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Critical Issues in International Relations

The non-degree Certification of Professional Achievement in Critical Issues in International Relations, offered by the School of Professional Studies and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), provides an understanding of the basic analytical issues, theoretical approaches, history, and contemporary policy debates in international relations.

The certification is ideal for those looking to improve their knowledge and mastery of international relations, whether they are recent college graduates seeking graduate preparation in the field or experienced professionals looking for career enhancement or personal enrichment.


Students wishing to complete a certification must take the following courses:

  • INTL S6800. International Relations: Theory & Concepts

  • INTL S6572. Comparative Foreign Policy

  • Two elective International Affairs courses

Please visit the Courses page for detailed descriptions of all International Affairs offerings.

The four required courses may be taken in one summer or divided between two. Students are required to maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 (B). Every course creditable toward the certification must be taken for a letter grade. Courses with a grade below a C will not count.

Eligibility Requirements

  • This certification program is offered at the graduate level. Undergraduate students are eligible to apply if they are rising juniors or seniors and have strong academic records and a foundation in political science and/or international studies.
  • Current Columbia students are not eligible to earn the certification while enrolled in a degree program. However, they are eligible to take the individual courses for credit.
  • Students enrolled in (or on leave from) a degree program at SIPA are not eligible to receive the certificate. Should SIPA students wish to take classes associated with the certificate, they must first consult with their assigned academic advisor for guidance and approval. A student who earns the certificate and then later enrolls in a degree program at SIPA may not count any of the certificate courses toward the SIPA degree.
  • To be considered for admission, students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If the language of instruction of your undergraduate degree-conferring institution is English and you have completed two or more years at the institution, you need not take further steps to prove fluency. However, if your undergraduate education is not conducted in English, or you completed fewer than two years at your degree-conferring institution where English was the language of instruction, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Applicants must show a demonstrated ability for critical thinking and analysis.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills are necessary to succeed in this certification program.