Undergraduate Programs

Why Global Studies?

The Center offers two 18-credit interdisciplinary certificates and a 30-credit Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Areas Studies, to students who desire a deeper understanding of social and economic inequality in transnational context. Beyond the classroom, a broader understanding of the dominant political and economic trends will equip students to lead lives of impact, as well as the analytical tools and professional skills necessary to effectively navigate their future careers. A wide range of co-curricular opportunities allow students to further personalize their education while contributing to a dynamic, intellectually diverse community that prioritizes faculty, peer, and alumni mentorship. 

Global Studies Certificate and Academic Credentials

Students personalize a suite of courses and experiences unique to their global interest working with courses from their major, general education requirements and electives, along with co-curricular experiences. Students draw from more than 200 courses across 5 global concentrations.  Students begin the process by selecting one of the five global concentrations relevant to their personal and/or career interests. The certificate requires 18 credits of coursework, a demonstrated 2.5 GPA, language study and completion of a digital portfolio.
Upon completion, students will be able to: 
  • recognize the ongoing impact and effects of neoliberal globalization 
  • make analytical connections between the local and the global in ways that enrich both 
  • appreciate the value of  cultural, racial, regional, sexual, religious, class) difference on both a local and global scale 
  • articulate an interdisciplinary approach to problem-based learning that encourages an intersectional, transnational, transhistorical outlook 
  • critique different discourses of the global and globalization (e.g. cultural, policy, anthropological, medical) and communicate effectively about these issues orally and in writing to an interdisciplinary audience.  


To enroll in the Global Studies Certificate, please click here and complete the survey.


Globally Themed Certificate Requirements

PS 0550 Introduction to Global Studies
15 credits of coursework in one global concentration
4 semesters of language study or demonstrated language proficiency
Completion and approval of digital portfolio

Students begin by identifying a global concentration they want to focus on from the five offered.  The descriptions of the global concentrations emphasize overarching themes and concerns; students might pursue a wide variety of questions, contemporary or historical, within these concentrations.
All students must take PS 0550 Introduction to Global Studies and 15 credits of coursework from their selected global concentration, earning a C or better in each of the courses.  At least two of the five must be 1000 level courses. Students can double count up to six credits from their major, use general education requirements, or take as electives. Relevant courses taken during a study abroad experience may also be counted. To ensure interdisciplinary learning, students take three courses in two departments other than their major. We encourage a flexible and individualized approach to studying what interests you within this broad framework.

Courses are updated each semester. Click here for the Fall 2022 Course List.


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.

Critical World Ecologies - How do humans shape nature, and how does it shape us? Critical World Ecologies explores the broad transnational and historical processes that affect how humans think about and exploit nature as well as the contemporary social, cultural, economic, and political relations through which “nature” and “the environment” are continually reproduced. Students might study how colonialism, migration, and globalization shape and reshape the dynamic interrelationship between humans and (the rest of) nature, or they might focus on how these interactions affect differently situated people, highlighting (e.g.) slow violence, environmental intersectionality, environmental (in)justice, and the efforts of people acting collectively to ensure that democracy, human rights, and social justice prevail in ecological struggles about our present and future. They will also encounter debates about “The Anthropocene” and alternative ways of thinking about contemporary human ecological impacts. Unlike sustainability, which focuses on enhancing efficiency, conserving resources, and preserving existing social structures, Critical World Ecologies questions how humans came to understand nature as an object of scientific knowledge, a repository of resources, and a support system for human life and how we came to think of ourselves as distinct from (or distinctive within) nature.

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 (In)Security addresses contemporary challenges of conflict and (in)security and the prospects for peace and social justice 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 in a diverse and conflictual world; terrorism and counterterrorism, global and domestic; the roots of insecurity in in racism, patriarchy, ethno-nationalism, climate change, hunger, poverty, and other sources; processes of peace building, peace keeping, and reconciliation, including through social movements and at local levels; and, the work of the UN, NGOs, and other non-state actors, including as it relates to the work of social movements and local 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.

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Undergraduate Global Health Certificate

Students explore the transnational processes underpinning the global burden of disease and the social determinants of health, as well as related inequalities in access to high quality medical care. Through 18 credits of course work students tailor the modular curriculum with, co-curricular engagement, and experiential opportunities while still ensuring that they emerge with a cohesive overall understanding of the cultural and social dimensions of healthcare from the transnational level down to the community.

Global Health Certificate Requirements:

PUBHLT 1001: Introduction to Global Health (Must be a sophomore, junior, or senior to enroll)
6 credits of core courses
9 credits of global health electives
Digital Portfolio

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Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies

The Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPhil in IAS) – Global Studies track, is awarded by the University Honors College (UHC) in cooperation with the Global Studies Center. It is an interdisciplinary degree requiring 30 credits of course work, three years of language study, and rigorous independent research. Students must submit a BPHIL application to the Honors College once their research question is formulated and have demonstrated a 3.5 GPA. Please visit the UHC website with full details of the expectations of students and faculty.

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See What Our Students Say:

Emma Creighton, English Writing ’18, Peace Corps Indonesia:

"The vast majority of the classes I chose focus on the ways in which structures of power interact and impact the lives of citizens and displaced peoples around the world. More specifically, I focused on courses that I thought would shed light on the ways in which politics and the economy impacted my personal passions—access to education, freedom of expression, and human rights."

Jacqueline Choffo, Nutrition and Dietetics’ 18  Post Baccalaureate Internship, University of Maryland:

"To compliment my Nutrition and Dietetic degree, I really wanted to delve more into prominent global health issues. I have taken courses in a variety of departments at the University of Pittsburgh and I have been able to identify common themes throughout the different disciplines. One of the overarching ideas is understanding how to be a responsible global citizen."

Meet your Advisor

Elaine Linn, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs, would be happy to meet with you to discuss your academic aspirations and career goals, and to help you begin to carve out a path of study related to transnational issues of interest to you. Elaine has advised hundreds of students, and recognizes that every one is unique. She can direct you to programs, and resources that can help you meet your specific goals. You can schedule a time with Elaine below, or reach out to her via email at eel58@pitt.edu.





Schedule Your Appointment


Other Opportunities

Did you know that Pitt offers more than 250 classes every term with international or global content? If you’ve taken one or more of these courses, then you’re already on your way to earning a Global Distinction!

The Global Distinction is a new Pitt credential that supports your growth in learning more about the world inside and outside the classroom.

By completing course work across disciplines and participating in global activities and experiences at home or abroad, you can earn official recognition for your work. The credential also brings milestone rewards and, upon completion, a personal Global Distinction URL for use on your résumé and networking sites.

Visit the Pitt Global Hub for more information, or check out the site below.

Ready to enroll? Visit my.pitt.edu and click on the myPittGlobal icon. Log in with your Pitt credentials and search for "Distinction Enrollment" to get started!