Earn a certificate in international college advising and develop your capacity to guide students seeking higher education experiences outside their home countries.

Understanding the admissions processes, cultural contexts, socioemotional aspects, and other influential factors involved in international college counseling can be complex. Counselors who advise international students need to be fluent in the ways in which higher education systems operate in order to best serve their students as they make important decisions about their futures and prepare for the transition to college.

What Sets Us Apart

  Engage in live virtual sessions with experienced admissions and college advising leaders.
  Access a network of professionals with ample opportunities to connect, share resources, and develop professional networks, both in a larger cohort format and in smaller teams.
 Focus on contemporary challenges and opportunities in an accelerated format.

About the Program

Developed by faculty at Penn GSE, the top-ranked graduate school of education in the U.S., the International College Advising certificate program is the only comprehensive college advising program designed for international college counselors. The program is tailored to mid-career college advisors working with international students who wish to pursue higher education outside their home countries. Whether you are an advisor in an international secondary school, a counselor at a boarding school with a large international caseload, or an independent educational consultant, you will gain a greater fluency of international higher education systems so that you can better serve students and families in your school or community.

Application deadline
April 7, 2023
Program start

April 13, 2023

Program length

3 months

Certificate offered

Penn GSE Certificate in International College Advising

Professional development

3 Continuing Education Credits from Penn GSE


This program includes both live virtual sessions and asynchronous work to be completed at your own pace.

  • Program fee: $7,500
  • Early-bird fee: $6,000

For information about group payment options or payment plans, please contact ProfessionalLearning@gse.upenn.edu.

Programs for Working Professionals

The International College Advising certificate program is a unique and valuable professional development opportunity focused on current international admissions processes and associated cultural contexts. The program helps college advisors, counselors, and educational consultants develop the skills to successfully guide students seeking higher education experiences outside of their home countries.

The program includes both synchronous sessions and asynchronous work, with the opportunity to learn and grow from working with larger group sessions and smaller teams. You will have the opportunity to expand your network among a cohort of colleagues and peers. 

If you have questions, please contact us at ProfessionalLearning@gse.upenn.edu.


 Ideal Candidates

Mid-career college advisors at international secondary schools, counselors at boarding schools with a large international caseload, and independent educational consultants working with international students who wish to pursue higher education in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Language Requirements

Advanced English language proficiency is a requirement for this program. Participants are expected to be able to read scholarly texts and current news articles. Participants must also be able to produce written coursework as assigned and actively engage in nuanced discussions with faculty and cohort members.

This program reserves the right to request proof of English proficiency from applicants whose native language is not English, who have not earned a tertiary degree in English, or who have not worked in a predominantly English language office for at least two years. Duolingo (Score: 120) is the preferred method for demonstrating proficiency. Results should be sent via Duolingo by accessing the website's search filter, filtering institution type to “Other,” and sending the score to “Penn GSE International College Advising Certificate Program.” Please contact us if you have a financial need and require a testing-fee waiver.

Program Study

The International College Advising Certificate Program is designed for mid-level college advisors who work with students that seek higher education destinations outside their home country. The expertise and focus lie with universities in the U.S, Canada, Australia and the UK.

From the program curriculum, you can expect to:

  • Develop fluency with the U.S. higher education system, including the market orientation of colleges and universities and how this orientation relates to admissions policies and practices.
  • Understand the role of various quantitative and qualitative factors in the college admissions process.
  • Appreciate various external influencers (third-party vendors, parents, rankings) and their roles in college admissions.
  • Embrace an ethical perspective in counseling students and families engaged in the college admissions process.
  • Display cultural competencies with students and parents across various ethnic, racial, and national backgrounds, and university locations (e.g., U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia).
  • Consider the socioemotional aspects of students and families related to the transition to college, and decisions related to these transitions.
  • Identify a problem of practice for exploration and research.

Program Format

The program consists of 10 live interactive virtual sessions, each focused on timely topics and taught by expert faculty and practitioners. Before and after each live virtual session, readings, discussions, and related activities will be assigned. Participants will also have the chance to identify and research a problem of practice, providing the opportunity to develop new knowledge in an area that is important to them.

Live sessions will tentatively occur on the following Thursdays at 7:30 – 9:30 am EST (which is 12:30 – 2:30 pm GMT and 7:30 – 9:30 pm in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore):

April 13, 2023Program Orientation and Trends in Global Higher Education
Eric Kaplan and Barbara Chen
April 20, 2023Institutions of Excellence: Reframing World Class Universities
Alan Ruby
April 27, 2023Cultural Frameworks and Ethics in Advising
Michelle Chow-Liu
May 4, 2023Crossing Cultures with Success
Aleka Bilan and Barbara Chen
May 11, 2023Understanding Holistic Admissions and Institutional Priorities
Eric Kaplan and Elizabeth Heaton
May 18, 2023How Race Conscious Holistic Admissions Works
Julie Park
May 25, 2023External Pressures and Rankings
Barbara Chen and Eric Kaplan
June 1, 2023Beyond Case Studies: What Really Happens in the Candidate Selection Process
Isthier Chaudhury and Becky Konowicz
June 8, 2023Discussions of Problems of Practice
Barbara Chen and Eric Kaplan
June 15, 2023

Putting It All Together

Our Faculty

Eric Kaplan

Chief of Staff
Penn GSE Faculty Aleka Bilan
Founder, Aleka Bilan Counsulting
Penn GSE Faculty Michelle Chow-Liu
Head of High School Counseling, Western Academy of Beijing
Penn GSE Faculty Becky Konowicz
Dean of Undergraduate Admission, Santa Clara University
Penn GSE Faculty Elizabeth Heaton
Vice President, Bright Horizons College Coach
Penn GSE Faculty Amanda Barry
Deputy Director, Student Recruitment, The Australian National University
Penn GSE Faculty Isthier Chaudhury
Senior Associate Director of International Admissions, Trinity College
Penn GSE Faculty Alan R. Ruby
Senior Fellow
Associateship, London Institute of Education
Penn GSE Faculty Barbara Chen
Higher Education Consultant
Penn GSE Faculty Dr. Julie Park
Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Maryland