College of General Studies

Public Service (BA)

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The undergraduate major in public service is offered by the Pitt Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. It is designed to prepare students for a broad range of careers that are focused on the resolution of public problems or the delivery of public services. These careers range from those in the local government and community arena to the metropolitan region and state arena to national and international settings. Potential employers include local, state, and federal governments; nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations at the local, regional, national, and international level; private firms engaged in working with governments; and private corporations with an active public service culture.

The major serves students who are interested in public issues as concerned and interested citizens and prepares them for a wide range of graduate programs related to public policy and management.

Students must complete a minimum of 120 credits for the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in public service. Of this total, students must take 33 credits (11 courses) in public service; one course in statistics; and six credits (two courses) in a related field such as political science, economics, psychology, sociology, or another field approved by an academic advisor. The remaining credits required for the degree are outlined in the Requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree information sheet.

To learn more, schedule a preadmission counseling appointment by calling 412-624-6600. Request more information today! 

A. Core Courses: 15 credits (five courses)

Course NumberTitleCredits
PUBSRV 0020Introduction to Public Service3
PUBSRV 0030Public Policy Process3
PUBSRV 0040Public Service Technologies       3
PUBSRV 0050Ethics and Accountability3
PUBSRV 1900Internship Seminar3

B. Concentration Areas: 18 credits (six courses)

Choose one of the three concentration areas below:

1. Public Administration Concentration

Course NumberTitleCredits
PUBSRV 1100Practices in Public Administration      3
PUBSRV 1110Financial Management in the
Public Sector
PUBSRV 1120Human Resources Management
in the Public Sector 
PUBSRV 1130Planning in the Public Sector3
PUBSRVElectives (choose two additional  
public service courses) 

2. Nonprofit Management Concentration

Course NumberTitleCredits
PUBSRV 1200Practices of Nonprofit Management   3
PUBSRV 1210Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations  3
PUBSRV 1220Human Resources Management of
Nonprofit Organizations 
PUBSRV 1230Fundraising for
Nonprofit Organizations
PUBSRVElectives (choose two additional
public service courses) 

3. Self-Designed Concentration

Courses that meet the special program needs of the student may be selected from the courses offered in public service or in a related area or department. A written plan for completing the self-designed concentration must be approved by the College of General Studies Academic Affairs Committee. The proposed plan of studies should be unique and not offered at Pitt in another facet such as another major, certificate, or minor.

Public Service Electives

Public administration concentration students may use the 1200-numbered courses as electives; nonprofit management concentration students may use 1100-numbered courses. Courses designated (UHC) are offered in conjunction with the University Honors College.

Course NumberTitleCredits
PUBSRV 0150Introduction to Global Studies3
PUBSRV 1300Legal Issues in Public Service3
PUBSRV 1305Health, Law, and Ethics3
PUBSRV 1310Diversity Issues in Public Service3
PUBSRV 1315Managing Projects and Contracts3
PUBSRV 1320Geographic Information Systems
in the Public Service 
PUBSRV 1340Strategic Planning in the Public
PUBSRV 1390Theories of Leadership3
PUBSRV 1425Principles of Homeland Security3
PUBSRV 1430Trial Advocacy 1 (UHC)3
PUBSRV 1435Trail Advocacy 2 (UHC)3
PUBSRV 1455Law, Ethics, and Public Policy in
the Mass Media 
PUBSRV 1901Independent Study1 - 6
PUBSRV 1910Institute of Politics Internship/Seminar4

Five-year accelerated program for Pitt undergraduates

High-achieving University of Pittsburgh juniors (and in some cases, first-term seniors) in the College of General Studies may apply early to the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). If admitted, they may enroll at GSPIA in what normally would have been their senior year, allowing them to complete both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a total of five years. Special eligibility requirements apply. Pitt undergraduates interested in this program should contact GSPIA at 412-648-7640.

Please note: This major requires that you complete an internship at a facility external to the University, and this facility may or will require a criminal background check, an Act 33/34 clearance, and perhaps a drug screen to determine whether you are qualified to participate in the internship. Additionally, in order to become licensed or employed, many states will inquire as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, a felony, or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Students interested in a minor, rather than a major, in public service should check with their academic advisor. 

Requirements subject to change. Check with an academic advisor before registering.

Three Reasons to Earn a Degree in Public Service

  • There has never been a better time to choose a public service career, experts say. Services that were once considered the government’s domain are increasingly addressed by nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations, creating new public service career opportunities within these organizations.*
  • Public sector careers often provide greater job security than those in the private sector. Each year, tens of thousands of new career opportunities become available within the federal government.**
  • Public sector jobs provide many benefits. Many public service jobs provide good pay and solid benefits, continuing education support, flexible schedules, and opportunities for travel or to work abroad. Plus, you can focus on the causes you are passionate about in your career.

*According to Logan Harper, community manager for the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillMaster of Public Administration program, as published on

**According to the Partnership for Public Service