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View an archived recording of the most recent Master of Public Diplomacy webinar. Professor Nicholas Cull discusses, public diplomacy,  the degree program and the application process.


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Public Diplomacy


Public diplomacy – the effort by one government to inform and influence foreign audiences, while encouraging dialogue between its citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad – has expanded to encompass the ever-increasing complexity of international affairs. The USC Master of Public Diplomacy degree program aims to develop the next generation of leaders within the industries of international public service, business and nongovernmental organizations.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the Public Diplomacy program you should be able to:

  1. understand and deploy a range of instruments to advance foreign policy goals by engaging foreign publics, beginning with listening;

  2. approach issues related to foreign public engagement across a variety of times and geographical locations through multiple academic disciplines including those of Communication and International Relations in order to advance and inform professional practice;

  3. work effectively as both a member of a team and as an individual researcher and/or practitioner in the field of foreign public engagement;

  4. communicate persuasively and succinctly in spoken and written forms and in the genres of communication currently in use in professionally public diplomacy practice.


The Master of Public Diplomacy degree requires that you complete 49 units and is typically finished in two years (4 semesters). In addition, you will complete a substantive paper or alternative project. The degree requirements are as follows:


Public Diplomacy Requirements

  • PUBD 502 – Historical and Comparative Approaches to Public Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 504 – Global Issues and Public Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 596 – Practicum in Public Diplomacy Research (4 units)

Communication and International Relations Requirements

  • COMM or CMGT – (8 units) communication or communication management coursework
  • IR – (8 units) international relations coursework


  • IR 591 – Field Study (1 unit)

Public Diplomacy Toolbox Courses
Student may choose which 3 to take (12 units total)

  • PUBD 508 – The Rhetoric of War and Peace (4 units)
  • PUBD 509 – Advocacy in Public Diplomacy: Argumentation and Debate (4 units)
  • PUBD 510 – Technologies and Public Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 512 – Cultural Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 516 – International Broadcasting (4 units)
  • PUBD 518 – International Exchanges and Public Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 519 – News Media and the Foreign Policy Process (4 units)
  • PUBD 520 – Regional Studies in Public Diplomacy (4 units)
  • PUBD 522 – Hard Power, Soft Power and Smart Power (4 units)

Electives from Regional Students, Business, Public Policy, Communication or Journalism

  • (8 units) approved electives

Mid-Career Professional Degree

In addition to the two-year degree, there is also a Mid-Career Professional Master of Public Diplomacy degree program taught over a single calendar year. Students begin in July with a summer course introducing the advanced study of public diplomacy and end in the middle of the following summer with the submission of a piece of research work.


This program is designed for students who already have at least five years of experience working in public diplomacy (engaged in international advocacy, international publicity/public relations, international broadcasting, cultural and/or exchange work or other work which the faculty admissions committee deems applicable). A valid GRE score is required to complete the graduate admission application.

How to Apply

The two-year Master of Public Diplomacy degree program is designed for students who already have a substantial undergraduate background in social sciences or some relevant experience in communication, public relations, media studies, journalism, political science and international relations; admission is limited to the fall term.

For the one-year Mid-Career Professional Master of Public Diplomacy, successful applicants have obtained substantial professional diplomatic experience; admission is limited to the summer term.

Before submitting an application, please carefully review:

Class Profile & Careers

Each year, the office of USC Annenberg Career Development performs a placement survey of all  USC Annenberg graduates one year after graduation. The following are examples of recent career placements for some alumni of the Master of Public Diplomacy program:

  • American Voices, Communications Director
  • Atlantic Council of the U.S., Assistant Director, Communications
  • Booz Allen Hamilton, Consultant
  • Canadian Consulate General, Trade Commissioner Assistant
  • Center for American Progress, Research Internship
  • Delegation of the European Union to the United States, Assistant Press Officer
  • Equal Rights Center, Communication and Outreach Associate
  • Foreign Commonwealth Office, Vice Consul; Political & Public Affairs
  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Communications and Technology Manager
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Senior International Human Rights Analyst
  • Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Public Diplomacy Consultant
  • State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Intern
  • U.S. Department of State, Policy Officer, Bureau of International Information Programs
  • UK Border Agency, British Consulate-General New York
  • US Government, Public Affairs Officer/Presidential Management Fellow
  • Vital Voices Global Partnership, Program Coordinator, Leadership and Mentoring
  • Winer & Associates, Associate
Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs

The USC Master of Public Diplomacy is a member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) which consists of member schools and affiliated programs dedicated to the improvement of professional education in international affairs. All APSIA member schools prepare students for the global workplace of the 21st Century by combining multidisciplinary, policy-oriented, intercultural studies with career development.


There are multiple opportunities available to help fund a graduate program in public diplomacy. Investigating these options as early as possible is beneficial. The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs provides a valuable list of fellowships and scholarships that can be applied towards the Master of Public Diplomacy.


Below are some of the key faculty that teach in the Public Diplomacy degree program: 

  Nicholas Cull
Professor, School of Communication; Director, Master of Public Diplomacy Program

Expertise: International Relations, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy, Political Communication
Phil Seib   Philip Seib
Professor, School of Communication; Vice Dean, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Expertise: Ethics, International Journalism, Middle East, Political Journalism, Public Diplomacy
/images/faculty/wang_j_121x163.jpg Jian (Jay) Wang
Associate Professor of Public Relations; Director, USC Center on Public Diplomacy

Expertise: Branding, Globalization, Organizational Communication, Public Diplomacy, Public Relations

Center Affiliation: Center on Public Diplomacy
Carol Wise Carol Wise
Associate Professor of International Relations

Research Areas: International Political Economy; International Development; Interdevelopment