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Graduate Certificate inLeading 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.

100% Online

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

Application deadline

Apply by April 15 to start May 13

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Skills as a DEI Leader and Change Manager

  • Develop and implement a personal diversity leadership improvement plan.

  • Make mindful and ethical decisions that support positive, sustainable change in an organization.

  • Analyze and offer solutions to complex issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Understand positive organizational behavior and how it empowers employees to be their best possible selves for personal and career advancement.

  • Transform an organization into a diverse and ethical workplace by creating a positive and affirming culture.

Your Online DEI Courses

This program fosters a collaborative 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 April 15 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

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.

Who Should Apply?

This certificate is an excellent credential for leaders and supervisors who are looking to add a DEI focus to their management style.

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 April 15 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 April 15 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 15 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 15 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.

    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.

  2. 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.

    Test Scores — GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission.

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 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.

For general questions about the application process, please contact:

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

Learn from the Best

This program is offered in partnership with the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies. You will connect with expert faculty who are passionate about serving nontraditional students and specially trained to teach in an online environment.


  • 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 April 15 to start May 13. How to Apply