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Graduate Certificate in
Leading in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Program summary

Develop the knowledge and leadership skills needed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in organizations, and learn how to build an inclusive workplace through communication, mentorship, hiring practices, listening, career management, and training.

Application deadline

Apply by November 15 to start January 8

Credits and costs

12 Credits $1,017 per credit

Learn DEI and Leadership Principles

For many businesses, DEI initiatives are playing a greater role in day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning. Accordingly, top organizations are seeking CEOs and other senior leaders who understand the importance of DEI and how it can directly impact employee satisfaction, productivity, and the bottom line. This program can prepare leaders to proactively transform an organization into a diverse and ethical workplace by creating a positive and affirming culture.

Become a DEI Leader and Change Manager

As a student in this online diversity program, you can become a progressive leader and change manager by:

  • developing and implementing a personal diversity leadership improvement plan
  • learning to make mindful and ethical decisions that support positive, sustainable change in an organization
  • gaining the deep understanding needed to analyze and offer solutions to complex issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • understanding positive organizational behavior and how it empowers employees to be their best possible selves for personal and career advancement

Why Earn an Online Leadership Certificate?

This certificate is an excellent credential for leaders and supervisors who are looking to add a DEI focus to their management style. This online DEI program fosters a collaborative academic environment where CEOs, HR managers, supervisors, and other professionals work together to learn the critical importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in every workplace. The online program can also help HR professionals prepare for SHRM certification.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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 Online Learning Works at Penn State

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.

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.


Penn State's 12-credit online Graduate Certificate in Leading in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program consists of 3 required credits and 9 elective credits. All courses must be completed with a grade of C or better and an overall GPA of 3.0. Your education will blend independent study with peer-to-peer interaction. You'll complete weekly assignments, readings, discussions, and occasional group work, as well as exams and other activities designed to enhance your learning outcomes — all at times that are most convenient for you.

Required Courses (3 credits)

  • 3

    Analysis and application of models, theories, and strategies for managing an increasingly diverse workforce and customer base.

Leading Positive Ethical Change (select 3 credits)

  • 3

    Managing ethical conduct in organizations, including corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and stakeholder analysis.

  • 3

    Exploration of positive organizational behavior and wellbeing concepts for developing the "human sustainability" factor in organizations.

Demonstrating Business Case for Diversity (select 3 credits)

  • 3

    This course develops students’ process modeling, data analytics, and decision-making skills regarding the management of people in an organization. Analytics includes data collection, organization, storage, analysis, and all the tools and techniques used to describe current processes, assess and address challenges, and plan for changes.

  • 3

    This course examines workplace diversity, gender, and race challenges facing employers and employees, and the skills for managing diversity.

  • 3

    Investigate how managers might identify, engage in, and evaluate effective human resources practices; roles and practices of the HR professional will be examined.

Specialized Competencies for DEI Leaders (select 3 credits)

  • 3

    Provides students with a conceptual understanding of careers/career design making through an examination/discussion of the literature in career management.

  • 3

    Legal context of employment in the United States.

  • 3

    This course covers one of the main functional areas of Human Resource Management, staffing, and prepares students to be effective staffing professionals. The course focuses on the effective management of the flow of talent into, through, and out of organizations.

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 15 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by April 15 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by July 15, 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 their academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

Grade-Point Average (GPA) — GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the final two years of undergraduate studies or in your most recent graduate degree is required. 

GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission. (NOTE: based on proposal)

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.

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 "Leading in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" 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.

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 15 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 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

For general questions about the application process, please contact:

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


  • Veronica M. Godshalk

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Business Administration, Drexel University
    • Degree
      M.S., Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania

    Dr. Veronica (M. Godshalk is a professor of management and associate chief academic officer at Penn State Great Valley. She teaches courses in management, leadership, and strategy. She is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Teaching and Learning with Technology Fellowship. Dr. Godshalk has published many books and articles; her research interests include career management and mentoring, as well as pedagogy. She recently published a fifth edition of Career Management for Life. Dr. Godshalk worked in the computer industry in sales prior to entering academia.

  • Denise Potosky

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Industrial Relations and Human Resources, Rutgers University
    • Degree
      M.A., Communication, University of Delaware
    • Degree
      B.A., Speech Communication, Penn State

    Dr. Denise Potosky teaches graduate courses in management, human resources, people analytics, and leadership communication. Her research advances theory, strategies, and practices in cross-cultural adjustment, leading change, team coordination, personnel assessment, and technology-mediated communication. An internationally recognized scholar, she has led numerous research seminars for faculty and doctoral students at several institutions. Her work has been published in leading journals, including the Academy of Management Review, Personnel Psychology, and Human Resource Management Review.

  • Cynthia Walton

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Florida
    • Degree
      MBA, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.A., Chemistry, Penn State

    Dr. Cynthia Walton teaches entrepreneurship, economics, organizational behavior, and strategic management. She holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Florida, where she specialized in bioinorganic chemistry, researching metallocene modified proteins for use as anti-cancer reagents. At the University of Florida, she earned the DuPont Teaching Award twice and the President’s Outstanding Student Award twice. Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Walton was the group leader of paper chemicals for Houghton International and a research scientist at Hercules, Inc.

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

Apply by November 15 to start January 8. How to Apply