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.

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Contact our admissions team for more info


  • September 1: Application opens
  • February 15: Deadline to apply for merit-based financial aid
  • March 21: Final application deadline

Application Requirements

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

  • Two (2) letters of recommendation: 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.
  • Current Resume or CV: 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.
  • Transcripts: 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.

  • Non-English-language transcripts: 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.
  • GRE (optional): 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.
  • Statement of Purpose: 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:
    • An introduction about yourself, interests, goals, and how the School of International Affairs can help you further them.
    • Any unique experiences, skills, and/or perspectives you will bring to the distinctive learning environment and how these will enhance the SIA community.
    • Discuss what makes you a strong candidate for the Master of International Affairs Program.
    • When writing your statement of purpose, use supporting examples to demonstrate. For example, if there were any challenges, hardships, or obstacles, you can elaborate on these in your statement of purpose to demonstrate perseverance.
    • Make certain the above points are linked with continuity and focus. There is no required length of the Statement of Purpose but is typically 500-600 words.

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.