PHD in Public and International Affairs icon

Focus on interdisciplinary research and applied analysis of public policy issues.

PHD in Public and International Affairs PHD in Public and International Affairs

Commit your career to impactful policy research.

Whether you want to teach, conduct research, or work in a policy environment, our PhD program will equip you with the skills, tools, and knowledge to succeed in highly competitive environments such as leading universities, government agencies, and nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations around the world.

Professional Skills

  • In-depth policy analysis
  • Teaching and presentation skills
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods

Program Overview

To apply to the PhD program, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Before undertaking doctoral study, it’s beneficial, but not mandatory, to have a master’s degree in public and international affairs or in one of the social sciences. Once you’re accepted, you must complete 72 hours of coursework and a six-credit dissertation. If you have earned a master’s degree, you may apply for as many as 30 credits of advanced standing (or 36 credits if your master’s degree was earned at GSPIA).

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Program Structure 

We’ve designed our doctoral studies program to ensure a high-quality education that also expedites your time to degree. To do so, we’ve implemented the following procedures:

  • We limit the number of students we admit to ensure that virtually all admitted students will receive at least four years of financial support, contingent on their academic performance.
  • We review student progress annually, offering constructive feedback to students about their progress and providing an appropriate strategy for completing the program.  
  • We streamline and clarify the comprehensive exam format to expedite the completion of this requirement, so that students can move on to preparing their dissertation proposals.  
  • We develop strong partnerships with other academic units in the University of Pittsburgh to collaborate in offering a wider range of doctoral courses.

Area Studies Certificates

If you’re looking for an international career in a specific region of the world, you can enhance your master’s degree with a graduate certificate from the University Center for International Studies.


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Eastern Europe
  • European Union
  • Global Studies 
  • Latin America
  • Russia
  • Western Europe


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Alumni Success

GSPIA has a long history of successful graduates. We are tied for second (behind only the Maxwell School at Syracuse University) in the number of NASPAA dissertation awards won by our doctoral students. One of our students also recently won the APPAM dissertation award. 

Over the past five years, our doctoral graduates have received appointments at universities from coast to coast within the United States and at universities abroad, including Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Lebanon. 

Senior alumni of the program hold leadership positions in academia, government, and international organizations throughout the United States and around the world.


Centers, Institutes, and Initiatives

You’ll have access to 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.

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