Academics / Programs

Doctor of Philosophy in Public and International Affairs

Impactful policy research.

Our interdisciplinary PhD program will equip you with the skills, tools, and knowledge to assess and conduct cutting-edge academic research in public affairs, with a domestic or global lens. Working closely with faculty advisors, our PhD students conduct research on a wide variety of critical topics, ranging from protests and policing at the local level to nuclear deterrence and immigration policy at the global level. Our graduates have gone on to tenure-track jobs at excellent universities in the US and abroad, roles in the federal government, and high-level positions in nonprofit organizations.

Apply Now

Program Information

To apply to the PhD program, you must have a bachelor’s degree; however, we strongly encourage that students complete a relevant master’s degree prior to joining our program – either in public and international affairs or in one of the social sciences. Once you’re accepted, you must complete 67 hours of coursework and a six-credit dissertation. If you have earned a master’s degree, as many as 30 credits from that degree may be applied to your total credit requirement for our program (or 36 credits if your master’s degree was earned at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Pitt).

Program Structure

Embedded within an interdisciplinary school, our newly redesigned program structure is aimed at exposing students to multiple methods and offering the flexibility to conduct research from the perspectives that best fit the topic. We have also redesigned the program to facilitate a faster transition from coursework into dissertation research. To achieve these goals:

  • All students are trained in advanced Qualitative and Quantitative methods.
  • Some of our required courses are aimed at supporting PhD student development, including a professional development workshop, dedicated time for comprehensive exam preparation, and a research design workshop.
  • Students are encouraged to seek out electives in other academic units in the University of Pittsburgh to expand the set of available doctoral-level courses and gain exposure to ideas and faculty in other disciplines.
  • Our comprehensive examination is individualized to each student so that the exam prepares students for their own dissertation research and as experts in their field.
  • 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.

PhD Funding

Most students who are accepted for our 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