International flags

Graduate Certificate in
International 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.

Application deadline

Apply by November 1 to start January 8

Credits and costs

12 Credits $1,017 per credit

International Affairs Certificate — 100% Online

The issues of today’s world are complex and incredibly nuanced. Leaders rely on experts who can analyze global issues and effectively communicate recommendations, allowing them to make informed decisions.

Deepen your knowledge of the inner workings of policy on the global stage through this 100% online certificate program from Penn State. The 12-credit Graduate Certificate in International Affairs can give you the skills to address the central tenets of diplomacy and international relations. Learn how governments gather information, analyze reports, and weigh the impact of intelligence findings on the actions of policymakers.

Why Earn your Penn State International Affairs Certificate Online?

As a student in this program, you will have the opportunity to enroll in courses that were developed by highly regarded faculty from Penn State’s School of International Affairs. Classes are 100% online and asynchronous, which means you will be able to fit your Penn State education around whatever life throws at you.

As an online learner, you will have the full resources of Penn State at your fingertips wherever you may be. Student support services such as technical support, career counseling, a nationally recognized library, and advising are available for you to utilize throughout your education.

And when you complete your certificate program, you will become part of a proud network of more than 750,000 alumni. You can also choose to join the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest dues-paying alumni association in the world, with chapters offering social and networking events in most metropolitan areas.

Your Online International Affairs Curriculum

The international affairs certificate program 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, and current policy challenges to international affairs. With current course offerings, it is possible to complete this graduate certificate over the course of one year. You will also have opportunities to engage with other students in the program, helping you to grow a network of peers who share your professional interests.

Information for Military and Veterans

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, or application instructions.


To earn the online graduate certificate in international affairs, you must successfully complete four required 3-credit courses.

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.

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

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.

  • Spring DeadlineApply by November 1 to start January 8
  • Fall DeadlineApply by July 1, 2024, to start August 26, 2024

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 "Certificate Admission" as the enrollment type
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  • Choose "International Affairs" 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 and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status."

Technical Requirements

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

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

Apply by November 1 to start January 8. How to Apply

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

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 

A Head Start toward a Master's Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

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  

Contact Us

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in International Affairs, offered in partnership with the School of 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 protected]

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

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

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

Apply by November 1 to start January 8. How to Apply