The Dean, faculty, and staff welcome you to the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. We are pleased that you have chosen to pursue your educational goals in the exciting field of Public Health.
This handbook will provide you with information on the policies, procedures and information specific to our school. It will also give you information about other service and supports available at the university level.
Please read this handbook carefully prior to starting your studies with us.
Information in this handbook is subject to change, so you should check the Pitt Public Health website periodically. The website will always contain the most updated policies and procedures.
If you have any questions, contact Mike Dolinger, Director of Student Services (email@example.com).
About the School of Public Health
Founded in 1948, the School of Public Health (formerly known as the Graduate School of Public Health) is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Public health is the science of protecting the health of populations and communities. Public health professionals address issues such as effects of climate change; population control of infectious disease; air, food and water safety; and health equity. This is in contrast to the role of clinicians such as nurses or physicians, who focus primarily on treating individuals - generally individuals who already have a health problem. Public health professionals apply tools from almost every field, but especially the quantitative, social, and biological sciences.
Since its founding, Pitt Public Health has ranked among the country’s top schools of public health. Over the years, we have successfully implemented a three-component mission of research, education, and service/practice. The school responds to today’s health threats by preparing the next generation of public health leaders to use innovation as the catalyst for problem-solving. The work of public health professionals has never been more important than in today’s world of emerging disease, environmental threats, changing demographics, and growing health disparities. Public health addresses broad issues that affect the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, populations, and societies-both now, and for generations to come.
Through excellence and leadership in education, research, and service, the School of Public Health promotes health, prevents disease, and strives to achieve health equity for everyone.
We do this by…
- Creating the best possible learning environment
- Fostering a multidisciplinary research approach to understand and solve health problems
- Engaging partners-regional, state, national, and global-to improve public health and well-being
To be a world leader in improving public health.
- Excellence: A dedication to excellence in all facets of our work, recognizing that improving the health of populations rests on the discovery and application of the best scientific evidence
- Diversity: A promise to respect human differences in all aspects of our mission
- Ethics: A commitment to the highest standard of ethics and integrity
- Service: A duty to provide the highest levels of service to public health at the global, national, and regional levels[YA1]
Philosophy of Undergraduate Education
The primary objective of our undergraduate BSPH programs is to educate the public health workforce of the future by providing the highest quality curriculum grounded in innovative science, principles of health equity and interdisciplinary approaches.
Our vision at Pitt Public Health for the next decade is ambitious. We plan to create innovations in data analysis and computational modeling for use as tools to control health problems and to effect policy changes; to test novel interventions and the individual, community and policy level; improve global health by encouraging international service and research collaborations that apply the same public health principles to both local and global problems; and reverse the inequitable distribution of access to health care and disease prevention by reaching out to underserved and at-risk populations as our active partners in improving health. The BSPH program will be key to unlocking the future of Public Health at Pitt.
All individuals (students, faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and staff) at Pitt Public Health abide by the University’s policy on academic integrity as well as the Pitt Public Health academic integrity procedures.
See the Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Web site for further details and instructions.
Office of the Provost Policies and Guidelines
The Office of the Provost provides general oversight of academic affairs, including education, faculty, and student life. Policies and guidelines can be found at this link www.provost.pitt.edu
Notice of Non-Discrimination
The University Notice of Non-Discrimination can be found here.
Pitt Public Health - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health considers the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff to be a strength and critical to its educational mission. Pitt Public Health is committed to creating and fostering inclusive learning environments that value human dignity and equity and promote social justice. Every member of our community is expected to be respectful of the individual perspectives, experiences, behaviors, worldviews, and backgrounds of others. While intellectual disagreement may be constructive, no derogatory statements, or demeaning or discriminatory behavior will be permitted.
If you feel uncomfortable or would like to discuss a situation, please contact any of the following:
• the course director or course instructor;
• the Pitt Public Health Associate Dean responsible for diversity and inclusion;
• the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 412-648-7860 or
https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/civil-rights-title-ix-compliance/make-report/report-form (anonymous reporting form)
Disability Resources and Services
Disability is an aspect of diversity. Disability Resources and Services (DRS) is the designated department by the University to determine reasonable accommodations and services. At the University of Pittsburgh, we are committed to providing equal opportunities in higher education to academically qualified students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are integrated as completely as possible into the University experience. DRS shares with you, the student, the responsibility for creating equal access toward achievement of your academic goals. Through an interactive process, we work individually with each student to provide access to University classes, programs and activities. Please contact us to discuss your individual needs. Contact information for the Office of Disability Resources can be found here: The Office of Disability Resources and Services (DRS) (412) 648-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Students with disabilities who require special testing, accommodations or other classroom instruction modifications should notify their academic advisor, the instructor, and DRS no later than the fourth week of the term. Students may be asked to provide documentation of their disability to determine the appropriateness of accommodations.
Veterans and dependents of disabled or deceased veterans may be eligible for benefits according to federal administration guidelines. The University has an Office of Veterans Services located on at 1440 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, 230 South Bouquet St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, 412-624-3213, email@example.com Our website is http://www.veterans.pitt.edu/
For additional information on Veterans Education Benefits, visit www.gibill.va.gov.
All international students should refer to the University’s Office of International Services (OIS) website at http://www.ois.pitt.edu for information on admissions, orientation, immigration and visas, and life in Pittsburgh.
Financial Information, Academic Standards and Graduation
Admission through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
The following students are admitted to the School of Public Health by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Please visit https://admissions.pitt.edu for more information.
• First-year students.
• Transfer students who have previously enrolled at a college or university other than the University of Pittsburgh. These include former University of Pittsburgh students who have since earned college credits at another institution and now wish to return to the School of Public Health.
• Continuing education students: Adults who wish to begin or continue to work toward an undergraduate degree by taking a full- or part-time course load should apply as new or transfer students through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
• Students who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree from an institution other than the University of Pittsburgh and now wish to earn a second undergraduate degree.
• International students should refer to admission guidelines on the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid website.
Admission through the School of Public Health
The following students must apply directly to the School of Public Health.
Transfers from Other University of Pittsburgh Schools at the Pittsburgh campus
To transfer into the School of Public Health a student must have completed 15 credits at the University of Pittsburgh. To transfer to the School of Public Health from another school at the Pittsburgh campus, students should request that the other Pittsburgh campus school send their records to the School of Public Health. There is a required application, which includes submitting unofficial transcripts and a personal statement on why you wish to pursue a degree in public health. The School of Public Health will review the student records and send letters of acceptance to students who are eligible to transfer into the School. To qualify, students must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
Upon acceptance into the School of Public Health, students will receive evaluations of their previous course work, acknowledging the courses that have fulfilled School of Public Health skills and general education requirements. To graduate with a degree from the School of Public Health, students are required to earn their last 30 credits while enrolled in the School of Public Health.
Relocation from University of Pittsburgh Regional Campuses
1. For students seeking guaranteed relocation who have earned credits only from one of the regional campuses, the normal requirement is for completion of 45 credits at the specific regional campus, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
2. For students seeking guaranteed relocation who have earned 30 or more credits at the specific regional campus and a total of 45 credits overall, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all courses is required.
3. For students seeking relocation who have between 15 and 30 credits at the specific regional campus and a total of 45 credits overall, a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required in all courses, and the normal requirements of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences for external transfer students must be met. For these students, relocation is not guaranteed. Students must complete at least 15 credits at the regional campus to transfer to the Pittsburgh campus.
4. All students must complete the Algebra and Composition skills requirements before relocating from a regional campus.
Students Seeking Reinstatement
The following students must apply for reinstatement through the School of Public Health.
• School of Public Health students who have not enrolled for three consecutive terms (one calendar year);
• School of Public Health students who have completed their suspension periods and wish to continue their studies; and
• Students who last attended another school at the Pittsburgh campus but have not enrolled in classes for three consecutive terms (one calendar year), have not attended another institution, and wish to be admitted to the School of Public Health.
Students who are returning after completing their suspension period will be reinstated on probation.
Students who have completed an undergraduate degree and wish to take additional undergraduate courses on a non degree-seeking basis may apply directly to the College of General Studies.
Tuition and Fee Rates
Tuition rates and mandatory fee rates are available on the Undergraduate Tuition & Mandatory Fees page on the University website.
In the Fall and Spring Terms: Undergraduate students registered for 12 to 18 credits in the Fall and Spring Terms are regarded as full-time students and are assessed the current undergraduate “flat” tuition rate for their academic center. Undergraduate students registered for fewer than 12 credits are considered part-time and are billed on a per-credit basis. Students will be charged per credit for each credit exceeding the maximum full-time credit limit.
In the Summer Term:
All students are billed on a per-credit basis in the Summer Term.
Minimum Academic Standard
In addition to the University-wide regulations and standards detailed in the section on General Academic Regulations in the University Undergraduate Catalog, each student in is expected to be familiar with these school-specific regulations and academic Standards:
- It is the student’s responsibility to review her/his academic standing, to identify undergraduate program requirements and prerequisites for intended undergraduate program(s), and to monitor their completion.
- All required and prerequisite coursework must be taken for a grade, when letter grade option is available, unless approved by the Program Director.
- Students must receive a C or better in each required course and Public Health elective course to earn credit.
- For non-Public Health, non-required coursework, students must earn a grade of D- or better.
- All grades will remain on the transcript and will be calculated into the GPA unless or until a course repeat has been processed. After the repeat has been processed, the credits will be removed, but the grade will remain on the transcript, although not factored into the GPA. A repeat flag will also be noted on the transcript.
- Students who receive a grade below a C- in a required course must repeat that course and attain a grade of C- or better.
- Failure to receive an acceptable grade after the second repeat of a required course may result in the student being dismissed from the BSPH program.
Transfer Credit Policy
At the time of application coursework completed outside the University of Pittsburgh is evaluated by the Pitt Public Health Admissions Office to determine if it meets University and School of Public Health policy required for transfer.
- A maximum of 60 credits can be transferred into the University of Pittsburgh from a two-year degree program: and a maximum of 90 from a four-year college/university.
- Courses must be passed with a grade of C or better and must be earned at an appropriately accredited institution.
- Courses must have reasonable equivalents at the University of Pittsburgh to be eligible for transfer. When requested, students are responsible for supplying descriptions for courses taken elsewhere.
- Courses cannot be a repeat of any courses taken at Pitt.
- The number of credits granted for a given course cannot exceed the number awarded for the course on the transcript of the school where the course was taken, or the number earned for 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).
- Pitt Public Health accepts credits, but not grades, for transfer. Consequently, any courses that are accepted for transfer will be used as credit toward graduation but will not be calculated into the student’s GPA at the University of Pittsburgh.
- Contact the Pitt Public Health Student Affairs Office at 412-624-3002 for information about transfer credit evaluation.
Audit (N Grade)
To audit a course, a student must register for and pay tuition for the course. The instructor for the course must sign the Grade Option/Audit Request form before the form can be processed. Completed forms must be submitted to the Office of Student Affairs. Students who audit a course are given an N grade, which means that the course is counted neither towards graduation nor the GPA. A student typically chooses to audit a course for personal enrichment.
At the discretion of an instructor, a G grade may be awarded when students who have been attending a course and making regular progress are prevented from completing the course due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students who are assigned a G grade are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term or session in which the course was taken, or by an earlier deadline established by the instructor. After that year, the grade will automatically change to NG; an NG grade cannot be changed, and the credits will no longer appear as “in progress.” The student will be required to re-register for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation. The School of Public Health encourages students with G grades to work with their instructors to complete the requirements for the course as soon as possible.
The School of Public Health 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. A student’s academic standing is comprised of three factors: term GPA, cumulative GPA, and progress toward a degree. Students in the School of Public Health 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.
Academic Alert is a marker designed to notify students who show signs, early on and throughout their academic career, of jeopardizing successful progress toward the completion of their undergraduate degree. Students who receive two consecutive Academic Alerts will be placed on Academic Probation.
Students are placed on Academic Probation after earning a GPA between a 1.50 and a 1.99 over two consecutive terms or have one semester at or below a 1.49 cumulative GPA. Students may also be placed on Academic Probation if they fail to make progress toward their degree (e.g. failing to earn any academic credits).
Students currently on Academic Probation who earn a term GPA below a 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. Following suspension, students are required to apply for reinstatement at the School of Public Health Dean’s Office. Students returning from academic suspension are reinstated on academic probation and are required to develop an academic success plan upon their return. These reinstated students’ records are reviewed after each subsequent term of enrollment.
Students who have been reinstated from Academic Suspension must earn at least a 2.00 GPA for each term that they enroll until they have achieved a cumulative GPA of a 2.0 or above. If a student fails to earn a 2.00 term GPA, they are subject to Academic Dismissal from the University. Dismissed students are not eligible for reinstatement.
Probation and Eligibility for Financial Aid
The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) monitors financial aid eligibility. Students on probation should contact OAFA at 412-624-7488 for more information.
The following section details the School of Public Health’s rules regarding allowable credits and courses for students earning a degree in the School of Public Health.
Advanced Placement (AP) Credits
See the AP credit section of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.
Summer Courses Taken Elsewhere
School of Public Health students in good academic standing (cumulative GPA of at least 2.00) may attend a summer or special session of another accredited institution in order to supplement their program, provided they receive prior approval from their School of Public Health advisor. Students may not repeat any course taken at the University of Pittsburgh (passed or failed) at another institution. A maximum of two courses (no more than 8 credits) may be taken in a single period of enrollment elsewhere.
Repeating a Course/Duplication of Course Content
If a student repeats a course, they must complete a course repeat form and submit it to the Office of Student Affairs. Please note the following.
- The original grade remains on the transcript, but is not counted in the calculation of the GPA.
- Any grade earned in the repeated course will be factored into the GPA, even if it is lower than the original grade.
- The repeated course does not increase the number of credits counted toward meeting degree requirements unless an F is replaced by a passing grade.
- W, R, N, or NC grades reported for the repeated course will not be identified as a course repeat, thus the original grade earned will continue to be counted in the GPA. Incomplete (G) grades will not be identified as repeated courses until the course work is completed.
- No sequential course may be repeated for credit after a higher numbered course in that sequence has been passed with a C or higher grade.
- No course can be repeated at any other institution.
- Students may repeat a course no more than two times.
Students may not earn duplicate credit for courses that substantially duplicate the content of courses taken previously. For example, duplicate credit cannot be earned for the following:
- Both a regular version of a course and an honors version of that course.
- Courses that are cross listed with a course the student has already taken.
- Courses taken under a newly assigned course number if already taken under an old course number.
- Certain specific courses that duplicate material.
Students with questions about repeating courses or duplicating course content should consult with their academic advisor
The School of Public Health recognizes the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Examinations and may grant advanced standing and/or credit for various fields for scores on the Higher-Level Examinations, which range from five to seven. Advanced standing is determined individually by subject according to departmental policy. Students should send the results of their IB examinations directly to the Office of Student Records. No credit will be given for Subsidiary-Level Examinations.
Normal Credit Load
A normal credit load is 12 to 18 credits per academic term (e.g. fall and spring). Students should complete a minimum of 15 credits per term in order to graduate within four years.
Any term in excess of 18 credits requires the recommendation of the student’s academic advisor and approval from the Dean’s Office. Students should make an appointment with their advisor to discuss this option. Students who enroll for more than 18 credits in a term will be charged additional tuition per credit.
Statute of Limitations
All of the credits required for a 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, this limitation may be waived. In such cases, the waiver is for a specific period during which the program must be completed.
Students may count a maximum of 24 credits of online coursework completed at Pitt toward their degree. First-year students may not take online courses in their first term. For students who begin in the summer or fall, they may not take online courses until the spring. For students who begin in the spring, they may not take online courses until the summer.
Adding and Dropping Courses
Generally, students enrolled in the School of Public Health are not required to have their academic advisor’s approval before adding or dropping a course. Additionally, all first-year students are strongly urged to consult their academic advisor before adding or dropping a course.
Withdrawing from Courses
Withdrawing from one or more courses may impact a student’s financial aid status. Withdrawal from a course must be done by the withdrawal deadline, which is posted on the Office of the University Registrar’s Web site.
Graduation Requirements for a bachelor’s degree from Pitt Public Health are as follows:
- Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 120 approved credits (including advanced standing.)
- 120 service learning hours completed.
- Minimum cumulative GPA 2.000.
- All general education requirements and completion of all BSPH requirements
- The GPA will be calculated as a composite of all courses taken at the University of Pittsburgh and counting toward completion of the degree.
- No outstanding D, F or G grades in a required course.
- Student must be considered an “active student” at time of graduation; s/he must have been registered for at least one credit at the University of Pittsburgh within the last three terms or sessions.
- Students may not enroll in courses outside the University of Pittsburgh in the semester they are graduating.
- An application for graduation must be filed in the Pitt Public Health Office of Student Affairs, based on the deadlines determined for that term. Email notification of these deadlines will be sent to students in the prior term and will posted on the Pitt Public Health Graduation website.
A student with outstanding financial obligations to the University is not eligible to receive the diploma, official academic transcripts, or any certification of completion of the academic program.
Graduation with Honors
A baccalaureate degree student attaining an outstanding scholastic record will be graduated with University honors if a minimum of 60 letter-graded credits have been earned at the University of Pittsburgh. The GPA used for the awarding of honors at graduation will be calculated as a composite of courses taken at the University of Pittsburgh and counting toward completion of the degree. The following recognition of academic standing with honors applies:
Cum Laude 3.250 - 3.490
Magna Cum Laude 3.500 - 3.740
Summa Cum Laude 3.750 - 4.000
In most cases, grades for the term you are graduating in will not be due until after Recognition day is held. Therefore, whether you qualify for an honor cord will be based on your cumulative GPA from the semester prior to graduation.
Advising for Public Health Students
Students working toward the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) degree are assigned to an academic advisor during the summer prior to your first term and after you commit to the University of Pittsburgh. The academic advisor is familiar with the requirements for the public health major. The academic advisor is a resource to answers questions during the initial period of adjustment to the college environment, and offers students information and advice on matters such as selecting appropriate courses, maintaining satisfactory progress, appropriate progress on the service learning requirement and possible cluster pathways to personalize your degree. Meeting with an academic advisor is required for all first-year students. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their advisor at least once a semester for short- and long-term academic program planning, information on course prerequisites, and degree progress audits.
Students have the responsibility for making their own decisions, monitoring their progress toward the baccalaureate degree, and meeting all degree requirements.
- Students can make an appointment to see their advisor online through Navigate
- The main phone line for Academic Advising is 412.624.3002.
- The Academic Advising office is in 1100 Public Health Building.
Generally, students enrolled in the School of Public Health are not required to have their academic advisor’s approval before adding or dropping a course. However, there will be an advisor hold set for each term that will be removed by the advisor if the student is in good standing to enroll in courses. Additionally, all first-year students are strongly urged to consult their academic advisor before adding or dropping a course.
As a student at Pitt Public Health, you have many resources beyond your BSPH academic advisor that can contribute to your academic development. The BPSH advisor is a student’s main resource for course advising, registration, and initial mentoring.
Advising for Topical Focus
The BSPH Program director and discipline-specific faculty advisors in one of our graduate level departments can also be used as resources especially as you progress in your BSPH degree. Students can create a more tailored degree of study with a topical focus. Here students can choose an elective cluster based in a specific area of interest or discipline within public health. Please see details in the curriculum section of this handbook.
In addition to your BSPH advisor and discipline-specific faculty advisors, you may also see the need for additional mentorship. The relationships you build at Pitt Public Health will be important during and after your tenure here. It is important to know how you develop these relationships. Start by thinking about what your own needs are and what you hope to get from your mentors. Ask yourself: What were my objectives for entering the BSPH program? What kinds of training do I need? What skills do I want to develop?
Next, locate potential mentors within and outside of our school. Research the work of these faculty and see if their interests match or complement yours. You can also talk to senior students about their advisors and mentors. Then, reach out to potential mentors and ask to meet with them. Be patient and professional when requesting these initials appointments; most faculty are eager to help but may not be available immediately. Good topics for this initial conversation depend on whether you are looking for a primary mentor or supplementary contacts. In either case, it’s a good idea to start with mutual research or practice interests and professional goals. It is important to have regular meetings to discuss your work and get feedback from your mentor, but it is also important to regularly re-examine your own strengths, skills, and expectations for written work.
Building your Professional Skills Outside the Classroom
Your in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences at Pitt Public Health should give you a strong set of professional skills by the time you graduate. You need to take an active role in this process and seek opportunities to enhance your skills whenever you can. We hope you will use all of the resources described below in addition to many others.
You’ll see many listings for seminars, speakers, and other events that excite you, and many times your reaction will be “that sounds fantastic, but I’m so busy.” Make the time at least several times a term to go to these events anyway. They are an invaluable opportunity to expose yourself to new possibilities, new ideas, and new people. Sit in the front row. Ask questions. Introduce yourself to the speaker. Use the opportunity to network within and outside the school.
Office of Career Services
Pitt Public Health Career Services provides a number of opportunities and resources for students.
One-on-one career counseling appointments, including resume and CV reviews, cover letter reviews, and interview preparation Access to Handshake, a career platform used by the University of Pittsburgh where students can search for job, internship, and fellowship opportunities To learn more about Pitt Public Health Career Services, visit publichealth.pitt.edu/careers.