M.I.A. Admissions

Welcome to the Penn State School of International Affairs! We offer a rich and extensive curriculum that allows you to pursue a flexible, interdisciplinary master's degree tailored to your individual career goals. Our student body comes from a wide array of backgrounds, interests, and disciplines, representing many different countries from around the world. Some of our students are recent graduates, others are mid-career professionals and others are concurrently pursuing degrees in another of Penn State's top graduate or professional programs.

The program has expanded rapidly since its inaugural class in 2008, but we continue to prioritize close connections and ensure that our students receive personal attention from our expert faculty. If your plan is to be a leader in the 21st century in international politics, law, agriculture, business, government, science, or the public sector, we strongly encourage you to apply.

To review our Admissions Policy, please click here.

Apply online

Contact our admissions team for more info


  • September 1: Application opens
  • January 31: Deadline to be considered for merit-based scholarships (Incomplete applications will NOT be considered.)
  • March 21: Final application deadline
  • Admission after March 21 will be based on available space in our cohort. Incomplete applications will NOT be reviewed for admission.

IMPORTANT: Do not wait until the last minute! Though you can submit your application up until 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date, this is not recommended. You should allow extra time for ALL application materials to be received and posted to the application by the necessary deadlines. A number of application items will take time to collect after your application has been submitted (such as letters of recommendation). Please note that your application will NOT be reviewed until ALL materials are received. In a typical admissions cycle, we begin reviewing applications in early December. If your materials are in and application is 100% complete, we will begin reviewing your application in December.

Application Requirements

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all application materials are uploaded into the Penn State Graduate School's online application by the necessary deadlines. Only complete applications will be reviewed by the admission committee. Please monitor the status of your application by checking the application portal to ensure all required materials are received and posted to the application. Your application must be considered "complete" to be placed in line for an admissions review.

To be considered for admission into the School of International Affairs, all applicants must complete the Graduate School's online application, which includes:

m.i.a. admissions box1

You are required to submit two letters of recommendation. Recommendations should be written by individuals well placed to discuss your academic qualifications for graduate study (unless you are five or more years removed from your undergraduate studies). Recommendations that come from former supervisors should comment on and provide examples of your performance as an intern and/or an employee, including the nature of your work and what you contributed to the company or organization. Please note that letters from personal acquaintances or those who are not familiar with your academic or professional qualifications are not helpful to the admissions committee.

m.i.a. admissions box2

Provide a current résumé or curriculum vitae, which includes your education, employment history, awards and accolades, international exposure, publication credits, and leadership roles in any volunteer and/or extracurricular activities.

m.i.a. admissions box3

All applicants, domestic or international, must submit transcripts reflecting all university-level course work listed on the application. The transcript you upload onto your online application must be a copy of your official transcript, which is typically obtained from your college or university registrar's office or the office that issues official transcripts to students. Uploading anything other than a copy of your official transcript may cause delay in the review of your application. If you are admitted and choose to enroll at the School of International Affairs, you must submit official transcripts with your conferred degree to the Penn State Graduate School before you can register for classes. They must be sent directly from your previous institution(s), either electronically to gradschooltrans@psu.edu, or mailed in official sealed envelopes to:

Graduate Enrollment Services
The Pennsylvania State University
114 Kern Graduate Building Box INTAF 1241
University Park, PA 16802

Find answers to FAQs about transcripts on the Graduate School website.

m.i.a. admissions box4

If your transcript is in a language other than English, you are asked to provide an official translation of the entire transcript and an explanation of the grading system of the university. You are strongly encouraged to use a credential evaluation service, particularly if you are not sure of how to obtain original transcripts or face difficulties obtaining them. See the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of providers. Transcripts and translations must be received by the Office of Admissions before the relevant deadline, so please make any requests well in advance.

m.i.a. admissions box5

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.

m.i.a. admissions box6

The Admissions Committee seeks students that show promise for success in graduate school. As such, the statement of purpose is a critical part of the application. Your statement of purpose should include:

  • Statements should be saved in PDF format before being uploaded to your application. All applicants are required to submit an essay that answers one of the two questions below (Note: there is not require length for the statement of purpose, but is typically 500-750 words):
    • As part of your statement of purpose, describe your academic and research interests, career objectives, how a degree from SIA will enable you to achieve your goals, and what unique skills, talents and/or perspectives you will bring to our program. Please be specific.
    • Please discuss an issue of global importance you wish to address in your professional career. Please include how SIA and the academic program to which you have applied will prepare you to address this global issue.
  • Academic Integrity: Follow academic integrity guidelines regarding plagiarism – "using someone else's words or ideas without properly giving credit." Plagiarism includes use of material from sample essays and any website. To ensure academic integrity, all essays will be confirmed through iThenticate software. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in a deny decision.


English Language Proficiency Requirement for International Applicants:

Applicants whose native language is not English are required demonstrate language proficiency through one of the three options:

  1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Score: Minimum Score: 80 (Internet based)
  2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Score: Minimum Score: 6.5 overall band score
  3. Degree from certain English-speaking countries: Baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

Please arrange for all standardized test scores to be sent in advance of the application deadline. The School of International Affairs TOEFL code is 2660.

Special note: Online institutions and some satellite campuses may not qualify for a TOEFL or IELTS waiver.

The Penn State School of International Affairs recognizes that educational systems are different across the world. For admission to the Graduate School, applicants must have received a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution earned under residence and credit conditions substantially equivalent to those required by The Pennsylvania State University. To help you determine if your degree is comparable to a U.S. bachelor's degree and to understand the documents that need to be submitted for admission, please review the requirements for the country from which your credential was earned on our Admission Eligibility by Country website.

The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission. An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission.  For applicants whose degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized.