Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
  May 25, 2024
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

School of Information Sciences

The Bachelor of Science in Information Science degree program at the University of Pittsburgh offers a curriculum that meets industry’s needs. In fact, industry leaders have helped to develop this program. Our graduates have gained critical skills and broad theoretical knowledge in programming principles, database systems, networks, human-computer interaction, and systems design. They understand how to manage today’s complex information systems and design the systems that business and industry will need in the future.

Grandparenting and the new School of Computing and Information

Information Science (IS) undergraduate majors who matriculated into the University of Pittsburgh PRIOR to Fall 2017 received a communication allowing a choice to either remain in the School of Information Sciences (SIS) or transfer to the new School of Computing and Information for completion of their IS degree.

  • If a student chose to remain in the School of Information Sciences, they should refer to the these catalog pages for the regulations, policies, and requirements for their degree.
  • If a student applied to transfer to the School of Computing and Information, they should refer to the School of Computing and Information  catalog for the regulations, policies, and requirements for their degree.

Please note: If a student took no action in response to the grandparenting e-mail, they were transferred to the School of Computing and Information by default.

For any students matriculated into the University of Pittsburgh PRIOR to Fall 2017 who have not yet applied to the School of Information Sciences, the student will choose to apply to either the School of Information Sciences or the School of Computing and Information.

Any student matriculating into the University of Pittsburgh AFTER Fall 2017, must apply to the School of Computing and Information in order to pursue an undergraduate degree in either Computer Science or Information Science and should refer to the School of Computing and Information  catalog for information.


Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh
School of Computing and Information
Office of Student Services

135 North Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Robert Perkoski, BSIS Director



Admission Procedures

The freshman and sophomore years are spent in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of General Studies. During the first two years, a pre-Information Science student takes courses needed for admissions and begins satisfying some of the required Skills, General Education, Related Area, and Information Science course requirements.

Upon completion of 55 credits, pre-Information Science students can apply to the Information Science program by meeting with their advisors and completing an Undergraduate Academic Program/Plan Add/Change Form and a BSIS School Transfer Application. Your advisor will send these, plus your folder, to the School of Information Sciences, and they will be reviewed by an admissions committee. Decisions are made in about two weeks. Deadlines: August 1 for the Fall Term, December 1 for the Spring Term, April 1 for the Summer Term.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for transfer to the Information Science program, applicants must present an adequate lower-level undergraduate academic record and be in good standing in the college or school in which they are currently enrolled. Applicants must have earned at least 55 credits hours of course work (including current term credits) and have demonstrated strong evidence of academic achievement. Students must have earned a “C” or better in any General Education, Skills, Related, or Information Science course. Meeting these minimum qualifications does not guarantee admission to the program. The total academic record, as well as the probability of completion of the Information Science program requirements within the remaining credit hours, will be considered. For further information, see the Transfer Students section below.

Students must complete INFSCI 0010-Introduction to Information, Systems, and Society.

Transfer Students

Students at other institutions who wish to apply for admission as transfer students to the program should submit a Transfer Application and supporting materials to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Prospective transfer students should note especially that the evaluation of course work taken at other colleges and universities will be made by advisors at SIS. Students who have been admitted as transfer students will be told at the time of admission how much advanced standing credit they have been awarded by the undergraduate advisor.

Students in Pitt’s undergraduate schools or regional campuses at the University should initiate the process of transferring into the Information Science program by completing an Undergraduate Academic Program/Plan Add/Change form and a BSIS Transfer Application and requesting that the school in which they were most recently enrolled send these to the School. Students currently on inactive status in the school of last registration must first be reinstated in that school before the transfer process can be completed.

Former students who have enrolled in other institutions may apply for readmission with advanced standing. Such students should apply to the University’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Credits earned elsewhere and accepted for transfer by the School will be added to those satisfactory credits originally earned at the University of Pittsburgh.

Post Baccalaureate and Guest Students

Post baccalaureate and guest students are holders of bachelor’s degrees who have been permitted to take additional undergraduate course work as nondegree students. The number of credits that may be taken by nondegree, post baccalaureate students is limited to a maximum of 12.

Guest students are students who are matriculated in degree programs elsewhere but whom, with the permission of their home schools, wish to take courses in the Information Science program. The expectation is that credit thus earned will be transferred to the home school to be used in satisfying degree requirements. The home school must certify that the proposed arrangement is satisfactory before such a student will be admitted. Suspended or dismissed students, even with their home school’s permission, cannot be admitted as guest students. Guest student status is not usually granted for more than two terms.

Application forms for admission as either a nondegree post baccalaureate or guest student are available at the School of Information Sciences. Acceptance cannot be granted until all necessary materials have been received, including the completed application form, official transcripts, and application fee. The deadlines for application for special students are August 1 for Fall Term, December 1 for Spring Term, and April 1 for Summer Term admissions.

Academic Integrity

A student has an obligation to exhibit honesty, and to respect the ethical standards of the information professions in carrying out his or her academic assignments. All students are responsible for adhering to policies on academic integrity, which are available on the School’s Web site.


Since several of the Information Science courses may be taken during the first and second years of study, Information Science faculty cooperate with Arts and Sciences (A&S) and College of General Studies (CGS) advisors to help students plan the first two years of study. Information Science courses taken during the first two years serve two purposes:

  • For those students who are undecided on a major, early contact with Information Science can provide a basis for deciding whether or not to major in the subject; and
  • For those students who have already decided on Information Science as a major, the courses can indicate more fully the topics that are of interest and also reduce the load to be taken during the third and fourth years.

Once students have been accepted into the Information Science program, they are assigned an advisor. Initially, the student and advisor discuss the student’s program in Information Science, a related field, and other academic options. Each term, the student and advisor should review the student’s progress and select the courses to be taken to satisfy the student’s program goals. In addition, the student and advisor should discuss career goals, educational plans, and any academic-related problems.

The School’s policy emphasizes the role of an advisor in providing advice for academic decisions, and students are urged to take full advantage of their advisor’s experience and knowledge as often as needs arise. To avoid schedule conflicts, students are strongly advised to contact their advisors for an appointment.

Academic Standards

Full-time students in the program are expected to complete 24 credit hours of work each academic year with a GPA of at least 2.75 (12 credit hours for students granted part-time status). They are also expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.50 and a 2.50 GPA in Information Science courses. Failure to meet any or all of these conditions automatically places a student in academic jeopardy. Students who fail to meet these conditions for two consecutive terms and who, in their most recent term of residence, failed to complete 12 credits (6 credits for part-time students) with a GPA of 2.50 are liable to be suspended. Students who have been suspended are not permitted to enroll in University courses for one calendar year.

Students who have been admitted to the Information Science program are eligible to continue as long as a satisfactory academic standing is maintained or until the degree has been earned. The School’s statute of limitations requires that all of the credits required for the Bachelor of Science degree, whether earned in residence or transferred from another institution, must have been earned within 12 years prior to the date on which the degree is awarded. However, when given evidence that the previous courses still provide adequate preparation for courses yet to be taken and still represent a reasonable part of the total academic program, the director of the undergraduate program may waive this limitation. In such cases, the waiver is for a specific period during which the program must be completed.

Credit Load

A normal credit load ranges from 12 to 18 credits per term, with a minimum of 24 credits in an academic year. Any term credit load in excess of 18 credits requires the approval of the director of the undergraduate program and approval of the dean at the School of Information Sciences. No more than 60 credits may be taken in one department or school, and usually not more than 40 credits are considered desirable in a well-balanced program.

Course Repetitions

Required courses for an Information Science major must be repeated or replaced by a comparable course if a grade of C- or lower is received. If a grade of C- or lower is earned in a prerequisite course, the course must be repeated before the higher-level course may be taken. If a grade of C- or lower is earned in any course taken to satisfy a degree requirement, the course must be repeated or replaced. Course repetitions are subject to the following limitations:

  • No course passed with a C or higher letter grade or with an S grade should be repeated.
  • The grade earned by repeating the same course replaces the grade originally earned, although the original grade is not removed from the transcript. The grade originally earned is not counted in the computation of the GPA. The new grade does not increase the number of credits counted toward graduation unless an F grade is replaced by a higher grade or an S grade.
  • No course may be repeated at any other institution.
  • A specific course may be taken for credit only once.

Similar Course Content

Students should not take courses with similar content from other departments. Limitations have been imposed on certain computer programming language and psychology courses. A listing of these limitations may be obtained from the director of the undergraduate program.

Courses Taken Elsewhere

Students in good academic standing may attend a summer or special session at another accredited institution in order to supplement their program. The students should meet with and obtain approval from either the BSIS Program Director or their advisor PRIOR to registering for these special courses. Students who have already completed 90 credits of coursework are not allowed to take courses elsewhere. Generally, courses may not be a repetition of any course previously taken (passed or failed).

To obtain permission to attend another institution, a student must have begun his or her program at the University of Pittsburgh or have been admitted as a transfer student from another institution with no more than 60 advanced standing credits.

A maximum of two summer or special sessions may be taken at other institutions with a maximum of two courses per session. After completing such courses, an official transcript should be submitted to the BSIS office.

Transfer Credits

Students admitted by transfer will have their transfer credits evaluated subject to the following conditions:

  • Students who have not satisfied the second language requirement (detailed under the Program Description section) shall be required to do so in the first two terms of residence at the School of Information Sciences.
  • An official transcript of all courses taken at other institutions must be submitted at the time of application, whether or not it is intended that such courses be counted toward the degree. For acceptance, courses must be passed with a satisfactory grade (minimum of C or equivalent) and must be earned at an institution accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association. Grades for such courses are not used in computing a student’s GPA nor in determining probationary status or eligibility for graduation honors.
  • Generally, courses that have a reasonable counterpart in the curricula of the various schools/departments of the University of Pittsburgh are eligible for transfer.
  • The number of credits granted for a course cannot exceed the number on the transcript from the institution where they were earned nor, usually, exceed the number to be earned in the corresponding course at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • No transfer credits may be part of the final 30 required credits for the degree. These credits must be earned in residence at the School of Information Sciences. Credits earned at regional campuses and in international programs are considered as transfer credits.
  • Credits accepted for advanced standing must have been earned within 12 years of the date when the degree requirements must be completed.
  • Transfer credits for courses that do not have reasonable counterparts in the curricula of the various schools or departments of the University cannot be used to satisfy requirements for the degree, unless approved by the director of the undergraduate program.
  • No more than 90 credits may be transferred from a four-year institution, and no more than 60 credits may be transferred from a two-year institution.
  • If a course for which advanced standing credit has been granted is repeated, the advanced standing credit is canceled.

Credit by Examination

Students may earn credits toward graduation not only by successfully completing courses but also by taking special examinations. Each test for credit by examination must be arranged with the school/department offering the course for which credit is desired. The examination must be in a specific course offered by the faculty of the school or department. Schools/departments may specify the time and type of examination as well as which courses are possible to elect as credit.

Students may not take credit by examination for material prerequisites for college admission. If, during their high school careers, students have mastered material traditionally covered in college courses and not required for college admission, they may request credit by examination for the material if the school’s or department’s equivalent course is one for which it generally permits credit by examination. Credit by examination cannot be obtained for a college-level course for which credit has already been awarded, nor can it be used to alter a grade already received. Credit may not be earned by examination in lower-level sequence courses when the student has already obtained credit for a higher-level course in the sequence. Students are not permitted to audit courses without registering and then apply for credit by examination. Students wishing to earn credit by examination should consult the school/department in which the course is given and then obtain the requisite form from the appropriate dean’s office. There is a fee for the examination whether or not credits are earned.


The School of Information Sciences uses both the University’s letter grade and Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) grade options (formerly the S/N option) (see Grading and Records  for more information). In addition to the general University rules governing those grading systems, there are a few formal limitations to the student’s freedom of choice regarding grading systems:

  • Students must decide by one week after the end of the add/drop period which grading system they propose to use for each of their courses. This decision may not be changed, nor may a grade of one kind received for a course be changed to a grade of the other kind (e.g., from an S/NC grade (formerly the S/N option) to a letter grade).
  • Schools/departments may decide which courses may be taken on the S/NC system (formerly the S/N option).
  • No courses required for the information science major, the related field, information science distribution, general distribution, English composition, or language requirements may be taken on the S/NC system (formerly the S/N option).
  • Students are limited to a total of 18 credits of S grades that may be applied to the 120 credits required for the degree.
  • Students should be sure, before deciding on the grading system for a course, that their decision will not have an adverse effect on their plans for a major.
  • Under certain circumstances, schools/departments may declare a course available only on the S/NC system (formerly the S/N option). In such courses, students may not elect to receive a letter grade.

Evaluation of a student’s ability and achievement in a course is not eliminated by the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system (formerly the S/N option). Recitations, tests, and papers may all be required and assessed by instructors who will convey to the student their judgments of the worth of the student’s work. Because the publicly recorded evaluation is minimal, students should use the instructor’s comments in the most helpful way possible: as a guide to their own future course of study and for assessment of their own potential.

Since it is difficult to evaluate transcripts containing very few letter grades, students seriously considering transferring to the Information Science program or considering graduate study should keep this in mind. The student may wish to ask instructors from whom they have taken courses on the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system to write letters of recommendation for them immediately at the end of the course. The office of the undergraduate program will supply forms for such letters and will make them a permanent part of the student’s file. Students may also wish to keep portfolios of their best academic work and other evidence of ability and accomplishment with which they might supplement the formal transcript and letters of evaluation when they apply for transfer or for graduate study. This recommendation is useful for all students whatever grade options they select.

Dean’s List

Early in each term, a list is compiled of students whose academic record in the preceding term indicates outstanding academic achievement. To be placed on the School’s Dean’s List, a student must have earned at least 12 credits with a grade of A, B, or C; must have no grade lower than C; and must have a term GPA of at least 3.25. Full-time and part-time students are eligible for placement on the Dean’s list.


Students who have resigned or been suspended, as well as other students who have been away from the University for more than one term may apply for reinstatement. Students interested in reinstatement should contact the BSIS office. A reinstatement application should be submitted to the Undergraduate Admissions and Evaluation Committee at least one month prior to the beginning of the term in which the student plans to enroll. Favorable action may be expected if students provide evidence that they can pursue an academic program with some prospects for success. Since registration advising meetings are usually held from the seventh to the twelfth week of the preceding term, applications for reinstatement should be received within that period so that the faculty advisor may assist in planning the program and in registering the student. The student’s status upon reinstatement will be that attained at the end of his or her last term in residence or at the beginning of the term during which resignation took place. Applicants will be notified by letter of the action taken on their requests. Any courses that students take at another institution during a period of suspension shall not be granted credit by the School after the student has been reinstated unless the student petitioned the faculty and received permission in advance.


A suspended student who is subsequently reinstated remains on probation for at least one term and until the cumulative GPA has been raised to at least 2.50 and the information science major GPA has been raised to at least 2.50. As long as the reinstated student remains on probation, failure in any term to complete 12 credits of work (or those credits for which a part-time student has registered) with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.50 and an information science GPA of 2.50 will constitute grounds for dismissal from the School of Information Sciences for five years.

Special Academic Opportunities/Programs

The following additional academic opportunities are available through the School of Information Sciences:

Cooperative Program with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

A cooperative arrangement between the School and the Greensburg campus of the University of Pittsburgh makes it possible for Greensburg students to major in information science. Students may complete most of their course work, including work in major courses, on the Greensburg campus but will typically want to cross register for some courses on the Pittsburgh campus to take advantage of courses and laboratories not available at Greensburg. The Bachelor of Science degree in Information Science is awarded by the School of Information Sciences. For additional information about this program, students should contact Susan Hahn ( at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Double Degrees

Students in the School of Information Sciences may choose to simultaneously pursue more than one undergraduate degree, either within the College of Arts and Sciences or in another undergraduate school at the University. The School of information Sciences also offers a joint degree program with the College of Business Administration. In general, earning two degrees requires a minimum of 150 credits and completion of the curriculum requirements of both schools. Detailed information about double degrees or joint programs is available from the BSIS office.

Second Degree Program

Those who already have received a Baccalaureate degree in another discipline and wish to earn a BSIS degree are encouraged to apply to:

The BSIS office (if you’ve received a Baccalaureate degree from the University of Pittsburgh within the last 12 years).

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (if you earned a Baccalaureate degree from an institution other than the University of Pittsburgh within the last 12 years). You will need to complete a Transfer Application and submit any requested fees.

Enrollment in Graduate Courses

Undergraduates with sufficient preparation are encouraged to take advantage of the rich variety of graduate courses offered by the departments and schools of the University. Students enrolled in the Information Science program may use credits in graduate courses toward their undergraduate degree. To enroll in a graduate course, students must obtain the written consent of the instructor of the course, have a 3.00 cumulative GPA, and have the approval of the director of the undergraduate program.

Independent Study Courses

The Information Science program offers the student the option of conducting an independent study with a faculty member in the School of Information Sciences. Students who have a special project or wish to work in an area not adequately covered by regular INFSCI courses should request a faculty member to supervise independent work aimed at their particular interests, and, if accepted, they should register for INFSCI 1080 Independent Study. Any student registering for an information science independent study course must have at least five information science courses completed, a 3.00 cumulative GPA, and consent of the faculty advisor and faculty sponsor.

To obtain permission to complete an independent study, students must submit a proposal presenting a design for the project and must find a faculty sponsor who will serve as director. The proposal must include detailed plans for the project. Substantial written work or some other form of creative product is usually one outcome of an independent study course.

The Capstone Experience/Course

Students in the undergraduate program in information science will participate in a capstone experience, gaining experience through a research project in the school, an internship with regional industry, or a self-designed project.

Students planning to enter the workforce upon graduation are strongly encouraged to intern with one of the many businesses and industries in the Pittsburgh region. Pittsburgh is home to many international corporations in a variety of industries including health care, financial services, education, manufacturing, and technology.

In completing your capstone experience, you can:

  • Assist with graduate-level research
  • Self-design a project
  • Intern with a regional company. SIS students have interned with PPG, U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Mellon Financial Corp., Google, Lockheed-Martin, Deloitte, FedEx Ground, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

School of Information Sciences Course Offerings

Courses offered by the School of Information Science are available at

School of Information Sciences Undergraduate Program Faculty

Program and Course Offerings

Other Courses

    Department of Information Sciences

    Other Courses

    Catalog Navigation