Academics / Programs

Doctor of Philosophy in Public and International Affairs

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 Information

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).

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.

PhD Funding

Most students who are accepted for the GSPIA doctoral program are awarded four years of funding. This allows you to complete your required coursework and your doctoral dissertation. Typically, students receive graduate student assistantships (GSAs) or teaching assistantships (TAs), which provide salary, tuition, fees, and medical insurance. If you have an assistantship, you’re required to work 20 hours per week as assigned by the associate dean.

Assistantships will be renewed each academic year if you are in good academic standing and making normal progress in achieving your doctoral milestones. At the end of your first spring term, your academic record should indicate that you have earned a minimum of 24 credits with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and that you have completed your doctoral core courses.

If you have any questions about our financial aid policy for doctoral students, please contact

Employment Data – Class of 2020
Federal Government