Preparing Leaders

GSPIA provides the educational requirements and advanced studies to help students gain entry into careers throughout the U.S. and around the world. View a list of careers of GSPIA alumni.

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public & International Affairs

The doctoral program in public and international affairs at GSPIA has been training outstanding students for more than fifty years.  GSPIA ranks tied for second—behind only the Maxwell School at Syracuse University—in the number of NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration) dissertation awards won by its doctoral students, and a GSPIA student also recently won the APPAM (Association for Public Policy and Management) dissertation award.  Senior alumni of the program hold leadership positions in academia, government and international organizations throughout the United States and around the world (click here for a list of selected senior alumni).  

Over the past five years our doctoral graduates have received appointments at universities from coast to coast within the United States, at universities abroad from Korea and Singapore to the Netherlands and Lebanon, in government service from the U.S. Department of Defense to the Office of the President of the Republic in Mali, and in non-profit organizations from Pennsylvania to Morrocco (click here for a list of recent placements). 

The GSPIA faculty recently implemented several substantive and procedural changes to the doctoral studies program designed to strengthen its quality and expedite time to degree. First, we are admitting a smaller number of students in order to ensure that virtually all admitted students will receive at least four years of financial support, contingent on academic performance.   Second, we are instituting a midpoint review of student progress, following the first year of study, to provide constructive feedback to students regarding progress to date and an appropriate strategy for completion of the program.  Third, we are streamlining and clarifying the comprehensive exam format to expedite completion of this requirement so that students can move on to preparation of their dissertation proposals.  Finally, we are developing stronger linkages with other academic units in the University of Pittsburgh to collaborate with them in offering a wider range of doctoral courses. 

Our Doctor of Philosophy degree in public and international affairs emphasizes interdisciplinary research and applied analysis of public policy issues. Students acquire the skills, tools, and knowledge necessary to conduct research in highly competitive environments such as leading universities, government agencies and nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations. Graduates are prepared to teach, conduct research, or work in a policy environment. PhD students take advantage of the extensive resources within GSPIA, as well as resources within the University of Pittsburgh’s highly regarded departments of political science, economics, history, and other related disciplines. Students must successfully complete 72 credits of course work as well as the six-credit dissertation. Students who have earned a master’s degree may apply for as many as 30 credits of advanced standing (36 credits if the master’s degree was earned at GSPIA). Applicants to the PhD program must have a bachelor’s degree and it is desirable, but not mandatory, that they have earned a master’s degree in public and international affairs or in one of the social sciences before undertaking doctoral study.

Area Studies Certificate Options

PhD students are eligible to combine their doctoral degree with a graduate certificate from the University Center for International Studies, specializing in Africa, Asia, western Europe, eastern Europe, the European Union, Latin America, or Russia. Read more here.

Related GSPIA & University Research Centers

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260