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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
 
  Sep 27, 2020
 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog

School of Computing and Information


 

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information (SCI) opened on July 1, 2017, building upon the traditions of excellence embodied by the Department of Computer Science and School of Information Sciences. SCI aims to position the University as a leader in preparing students for this increasingly-interconnected world by providing students with excellent disciplinary foundations and training to support our mission to make the world a better place through polymathic education and the science of interacting systems. Our degree programs address the holistic spectrum of computing and information, from producers to users and from science-oriented exploration to human-centric applications. We foresee a future with increased opportunities to expose our students to a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, information management, and computing; expanded experiential learning opportunities; and extended career networks.

SCI represents the confluence of computing and information along with diverse academic disciplines, serving as a valuable resource to researchers, students, and organizations across the University and around the world. SCI is a new school for a new era of research and learning, one in which the power of information and computing will accelerate knowledge discovery and creativity.

The School-level regulations set forth in the following document apply to students who were admitted to the University of Pittsburgh during the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Students admitted prior to this academic year should refer to the Archived Catalogs for the regulations governing their undergraduate studies. The following is a guide for navigating the archived catalogs for degree requirements.

Admitted to Pitt / Catalog Publication

School Requirements

Major Requirements

2018-19 or 2019-20

SCI Catalog page

All Majors: Department and major-specific SCI Catalog pages

2017-18

CS Majors: SCI Catalog; navigate to the CS Department Catalog pages

2017-18

IS Majors: SCI Catalog; navigate to the Dept. of Informatics and Networked Systems pages

2016-17 or earlier

Arts& Sciences Catalog

CS Majors: CS Department and major-specific pages

2016-17 or earlier

School of Information Sciences Catalog

IS Majors: IS Department and major-specific pages

Undergraduate students may opt into a newer set of School-level policies and degree requirements and newer major-level requirements. Note, students electing into a new set of requirements may only opt into School and major requirements of the same year. In order to elect into new requirements, the student must meet with their advisor to discuss this process.

Contact Information

Mailing address for the Office of the Dean and other SCI administrative offices:

University of Pittsburgh

School of Computing and Information

Office of the Dean

135 North Bellefield Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Detailed contact information for all departments, offices, and staff can be found on the SCI “Contact Us” web page.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

SCI is a four-year undergraduate school, admitting its first-year students through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) website. Applicants interested in beginning their studies at SCI as a first-year, non-transfer student should refer to the OAFA website for application prep checklists, access to the application, deadlines, etc.

To be considered for admission, transfer* and second Pitt bachelor’s degree applicants must:

  • Complete at least 24 credits with a GPA of at least

    • 2.75 (Pittsburgh campus) or

    • 3.00 (Regional campuses, second Pitt bachelor’s, and external transfers)

  • Finish the equivalent of the First-year SCI Curriculum with grades of “C” or better in each course. The first-year SCI curriculum must minimally include the SCI quantitative mathematics and statistics requirements, programming, and introductory composition. Completion of CMPINF 0010: Big Ideas in Computing and Information course is strongly recommended for Pittsburgh campus internal transfer applicants.

  • Sample courses of study within SCI can be found within the catalog pages for individual majors offered within the school.

Please note that these GPA requirements are for consideration only. Individual undergraduate programs reserve the right to close admission to a major once capacity has been reached. Preference will be given to students ready to declare a major; (major eligibility requirements).

Students in Pitt’s undergraduate schools or regional campuses at the University should initiate the process of transferring into an SCI program by submitting an Undergraduate Academic Program / Plan Add / Change form with their current campus’s Records Office or other administrative center.

*Pittsburgh and regional campus (i.e., internal) transfer applicants should note that the criteria listed above applies only to students admitted to the University of Pittsburgh in Fall 2019 or later. Internal transfer applicants admitted prior to Fall 2019 must be admissible directly to a major (major eligibility requirements) and meet the admissions criteria outlined in the Catalog published in their University admit term in order to be considered for admission to SCI (see the Archived Catalogs).

Application Deadlines

Applications must be received by SCI by the deadlines listed below. Applications received after the deadlines will not be reviewed.

Applicant Type

Fall term

Fall review period

Spring term

Spring review period

Summer term

Summer review period

First year

Rolling admission

Fall term admissions only

International first year

April 1

EARLY DEADLINE

All transfer, reinstatement, and second bachelor’s applicants

March 1 Mid-March No early admissions

FINAL DEADLINE

All transfer, reinstatement, and second bachelor’s applicants

May 15 Late May October 1 Mid-October February 1 Mid-February

Review Timeline and Admissions Notifications

Applications for internal transfer are reviewed by an admissions committee during specific review periods. Where applicants have completed the minimum required credits and have earned a grade in each of the first-year SCI courses by the admissions deadlines, decisions are made prior to the enrollment period for the upcoming admit term in order to accommodate advising and enrollment in the appropriate Pitt School.

Applicants’ grades must be posted for the courses required for admission in order for the application to be considered complete.

Incomplete applications, where grades are not posted for admissions pre-requisite classes by the stated final deadline. In-progress courses, and other courses lacking grades as they appear in the application materials, will not be considered.

Applicants should receive a decision within one to two weeks after the published review period above.

Admissions decisions are communicated by SCI Academic Records to the applicants’ University email address. Applicants should monitor their email, including spam/quarantined messages, regularly during the notification periods mentioned above. Admitted students must accept their offer of admission via the Pitt PSMobile application by the last day of the add/drop period of their admissions term.

All applications for external transfer (second-degree, non-Pitt; first-degree transfer; and readmission), including the associated evaluation of course work taken at other colleges and universities, will be reviewed by SCI Academic Records in conjunction with departmental faculty and the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Decisions are made in accordance with the timelines noted above and notifications will be made by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Students will later receive an evaluation of transfer credits and a welcome letter from the School.

Applicant Types and Related Policies

The following types of applicants must adhere to the stated admission criteria but should also be aware of policies and procedures specific to their situation.

Admission of Students from Other Countries

Applicants are required to submit original or certified, official secondary school records; literal translations of your records if they are not in English; and an official credential evaluation of all international documents (transcripts, marksheets, certificates, examination results, etc.) from an approved evaluator. See details on the OAFA webpage for International Transcript Evaluation. The application process should be started 9 to 12 months in advance of the intended enrollment date.

An applicant whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and submit official test results.

For more information on international student applications, including TOEFL requirements and exceptions, refer to OAFA’s international student admissions webpage.

Second-degree Pitt

Students who have already earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and who are returning to complete a second degree in a major offered through SCI will be considered for admission.

Students who fall into this category should apply directly to the School of Computing and Information. Applicants should note the following:

  • Course work for the second degree will continue to be recorded on the original University of Pittsburgh undergraduate transcript.

  • All appropriate course work from the first degree will apply to the second degree.

  • The cumulative GPA and credit total will be based on all credits from the first degree and any new course work completed that applies to the second degree.

  • Students must earn a minimum of 30 new credits.

Second-degree, non-Pitt

Students who completed a degree at another institution submit a Transfer Application and supporting materials to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Post-baccalaureate and Guest Students

Students who have completed an undergraduate degree and wish to take additional undergraduate courses on a non-degree-seeking basis (post-baccalaureate) or students who are students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at another university who plan to take courses for credit at the University of Pittsburgh with the intention of transferring those courses back to their home institution (guest students) should apply directly to the College of General Studies (CGS). Eligibility and application instructions are available on the CGS website.

Non-degree-seeking status at CGS is not encouraged for students interested in later applying for internal transfer to SCI. Instead, these students should apply directly to SCI as first-year students through the OAFA website.

Pittsburgh and Regional Campus (Internal) Transfer

Students in Pitt’s undergraduate schools or regional campuses at the University should initiate the process of transferring into an SCI program by submitting an Undergraduate Academic Program / Plan Add / Change form with their current campus’s Records Office or other administrative center. 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.

Note: All credits and previously approved exemptions to academic requirements will be re-evaluated by SCI. In some instances, this may mean that not all transfer credits or previously approved exemptions or waivers will be accepted or applied toward a student’s SCI career. All credits will be subject to the transfer credit policies listed in this Catalog.

First-degree Transfer from External Institutions

Students at other institutions who wish to apply for admission as transfer students to the School of Computing and Information should submit a Transfer Application and supporting materials to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Readmission

Students who previously attended the University of Pittsburgh before attending another institution and who wish to return to the University are considered transfer students and must reapply following the guidelines for transfer students. Former students who have enrolled in other institutions may apply for readmission with advanced standing. Such students should submit a Transfer Application and supporting materials to the University’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

For more details regarding the different definitions and regulations for readmitted and reinstated students, see the Readmission and Reinstatement section of the SCI Catalog page.

Reinstatement

Students who have left the University for one calendar year or more (whether of their own volition or as a result of a suspension), who did not complete work at another institution, and who wish to continue their studies must apply for reinstatement through the School.

For more details regarding the different definitions and regulations for readmitted and reinstated students, see the Readmission and Reinstatement section of the SCI Catalog.

Evaluation of Transfer Credits

Previous course work for transfer students is evaluated by SCI Academic Records with respect to general education requirements. As well, SCI Academic Records liaises with departments and programs to ascertain transfer credit for major-specific course requirements. Before initial registration, students transferring credits from one Pitt school or campus, or an external institution will receive an Academic Advisement Report that illustrates the requirements that they have satisfied, and which requirements remain to be satisfied in order to complete their degree.

After receiving SCI evaluation of transfer credits, a student may petition for a re-evaluation of courses within the first two terms after matriculation into the School. A student must submit all petitions to transfer or substitute courses taken prior to enrollment at the same time. SCI Academic Records will confer with faculty to evaluate the merit of these petitions.

Transfer credits are subject to the following conditions:

  • Courses that have a reasonable counterpart in the curricula of the various schools/departments of the University of Pittsburgh are eligible for transfer. Courses must be passed with a satisfactory grade (minimum of C or equivalent). Transfer course grades are recorded as T grades and are not used in computing a student’s GPA, determining probationary status, or determining eligibility for graduation honors. Transfer credits must be earned at an institution accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, and may not be a repetition of any course previously taken (passed or failed) at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • 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 all students who are requesting transfer credit for approved summer or special session coursework, they must submit an official transcript as soon as the course grade is available. No transfer credits will be posted to a University of Pittsburgh transcript without an official transcript from the originating institution.

  • 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 with a combined total of no more than 90 transfer credits posted to a student’s transcript. No transfer credits will be transferred to a student’s record during or after the term in which they achieve a total of 90 earned credits.

  • The number of credits granted for a course cannot exceed the number on the transcript from the institution where they were earned nor exceed the number to be earned in the corresponding course at the University of Pittsburgh. Credits earned on the quarter system will be converted into semester credits. A quarter credit is equal to two-thirds of a semester credit (e.g., five quarter-system credits equal three semester credits, and three quarter-system credits equal two semester credits). Converted credits are rounded down to the nearest half.

  • If a course is repeated for which advanced standing credit (AP test credit or other) has been granted, the advanced standing credit is canceled. This is monitored once per academic year and it is the student’s responsibility to discuss course repeats - including those equivalent to advanced standing credit - with their advisor.

  • Current students may also transfer in summer or special session credits from another institution. These credits must follow the aforementioned regulations.

Transfer Guides / Articulation Agreements

The School of Computing and Information utilizes the “Pitt Connection Guides” and official Articulation Agreements maintained by the Office of the Provost when evaluating transfer credits. Students considering a transfer to the School may find these resources useful.

Advanced Standing

In addition to the aforementioned transfer credit options, the School of Computing and Information may accept the following forms of advanced standing, referred to as “test credits.”

Advanced Placement (AP) Credits

See the AP credit section of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Examinations

See the IB Examination section of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Testing

SCI does not accept CLEP general examination credits.

Transferring Out

Students who wish to transfer out of SCI to another school at the University must submit the Academic Program (Transfer Out/Double Degree) Change form available on the School’s Current Student website.

Note: All transfer credits and authorized exemptions or waivers are subject to re-evaluation when a student transfers from one school to another within the University of Pittsburgh.

Academic Regulations and Standards

University Registration Policies

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 Academic Regulations  for general information and contact SCI Academic Records 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  

Grading Policies

University Grading and Records

More information regarding grades-definitions of, grade change, and viewing grade reports can be found in the 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 choose a grading option (letter grade or S/NC) during enrollment from those listed within the University’s Student enrollment system. Any decision to change the grading option after a class has been added to the student’s enrollment must be processed (via the Grade Option/Audit Form, see the SCI Current Students > School Forms webpage) no later than four weeks after the start of term. 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.

Credit and Enrollment Policies

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 Advising and approval of the Office of the Dean.

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 must provide a transfer credit request form, course description, and syllabus to initiate a review of potential or completed external courses. The Transfer Credit Request form can be found on the SCI Current Students website.

All summer or special session course work must comply with the transfer credit evaluation guidelines noted under the Evaluation of Transfer Credits section of this Catalog. Transfer credit requests submitted after the completion of an external course are not guaranteed for approval or transfer. For this reason, students should discuss potential studies at external institutions with their advisor and submit the Transfer Credit Request form PRIOR to enrolling in external courses.

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 the 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. In lieu of physical education and recreation courses, the School will grant up to four credits toward graduation for the following military science courses: AFROTC 0001 , AFROTC 0002 , AFROTC 0003 , and AFROTC 0004 ; MILS 0012  and MILS 0022 ; Navy ROTC courses from CMU.

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 participate in the cooperative program run out of the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). The Cooperative Education 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 Credit Policies

SCI students may pursue as many abroad experiences as allowed by the Study Abroad Office. However, the maximum total of credits that may be applied to an undergraduate degree is bound by SCI’s limit S/NC credits. Any credits earned during study abroad programs with the satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) grading option will 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 while the student’s SCI advisor will assist with course selections and verifying Pitt equivalencies with either the SCI department (if the equivalent is offered within SCI-controlled subject areas) or SCI Academic Records (if the equivalent is offered outside of SCI). After this step is complete, the advisor signs the Study Abroad Office’s form; final approval is communicated through SCI Academic Records. Students should have at least a 2.75 GPA before seeking permission from their advisor to study abroad.

Completion of any study abroad experience will fulfill the “Global Awareness and Cross-Cultural Understanding” requirement within the Polymathic Context section of the general education requirements. This is in addition to fulfillment of other requirements (general education or major) as pre-approved by the student’s advisor, department, and/or the Dean’s Office.

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. These may not be counted as credits toward a graduate degree except for students admitted into a BS/MS degree program. 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. See the University’s allowable credits and course limitations regulations  for details.

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). If the minimum acceptable grade is not earned after meeting the course repeat limit, the student may have to transfer out of SCI, or select a different major within SCI.

Course repetitions are subject to the University’s defined limitations:

  • A sequenced 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) are not identified as repeated courses until the course work is completed.

  • Students are only permitted to repeat a course twice.

SCI Academic Records automatically submits the Registrar’s Course Repeat Form for students who have repeated the exact same course (i.e., repeating INFSCI 0017 ). However, any student who is replacing a course with a comparable one (i.e., replacing INFSCI 0017  with CMPINF 0401 ), must submit a Course Repeat Form to their advisor PRIOR to enrollment. The advisor will review course repeat policies with the student and submit the form to Records on behalf of the student at the end of term. 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, with support of their advisor, students may appeal to the Dean’s Office to waive this limitation. In such cases, the waiver is for a specific period during which the program must be completed.

Readmission and Reinstatement

A student record without enrollment for three consecutive terms becomes inactive. Students in inactive status 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.

NOTE: Students whose leave extends two years or more from the close of their last term of enrollment to the start of their reinstatement term 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.

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 inactive status 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.

Academic Advising

Academic Advising in SCI supports the SCI Mission by facilitating deep, integrative learning, supporting students through their decision making, and developing holistic, cohesive educational plans.

SCI assigns newly matriculated students an academic advisor with whom they will work until graduation. The academic advising relationship is integral to students’ intellectual, personal, and professional growth. Academic advisors will help students to make informed educational choices regarding course selection as well as co-curricular and experiential education opportunities. In addition to their assigned academic advisor, students will have the opportunity to work with faculty mentors who can provide consultation regarding discipline-specific matters.

Advisor/Advisee Expectations

In SCI, we envision academic advising as a relationship with shared responsibilities. 

Advisor responsibilities:

  • Be available for one-on-one in-person, web conference, and phone meetings.

  • Provide accurate information about SCI academic requirements, policies, and procedures.

  • Be knowledgeable about campus resources and will make appropriate referrals when necessary.

  • Help students to make informed educational decisions regarding courses, co-curricular activities, experiential education, and community engagement.

  • Help students to understand their unique interests and values.

  • Help students to understand the purposes of higher education, the missions of the University and SCI, and the way they inform and influence the curriculum.

  • Help students to develop polymathic sensibilities.

  • Help students to think about why they are in college, what they want to learn, what problems they want to solve, and how to use their time at Pitt to figure these things out and make progress toward them.

Student responsibilities:

  • Schedule at least one appointment with your advisor each semester.

  • Prepare for your appointment by reviewing your Academic Advisement Report and other supplementary educational planning documents.

  • Be prepared to discuss your strengths, interests, skills, and values, as well as what you are learning in your classes and co-curricular experiences.

  • Be prepared to discuss which courses you want to take, why you want to take them, and what you expect to learn from them.

  • Read your emails.

  • Take ownership of your education.

  • Assume final responsibility for the selection of courses, degree progress, and educational planning.

  • Learn about the requirements for the degree as well as relevant policies and procedures. Most of the information you need can be found here on the SCI Current Student website. Follow through on the plan designed with your advisor and keep them apprised of any barriers you encounter.

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 a data entry error in their AAR, they should contact SCI Academic Records. Typically these requests include “Best Fit” changes (re-directing courses to the appropriate requirement area) or corrections to posted transfer credits.

Requirement exceptions must be pre-approved by the Program Director for major requirements; General Education Requirements exceptions are pre-approved by the Dean’s Office via SCI Academic Records. Exceptions are approved only in extenuating circumstances and students should consult with their advisor for guidance on exceptions that are appropriate to request. Approval of an exception will be noted on the student’s AAR.

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.

Other University Regulations

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  

Academic Integrity

Students have the responsibility to be honest and to conduct themselves in an ethical manner while pursuing academic studies. Students have the right to be treated by faculty in a fair and conscientious manner in accordance with the ethical standards generally recognized within the academic community (as well as those recognized within the profession). Should a student be accused of a breach of academic integrity or have questions regarding faculty responsibilities, procedural safeguards including provisions of due process have been designed to protect student rights. These may be found in Guidelines on Academic Integrity: Student and Faculty Obligations and Hearing Procedures.

Academic Honors

Dean’s List

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 letter grade credits (not including courses taken on the Satisfactory/No-Credit option) with a term GPA of at least 3.50. As well, no grade earned during the term in review may be lower than a C. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible for placement on the Dean’s list. For part-time students, grades from the preceding two terms (which must total at least 12 letter grade credits) are used to determine eligibility for the Dean’s list.

Honors

Undergraduate students may be graduated with University Honors. Criteria for University Honors are posted under the University’s Academic Regulations.

Program honors may be awarded at the point of graduation. Students should refer to their department or program’s information page within the SCI catalog.

Academic Standing

The School is committed to the success of its students and has guidelines in place to connect students with the appropriate resources at the earliest sign of academic difficulty. students’ academic standing is maintained and monitored each term by the Dean’s office. A student’s academic standing is comprised of three factors: term GPA, cumulative GPA, and progress toward a degree. In order to be in good academic standing, students in the School of Computing and Information are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA and term GPA of 2.00 or above for each term of enrollment. In addition, full-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 12 credits during each term of enrollment. Part-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 3 credits during each term of enrollment.

Students are placed in the Academic Warning status if they earn a term GPA below 2.00 or a cumulative GPA between 2.00 and 2.125.

Students are placed in the Academic Probation status after earning a term GPA below 2.00 over two consecutive terms or have one semester below 2.00 cumulative GPA. Students may also be placed on Academic Probation if they fail to make progress toward their degree, as determined by University standards and/or Department or Program requirements. More information on Satisfactory Academic Progress standards can be found at https://oafa.pitt.edu/financialaid/satisfactory-academic-progress.

Students currently on Academic Probation who earn a term GPA below 2.00 or fail to make progress toward their degree will be subject to Academic Suspension. After being suspended, students are not eligible to re-enroll for one calendar year. Students on Academic Probation or Suspension are not eligible to earn credits at another institution toward a School of Computing and Information degree. Following suspension, students are required to apply for reinstatement (see details below).

Students who have been reinstated from Academic Suspension must earn a GPA of at least 2.00 for each term that they enroll until they have achieved a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or above. If a student fails to earn 2.00 term GPA, they are subject to Academic Dismissal. Dismissal is a final action. Dismissed students are not eligible for reinstatement in the School of Computing and Information.

Students who are not on academic probation or academic suspension are considered to be in good academic standing. Students will be notified by letter if they are no longer in good academic standing.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

Graduation requirements differ among degrees. However, all degrees require a minimum of 120 passing credits with a minimum 2.00 overall GPA, completion of the School’s First-Year Courses, General Education Requirements, Major Requirements, Secondary Field of Study, and a Capstone Experience. Furthermore, students must earn at least half of the credits for their major(s), minor(s), and certificates(s) and the final 30 credits toward the School of Computing and Information degree while enrolled as an SCI student.

General Education Requirements

All students are required to complete general education requirements. These courses are meant to provide foundational skills and breadth of knowledge, aiming to provide students with a broad exposure outside of their core discipline of study while encouraging a focus on the application of techniques from the classroom to meaningful problems.

Full lists of specific courses that meet the following requirements, referred to as “approved courses” or “course lists” are determined by faculty review and are available to students through the Academic Advisement Report and/or the “Plan by my requirements” tool found in the enrollment system. Additionally, students may use the enrollment systems to “Search by requirements” or filter by class attributes to refine the approved course list for a requirement to those that are being offered in a term. Informational videos and documents related to the AAR and other advisement and enrollment resources can be found on the Registrar’s Student Training website.

Note: Transfer students receive an evaluation of their previous course work indicating the equivalent University of Pittsburgh courses for which transfer credits have been awarded. Courses will meet requirements for the major where deemed appropriate by the Department. Students who believe that they have an exceptional case for petitioning for a course to meet either a general education or a major requirement should submit the appropriate “exemption form,” available on the SCI Current Students website. Students should speak with their advisor before completing the form - after the form is submitted, the request will be vetted by the student’s advisor and approved or denied by SCI Academic Records.

First Year Courses

Students must complete a gateway course (CMPINF 0010  - BIG IDEAS IN COMPUTING AND INFORMATION) that provides an understanding of the connections between computing and information and other disciplines; the commonalities among and differences between the problems, tools, and methodologies of various computing and information sub-disciplines; and basic technical skills that will serve them as they advance through any computationally-oriented degree program. CMPINF 0010 focuses on ideas and insights that cross-cut computing and information disciplines, as well as underlie problems in other disciplines. Students learn about the complex interconnections between the natural, social, and engineered systems that we interact with every day, and explore how computing and information can be used to model, understand, and reason about the complex problems occurring within this space.

Students must also complete a required first-year seminar (CMPINF 0001  - SCI FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR; 1 credit, S/NC) that provides an introduction to SCI and the University of Pittsburgh. This course addresses a range of issues including academic mechanics (e.g., advising, registration, university structure, financial aid, academic and professional communication), academic support services and opportunities (e.g., tutoring centers, study abroad, internships and co-ops, undergraduate research), student support services (e.g., career services, counseling center, student health services), and other student opportunities (e.g., Pitt FYE, campus recreation, cheap seats, etc.).

Skills Courses

Skills requirements help ensure that all students attain appropriate levels of competence in writing, communication, and quantitative and formal reasoning. Students may be placed in or exempted from skills requirements based upon certain achievement test scores, University of Pittsburgh placement test scores, or course work completed at other colleges and universities. Skills requirements are outlined below. All skills courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher.

Expression (3 courses): Communication in its various forms is central to all disciplines and professions. The approved courses will assist students in developing the skills to express thoughts and ideas as appropriate for professional or graduate education or for professional employment.

  • Introductory Composition

  • Technical, Business, or Research Writing

  • Communications

Quantitative (2 courses): Quantitative skills are the bedrock for success in the computing and information fields. Approved courses will provide an introduction to university-level mathematics and statistics.

  • One course in university-level mathematics for which algebra is a pre-requisite

  • An approved course in statistics

Polymathic Context

SCI degree programs address the holistic spectrum of computing and information, from producers to users and from science-oriented exploration to human-centric applications. The following requirements facilitate the development of a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, information management, and computing by immersing students in a variety of intellectual contexts that are crucial to understanding problems at the confluence of natural, social, and engineered systems to which computing and information skills can be brought to bear.

Scientific Context (3 courses): These courses introduce students to scientific principles and concepts rather than offering a simple codification of facts in a discipline or a history of a discipline.

  • 2 approved sequenced courses in one discipline

  • 1 course in a second discipline OR a third course in the sequenced discipline

Ethical and Policy Context (1 course): It is crucial for students engaging in computing-and information-related studies to develop an awareness of the interplay between technology, computing, ethics, and societal implications. Approved courses emphasize close and critical reading of theories about knowledge, reality, humanity, and values. Courses could focus on human nature; scientific reasoning; theories of cognition and consciousness; human/social rights; competing systems of belief; morality; concepts of freedom; theories of justice; social obligations/constraints; or ethics, including applied or professional ethics.

At least one course from each of the following three categories (5 courses total)

  • Global Awareness and Cross-Cultural Understanding: Approved courses examine significant issues that are global in scale. Courses could address, for example, globalization, the global and cultural impact of climate change/sustainability; the effects of and resistances to colonialism; or worldwide issues related to health, gender, ethnicity, race, technology, labor, law, or the economy. Other approved courses will focus on an understanding of cultures, traditions, and societies that differ substantially from those that prevail in North America and Europe.

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Approved courses treat topics considered of significant importance in the social or behavioral sciences (including social psychology). Courses will introduce students to the subject matter and methodology of a particular discipline and will involve them in the modes of investigation, analysis, and judgment characteristically applied by practitioners. Other approved courses focus on significant cultural, social, economic, or political accounts of the past. The course may focus on pivotal moments of change, or important transitions over longer periods of time. Courses could explore developments in science, technology, literature, or art, and the ideas around them, or examine critical historical shifts by analyzing various data or cultural forms.

  • Humanistic Context: Generally covering courses focusing on literature, the arts, and creative work. This requirement exposes students to courses that introduce the techniques and methods of textual analysis and develop critical perspectives on a variety of forms of cultural expression. Additionally, courses may cover modes of analysis appropriate to music, theatre, or the visual and plastic arts. Finally, some approved courses will result in the production of some form of creative work, training students in the techniques and modes of its production. These courses could be situated in theatre, studio arts, writing, visual arts (including photography, film), music, and dance; or it may be a course that engages in innovative or original work in relation to written, oral, or visual material, new media, social media, and other contemporary forms of communication and representation.

Diversity (1 course): Diversity courses focus centrally and intensively on issues of diversity, and do so in a manner that promotes understanding of difference. They provide students with analytical skills with which to understand structural inequities and the knowledge to be able to participate more effectively in our increasingly diverse and multicultural society. The courses may address, though not be limited to, such issues as race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religious difference, ability difference, and/or economic disparity.

Diversity courses may also be courses that fulfill other General Education or Major Requirements.

Total: 14 courses

Secondary Field of Study

To emphasize the intersections that computing and information have with other disciplines, students will be required to achieve some depth of study within another discipline. This requirement may be satisfied via several mechanisms:

  • Completion of a joint degree program offered by SCI and another School on campus

  • Completion of a minor or second major

  • Completion of an approved certificate program

  • Completion of an approved 15-credit related area

Requirements for the Major

See the program offerings pages for the major requirements.

Capstone Experience

To provide an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge within a real-world context, all SCI students will complete a capstone experience as part of earning their degree. The mechanisms for satisfying the capstone requirement will be determined and defined by the faculty of the individual degree programs.

Degree programs allow this requirement to be satisfied in a number of ways, including:

  • Approved internship or co-op experiences

  • Directed research sponsored by a faculty member

  • Capstone-designated project courses

The capstone typically requires 2-3 credits to complete.

Declaring a Major

Major Declaration

SCI students may declare a major in the term following the successful completion of all major eligibility requirements. Students declare a major by submitting the Undergraduate Academic Plan Change (Major Declaration) form found on the SCI Current Students website.

The Major Declaration form is active each term during the window of two weeks before the term begins through the close of the add/drop period. The general timeframe for submitting the form and processing turnaround is as follows. Students should refer to the Academic Calendar for specific add/drop dates:

Fall term declaration period

Fall declarations processed

Spring term declaration period

Spring declarations processed

Summer (12-week) term

Summer declarations processed

Mid-August to Early September

Mid-September

Early to Mid-January

Late January

Early to Mid-May

Late May

Students who miss the deadline to declare for the upcoming term will be able to declare for the following term, however, all are strongly encouraged to declare their major at the earliest possible point in their career.

Minor Declaration & Secondary Field of Study

Students declaring an SCI minor must complete the Minor/Secondary Field of Study Declaration form. This form is available on the SCI Current Students website and is active throughout the academic year and processed within one to two weeks.

SCI students fulfilling the Secondary Field of Study requirement with a curated combination of related courses (15-credit related area) must discuss this with their Academic Advisor before submitting the Minor/Secondary Field of Study Declaration form. Students should submit the form after they have successfully completed their Secondary Field of Study. If it is the student’s term of graduation, they need only to indicate their Secondary Field of Study on the graduation application.

Students who are completing a second bachelor’s degree, a joint degree program, a second major, a minor outside of SCI (e.g., history, studio arts), or a certificate program do not need to submit the Minor/Secondary Field of Study Declaration form.

Graduation

Student Status During Term of Graduation

Students must be in active status during their term of graduation. This means they must have enrolled in a minimum of one credit within the three terms previous to graduation. They must also be in good academic standing.

Application

Graduation is not an automatic process. Students must file an application for graduation and include a printed Academic Advisement Report (AAR) with their application. The School’s deadlines, related late fees, instructions for printing an AAR, and contact information for graduation applications are available on its Current Students > Graduation Procedures website.

To apply for graduation, a student must make an appointment with the Undergraduate advisor in the term PRIOR to their anticipated graduation term in order to determine their status and eligibility for graduation.

If your graduation is postponed, you must reapply by completing another Graduation Application.

Graduation Ceremonies

University Commencement

Candidates for graduation are encouraged to appear in person at the University Commencement Ceremony, usually held the Sunday after the spring term ends. Although degrees are conferred at commencement for all graduation periods, the official certification for April and May graduates occurs several weeks after the ceremony.

School Ceremony

The School of Computing and Information hosts an event to recognize its graduating students and awardees at the end of each term. The ceremony includes a speech to graduates, an address from Program Representatives, and a reading of individual graduate names.

Certification of degree graduation requirements is processed after the recognition ceremony; Reading of a student’s name at the Recognition Ceremony is not an indication of the student having met graduation requirements.

Event details, travel tips, and information regarding tickets are hosted on the School’s website at www.sci.pitt.edu.

Post-Graduation Processing

Certification

Graduation certification is the process run by advisors and staff to ensure students have met all graduation requirements. This process is run after grades are posted for the term in question. Students who are concerned about their graduation eligibility should first review their academic advisement report (AAR) and then meet with their academic advisor.

Documentation (transcripts, diplomas, etc.)

Official documentation of graduation is managed by the University Registrar’s Office. Inquiries regarding transcripts and diplomas should be directed to that office’s Graduation/Diplomas service area.

All diplomas are mailed to students approximately six to eight weeks after the official certification date for each graduation period. Questions regarding diploma mailing should be directed to the Office of the University Registrar.

Special Academic Programs/Opportunities

Multiple Majors Within SCI

Students can declare multiple majors within SCI but will earn only one degree.

Students wishing to declare multiple majors within SCI should submit the Academic Plan (Major/Minor) Declaration Form found on the School’s Current Students website.

Dual Degrees

Students in the School of Computing and Information may choose to simultaneously pursue more than one undergraduate degree within the University. In general, earning two degrees requires a minimum of 150 credits and completion of the curriculum requirements of both schools. Detailed information about dual degrees or joint programs is available from the student’s academic advisor.

Students wishing to apply for a dual degree outside of SCI should submit the Academic Program Change (Transfer Out/Double Degree) form found on the School’s Current Students website.

Bachelors of Philosophy

Only a few colleges in the nation offer a prestigious Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil), which is a model borrowed from Oxford and Cambridge in the UK. The BPhil is a higher distinction that replaces the standard BS degree. The BPhil can be earned in any major and is jointly awarded by the University of Pittsburgh Honors College and the School of Computing and Information.

Completion of a BPhil is a rigorous process that requires a research component and final thesis beyond that of the student’s regular course of study. For details regarding the requirements, process, and personalized mentoring for the BPhil degree, visit the University Honors College’s BPhil website.

BS/MS

Some degree programs offer an accelerated BS/MS course of study that begins during a student’s last two semesters of undergraduate enrollment. Applications are accepted through SCI’s online application portal. A student admitted into a BS/MS program begins their graduate courses during their final year of undergraduate studies. They are not officially flagged as a graduate student for enrollment or financial aid purposes until after their undergraduate degree is conferred. See individual program offerings for further details.

SCI and the University Community

SCI encourages students to build a network of peers with similar academic interests from across the University. To facilitate this personal, academic, and professional growth, SCI participates in an Academic Community, hosted by the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and the Living Learning Communities managed through Student Affairs.

Academic Communities (AC) require a commitment of three classes which will be completed in the student’s first term with other students of the same AC. The classes focus on a specific area of study representing the theme of the AC. It’s an unmatched opportunity to meet like-minded students right away and to explore interests and possible major with others who share similar passions.

Living Learning Communities (LLCs) are specialized living environments that connect students inside-and outside-the-classroom experiences. Each LLC is unique, but all are centered on a distinctive theme or academic interest area. Students who choose to live in an LLC have a direct connection to their classroom experience, access to intentional events and programs, and dedicated staff members who work to make the community a success. Some LLCs require students to register for specific classes, class sections, or outside of the classroom activities; please refer to the individual LLC pages for additional requirements. Please refer to the Student Affairs’ LLC webpage for details.

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.

Please refer to the study abroad credit policies for further regulations pertaining to study abroad credits. For details regarding current opportunities and incorporating study abroad experiences into the SCI curriculum, students should visit the Study Abroad website.

SCI is currently working on developing study abroad programs specifically for our student population in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. If students wish to learn more about study abroad they must make an appointment with the Director of Experiential Learning.

MSIS Guarantee for Pitt and Regional Campuses

Students who have earned a Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) on Pitt’s Oakland campus are guaranteed admission to the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) if they meet the following criteria:

  • A separate application is not necessary for consideration. When students submit an application for admission with OAFA, they should select indicate “Information Science” from the Guaranteed Admission Program drop-down box.

  • Only students admitted as first-year students can be considered for the guarantee.

  • Achieve a minimum SAT score of 700 (Math) or a minimum score of 30 on the Math section of the ACT.

  • Complete the BSIS program and enroll in the MSIS program within five calendar years of being awarded the Information Science guarantee by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

  • Maintain a 3.25 QPA while in the BSIS program with no grade (throughout your college career) lower than a C.

School of Computing and Information Faculty

School of Computing and Information Faculty  

Programs and Course Offerings

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    Department of Computer Science

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      Department of Informatics and Networked Systems

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