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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 25, 2024
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Public Policy Minor

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The GSPIA Minor in Public Policy will give students the skills and experience they need to translate knowledge into impact. This credential will provide skills that will layer onto the students’ primary degree/major allowing them to connect their area of interest/study with meaningful impact in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Public policy processes and policy decisions affect every aspect of society — from how we provide police services, progress in civil rights, the safety of our water and food supplies, and our efforts to explore space. Students will understand how leaders at various levels of government assess and address contemporary challenges.

Students in GSPIA’s Public Policy minor will learn how public policy processes work, the roles of elected officials, analysts, agencies, and interest groups, and how federal, state, and local jurisdictions cooperate and compete to create policy outcomes. Skills development will focus on developing and using data, defining, and analyzing problems, identifying whether programs and policies work, and how to communicate to influence public policy processes. Students will have the opportunity to work on policies and community organizations of interest to their careers. 

The program will leverage the existing faculty expertise in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs of 29 faculty doing research, teaching, and service related to public policy. GSPIA is also host to 6 multi-disciplinary centers that conduct research and offer students experiential learning opportunities on a range of policy issues - from international security, human development, to gender equality and police accountability. According to the 2023 US News and World Report rankings, GSPIA ranked #1 among public universities (and # 8 overall) in the specialty rankings for international/global policy and #17 in urban policy (#27 overall).

Housed within GSPIA, the credential will offer a blend of lecture-based and experiential learning to meet students’ need for more hands-on training and experience.

Course Curriculum

Students in the minor will engage with faculty in GSPIA across disciplines including political science, economics, and urban planning. A GSPIA Minor in Public Policy will address the following key competencies through curriculum and experiential learning. These competencies were identified through a series of meetings of core GSPIA faculty that teach in the graduate public and international affairs program. Upon completion of the minor, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to:

  • Understand public service and the principles of ethical and effective service.
  • Understand policy issues at multiple levels of government.
  • Outline the roles of elected officials, administrators, nonprofit organizations, citizens, and business firms in making public policy decisions.
  • Structure, interpret, and communicate data to inform the policy process, balanced by social values.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of policy analysis and program evaluation practices.
  • Recognize the role of intergovernmental relations between local, state and federal governments and the importance of cross-jurisdictional or regional efforts to solve complex problems.

Required Courses

The following are the required courses for the minor. Students are recommended to the interdisciplinary capstone after completing the other required courses.


Students will take one elective course (3 credits) to complete the minor. This represents a selection of initial electives. GSPIA faculty will develop and offer additional electives as the program grows.

Total Credits: 15

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