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University of Pittsburgh    
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Sep 29, 2022
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Academic Regulations and Standards



Policies on full-time/part-time status, adding and dropping courses, cross-registration, grading systems, etc. are governed by the University at large. Students should refer to the University’s Academic Regulations  for general information and contact the SCI Records Office for more details on applying these policies in practice.

Highlighted are frequent topics of inquiry: Registration Status and Process , Withdrawing and Resigning , Grading Options and Calculations  


University Grading and Records: More information regarding grades-definitions of, grade change, and viewing grade reports can be found in the University’s academic regulations.

Satisfactory/No-Credit Grade Option Policy: The School of Computing and Information 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. The student should check with his or her academic advisor before deciding to take a course S/NC.

Note, 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 to a letter grade).

Students enrolled in the School of Computing and Information may take at most 30 credits of course work using the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system. Aside from this overall limitation on the number of S/NC credits, individual degree programs may place additional requirements upon the use of this grading option within the degree program.

Evaluation of a student’s ability and achievement in a course is not eliminated by the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system. 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 School of Computing and Information 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.


Residency Requirement: All students must earn a minimum of 30 new credits in residency at the School of Computing and Information, including at least 15 credits within the major program. At least half of the major program credits must be earned at the University of Pittsburgh.

Normal Full-Time Credit Load: A normal full-time 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 of the School of Computing and Information.

Summer or Special Session Course Work: Students in good academic standing may attend a summer or special session at another accredited institution in order to supplement their program. Students should provide a course description and syllabus to their advisor to obtain approval PRIOR to registering for these special courses. Note the following stipulations:

  • Students who have already completed 90 credits of coursework are not allowed to take courses elsewhere.
  • 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 must be submitted to the Records Office along with an advisor-approved and signed transfer credit request form.

Lower-level or Sequential Courses: Credit cannot be earned for courses taken after more advanced course work in the same field has been successfully passed with a C or higher. For example, credit cannot be earned for an algebra course taken after the successful completion of a calculus course.

ELI classes: LING 0007, LING 0008, and LING 0009 courses may be counted towards the 120 credits required for degree.

Physical Education: Students are not required to take any courses in physical education (PEDC), but may elect to do so. Up to four credits of courses offered by the School of Education’s Department of Health, Physical, and Recreation Education may be counted toward an SCI degree.

ROTC: Credits earned in aerospace science (Air Force ROTC), military science (Army ROTC), or naval science (Navy ROTC through cross registration at Carnegie Mellon University [CMU]) are not accepted toward an SCI degree. The School will grant up to four credits toward graduation for the following military science courses in lieu of physical education and recreation courses: AFROTC 0001, AFROTC 0002, AFROTC 0003, and AFROTC 0004; MILS 0012 and MILS 0022. Any four credits of Navy ROTC courses from CMU will count in lieu of physical education and recreation courses.

Independent Study, Undergraduate Research, and Internships

SCI students may earn up to 24 credits of independent study, undergraduate research, and internships as part of the 120 credits required for a degree. Ordinarily, no more than six credits may be earned in any term in a single undergraduate research experience or internship. Under certain conditions, students in good standing may register for a block of 15 credits of independent study. These credits are to be earned for work done within one academic term. A student may register for a 15-credit independent study term only once during his or her college career. This needs to be approved by the Dean prior to registration.

Learning Agreement forms for independent study and undergraduate research are available from the academic department through which the activity will be conducted. Internship application packets are available through SCI Student Services.

Eligibility, procedures, and guidelines, are governed by the academic department, therefore inquiries should be sent to the student’s advisor.

Directed Research: The student pursues a defined research project on campus under the guidance of a faculty member.

Independent Study: Involves an independent program of study, research, or creative activity designed under specified conditions and is usually conducted off campus with less immediate direction by the sponsoring faculty member.

Internships: a supervised, work-related experience, either volunteer or compensated. It is intended to be a new experience, not an existing position in which the student is already working. Students will only get internship credit for a current employment situation that has been pre-approved as an internship by the relevant school or department. Participation in the co-operative program falls under this category.

Cooperative Programs: To provide an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge within a real-world context, SCI students may complete participate in the cooperative program run out of the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). The Cooperative Office within SSOE has established arrangements with industry partners that permit students to rotate four-month terms between the workplace and the classroom. These are paid positions related to the student’s field of study. The experience normally starts in the sophomore or junior year. A student may complete a maximum of four rotations, totaling four credits toward their degree.

Any student registering for directed research, independent study, internship for credit, or coop must receive consent. Students should speak to their advisor as other restrictions may apply.

Study abroad: Students are encouraged to add an international dimension to their undergraduate education through engagement with available study abroad programs. Credits may be earned toward the School’s degrees through participation in one of several University of Pittsburgh programs or consortia-sponsored programs.

Credits earned during study abroad programs are earned with the satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) grading option and therefore calculate into the S/NC credit limits listed above.

Before study abroad is undertaken, approval for credit must be obtained. The study abroad advisor provides program approval, and the advisor in the department in which credit is sought and must approve the course selections and credits. Students should have at least a 2.75 GPA before seeking permission from their department to study abroad. Visit the Study Abroad website for more information.

Credit by Examination: Each test for credit by examination must be arranged with the department teaching the course for which credit is desired. The examination must be in a specific course offered by the School of Computing and Information. Departments set their own policies as to the specific courses for which students may request credit by examination, the time and type of examination, and the number of courses among those required for the major for which credit may be earned by examination. Normally, the examinations are administered during the first three weeks of the term.

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 first consult with the department in which the course is given and then obtain the requisite form from the Records Office. There is a $10 per credit fee payable to the Student Payment Center, to be submitted once the form is completed. This fee is nonrefundable. Credit by examination is open to all students. Questions should be directed to the departments which offer and administer the exams.

Graduate classes: Undergraduates with sufficient preparation are encouraged to take advantage of the rich variety of graduate courses offered by the departments and schools within the University. Students enrolled in the School of Computing and Information 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.

Course Repeat Policy: Required courses for a major must be repeated or replaced by a comparable course if a grade does not meet the program’s minimum requirements (see Department page for specifics). Course repetitions are subject to the University’s defined limitations:

  • A sequence course may not be repeated for credit if the student passes a higher sequence course with a C or better grade.
  • A student may not enroll in the same course at another institution and have that grade replace the original grade earned at the University.
  • The original course and grade remain on the transcript; however, the grade and credits originally earned are not counted in the calculation of the GPA.
  • The grade earned by repeating a course is used instead of the grade originally earned. W, R, or N grades reported for the repeated course will not be identified as a course repeat, and therefore the original grade earned will continue to be counted in the GPA. Incomplete grades (G and I) are not identified as repeated courses until the course work is completed.
  • Students are only permitted to repeat a course twice.
  • Any grade earned in the repeated course will be recorded on the academic transcript, even if it is lower than the original grade.

The Records Office automatically submits the Registrar’s Course Repeat Form for students who have repeated the exact course (i.e., repeating INFSCI 0017). However, any student who is replacing a course with a comparable one (i.e., replacing INFSCI 0017 with CS 0401), must submit a Course Repeat Form through their advisor. This form is available on the School’s Current Students website.

In all cases, it is the responsibility of the student to ensure their repeat course grades have been updated with the “Repeated - Excluded from GPA” flag on their academic record and that all credits have been calculated correctly. Students should discuss repeat courses with their advisor at the beginning and end of the term of repeated enrollment.

Statute of Limitations: 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.

Leave of absence (LOA), Readmission, and Reinstatement: Students who have resigned without requesting a leave of absence, have been away from the University for one or more years, or who have been suspended must apply for readmission or reinstatement. By University definitions, readmitted students previously attended the University of Pittsburgh and then enrolled at another external institution. Reinstated students previously attended the University of Pittsburgh and left for one or more calendar years, not attending external institutions in the meantime. These terms are attached to specific application processes and graduation requirements.

Readmitted students follow the School and degree graduation requirements and rules based upon their term of readmission. Their statute of limitations is reset to their term of readmission and their transfer credits, advanced standing, and previously authorized exemptions will be reevaluated at the point of readmission. Students may apply for readmission by submitting the transfer application available on the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid website.

Reinstated students follow the School and degree requirements and rules based upon their original term of entry to the School. Their statute of limitations is calculated against their original term of entry to the University and their transfer credits, advanced standing, and previously authorized exemptions will be accepted as previously approved at the point of reinstatement. Students interested in reinstatement should submit the Reinstatement application available on the Current Students website.

Exceptions to the reinstatement rules include:

  • Students whose leave exceeds two years. All students who have been away from the University for two or more years will be subject to the requirements of the School and of their major and/or certificate programs at the time of their reinstatement, rather than those in place at the time of their last attendance.
  • Students on an approved leave of absence.

Under special conditions, undergraduate students may be granted one Leave of Absence (LOA) that may last between two terms and two years. Students must notify the School of their LOA by submitting the LOA form found on the Current Students website. Notification must be received prior to the student’s intended term of absence. If granted approval by the Dean’s Office, a student is ensured that their transfer credits, advanced standing, and previously authorized exemptions will be accepted as previously approved. If a student petitioned the faculty and received permission to enroll in an external institution during their LOA for transfer credit in advance of their LOA, the credits may still transfer upon the student’s return.

Students who have an approved LOA do not have to apply for readmission nor reinstatement. Instead, instructions for returning to the School will be shared with the student in the letter sent approving their leave.

Additionally, requesting a leave of absence impacts the statute of limitations and acceptance of credits completed at an external institution during their leave. Upon requesting a leave, the 12-year statute of limitations is put on hold until the student’s return.

A note on advising appointments and on returning from a break in continuous enrollment:

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 advisor may assist in planning the program and in registering the student. Similarly, students who are returning from a LOA should keep this timeline in mind for setting up an appointment with their advisor.

Regardless of the conditions surrounding a student’s leave - an intentional leave of absence, suspension, or an extended lapse in enrollment requiring reinstatement - when a student returns, they return in the standing attached to their record (good, warning, or probation) at the term of their departure.

Any courses that a student takes at another institution during a period of suspension shall not be granted credit by the School after the student has been reinstated.


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

  • For those students who are undecided on a major, early contact with computer or 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 either computer or information science as a major, the courses can indicate more fully the topics that are of interest and also  complete the necessary course work to ensure on-time graduation.

Advisor assignment and advising meeting expectations: Once students have been accepted into one of our degree programs, they are assigned an advisor or advising committee. Initially, the student and advisor discuss the student’s plan of study, 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.

Detailed advising information is available on the individual program offering pages of this Catalog.

Advisor approval for enrollment and/or withdrawing: Students must meet with their advisor prior to their enrollment appointment each term. Students are expected to review their academic advisement report (AAR) in preparation for their meeting.

Exemptions to enrollment, withdrawals, and degree requirements are approved by a representative of the Dean’s Office but are mediated through the student’s advisor.

Tracking your degree progress (AAR): In order for students to verify that they are making progress toward graduation, they should regularly review their academic advisement report (AAR). This report is submitted with the graduation application as a contract between the School and the student. If a student finds errors in their AAR, they should speak to their advisor and request updates to their AAR. Requests for updates include “Best Fit” changes (re-directing courses to the appropriate requirement area), authorized student exemptions (exemptions pre-approved by the Program Director and/or the Deans Office), and corrections to transfer credits.

Maintenance of a student’s AAR is the responsibility of the student and will expedite the graduation certification process. As well, the AAR provides detailed course options for fulfilling all requirements for the degree. When using the AAR online, students have quick access to schedule details for approved courses and links to enrollment.

It is recommended that students continually monitor their AAR and utilize this tool frequently for enrollment and advisement purposes.

Informational videos and documents related to the AAR can be found on the Registrar’s Student Training website.


The University has a number of official policies affecting students. For a summary of these policies and links to complete and current text on all University policies, students should thoroughly review the information provided under Academic Regulations  .

Highlighted are frequent topics of inquiry: Student Rights and Responsibilities , Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Harassment Policies, Student Service Indicators Policy  

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