What is a Master of International Affairs (M.I.A.) degree?

The School of International Affairs (SIA) offers a professional master’s degree specializing in the field of international affairs. It carries the same weight as any other master’s degree earned at Penn State.

How long will it take me to complete the program?

The 42-credit M.I.A. degree takes approximately two academic years to complete.

What are "core courses," and when are they taken?

During the first year of the program, students must take six core courses to form a solid foundation for the second year of coursework. Students take three of the core courses during the first fall semester, and the remaining three core courses in the first spring semester.

Does the program's capstone experience require an internship or a master's paper?

Either. Students who wish to enter the workplace immediately following graduation typically complete an internship, while those who wish to pursue further education can select the master's paper option; however, some students choose to do both. The decision is made together with the student, his or her faculty advisor, and SIA's director of Career Services.

What do students do over the summer?

SIA only holds regular classes during the fall and spring semesters, allowing students to complete internships, participate in original research efforts, or pursue other coursework during the summer semesters.

I see there is a language proficiency requirement.  Must I have that completed before applying?

No.  Language proficiency can be achieved in a number of ways.  Some students may meet the proficiency before arriving at SIA and others may not have had any language experience.  You'll work with our academic advisor to determine if you have achieved the proficiency or how you will achieve it.  

When is the application available and what is the deadline?  When will I receive my decision?

The application is available as of September 1 each year.  The deadline for students who wish to be considered for SIA's merit-based financial aid is March 15. For all other applicants, the application deadline is March 21.  We begin releasing decisions in mid-March and on a rolling basis after that.  

Do I need to take the GRE? Are there minimum scores or "cut-offs"?

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are optional. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores to be considered for admission or merit-based scholarships. Applicants wishing to submit GRE scores are welcome to should they choose. However, not submitting GRE scores will not negatively impact your application in any way. If you decide to submit GRE scores, SIA will only accept scores directly from the testing service. Please arrange for all standardized test scores to be sent in advance of the application deadline using our school code 2660.

Is there a separate application to be considered for merit-based financial aid?

No. Every applicant is automatically considered for these funds; no separate application is necessary.

Does SIA accept electronic transcripts, copies of transcripts, or unofficial transcripts?

No. This information instead is sent to Penn State's Graduate School.  During the initial application process, applicants may electronically upload copies of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (accompanied by an official, line-by-line, English translation) into the application. Applicants recommended for admission who accept their offer of admission will be notified by the Graduate School that official transcripts must be sent. 

What kinds of career opportunities can SIA graduates pursue?

Graduates of the program are employed in fields such as government, NGOs, international organizations, think tanks, and the private sector.  Our career success rate is consistently 95% or higher.

How can I learn more?

Feel free to contact our Admissions staff via telephone at (814) 867-2242, by e-mail at admissions@sia.psu.edu, or in person in the Katz Building. We are happy to help you explore your options here at Penn State and the School of International Affairs.