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United Nations Studies

The non-degree Certification of Professional Achievement in United Nations Studies is offered by the School of Professional Studies and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). The certification teaches the basic analytical issues, theoretical approaches, history, and contemporary policy debates regarding the UN and its role in the world.

Many of the program’s faculty hold or have held high-level posts in agencies like the UN Development Program and the UN Security Council in addition to their roles at SIPA.

The certification is ideal for those who are looking to increase their understanding of the history, inner workings, and challenges associated with the UN’s role in the world today, including recent college graduates looking to prepare for graduate school and experienced professionals who want to enhance their careers and seek personal enrichment. Advanced undergraduates with strong academic records and a foundation in political science and/or international studies are also eligible to apply.


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

  • INTL S6569. The UN and Development

  • INTL S6540. UN & World Politics

  • INTL S6559. The UN and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

  • INTL S6552. The United Nations and Human Rights

Please visit the courses page for detailed course descriptions for 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.