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

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
  May 24, 2024
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

College of General Studies

The College of General Studies provides adult and nontraditional students with a wide variety of learning options. Students who enroll in the College of General Studies can complete a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree in career-oriented fields and in concentrations in the arts and sciences. In addition to a degree, students may prepare for transfer to any of the University’s upper-division and professional schools. The college also offers a wide range of certificate programs in specialized fields such as health services, accounting, and information sciences. For those students who already have a degree but desire career-related study or preparation for graduate study, the College of General Studies permits them to register in a non-degree program. The College of General Studies uses the same faculties as Arts and Sciences and the professional schools of the University to provide instruction.

Professors and instructors teaching for the College of General Studies come from the following seven undergraduate and professional schools across the University of Pittsburgh: Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, College of Business Administration, School of Dental Medicine/Dental Hygiene Program, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Information Sciences, and School of Nursing. CGS instructors include full-time faculty, regular part-time faculty, adjunct, graduate students, and professionals and leaders from throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.

The College of General Studies (CGS) targets its curriculum to adult and transfer students who have been out of high school at least two years. Most of the students attending the college have full-time work or family responsibilities and therefore take full advantage of the unique delivery systems available for instruction. Students may enroll in traditional day classes, evening classes, or Saturday classes; they may attend one of the suburban locations; or they may enroll for CGS Online courses.

Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh
College of General Studies
1400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Fax: 412-624-5461

Financial Aid

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid handles all financial aid processing for College of General Studies students. Obtain information regarding the necessary forms and important deadline dates from the University’s financial aid Web site, or call 412-624-7488.

Students who wish to be considered for supplemental financial aid may apply through the Office of the Associate Dean, College of General Studies. Students must have a completed current application for University assistance and all federal programs, including loans, on file with the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid located in Alumni Hall (forms are available on the financial aid Web site). CGS supplemental aid is awarded on a rolling basis and is need-based. The CGS supplemental financial aid application is available at

Academic and need-based scholarships are available through CGS. Information concerning these scholarships for enrolled CGS students is available at

Career Services

A CGS career consultant is available to assist students with the formulation of career objectives and preparation for the job search. Various seminars are offered throughout the year, and a variety of resource materials are available for student use. For more information on CGS career services, visit:


College of General Studies students can now self register using the University portal, Enrollment periods are posted in the Student Center prior to each term.

Class Locations and Times

Students in the College of General Studies have an array of options for where and when to pursue their course work.

Pittsburgh Campus

The full range of courses offered by the College of General Studies is available at the Pittsburgh campus. The 120-acre campus is located in Oakland.

Off-Campus Program

Off-campus classes are currently offered in Butler County to increase accessibility to higher education. Courses are offered for degree credit in the arts and sciences and in a few professional areas, but full majors are not available. Faculty for all off-campus courses are provided by the academic schools and departments of the University.

CGS Online

CGS Online provides students with the opportunity to earn credit towards degrees and certificates through three unique course formats. All courses offered through CGS Online are Web-based, meaning that most course materials can be accessed through CourseWeb, the University’s course management system. CGS Online courses are offered in the following formats:

  • Web courses feature web-based instruction and interaction. Students interact with their instructors and other students through the class web site. Students complete the course requirements within one term and move through the course materials as a cohort.
  • Hybrid courses combine web-based interaction and face-to-face instructions. Students are required to attend scheduled workshops and participate in online discussions and activities. Students complete the course requirements within one term and move through the course materials as a cohort.
  • Self-paced courses utilize a flexible format where students move through assigned course materials at their own pace. Workshops, proctored exams and web-based activities are features of some of the courses. The course syllabus provides more information about the activities for these courses.

CGS Online courses meet the same standards for content excellence and expert instruction as our traditional classroom courses.

Saturday Classes

Saturday classes are offered on the Pittsburgh campus for students who find Saturday a convenient time to attend class.

Class Meeting Times

In general, courses meet 50 minutes per week for each credit hour awarded. Most courses are three credits and meet once a week for two-and-a-half hours. Courses including recitations or lab sections may have longer class times.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary based on the program the student is applying to and are detailed as follows.

Degree-Seeking Students

Those students who desire to complete a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, either in the College of General Studies or ultimately transferring elsewhere in the University, are required to apply as degree-seeking students through the University’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA). Students applying as degree-seeking students must provide

  • A completed application,
  • The $45 application fee,
  • A high school transcript, and
  • Transcripts from all colleges or universities previously attended.

Once this information has been provided, students will be reviewed for admission. OAFA makes all admission decisions on an individual basis in a holistic way, with past performance and future potential considered. While it is not required, it is highly recommended to have the strongest application possible that students complete the Short Answer Questions form to highlight past and/or work experiencss, training, educational pursuits, and explain any exceptional circumstances that they believe the Admission Committee should take into account in reviewing their records. Students are also encouraged to provide letters of recommendation.

Students must meet a number of specific admissions criteria, depending on their previous experience. A selection of these criteria follows below. For details, refer to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid website:

  • Less than two years since high school graduation: To be considered for admission, recent high school graduates must apply for Arts and Sciences admission and must meet the regular standards for admission as defined by Arts and Sciences. (See Pittsburgh Campus Freshman Admissions  section of this bulletin for details.) Students may apply for transfer to the College of General Studies after completing 12 credits, including the mathematics and seminar in composition requirements.
  • More than two years since high school graduation: Less weight is given to high school performance. Evidence of maturity, motivation, ability, and consistency as reflected in the fulfillment of adult responsibilities are an important basis for the admission decision.
  • GED/high school equivalency: Students scoring at the 50th percentile or higher may be considered for admission.
  • Disciplinary dismissal: Students who are dismissed from a college or university for disciplinary reasons must provide documentation from a college official stating the reason(s) for dismissal.

Certificate Program Admission

Students looking to broaden their educational experience or seeking professional development may elect to enroll in an academic certificate program. Certificate programs offer a course concentration in a specific area of study and may partially fulfill the student’s degree requirements.Students seeking admission to one of the certificate programs in the College of General Studies must meet CGS certificate admission criteria and complete the CGS online application. Students are required to provide transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Students must take at least one half of the coursework for the certificate at the University of Pittsburgh and earn a 2.0 or better GPA in certificate courses. The certificates offered by CGS are as follows: 

  • Accounting (postbaccalaureate program)
  • Communication
  • Community health assessment
  • Corporate/community relations
  • Digital media
  • Gender, sexuality, and women’s studies
  • Information system design
  • Leadership
  • Managing health services programs and projects
  • National preparedness and homeland security
  • Nonprofit management
  • Writing
  • Writing for the professions

* Please note that the Leadership certificate must be earned in conjunction with a degree. To enter the Accounting certificate, students must already have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.75 GPA.

Non-degree Admission

Postbaccalauriate Students

Students who already hold a bachelor’s degree and desire to complete University course work as preparation for graduate study or for personal or professional interest, but do not desire to complete a second degree, may apply for admission as non-degree students. These students need to complete the CGS online application for admission and provide transcripts for all previous college work. Students who enroll under this program and later desire to earn a degree will be reviewed for admission under the normal admission criteria.

Guest, Visiting, and Summer Visiting Students

Guest, Visiting, and Summer Visiting students 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. To be eligible for admission, students must have a minimum 2.5 cumulative or overall GPA. Guest student status is given for one semester only. Students apply through the CGS online application. Admissions is rolling. Applications should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the start of classes. 

Inactive Student Re-admission/Reinstatement

Reinstatement is necessary for any Pitt student in good standing, who is seeking re-admission to CGS and has not registered for at least one course in three consecutive terms. Such students are considered “inactive” and must reapply to the College of General Studies before they can register for class, completing all applications and resubmitting all official transcripts, if necessary, and paying the application fee. Students who have not been enrolled in CGS or some other college or school within the University for more than six terms or two calendar years must follow all academic policies in effect at the time of their re-admission to CGS. Students who have not been enrolled for less than the six terms or two calendar years will be treated as continuously enrolled students and as such will have a choice to follow any new policies or those in existence prior to the end of their previous enrollment.

Early Admission Option for Graduate Study

Students with a GPA of 3.5 or better planning to pursue graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh may want to consider the Early Admission Option for Graduate Study. This option allows students to use the first 24 credits of graduate work as the last 24 elective credits of their undergraduate program. The following graduate schools at Pitt allow this option in conjunction with the CGS degree program: the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Graduate School of Public Health. The School of Law has a similar program for it’s Master of Studies in Law Degree program for CGS Legal Studies students.


  • Students must be superior graduate school candidates and be admitted to the Pitt graduate program. Admissions requirements can be obtained from the graduate schools.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 96 credits toward the CGS degree, including all general education and major requirements, before the graduate program begins. In addition, the last 30 of the 96 undergraduate should be in residence in CGS. Satisfactory completion of these requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the graduate program. This decision is made by the graduate program.
  • The graduate program must include at least 24 credits of graduate-level coursework. Students must earn a B or better grade in all graduate coursework. (S or H grades in the MSL program)
  • Twenty-four credits is the maximum number of graduate credits that can be used to fulfill elective requirements of the undergraduate degree. A student may seek to use fewer than 24 graduate credits toward their elective credits if they have already partially fulfilled their elective requirements.

Note: Students who choose this option must be aware that enrolling as a graduate student may affect their financial aid package. Students are responsible for contacting the Financial Aid Office regarding this issue.

International Admission

International students (applicants from other countries on student visas) who are interested in full-time attendance in programs offered only in the College of General Studies must first contact the International Student Admissions Officer, Office of International Services, 708 William Pitt Union, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. (See the International Student Admissions  Section of this bulletin.)

Advanced Standing Policy

Applicants must submit official transcripts from each accredited college or university attended, whether or not it is intended that the courses be counted toward a degree. Grades for credits transferred are not used in computing a student’s grade point average (GPA). All credits eligible for transfer are subject to the following regulations:

  • Only courses with C or better grades will be considered for transfer.
  • Courses must correspond with those offered by the University in objectives and content.
  • The number of credits granted for a given course cannot exceed the number on the transcript from the school where they were earned, nor can it exceed the number earned in the corresponding courses at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • A maximum of 90 credits may be transferred from a four-year institution and 60 credits from a two-year institution, however no more than 90 credits can be transferred.
  • While the College of General Studies does not have a statute of limitations, it does reserve the right to invalidate some courses for transfer in which the content is outmoded.
  • Students in CGS degree programs may transfer up to 18 credits of professional courses as electives (e.g. business, engineering, nursing, etc.).
  • All transfer credits are subject to reevaluation if a student transfers from one school to another or from one major to another within the University of Pittsburgh or becomes inactive and is subsequently readmitted.
  • If a course for which advanced standing is given is repeated at the University of Pittsburgh, the advanced-standing credit is cancelled.

Advanced Placement and Credit by Examination

Students in CGS may also earn advanced standing credits through the following means:

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The CLEP program provides a way of earning college credits through testing. Specific regulations governing the awarding of CLEP general examination credits are available by calling 412-624-6600, from an academic advisor, or at

Credit by Examination

Students may earn credits toward graduation by successfully completing examinations in courses offered in the College of General Studies. Such examinations must be arranged through both the office of the CGS Associate Dean and the department teaching the course for which credit is desired. Many courses, except those with laboratories, special restrictions, or in the performing arts, may be challenged by examination. Course-specific credit by examination is open to all students enrolled in the College of General Studies who are in good academic standing. Cost for the exam is $10 per credit.

Once a student has enrolled in a course at any institution (including the University of Pittsburgh) and received a grade, including a grade for incomplete work, the student cannot be given credit toward graduation by taking a challenge examination for that course.

Students may be given credit for successfully completed the advanced-standing tests of the College Entrance Examination Board.

Students who are majoring in administration of justice and who have successfully completed Pennsylvania Act 120 or state police cadet training can receive up to 15 credits of advanced standing. The credits are awarded for specific courses.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Courses

Credits earned in aerospace science (Air Force ROTC), military science (Army ROTC), or naval science (Navy ROTC) through cross registration at Carnegie Mellon University are accepted toward a College of General Studies degree. CGS will grant up to four credits toward graduation for the following courses in lieu of or in combination with physical education courses: AFROTC 0001, AFROTC 0002, AFROTC 0003, and AFROTC 0004; MILS 0011, MILS 0012, MILS 0021, and MILS 0022; or freshman/sophomore level Navy ROTC courses from CMU.

Also, four junior and senior level courses from these three ROTC programs may be used as professional electives for the CGS degree program, if professional electives are permitted. These courses are AFROTC 1013, AFROTC 1014, AFROTC 1015, and AFROTC 1016 (all 3-credit courses); MILS 1031, MILS 1032, MILS 1041, and MILS 1042 (all 1-credit courses); and similar courses from Navy ROTC.


An internship is a supervised, work-related experience, volunteer or paid, which is related to an academic discipline and is sponsored, evaluated, and graded by a University faculty member. The internship is a new experience and does not represent credit for past work or continuation of the current employment situation. A detailed outline of CGS internship requirements is available from CGS academic advisers, and at

PLEASE NOTE: Several CGS majors require that you complete an internship at a facility that may or will require a criminal background check, an ACT 33/34 clearance, and perhaps a drug screen to determine whether you are qualified to participate in the internship. Additionally, in order to become licensed or employed, many states will inquire as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, a felony, or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Study Abroad

College of General Studies students are encouraged to enhance their undergraduate education by including a study abroad experience. Credit may be earned toward a CGS degree through participation in either Pitt-sponsored, exchange, or Pitt-recognized programs. Students may study in virtually any part of the world in these programs or others offered by many American and international institutions. Some programs are of short duration to fit the schedules of students with extensive work, family and other commitments.

Before study abroad is undertaken, approval for credit must be obtained. The study abroad advisor provides program approval and the CGS advisor approves the course selections and credits. Students should have at least a 2.75 GPA before seeking permission to study abroad.

Visit the Study Abroad Office in Room 802 William Pitt Union, call 412-648-7413, or review for more information.

Academic Standards

The College of General Studies’ Guidelines on Academic Integrity outlines obligations of both students and instructors for maintaining academic integrity in CGS classes. An electronic copy of this publication, which lists the obligations, procedures, penalties, and remedies for maintaining such integrity, is available on the College of General Studies website.

Graduation Requirements

  • Students must apply for graduation from CGS at the beginning of the term when completing the necessary credits in the graduate program. Students must have minimum of 120 credits in order to graduate.
  • Students receive a BA or BS degree depending upon the CGS major. The final undergraduate transcript will specify the major completed in CGS.
  • The GPA for graduation from CGS will be calculated solely on the earned Pitt credits on the undergraduate transcript. The graduate program courses appear on the graduate transcript and the undergraduate transcript is noted: Baccalaureate degree awarded in conjunction with graduate degree.
  • In order for CGS students to graduate with honors from the University, they must have at least 60 letter-graded University of Pittsburgh credits at the undergraduate level. Courses at the graduate level and undergraduate courses graded S or H are not included in this 60 credit requirement.

The Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree will be awarded upon the fulfillment of the following conditions:

  • Completion of at least 120 credits of University work in one of the prescribed curricular courses, by advanced standing, or by examinations.
  • Completion of at least one-half of the major or 15 credits, whichever is greater, at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh campus.
  • Completion of the senior year (30 credits) in the College of General Studies.
  • Attainment of at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 in courses taken at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Attainment of at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 in the major.
  • Satisfactory completion of all required CGS and major courses.

Grading Policy

There are two grading options available to students registering for courses offered by the College of General Studies: the letter grade option and the satisfactory/no-credit (S/NC) option (formerly the S/N option). (See the Grading and Records  section of this bulletin for additional details on the two systems.)

Students must choose the grading option they desire when self-registering or by submitting a Grade Option/Audit Request form by the end of the fourth full week of classes during a term (second full week of classes during summer sessions 1 and 2). This decision may not be changed. Grade Option/Audit Request forms are available in the CGS registration center, 1400 Wesley W. Posvar or at under grades. If the student does not fill out a Grade Option/Audit Request form for a course in which more than one grade option is available, the default option (generally a letter grade) will automatically be selected.

There are two limitations to the choice of the satisfactory/no-credit (S/NC) grade option in the College of General Studies:

  1. Departments may decide which courses are required for the major and if any may be taken as satisfactory/no-credit. Departmental rules may cover not only courses within the department but those in other departments that are considered essential to the major. Students should be sure before selecting this grading option that their decision will not have an adverse effect on their plans for majoring in a particular field.
  2. Under certain circumstances, departments may declare a course available only for a letter grade or as satisfactory/no-credit. In such courses students will not have a choice for the other grade option.

G Grade

The G grade signifies unfinished course work due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students assigned G grades are required to complete course requirements with the same instructor assigning the G grade. A course in which a student has received a G grade cannot be completed by sitting in the same course with the same or different instructor in a subsequent term. Exception to these conditions can be granted only by the CGS Associate Dean and must be approved before the G grade is issued.

At the time of requesting a G grade, the student should arrange with the instructor a plan and schedule for completing the course work. The instructor and student should complete the G-grade Request form. G-Grade Request forms are available in the CGS registration office, 1400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall.

Grade Reports

Shortly after the term ends, students can access their grades online via the university portal at This report shows the total credits carried, the grade received in each course, and total quality points earned.

Academic Probation

Students who have earned a minimum of 12 credits in the College of General Studies and whose cumulative grade point average falls below 2.00 at the end of any term will be placed on probation. Students placed on probation may be limited to 6-12 credits a term until they have regained good academic standing. Any students placed on probation who fail to regain good academic standing by the time they have completed an additional 12 credits of course work are subject to suspension.

Dean’s List

The Dean’s List, a recognition of high academic performance, is achieved by degree students each time they complete 12 letter-graded credits in continuous active status in the College of General Studies with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students cannot have incomplete grades in terms reviewed for the Dean’s List.

Degrees Conferred

The College of General Studies awards Bachelor of Arts degrees in the following majors:

  • Administration of justice
  • Health services
  • Humanities
  • Legal studies
  • Liberal studies
  • Media and professional communications
  • Public service
  • Social sciences

Bachelor of Science degrees are awarded in the following majors:

  • Dental hygiene
  • Health services
  • Natural sciences

Program and Course Offerings

Other Courses

Catalog Navigation