Undergraduate Programs

While pursing any major at Pitt, students can incorporate the study of global issues related to their specific interests and career goals with a tailored course of study available through the Global Studies Center. We offer two academic credentials: a Global Studies Certificate, and 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. 

Global Studies focuses on the interconnectedness of today’s world. A change in the price of oil in Brazil impacts farmers in Iowa; civil war in the Congo impacts the cost of cell phone production in China; a tuberculosis breakout in Pakistan impacts an emergency room in Pittsburgh. Through our programs students learn to think critically about global issues and become part of a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field of study, exploring how people interact with one another across boundaries, over long distances, and in ways that affect the entire planet. 

Students enrolled in Global Studies are also kept informed about funding for research, travel, language study, and study abroad; internships and career development; networking opportunities with dignitaries, academics, and professionals; and interesting events on campus and in the city of Pittsburgh. 

Personalized advising is available to all GSC students, helping them to make the most of the many opportunities at Pitt, in Pittsburgh, and around the world.





Similar to a minor, the GSC certificate requires 18 credits of interdisciplinary coursework in addition to language studies. Students select one global concentration and take five courses 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.

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. Students select an interdisciplinary course of study related to one global concentration, that supports their inquiry into a research topic that will form their thesis, which they will publicly defend their senior year. As a result of their coursework, study abroad, mentoring from a thesis committee, independent study and hard work, graduates of the BPhil program are well situated for acceptance into top tier graduate programs or work in the field of policy studies. Students interested in the BPHIL IAS, Global Studies track are encouraged to read more about this degree at http://www.honorscollege.pitt.edu/bphil-degree.  




In consultation with the GSC academic advisor, students design an individualized program of study by choosing one of the six concentrations in addition to language study. To ensure interdisciplinary learning, students take three courses in two departments other than their major. 

Specific Requirements:


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

5 courses

7 courses

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

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.

Global Concentrations

Students must select to focus on one of six global concentrations.

  • Changing Identities in a Global World asks how our understanding of who we are changes under globalization, exploring issues such as race, religion, nationality, and gender. It considers how identities are affected by changing patterns of human interaction, the evolution of culture and cultural clashes, the interchange of ideas between cultures, movements of people, international rights, and other factors impacting cultural development in different parts of the world.
  • Communication, Technology, and Society addresses how technological change creates new kinds of global connectedness, exploring the international impact of the communications revolution, the role of the media in international relations, technology, and the arts, and implications for issues ranging from work to politics to leisure.
  • Conflict and Conflict Resolution explores the historical and contemporary causes and consequences of international, ethnic, and religious conflicts, and considers ways of preventing and resolving conflicts, including negotiation and fostering of deeper cross-cultural understanding. It raises issues such as the role of the United Nations, peacekeeping and armed intervention, non-governmental organizations and humanitarian relief, terrorism, international law, and diplomacy.
  • Global Economy and Global Governance explores the changing reach and nature of economic flows and political organization under conditions of globalization, raising issues such as international economic growth and crisis, global competition, global civil society and international non-governmental organizations, and state sovereignty in global relations.
  • Global Health explores the risks and opportunities of globalization for the health of the world population, including the increased spread of diseases across borders and oceans, and the enhanced ability to alert populations and health organizations about epidemics. It addresses major global epidemics as well as international emergency response systems for health epidemics in different parts of the world.
  • Sustainable Development explores challenges and solutions to improving quality of life without increasing the use of natural resources beyond environmental capacity or compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It addresses issues such as global population growth, economic and human development, global resource management, environmental change, and international environmental law.


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 at various language departments. Students wanting to take a language placement exam should contact specific departments.

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 from the Global Studies course list, which is updated each term and organized by 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

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 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.

Global Studies Graduation Recognition

At this annual spring event, graduating students (undergraduate and graduate) present a PowerPoint that showcases their global studies experiences at Pitt; highlighting their capstone paper findings along with classroom and co-curricular activities that helped shape their understanding of their global concentration. Students also submit a one-page essay that explains how their course work, research, participation in GSC events, study abroad and co-curricular activities impacted their views of the world and their career trajectory.

  • Click here for more information about portfolio content.


To enroll in the program, schedule a New Student Enrollment appointment with our undergraduate advisor, Elaine Linn. Even if you are undecided about the certificate program, Elaine would be glad to meet with you to discuss internationalizing your studies. She has advised hundreds of students, and finds great pleasure in mentoring students and helping them find their life’s passion while at Pitt.


Global Studies Student Profiles

Take a couple of minutes and view the presentations created by a few of our ’13 graduates to learn how Pat, KC, Leah, Dean, Brenna and Thea successfully integrated a GSC certificate or the BPHIL requirements into their course of study, and benefited from the multitude of resources available to our students, paving the way to make their personal and professional aspirations a reality.

Copyright 2017 | Global Studies Center, University of Pittsburgh