Study Away Pittsburgh

Questions and Answers for Penn State Students

What is the Study Away Pittsburgh Program?

You’ve heard of Study Abroad where students spend a semester living and studying in a foreign country, and you know how impactful such an experience can be.  Penn State is pleased to offer a new opportunity that we are calling Study Away that creates a similar experience closer to home.

The Study Away Pittsburgh Program is a semester-long residential program in Pittsburgh intended to provide students with an immersive and rewarding experience in an urban setting. The 15-credit program emphasizes involvement of students in collaborative projects with community-based organizations, non-profit advocacy groups, social service agencies, health care providers, multidisciplinary design firms, socially responsible businesses, and government in Pittsburgh and its neighboring municipalities.

Through their research and learning projects, students are active participants in Penn State University’s efforts to address a wide array of urban sustainability issues in order to improve quality of life in metropolitan areas.  Pittsburgh is one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Global 100 Resilient Cities and is recognized internationally for its leadership in addressing issues of urban sustainability and resiliency.

Students will:

  • Learn about Pittsburgh’s communities and the efforts of groups and individuals to improve their neighborhoods;
  • Learn about a wide array of sustainability challenges in urban settings including energy, water, waste, transportation, human health, ecology, economic vitality, and social justice issues;
  • Participate in university/community projects that address community needs;
  • Collaborate closely with a community partner in an embedded practicum or internship.


Penn State students holding a sign read Penn State in Pittsburgh

What does the semester in Pittsburgh consist of?

The Study Away Pittsburgh program is built on a combination of three components:  an embedded field experience or internship with a community partner, a face-to-face course in urban sustainability challenges and solutions, and on-line courses.  There are two options:

  • Option A:
    • 6-credit field experience/practicum with a local community partner
    • 6 credits of on-line course work to fulfill major or minor requirements
    • 3 credit course in urban sustainability challenges and solutions.
  • Option B:
    • 12-credit internship with a local community partner
    • 3 credit course in urban sustainability challenges and solutions.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Eligibility criteria includes:

  • Recipients will be undergraduates in good standing at Penn State University.
  • This program is open to students from any major who will have achieved junior standing by semester in which they are placed.
  • Applications are being accepted per the schedule listed below.

Majors and Minors:  Meet with your academic advisor

Students who are interested in Study Away Pittsburgh are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor to determine how the 15 credits map onto their specific major or minor.  The program is designed with sufficient flexibility to meet the needs of a variety of majors and minors at Penn State.

How Do You Apply?

To apply, Penn State undergraduate students must submit the following by the application deadline:

  • A personal statement (2 pp.) outlining your area(s) of study and your career interests.  You should explain how your academic work would benefit from the Study Away Pittsburgh program, as well as the contributions you feel that you could make to the program.
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member in your major or minor.
  • Your resume (PDF) including prior work experience, previous community experience, skills (research skills, web design, analytical skills, foreign language, etc.).
  • Complete the online application form.

What Does the Program Cost? Is There Financial Aid?

Students enrolled in Study Away Pittsburgh will pay University Park tuition and fees.  There is also a program fee of $175.   Meals, books and incidental expenses are not included in the program fee and are the responsibility of the student.  Field trip expenses associated with the course are included in students’ tuition.

Financial aid is available from various sources including:

  • Pepsi Urban Sustainability Fellowships
    The Sustainability Institute and Penn State Center Pittsburgh invite undergraduate students in good standing to apply for Pepsi Urban Sustainability Fellowships.  Pepsi Urban Sustainability Fellows receive a stipend of $2,500 for one semester of study in the Study Away Pittsburgh Program.  A number of grants will be awarded each semester. To apply, simply check the fellowship box on the program application form.
  • Engaged Scholarship Grants
    The Sustainability Institute and Penn State Center Pittsburgh invite undergraduate students in good standing to apply for Engaged Scholarship Grants. Students can receive a grant of $2,500 that supports experiential learning endeavors outside of the classroom. A number of grants will be awarded each semester. To apply, simply check the fellowship box on the program application form.

Why Pittsburgh? Why Sustainability?

Pittsburgh is a Dynamic City of Diverse Neighborhoods:  Check out the video “Future. Forged. For All”.

Networking and Career Advancement: As a student considering Pittsburgh as an option after graduation, Study Away Pittsburgh offers not only valuable work experience, but also helps you build a professional network within the inner circles of those in the city building Pittsburgh’s future today.

Resiliency and  Urban Sustainability: Cities are on the front lines of dealing with the impacts of climate change and improving quality of life for their residents by dealing with the trials of adequate housing, transportation, clean air and water, waste management, food supplies, education, and jobs for growing populations.  As one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Global 100 Resilient Cities, Pittsburgh is an ideal place for faculty and students to work with Penn State Center Pittsburgh’s community partners to address 21st century urban challenges.

Who Are the Community Partners?

  • 412 Food Rescue
  • Allegheny County Conservation District
  • Allegheny Land Trust
  • Beechview Area Concerned Citizens
  • Bike Pittsburgh
  • Bloomfield Development Corporation
  • Braddock Borough
  • Center for Victims
  • City of Pittsburgh
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • Conservation Consultants Inc.
  • Etna Borough
  • Fourth Economy
  • Green Building Alliance
  • Hill Community Development Corporation
  • Landforce
  • Nine Mile Run
  • Pennsylvania Environmental Council
  • Pittsburgh Food Policy Council
  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • Quaker Valley Council of Governments
  • Superior Home Care
  • Sustainable Pittsburgh
  • Tree Pittsburgh
  • Tube City Renaissance
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority

What is the Deadline for Fall 2019?

To apply for the Fall 2019 semester, students are invited to submit an application online.

Timeline for Fall 2019 Placement:

Student Application Open: Now
Student Application Priority Placement Deadline: Wed. Mar. 20, 2019
Students Applications Will Continue to be Accepted Thru: Thur. Apr. 25, 2019
Accepted Students Matched with Community Partners By: Fri. Apr. 26, 2019
Orientation, Classes and Community Placements Begin: Mon. Aug. 26, 2019