Undergraduate Programs

Global studies is an exciting – and evolving – interdisciplinary field concerned with transnational structures, processes, and interactions that cross familiar political borders and cultural boundaries and affect our social, economic, cultural, political, and ecological environments. Our students learn to understand and analyze how these structures, processes, and interactions both connect people and places and disrupt established norms, communities, institutions, and relationships. That is, they learn to think globally about these processes, about the connections and disruptions they provoke and the social struggles they engender, and about how it all impacts their own lives.

The Global Studies Centers offers two academic credentials:

  • A Global Studies Certificate; 
  • A Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPHIL in IAS) - Global Studies track. 

These programs are designed to equip students to respond to the critical challenges of our time as engaged citizens and professionals working in the global marketplace. 

Below you will find detailed descriptions of both programs, and if you would like more information or to enroll, personalized advising is available with our Student Advisor, Elaine Linn


  • Certificate

Similar to a minor, the GSC certificate requires 18 credits of interdisciplinary coursework in addition to language studies. Students select one of the Global Concentrations and take five classes from a variety of courses offered in the humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional schools at Pitt, with the goal of contextualizing their interests in issues of global concern. Students can double count up to six credits from their major, allowing them to fulfill their general education, major and certificate requirements at the same time. To ensure interdisciplinary learning, students take three courses in two departments other than their major. 

  • The Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPhil in IAS) – Global Studies track

The Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPhil in IAS) – Global Studies track is offered by the University Honors College (UHC) in cooperation with the Global Studies Center. It is an interdisciplinary degree requiring 30 credits of course work and language study, and rigorous independent research. BPHIL IAS Students are also required to complete a 4-week (miniumum) study-abroad/ internship program. BPHIL IAS students select an interdisciplinary course of study around one of the Global Concentrations that will in turn support their research into a topic that will form their thesis, which they will defend their senior year.

Students interested in the BPHIL IAS, Global Studies track are encouraged to read more about this degree here.


Global Studies Certificate

Global Studies Track

Minimum Grade Point Average



Total Credits

18 credits not including foreign language courses

30 credits not including foreign language courses

Core Courses

Intro to Global Studies (PS 0550)

Intro to Global Studies (PS 0550), a methodology course in student’s major, and the Global Studies Capstone Course 

Global Concentration Courses Required



Language Study

Intermediate low-mid proficiency (typically two years of college level study) in a foreign language

Intermediate mid-high proficiency (typically three years of college level study) in a foreign language

Study Abroad

Not required but highly encouraged

At least a 4 week in-country experience (study abroad or internship) is required

Capstone Paper Submission

Students graduating in Fall 2017, Spring 2018 can submit a capstone paper or digital portfolio. All students graduating after spring 2018 are required to complete portfolio and capstone requirement for certificate is dropped.  A capstone paper that highlights study of an issue related to the student’s global concentration within a transregional context. The Capstone must be written as part of a course and graded by a faculty member. See Capstone Below

Formal written proposal and plan of study must be submitted to the University Honor’s College and students must write and defend an honors thesis in front of a committee of four faculty.

Digital Portfolio

[For All Students Graduating after Spring 2018]

A student curated reflection on their program of study within Global Studies, highlighting what they gained through curricular and co-curricular experiences.  

A student curated reflection on their program of study within Global Studies, highlighting what they gained through curricular and co-curricular experiences.

Global Concentrations

 The following descriptions emphasize overarching themes and concerns; students might pursue a wide variety of questions, contemporary or historical, within these concentrations. Think of these concentrations as doorways into global studies, rather than separate silos within it.  We encourage a flexible and individualized approach to studying what interests you within this broad framework.

[Students graduating during the 2017-2018 academic year and/or those who have taken more than 12 credits of courswork towards the certificate may continue to use the six global concentrations.]

Students must choose one of the five global concentrations:

  • Cultural Dynamics explores the diverse ways people understand, evaluate, and feel about the world around them and how these shape and reflect people’s involvement in complex new forms of social interaction related to globalization.  Students might study the processes producing increasing cultural sameness and growing cultural difference, identity formation and challenges of intercultural communication and understanding, or people’s engagement with these processes through the arts, film, literature, performance, and other forms of creative expression.
  • Ecology and Sustainability focuses on the ways in which humans relate to nature and on how those relations shape and reflect our relations with one another.  Students might study the interplay of globalization and the environment, struggles over how best to address planetary environmental challenges like global warming, environmental injustices and their connection with other forms of inequality, or questions of environmental governance.
  • Health and Well-Being explores the relationship between global health, social suffering, and the processes that connect and divide people around the world.  Students might study how globalization affects people’s susceptibility to physical and mental illnesses, their access to appropriate kinds of care and, more broadly, their well-being (enjoyment of a healthy, secure, and satisfying life) and capacity for “living well” (belonging to a community in which people live harmoniously with one another and with nature).
  • Peace, Conflict, and Security addresses contemporary possibilities for peace and security in the world by examining how major conflicts and emergencies arise, are addressed, and are sometimes averted.  Students might study the relationship between state sovereignty, international law, and armed intervention, the meanings of human rights and (human) security, terrorism and counterterrorism, processes of peace building, peace keeping, and reconciliation, and the work of the UN, NGOs, and other non-state actors.
  • Politics and Economy focuses on the organization and workings of power.  It highlights the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services and how these processes relate to one another in producing global connections and divisions; it also highlights how states and other actors interact as they attempt to manage these processes.  Students might study changes in the character and reach of capitalism, models of sustainable development, interactions among states, empires, social movements, and other political entities, or systems of inequality organized geopolitically and by factors such as class, race, gender, and sexuality.


Global Studies students may continue with a language they have previously studied, or study a new language, or both! The level of language proficiency required depends on whether a student is pursuing a Certificate or BPhil.

Information about specific language programs can be found by contacting the various language departments listed below:

Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures

Department of German

Department of French & Italian Languages and Literatures

Department of Slavic Languages & Literature

Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures

Less Commonly Taught Languages Center


Students select applicable courses for their selectedp program from the Global Studies course list. This list is updated each semester and courses are organized under their relevance to the Global Concentrations. If a course is identified by a student that is not found on the GSC course list, they can bring the course syllabus to the attention of Elaine Linn for consideration. 

Capstone Paper (For students graduating in Spring 2018)

The Capstone Research Paper is a culmination of a student’s learning experience and should be submitted during senior year. In it students demonstrate their analytical skills, writing on a topic relevant to their global concentration, with attention to transregional issues. The paper must be written as part of a course and consent must be given by the course faculty using the GSC Capstone Consent Form.  The paper must be presented to the Global Studies Center with proof of letter grade and/or professor’s comments prior to graduation. It must be at least 10 pages in length, cite at least eight references, and include a cover sheet that lists student name, course name and number, and date of submission to Global Studies.

Digital Portfolio (For students graduating after Spring 2018)

Each student will create a succinct yet dynamic portfolio that illustrates their studies and interests pertaining to their global studies concentration. The e-portfolio will demonstrate how students are informed about, as well as engaged with, global studies through their various curricular and co-curricular experiences at Pitt. Additionally, this e-portfolio can be shared with employers, and graduate schools via Linkedin.

Using a WordPress template, students will learn how to build a website and personalize it using images, testimonies, and prose, which will facilitate the portrayal of the breadth and depth of themselves as individuals.

To get started read these instructions to get you on your way and explore this Global Studies mock-up template. When you feel ready to begin building your own e-portfolio, follow the link here.


Schedule a New Student Enrollment appointment with our undergraduate advisor, Elaine Linn to discuss the requirements and whether the certificate or BPHIL fits your academic and career goals. To complete application click here.

Copyright 2018 | Global Studies Center, University of Pittsburgh