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University of Pittsburgh    
2021-2022 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  May 24, 2024
2021-2022 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived 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 of making 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 regulations set forth in the following document apply to students who were admitted to the School of Computing and Information during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Students admitted prior to this academic year should refer to the Archived Catalogs  for the regulations governing their graduate studies.

Students admitted PRIOR to the 2017-2018 Academic Year will find the School-level rules to which they are bound by going to the Archived Catalogs  for either Arts & Sciences (Computer Science or Intelligent Systems degrees) or School of Information Sciences (Information Science, Library & Information Science, and Telecommunications degrees).

Contact Information


University of Pittsburgh
School of Computing and Information
Office of the Dean

Information Sciences Building, Fifth floor
135 North Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Detailed contact information for all departments, offices, and staff can be found on the SCI Contact Us webpage.

Admission Requirements and Procedures

General guidelines for applying to a graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh should be reviewed prior to submitting an application for admission. These guidelines are available on the University’s Application for Admission  Catalog page.

The School of Computing and Information seeks students with diverse interests and abilities for its graduate degree and certification programs. All applicants will be judged on their own merits. Applicants for master’s study must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better; the doctoral programs have more stringent requirements. For those who have been in the workforce, admission will be based upon academic achievement, area of study, career orientation, and work experience.

Apply Online: Applications for graduate study must be completed and submitted entirely online. Applicants must set up a free account that enables you to work on your application over several sessions. Your information is transmitted through a secured server and is kept private until you submit your application. After submission, your application materials will be managed confidentially within the review process.

Individual programs require supplemental application materials, and some programs require prerequisite coursework and skills knowledge. More details regarding expectations for the statement of intent or writing portfolio, pre-requisite courses, and other supplemental application materials can be found on the individual program pages (through the appropriate program).

Admissions Status

Students are admitted to a graduate program and granted one of the following three types of graduate status: Full, Provisional, or Special.

  1. Full graduate status: when all admission requirements are met; For full details, see Admission Status in the Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh .
  2. Provisional graduate status: when some admission requirements are not (or inadequately) met.
    • Applicants who are graduates of a recognized college or university but who do not qualify for admission to full graduate status because of deficiencies in either appropriate background courses or their scholastic achievement may be considered for provisional graduate status if strong supporting evidence of their ability to complete a graduate program is provided. Courses taken to remove deficiencies do not contribute toward the completion of graduate degree requirements. Transfer from provisional to full graduate status is initiated by the student and recommended by the Department or Program, and is possible only after removal of deficiencies and other conditions noted at the time of admission and satisfactory progress in graduate work.
    • Students should confer with their Department regarding their graduate status and may request a new admissions letter after full graduate status has been obtained.

     3. Special graduate status: to take specific graduate-level courses for one or more terms without the intent of earning a degree or certificate.

Note: students with special graduate status must apply and be admitted to a degree program in order to change to full graduate status. Upon admission to the degree program, students must seek Department recommendation for the transfer of credits from special to full graduate status. Classes completed while on special status will be treated the same as external transfer credits, guided by the same policies and processes.

Application Processing

Begin the online application process at

Your application will be available for review by the Department or Program once all the recommendation letters are submitted and all test results and transcripts are uploaded.

Please note that, during the December-January time frame, numerous applications are received. Due to the volume of submissions, there may be a delay in the confirmation of receipt of materials.

Applicants are encouraged to check their online application account to ascertain if documentation has been received or if an admissions decision has been made PRIOR to contacting the School for such details. Note, the status of your application, related documents, and admission decision cannot be verified until you have submitted the application fee (which is the final step in submitting your application).

Applicants are notified via e-mail when an admissions decision has been posted to the online application system.

The University of Pittsburgh participates in the Council of Graduate Schools’ (CGS) “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistantships” also known as the “April 15 Resolution.” Participation in the resolution allows admitted graduate students to consider all offers of financial support through April 15. In turn, the resolution binds students to their decisions made or held in place after April 15. SCI’s cooperation ensures that both students and Programs conduct their admissions in an ethical manner, and that they receive equal treatment and consideration in the financial support decision-making process. Further details regarding the “April 15 Resolution,” including a list of participating institutions, can be found on the Council of Graduate Schools Web site.


Deadlines for US Citizens and Permanent Residents

See the School of Computing and Information’s Graduate Admissions FAQ webpage for application deadlines. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by these deadlines; late applications may be deferred to the next application cycle. 

Deadlines for international students’ applications to the School of Computing and Information are posted on the School of Computing and Information’s Graduate Admissions FAQ webpage.

Deadlines for International Students

Due to delays in the issuance of visas, it is recommended that international students apply as early as possible, preferably at least six months prior to the start of the term of admittance. Deadlines for international students’ applications to SCI are posted on the School of Computing and Information’s Graduate Admissions FAQ webpage.

Admission of International Students

Non-US Citizens must read through the International Graduate Student Admission section  of the University’s Application for Admission page for a complete overview of University admissions requirements, including TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores, for students from other countries.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to study without being hindered by language problems, to understand lectures, and to participate successfully in class discussion. International applicants must submit either the TOEFL, the IELTS, or Duolingo scores (taken within two years of the date of application).

Applicants must contact Educational Testing Services directly to request that an official score report be sent to the School of Computing and Information. The institution code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927. Submission of test results is required for admission to graduate study in this School. Individual degree programs may have varying minimum requirements, which are outlined on each program’s Catalog page. Applicants who are citizens of a country where English is the official language are exempt from submitting the results of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo tests. In addition, applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. are also exempt from submitting test results. However, the School reserves the right to ask for scores if deemed necessary for the evaluation of the application. Please note that degrees, where anything less than the entire degree was completed in-residence within the English-speaking country, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Students in these circumstances may be required to complete the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo test with the required minimum score upon review.

Prior to registration, students with TOEFL scores less than 100 (Internet-based), IELTS scores less than Band 7.5, or Duolingo English Test scores less than 125 will be required to complete the on-campus English Language Proficiency Test.

If remedial courses in English as a second language are recommended as an outcome of the test, the student must complete the remedial course during the first academic year of study; some programs may require students to follow a shorter completion timeline for remedial courses. Progress in the remedial English language courses is monitored by SCI Academic Records. Failing to enroll in and successfully complete the required language course will result in restrictions on future enrollment activity and will count against a student’s progress toward a degree in SCI’s review of Academic Standing (see Academic Standing and Dismissal section for details).

Special Admissions

Deferred Admissions

Admission to graduate study is valid for the academic year. A student may defer admission for up to one year without reapplication. The student must submit a deferral request through the online application system. Additional course work taken during the deferred year and a new affidavit of financial support should also accompany any financial aid request. Approval of a student’s request to defer admission does not necessarily mean that any financial aid awarded is also deferred; the offer of financial aid will be reassessed for the student’s deferred admit term.


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’s online application system; exceptions noted in the Leave of Absence (LOA), Readmission, and Reinstatement section.


Students who previously attended the University of Pittsburgh before attending another institution and who wish to return to the University will be considered after submitting a new application to their graduate degree program via the School’s online application system. All supporting materials must be submitted; revision of essays is suggested. Inclusion of all transcripts -including new coursework completed during the period of leave- is required.

Students who have completed credits at another institution during a break from the University of Pittsburgh may request that these credits be reviewed for transfer. All such requests are bound to the University, School, and Department policies for transfer credits and will be reviewed after a student has matriculated to the University.

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

Transferring Between SCI Departments or Programs

Students may request to transfer to a different Department or Program within SCI. Transfers between SCI Departments or Programs will be reviewed by the receiving Department’s admissions committee, including a thorough assessment of the student’s academic performance in previous institutions and SCI. Faculty will review the student’s original application materials and may require that the student submit supplemental application materials.

To initiate a transfer between SCI Departments or Programs, a student must submit the Graduate Academic Plan Change Form at least one month prior to the start of the new admission term. If a University break occurs during that time, students should allow for additional time for their transfer to be evaluated by the Department’s admissions committee and their official student record to be processed.

Students should note that transfer to a different Department or degree is not guaranteed. Additionally, students will not be reconsidered for a program for which they have already been previously reviewed but not admitted.

Appointments and Financial Information

Teaching and Research Appointments

Financial assistance for graduate students is provided in the form of teaching and research appointments, fellowships, traineeships, tuition scholarships, and loans. Interest in these sources of financial assistance should be indicated on the application for admission to graduate study. All applications for financial assistance are reviewed at the Departmental or Program level and awards are made to the extent of available funds. Admission to graduate study does not carry any implications concerning the award of financial aid. Only students with full graduate status are eligible for teaching assistantships and fellowships.  Please note: teaching assistantships and fellowships are typically awarded to doctoral students only.

In recognition of academic merit, the University offers teaching assistants (TA), teaching fellows (TF), graduate student assistants (GSA), and graduate student researchers (GSR) full or proportional tuition scholarships, and students are required to register for the number of credits proportional to the appointment. If appointed in the summer term, students should register for a minimum of three credits (or full-time dissertation study, if eligible), unless additional registration is needed for academic purposes.

Policies governing TA/TF/GSA/GSR positions can be found on the Provost’s Guidelines and Resources web page.

SCI-Based Funding

Additional and limited funding, beyond the aforementioned teaching and research appointments, may be available to graduate students. Applications for these financial aid opportunities are submitted only after an offer of admission is made. Admitted students must apply for these opportunities through the University’s Student Portal, under the heading “Apply for a Scholarship > PittFund$Me.”

Further details regarding financial assistance, international students’ proof of funding, and federal student aid or loans should refer to SCI’s Graduate Admissions FAQ.

Tuition Fees and Billing

The University updates the Financial Information page in July for the upcoming academic year.

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 University’s 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: Satisfactory/No-Credit , Registration (Enrollment) , Cross-Registration , Withdrawing or Resigning , Grading and Records , Academic Record and Grade Reports .

In addition to those University-wide regulations and standards detailed in the section on General Academic Regulations, each student in the School of Computing and Information is expected to be familiar with the following School-specific regulations and academic standards.

Grading Policies

Courses for which a G, I, N, R, or W grade is recorded and courses numbered below 1000 (0-0999) do not contribute either credits or grade points toward graduation. Courses numbered 1000-1999 only contribute credits or grade points toward graduation when approved by the Department or Program PRIOR to enrollment.

Students must achieve the minimum GPA, in no case less than 3.00, and individual course grade minimums established by their Department or Program in order to be eligible to retain teaching assistantships or fellowships, undergo the preliminary evaluations, take comprehensive examinations, be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree, and graduate. No grade lower than a C will be counted toward graduation requirements, yet all letter grades will be calculated into the student’s cumulative GPA unless if a class is repeated and a course repeat form processed. See the Repetition of Courses section below for more information.

Auditing Courses and Selecting a Grading Option

With the consent of the instructor, students may choose to audit a course or complete it with a Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) option. Regulations for S/NC credit allowances are governed by the Departments and are subject to the grade options allowed for each particular course (i.e., not all courses may be taken as S/NC). To audit a course, a student must register and pay tuition for the course. The audit grade (N) is not counted toward graduation or the GPA.

Graduate students do not choose a grading option (letter grade or S/NC) during enrollment; rather, students must complete the Grade Option/Audit Form 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).

Note: The University’s Office of the Registrar does not require submission of a Grade Option/Audit Request form for graduate courses. However, SCI Academic Records does require this documentation for course auditing and S/NC grade options.

The default is for all classes to be graded with a letter grade (unless otherwise stipulated by the Course Catalog), and decisions to select an alternative grading option (S/NC or Audit) should be discussed with the student’s advisor. After a grading option has been selected and documented, this decision may not be changed.

Grade Changes

Grade changes are submitted by the course instructor. Grades will not be changed more than one year after the term’s end, nor if a student’s record has become inactive or if a student has graduated.

Incomplete (G or I) Grades

The G grade signifies unfinished course work due to extenuating personal circumstances. A student assigned a G grade is required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term in which the course was taken, though instructors may require a shorter turnaround time to complete coursework.  If an instructor is to assign an incomplete grade, the student and instructor must come to an agreement regarding the expected timeline of completion, grading, etc. SCI Academic Records can provide assistance in documenting and enforcing this agreement through an “Incomplete Grade Contract.”

After the contract expiration deadline has passed, the G grade will be changed by the instructor to the fallback grade noted in the contract. Students who have a signed contract and are working to complete coursework to replace a G grade should not re-enroll in the class. If the University’s one-year deadline has passed, the G grade will automatically be replaced by “NG” or “no grade” and will remain on the record. Students with an NG grade will be required to reregister for the course if it is needed to fulfill the requirements for graduation.

The I grade signifies incomplete course work due to the nature of the course, clinical work, or incomplete research work in individual guidance courses or seminars.

Repetition of Courses

Required courses for a major must be repeated or replaced by a comparable course if a grade does not meet the degree’s minimum requirements (see Department or Program page for specifics). Course repetitions are subject to further regulations:

  • Students typically only repeat a course in which the grade of C- or lower has been earned. However, upon Department or Program approval, the student may repeat a course in which they have earned a B- or lower.
  • 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, but 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 up to two times. Departments or Programs may have stricter course repeat policies.
  • Any grade earned in the repeated course will be recorded on the academic transcript and calculated in the GPA, even if it is lower than the original grade.

The School automatically submits a course repeat form for students, though 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 enrollment.

Credit and Enrollment Policies

Pre-requisite courses, and any coursework required to prepare for pre-requisite courses, are not calculated in the total credits required to earn a degree. For a list of pre-requisite courses for a degree and/or a degree specialization, refer to the individual degree Catalog pages.

The School of Computing and Information allows its graduate students to register for 16 credits in a term before additional per-credit tuition charges apply.

Transfer Credits

University Academic Regulations allow transfer credits to be applied towards an advanced degree. Students who have completed graduate courses in degree-granting graduate programs at other appropriately accredited institutions, or who have completed graduate-level coursework enrolled under “special status” at the University of Pittsburgh, and who would like to request a transfer of credits should request that their department or program evaluate these courses for transfer credit. Students should follow the process specified by their degree program to initiate this process. Once approved, the Department or Program will work with SCI Academic Records to ensure the posting of all accepted credits to the student’s Pitt transcript; this process requires the submission of official transcripts from the institution(s) at which the student completed the courses to be transferred.

Requests must adhere to the University’s limitations for transfer credits. See the University’s Academic Regulations  for details.


The quality of education that graduate students receive is greatly enhanced with good academic advising at all stages of their Program. Given the diversity of these needs, each Program must determine the best way to provide these services. Academic advising provides the foundation upon which students plan their studies. It is the policy of the School for each student to have an academic advisor whose responsibilities include providing guidance in developing the student’s career goals and academic programs, approving course selections, and advising as needed on issues affecting the student’s academic and professional careers. Students are matched with an advisor upon admission; they may, however, change advisors at any time. A student’s assigned advisor can be viewed in the Student Center via The goal of academic advising is to develop a consistent academic program coordinated to meet general program requirements and specific needs of individual students. Ideally, the student and faculty advisor function as a team working toward the objective of career preparation by means of the strongest possible academic experiences for the student. Students should meet each term with their advisors to ensure timely progress through their Program.

All Departments and Programs are responsible, with Dean’s Office oversight, for implementing policies and practices consistent with the University’s in Elements of Good Academic Advising. Unresolved problems relating to the advising of graduate students at the Department or Program level should first be addressed with the Chair of the Department or Program.

Note regarding Graduate Faculty advisors and enrollment: Advising holds/service indicators, permission numbers, withdrawals, and enrollment-related policies and procedures should be referred to the SCI Academic Records. Course selection, research development and interests, and curriculum-based inquiries should be vetted through the student’s advisor.

Exemptions to enrollment policies and degree requirements are approved by the Department or Program and are mediated through the student’s advisor. Exemptions are then relayed to SCI Academic Records for inclusion in the student’s academic record. See the SCI Current Students webpage for related forms.

Tracking your degree progress

In order for students to verify that they are making progress toward graduation, they should meet regularly with their academic advisor and review their progress and plans for future study. 

In addition, graduate students should make use of the academic advisement report (AAR) as a self-advising tool. This report is used by the School to certify a student’s graduation eligibility and by students to track their progress toward degree attainment. 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.

Where questions regarding course substitutions for or waivers of requirements are concerned, the student should contact their academic advisor. The Department or Program’s decision to amend requirements is communicated to SCI Academic Records for documentation and correction on the AAR. Requests for updates include “Best Fit” changes (re-directing courses to the appropriate requirement area), authorized student exemptions, and corrections to transfer credits. See the School’s Student Resources > School Forms webpage for related forms.

Informational videos and documents related to the AAR can be found on the Registrar’s Student Training website. Detailed advising information is available on the program offering pages.

Statute of Limitation

University limitations on the time allowed for completion of Master’s and Doctoral degrees can be found in the General Regulations section of the Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh . The School of Computing and Information does not further restrict these limitations, though some degree programs may have a more stringent statute of limitations for completion of master’s or doctoral degrees. See the program offerings for specific details.

Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for an advanced degree may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. Requests for an extension must state the reason for the delay, provide evidence of continuing progress toward the completion of the degree, and include a detailed plan of study and proposed date for completion. The request must be approved by the chair of the student’s doctoral or master’s degree committee (if applicable) and the Department or Program Chair or Director of graduate studies, and be submitted to the Dean’s Office for final action.

Leave of absence (LOA), Readmission, and Reinstatement

Graduate students may be granted a leave of absence under special conditions. Students who have resigned without requesting a leave of absence or have been away from the University for one or more years 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 graduation requirements. All students interested in readmission or reinstatement must submit an application except for those on an approved leave of absence (see Special Admissions section for details).

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.

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.

Exceptions to the reinstatement rules include:

  • Students whose leave exceeds two years. All students who have been away from the University more than two 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, graduate students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of two years may be granted to Doctoral students or one year to Master’s students. The length and rationale for the leave of absence must be stated in advance, submitted via the School’s Leave of Absence Request form (found on the Current Students webpage), recommended by the Department or Program, and approved by the Dean’s Office.

If granted approval by the Dean’s Office, a student is ensured that the time of the leave shall not count against the degree’s statute of limitation and that the student’s transfer credits 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.

A note on advising appointments and a returning from a break in continuous enrollment: Since registration open enrollment begins in the twelfth week of the preceding term, applications for reinstatement should be received prior to that period so that the student’s application can be reviewed and their record updated. Similarly, students who are returning from an LOA should keep this timeline in mind for setting up an appointment with their advisor and/or notifying SCI Academic Records of their return to studies. Only after a student on an approved LOA has notified SCI Academic Records will their enrollment service indicator (registration hold) be released from their record.

Regardless of the conditions surrounding a student’s leave-e.g., 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.

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 Standing and Dismissal

Academic standing is maintained and monitored each term by the Dean’s Office in conjunction with the School’s various Departments and Programs. A student’s academic standing is comprised of two factors: cumulative GPA and progress toward a degree. In order to be in good academic standing, students are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above and make continued progress towards their degree.

Students are placed in the Academic Probation status after earning a cumulative GPA below 3.00. Students may also be placed on Academic Probation if they fail to make progress toward their degree, as determined by their Department or Program, or fail to meet provisional conditions as outlined in their admissions letter (if applicable). Students placed on Academic Probation will be notified in writing by the Dean’s Office. It is important to note that students on Academic Probation are neither eligible for teaching assistantships or fellowships, nor are they eligible to complete degree milestones (i.e., comprehensive examinations, thesis proposal, oral defense, or graduation).

Students who are on Academic Probation for failing to meet GPA requirements must earn a GPA of at least 3.00 for each term that they enroll until they have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above. If such a student fails to earn 3.00 term GPA, they are subject to Academic Dismissal. Students who are on Academic Probation for failure to make degree progress must satisfy the conditions set forth by the Department or Program and communicated by the probation letter by the specified deadline. If such a student fails to satisfy these conditions by the specified deadline, they are subject to Academic Dismissal. Dismissal is a final action. Dismissed students are neither eligible for reinstatement nor readmission at the School of Computing and Information.

A student whose performance on a preliminary or comprehensive examination is judged to be inadequate may be subject to Academic Dismissal at the end of the term.

Professional Master’s Degree

SCI offers the following Master’s degrees in professional fields of study: Master of Science in Information Science, Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Telecommunications.

For additional information regarding the Regulations of Professional Master’s Degrees, please see the relevant section of the University’s Academic Regulations .

Master’s Degree Requirements

University policies governing Master’s programs can be found in the Regulations Pertaining to Master’s Degrees policy . The information below summarizes further SCI-specific regulations.

Credit Requirements

The minimum requirement for any Master’s degree is 30 credits. Per University regulations, not more than one-third of the total credits required to obtain a professional Master’s degree may be granted for work completed at another graduate institution.  The School of Computing and Information offers the following professional Master’s degrees: Master of Science in Information Science, Master of Science in Telecommunications, and Master of Library and Information Science. No more than six credits may be granted toward the completion of the requirements for all other Master’s degrees for work completed at another graduate institution. Students must achieve the minimum GPA established by their Department or Program, in no case less than 3.00, to take the comprehensive examination and to graduate.  For additional information on credit requirements and grade minimums, students should refer to the individual program page.

Comprehensive Examination

Whenever a program substitutes an equivalent requirement for the comprehensive examination, the Department or Program must obtain prior approval from the SCI Academic Council and notify the University Council on Graduate Study and describe the situation. Students on inactive, special, or provisional status, or who have a GPA less than 3.00, are not eligible to take the comprehensive examination. The results must be reported promptly to the Office of the Dean but no later than the last day of the term in which the examination is administered; the report of examinations for the Comprehensive Exam must be approved by the Department or Program Chair or Director of graduate studies. See Comprehensive Examination under Regulations Pertaining to Master’s Degrees  for further detail on requirements for comprehensive exams.

Thesis Option and Procedures

The requirement of a thesis or its equivalent is at the discretion of individual Departments or Programs. If a thesis is submitted, its form must be in accord with specifications determined by the Office of the Provost and is set forth in the ETD Format Guidelines. Specific instructions are available on the University’s ETD website. After the thesis defense is successfully completed, the candidate must deposit the approved ETD to the ETD Online System where it will be reviewed by the ETD Student Services Staff in the SCI Dean’s Office. Students should check the SCI Current Students webpage for deadlines specific to the School. For further information on thesis requirements, including the makeup of the thesis committee, see Thesis Option under Regulations Pertaining to Master’s Degrees .

PhD Degree Requirements

University policies governing PhD programs can be found in the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees policy . The information below summarizes further SCI-specific regulations.

Credit Requirements

The minimum requirement for the PhD degree of 72 credits may be earned in formal course work, directed study, independent study, and/or thesis and dissertation research. No more than 30 credits may be accepted for a master’s degree awarded by another institution to meet the minimum credit requirement; in recognition of graduate study beyond the Master’s degree successfully completed elsewhere, no more than 12 additional credits may be accepted to meet the minimum credit requirement. Students must achieve the minimum GPA established by their Department or Program, in no case less than 3.00, to be eligible to undergo the preliminary examination, take the comprehensive examination, be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree, and graduate.

Preliminary Examination

The nature of the preliminary examination and the time at which it is conducted are determined by each Department or Program. In some programs, the preliminary doctoral exam/evaluation may be combined with a Master’s comprehensive examination. The results must be reported promptly to the Office of the Dean but no later than the last day of the term in which the examination is administered; the report of examinations for the Preliminary Exam must be approved by the Department or Program Chair or Director of graduate studies. See Preliminary Evaluation under the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Study  for further details on regulations pertaining to the exam. Students must be registered in the term they are completing the Preliminary Examination.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive examination results must be reported promptly to the SCI Dean’s Office, and no later than the last day of the term in which the examination is administered; the report of examinations for the Comprehensive Exam must be approved by the Department or Program Chair or Director of graduate studies. Students must be enrolled in the term in which they are completing the Comprehensive Examination. See Comprehensive Examination under the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Study  for further detail on regulations regarding the exam.

Doctoral Committee

Departmental Membership Status

University of Pittsburgh faculty members with a primary or joint appointment in an SCI Department are considered internal members of that Department. Individuals holding primary appointments outside of the Department are considered external to the Department. However, a University of Pittsburgh faculty member who holds a secondary appointment in an SCI Department and is an active participant within the Department may petition the Department to be considered as an internal member, as determined by departmental criteria. Upon receiving internal status within a Department, a faculty member may no longer act in an external capacity.

Committee Composition

Doctoral dissertation committees are comprised of at least four members, including at least three internal members and at least one external member from another Department at the University of Pittsburgh or from an appropriate graduate program at another academic institution. Under certain circumstances, active researchers with appointments outside of academia may be approved as external committee members. The primary advisor and chair of the doctoral dissertation committee must be an internal member of the doctoral candidate’s home Department or Program.  The majority of the committee, including the major advisor, must be full or adjunct members of the Graduate Faculty. The composition of the committee must be approved by the Department Chair or Program Director and the Associate Dean for Academic Programs prior to scheduling the dissertation proposal.

Internal committee members who leave the University after a graduate student has been admitted to candidacy may remain on the committee in their original capacity for a period of up to 12 months. If the Chair of the dissertation committee leaves the University, they may continue to serve as the sole Chair of the committee for a period of up to 6 months; after this time, a Co-Chair must be appointed from within the Department or Program. After this 12-month period, a departed committee member is no longer eligible to be an internal member or Committee Chair, but may be added to the committee as an external member; this may necessitate the addition of further internal committee members. If a committee member retires, they may remain on the committee as long as they are still willing to serve, and are still active professionally in the academic community.

Any changes in the membership or roles of the committee must be approved by the Department Chair or Program Director and the Associate Dean for Academic Programs.

Admission to Candidacy for the PhD Degree

After completion of the overview/proposal, the student should, in consultation with the student’s major advisor, file the application for admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students are informed of admission to candidacy by written notification from the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. Students must be enrolled in the term in which they are completing the overview for candidacy. For a listing of requirements for admission to candidacy, see Admission to Candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree .

Admission to candidacy must be at least eight months before the defense of the dissertation in order to provide an opportunity for the members of the doctoral committee to review, criticize, and monitor the proposed research.

Meetings of the doctoral candidate and the dissertation committee must occur at least annually from the time the student gains admission to doctoral candidacy. A record of such meetings must be maintained in the student’s file in their home Department or Program.


See Dissertation and Abstract under the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees  for an overview of requirements and form for the dissertation and abstract.

Language of the Doctoral Dissertation

The language in which doctoral dissertations are written shall normally be English. Exceptions may be granted by the student’s Dean with the approval of the dissertation adviser and committee, but only for sound reasons of scholarship. Permission shall never be granted on the ground of inadequate command of English.

Final Oral Examination

Students preparing to take their final oral examination in defense of their dissertation should refer to Final Oral Examination under the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees  for details on the examination. School-specific timelines and processes are outlined, below.

The final examination date must be announced at least four weeks in advance of the scheduled date. This allows adequate time for review of eligibility and announcement in the University Times as required by University regulations. When determining a date for the examination, students should consider the ETD processing deadlines, allowing themselves sufficient time between final oral examination and ETD deadline to revise their dissertation and gather the related paperwork.

When an examination date is established, a representative of the student’s Department or Program must submit a defense announcement form to the Dean’s Office, listing the title of the dissertation and the time and place for its defense.

At least two weeks prior to the dates set for the final oral examination, all members of the doctoral committee should be provided with a copy of the dissertation.

All members of the doctoral committee must physically attend the examination; exceptions can be made with the permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. A report of this examination and a report on the approval of the dissertation, signed by all members of the doctoral committee, must be sent to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs for approval. The report on the approval of the dissertation may be signed concurrently with or subsequently to the report of the final oral examination. If the decision of the committee is not unanimous, the case is referred to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs for resolution.

It is the responsibility of the student’s advisor to ensure that the dissertation is in the final form before requesting the signatures of all committee members. After the final oral examination is successfully completed, the student must submit their dissertation electronically. As well, the University requires students to submit various forms, publication agreements, and fees in addition to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD). Students submit all materials outlined on the University’s ETD website (What to Do After You Defend). School-specific ETD deadlines can be found on the SCI Graduation Procedures webpage.

After submission of the ETD and paperwork, SCI Academic Records will review all items for completion and adherence to University formatting guidelines. Students must be available to make additional edits to the formatting of their ETD; this process typically takes one month to complete before the document is approved for publication.

Students will be required to register for at least one credit in the term during which they expect either to complete degree requirements or have the oral defense. Students who have completed all credit requirements for the PhD degree may register for “Full-Time Dissertation Study.” If the student is a doctoral candidate and off-campus, not using University facilities and/or faculty time, the candidate need only register for 1 credit per academic year to maintain active enrollment status.


Student Status During Term of Graduation

Graduate students are required to be in “active status” (registered for one credit per academic year).

If a Doctoral or Master’s thesis student completes all thesis or dissertation work in a given term, including the defense, but has not met the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation or graduation application deadlines for that term, the student may apply to graduate the following term and need not enroll for any courses or any credits, subject to approval. Students in this situation must provide a valid and extenuating reason for this policy exemption via the request for a Graduation Enrollment Waiver form. All requests for this policy exemption will be reviewed by SCI Academic Records and approved by the SCI Dean’s Office.


Graduation is not an automatic process. Students must submit the SCI application for graduation by the School’s deadlines. The student will first complete an exit survey for their graduation term and then receive a link to the graduation application in the survey’s completion notification.

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. Although degrees are conferred at commencement for all graduation periods, the official certification for April and May graduates occurs several weeks after the ceremony. Neither walking in the Commencement Ceremony nor being named in the Commencement Program is an official indication of graduation. Students will be contacted by the School several weeks after the ceremony regarding their final graduation certification status.

School Ceremony

The School of Computing and Information hosts an event to recognize its graduating students and awardees at the end of each term.

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 has met graduation requirements.

Event details, travel tips, and information regarding tickets are hosted on the School’s website at

Post-Graduation Processing


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.

Special Academic Opportunities/Programs

Multiple Independent Degree Programs within SCI

Students may pursue two independent graduate degrees simultaneously in two different schools within the University (joint degree) or two different departments within the same school (dual degree). Students desiring to enroll in two degree programs must have approval from both program faculties and their respective deans, must be admitted into both programs and must satisfy the degree requirements of both programs. Students are billed at the tuition rate of the primary academic program. Normally, such students should be enrolled for no more than a total of 15 credits per term.

The same examination, thesis, or dissertation cannot be used to fulfill requirements for two independent degrees, although a maximum of 6 credits of course work may be used in partial fulfillment of the requirements of both degrees. It is the responsibility of the dean or deans, if two schools are involved, to ensure that this regulation is enforced.

For further detail, please refer to the University policy regulating the pursuit of Two Independent Degree Programs Simultaneously .

Joint SCI/GSPIA MSIS Degree Program

The School of Computing and Information will continue to honor the joint degree agreement made between the School of Information Sciences and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). The program allows students to complete the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree and one of three degrees in GSPIA simultaneously. To be admitted fully into the joint program, students must be accepted by both GSPIA and SCI. Admissions and course of study details are available on the MSIS degree requirements page of this catalog.

School of Computing and Information Faculty

School of Computing and Information Faculty  

Programs and Course Offerings

Department of Computer Science

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Department of Informatics and Networked Systems

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Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship

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Intelligent Systems Program

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