    You will have the opportunity to enroll in courses that were developed by highly regarded faculty from Penn State’s School of International Affairs. Furthermore, a Penn State degree is renowned throughout the industry, giving you a recognized and respected credential to add to your résumé.

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

    Apply by July 1 to start August 26. How to Apply