History of Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh
The recognition of graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh began with the awarding of Master of Arts degrees-two in 1836, one in 1845, three in 1848, and two in 1849. The record does not distinguish between earned and honorary degrees, but apparently 33 MA degrees had been awarded by 1870. These degrees were conferred for study beyond the Bachelor of Arts degree and before specific programs or minimum requirements for advanced degrees had been established.
This system continued until 1884 when Chancellor Goff set up a two-year professional study program leading to a Master of Philosophy or a Master of Arts degree and a three-year program leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Before admission to these graduate programs, each student was required to show proficiency in three areas of study as tested by written and oral examinations. For admission to the Master of Arts program, each student was required to have completed the four-year Bachelor of Philosophy degree in the Scientific course. The Master of Philosophy degree was, in fact, the predecessor of the Master of Science degree. Students were permitted to study in absentia under the direction of the faculty, but were required to submit annually to a rigorous examination in all prescribed courses. In addition, both master’s and doctoral candidates were required to prepare and defend theses.
Between 1885 and 1903, there were 25 Master of Philosophy, 34 Master of Arts, and ten honorary Master of Arts degrees awarded. Apparently, no Master of Philosophy degrees have been awarded since 1903. Three Doctor of Philosophy degrees were awarded in 1886 and a total of 31 had been conferred by 1915. Between 1888 and 1900 ten honorary Doctor of Philosophy degrees were awarded, but apparently none have been awarded since then.
In 1906, new rules were formulated for graduate study, requiring students to be in attendance and requiring the completion of one year of study or 30 credits for the master’s degree and three years or 90 credits for the doctoral degree.
The catalogues of 1908 and 1909 announced the establishment of the Graduate School with five departments (Psychology and Education, English Literature, Chemistry, History and Political Science, Economics and Sociology) offering courses for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and these plus five additional departments (Biblical Literature and Comparative Religion, Greek, Semitic Languages and Literatures, Biology, and Astronomy) offered courses for the Master of Arts degree. The program of studies for the MA degree required one major and a minor subject and the program for the PhD degree required one major and one or two minor subjects, one of which must be from outside the department of the major. A good reading knowledge of at least one modern foreign language was required to receive a graduate degree.
Three Master of Science degrees were awarded in 1907 although the first description of the Master of Science degree appeared in the 1910 catalogue: “The Master of Arts degree will be granted only upon completion of a course mainly literary in character; the degree of Master of Science after one mainly scientific.” That catalogue lists 16 departments offering courses for master’s degrees and ten offering courses for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The language requirement became more specific: “A good reading knowledge of both French and German and of other modern languages necessary to carry on graduate work is required of each candidate for the PhD” and “of French or German, or both, for Master’s degrees.”
In 1910, a faculty committee drafted proposals, adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1913, making the Graduate School an independent administrative unit of the University and authorizing the selection of a Graduate Council. This Council was first appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School and later elected by the Graduate Faculty from the departments offering graduate work. It consisted of representatives from the nine departments offering graduate work at the time: education, economics, ancient languages, romance languages, chemistry, botany, mathematics and physics, geology, and physiology. In 1924, a change in procedure for the selection of the Council was instituted so that 13 faculty representatives were drawn from the following groups of departments: English, fine arts, foreign languages, physical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, psychology, engineering, business administration, medicine, dentistry, and education.
In 1947 the Board of Trustees adopted resolutions recommended by the University Senate and the Graduate Council (1) grouping the schools and departments in the Graduate School into three divisions: the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the Natural Sciences; (2) establishing criteria for membership in the faculty of the Graduate School; and (3) defining the Graduate Council and its functions as follows: “The Graduate Council shall consist of 12 full members of the faculty of the Graduate School, four from each of the three divisions of the Graduate School, and the Dean of the Graduate School as chairman, ex officio; the faculty members of the Council shall be elected by the full members of the faculty of the Graduate School of their respective divisions for a term of four years; and the Graduate Council representing the faculty of the divisions, shall be the policy-making body of the Graduate School.”
Until 1956, the administration of graduate study was the responsibility of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council. At that time, the individual schools and the three Divisions of the Academic Disciplines were given direct administrative responsibility for their graduate programs in accord with the regulations established by the University Council on Graduate Study-formerly the Graduate Council.
In 1968, the Dean of the Graduate School retired from his administrative role and the position he had held was discontinued. General responsibility for the University’s graduate programs was assigned to the Provost pending reorganization of the University’s graduate structure. The University Council on Graduate Study, the University Administration, and members of the Graduate Faculty cooperated in drafting a proposed reorganization of Graduate Study which was approved by written ballot by the entire Graduate Faculty, and in turn, accepted by Chancellor Posvar. This organizational structure became effective July 1, 1971 and is still the official structure. The procedures for nomination and appointment to the Graduate Faculty were approved in 1972 and revised slightly in 1977.
Thus, since the University’s founding in 1787, graduate education has grown to encompass the School of Arts and Sciences and all 13 of the professional schools, which share a commitment to meet the nation’s need for well educated researchers, scholars, and leaders of professions and the tri-state region’s need for trained professionals.
Organization of Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh
The first objective is to place the responsibility for planning and operating graduate programs in the schools and faculties which offer such programs. This arrangement will put the graduate student and his or her program under the immediate supervision of the teaching staff and administrative officers of his or her field of study.
The second objective is to provide a means of establishing and maintaining basic standards and requirements for graduate work throughout the University. It is believed that the advanced degree programs developed and administered by the various schools and faculties, though differing in details, should conform to certain fundamental principles of good practice.
The third objective is to create effective channels of communication within the graduate community and thus to ensure that all segments of the University are represented in the policy making process.
Graduate programs: all programs of study leading to a master’s degree, an advanced doctoral degree (e.g. PhD, EdD, DPH), or a graduate certificate.
Advanced degrees: all master’s and doctoral degrees awarded upon completion of graduate degree programs as defined above.
Schools: academic units of the University headed by deans, having their own teaching staffs, and offering instructional programs leading to degrees. Interschool programs: programs of graduate instruction and research offered cooperatively by Graduate Faculty members from two or more of the academic units defined above.
Graduate Faculty: members of the various schools who have been recognized and approved as qualified: (1) to teach courses carrying graduate credit, (2) to serve on examining committees for advanced degrees, and (3) to advise graduate students and direct their research.
Graduate student: a student who is enrolled in a graduate program as defined above.
I. Administration of Graduate Programs
- Although the University Council on Graduate Study, acting for the Graduate Faculty, establishes minimum standards for graduate work throughout the University (III.B.1), the immediate responsibility for developing and administering graduate programs is assigned to the deans and Graduate Faculty members of the schools. This responsibility applies both to the traditional MA, MS, and PhD programs and to programs leading to advanced professional degrees. Specifically, the deans and Graduate Faculty members shall be responsible in their areas for graduate admission standards and requirements and the admission of graduate students; for advanced certificate and degree requirements; for selecting and maintaining a distinguished graduate faculty; and for recommending the awarding of advanced certificates and degrees.
- The Provost shall have responsibility for the general supervision of graduate programs throughout the University, giving leadership to the deans and faculties in maintaining high standards of graduate instruction and research.
- The Provost or a Vice Provost as may be designated shall serve as the administrative officer of the Graduate Faculty (see V.B., below).
II. The Graduate Faculty
FM Members of the graduate faculty have been recognized and approved as qualified to teach courses carrying graduate credit, to serve on examining committees for advanced degrees, and to advise graduate students and direct their research.
- Membership in the Graduate Faculty shall be of two classes, “Regular” and “Adjunct.” Regular membership shall be recommended for full-time faculty members or part-time, tenure stream members of the University faculty who are approved to direct graduate study and research at all levels. Adjunct membership shall be recommended for persons whose primary responsibility is outside the University but who hold a part-time faculty appointment and are approved to direct graduate study and research at all levels. Only Regular members shall be eligible for election to the University Council on Graduate Study, and only Regular members may cast votes in such elections.
- Members shall be appointed to the Graduate Faculty by the Provost. When a person is recommended for initial appointment to a faculty position, the dean who makes the recommendation will indicate whether, on the basis of an appraisal by a departmental or other appropriate faculty group, the individual should be given Graduate Faculty status. A recommendation for Graduate Faculty membership will carry the implication that the prospective appointee is judged to be: (1) competent in graduate instruction and the supervision of student research and (2) active in advancing knowledge through his or her own research. If approved for Graduate Faculty status, a full-time appointee will become a “Regular” member. A highly qualified part-time appointee whose main employment is outside the University will become an “Adjunct” member. The official contract letter from the Provost to the new faculty member will specify the class of Graduate Faculty membership, if any, that has been awarded.
- Members shall perform the following functions:
- Provide instruction, conduct examinations, and direct student research in graduate programs; and
- Serve on faculty committees and councils charged with the development of graduate programs and policies.
- Prior to Council’s taking final action, all legislation must be sent to the deans and the chairs of schools’ graduate councils, who will distribute it to appropriate councils and to Graduate Faculty and forward comments back to Council. All members of the Graduate Council shall receive from the chair of the University Council on Graduate Study an annual report of actions taken by Council. On the recommendation of the Council or the Provost or on receipt by the Provost of a request signed by 30 Regular members of the Graduate Faculty, legislation approved by Council which reflects a major change in policy shall be submitted for approval by a mail ballot to all members of the Graduate Faculty. If the proposed legislation is approved by a majority of the members responding within a 30-day period following the mailing of ballots, it will be considered to be approved for recommendation to the Chancellor.
- All members shall be given notice of meetings of the University Council on Graduate Study through the University Times or other appropriate announcements. They shall be entitled to attend such meetings and to speak, but shall not be permitted to vote unless they are members of the Council.
III. The University Council on Graduate Study
- Vice Provosts as designated by the Provost, and
- Twenty-one Regular members of the Graduate Faculty, distributed according to a formula based on the number of Regular Graduate Faculty members in the schools (one representative for each 100 members and/or fraction of 100). The representation is as follows:
- School of Arts and Sciences
- Humanities-one representative
- Natural Sciences-one representative
- Social Sciences-one representative
- At Large-two representatives
- Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business-one representative
- School of Education-two representatives
- John A. Swanson School of Engineering-two representatives
- School of Information Sciences-one representative
- School of Law-one representative
- Graduate School of Public and International Affairs-one representative
- School of Social Work-one representative
- School of Dental Medicine-one representative
- School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences-one representative
- School of Medicine-one representative
- School of Nursing-one representative
- School of Pharmacy-one representative
- Graduate School of Public Health-one representative
- Interschool programs-one representative
Faculty FMFM representatives shall be selected, and their terms of office determined, in accordance with procedures established for this purpose within their respective schools. No representative shall serve for more than four consecutive years, except when a school chooses to designate a representative by reason of the official role of that individual in relation to graduate study within that school.
- A maximum of six graduate students shall be chosen as representatives in accordance with procedures established for that purpose by the Graduate and Professional Student Association. Academic units which are not directly represented by a student with voting rights on the University Council on Graduate Study may choose one student observer to attend Council meetings with the privilege of speaking but not voting.
- To develop basic standards, regulations, and policies applicable to all fields for graduate instruction and research;
- To transmit to the Chancellor legislation originating in the Council after such legislation has been reviewed by the subordinate faculty councils or committees (see IV.A.), and has been submitted to the Graduate Faculty, or has been approved by a majority of those members responding by a mail ballot (see II.D.);
- To review, evaluate, and make recommendations to the Chancellor concerning proposals for new postbaccalaureate degree and certificate programs throughout the University after such proposals have had prior review and approval by the faculty councils or committees in which the proposals originated, or in the case of interschool proposals, by the councils or committees of all the areas involved (see IV.A., B.);
- To keep informed regarding the quality of graduate work throughout the University by receiving annual reports from the faculty councils and committees on the current status of all graduate degree and certificate programs within their respective areas, and, when necessary, to conduct its own review of such programs; and
- To identify and promote creative new approaches to graduate education, whether in defining fields of study, program structure, course content, behavioral objectives, research goals, or other aspects.
- The Council shall hold eight monthly meetings during the academic year. Additional special meetings may be called by the Provost or a designated Vice Provost.
- The Council may appoint ad hoc committees from its own membership or from the Graduate Faculty as a whole to review proposals for new postbaccalaureate degree programs, to evaluate existing programs, or to make such other studies as the Council considers desirable. Each such committee shall include at most two graduate student representatives. The committees may also, at the option of the Council, make use of consultants from outside the University. When formed to evaluate new programs which require substantial library holdings, or computer usage, the review committees shall include one or more representatives of the University Libraries or Computing Services and Systems Development.
- Prior to Council’s taking final action, all legislation must be sent to the deans and chairs of schools’ graduate councils, who will distribute it to appropriate councils and to Graduate Faculty and forward comments back to Council.
- All decisions made by the Council shall be communicated to the faculty, students, and administrative officers of the University.
IV. Faculty Councils and Committees on Graduate Study
- Faculty councils and committees on graduate study in the various schools shall be responsible for standards and requirements in their respective areas and for reporting on programs and policies to the University Council on Graduate Study.
- Committees may be formed to supervise interdepartmental and interschool graduate programs. If an interdepartmental program is established within a particular school, the committee in charge of that program will perform those functions normally performed by a department. If the program has broader scope than that of a single school, the committee structure and administrative relationships will be those agreed upon by the cooperating units. Graduate programs will be reviewed by the University Council on Graduate Study and by the Provost.
- The basic standards, regulations, and policies approved by the University Council on Graduate Study shall be regarded as minimal standards by the various councils, committees, and faculties.
V. Functions of Administrative Officers in Relation to Graduate Study
- Deans of Schools
- Provide leadership in the development of programs, standards, policies, and facilities for graduate instruction and research in their areas;
- Administer the operation of graduate programs in their areas, including admissions, student counseling, record keeping, enforcement of requirements, and recommendation of candidates for advanced degrees; and
- Select and maintain a Graduate Faculty of the first quality and encourage the professional growth of its members.
- Provost or a Vice Provost as Designated
- Serves as administrative officer of the Graduate Faculty and Chair of the University Council on Graduate Study;
- Represents the central administration in developing, reviewing, and evaluating graduate programs throughout the University;
- Reviews the adequacy of the structure for graduate instruction and research and identifies opportunities for improving the structure;
- Observes and reports the extent to which the several faculties are complying with the Graduate Faculty’s standards for graduate study;
- Encourages the development of graduate programs which involve interschool collaboration;
- If a designee, advises the Provost regarding appointments to the Graduate Faculty;
- Administers graduate fellowship programs which cannot be assigned to specific schools;
- Serves as liaison officer between the University and the various professional organizations and other agencies which are concerned with graduate work on the national level;
- Keeps informed of developments in graduate education and postdoctoral study at other graduate institutions;
- Fosters research and innovation related to graduate study; and
- Sees that bulletins, catalogues, and other materials describing the University’s graduate programs are published and distributed.
- Represents the Chancellor in developing, reviewing, and evaluating graduate programs throughout the University;
- Cooperates with deans and department chairs in maintaining a graduate faculty of superior competence, approves appointments to the Graduate Faculty as recommended by the deans, and observes the quality of graduate instruction and research within the several schools; and
- Serves as a member of the University Council on Graduate Study.
- As chief administrative officer, reviews proposals of the University Council on Graduate Study and is responsible for final decisions regarding the structure of graduate instruction and research;
- Recommends University Council on Graduate Study proposals for new degrees to the Board of Trustees for final action; and
- Confers graduate degrees recommended by the Graduate Faculty of the several schools and approved by the Board of Trustees.
Amendments to this plan of organization may be proposed by the University Council on Graduate Study, by joint action of two or more of the faculty councils or committees, or by petition of 50 Regular members of the Graduate Faculty drawn from two or more schools. A proposed amendment shall be regarded as new legislation and shall be handled in accordance with the procedures outlined in Section II.D.
Nomination and Appointment to the Graduate Faculty
I. Qualifications for Membership in the Graduate Faculty
According to the 1971 reorganization of Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, “membership in the Graduate Faculty shall be of two classes, ‘Regular’ and ‘Adjunct.’” Regular membership shall be recommended for full-time faculty members or part-time, tenure stream members of the University faculty or academic staff with faculty status who are approved to direct graduate study and research at all levels. Adjunct membership shall be recommended for persons whose primary responsibility is outside the University but who hold a part-time faculty appointment and are approved to direct graduate study and research at all levels.
The competence to direct graduate study and research at all levels is the primary qualification for membership in the Graduate Faculty. Hence, each nomination for membership should include documentation of the candidate’s experience in research, in the teaching of graduate level courses, in the supervision of graduate research, as well as in scholarly publications and professional employment. The completion of a doctoral dissertation, while highly desirable, is not in itself sufficient evidence of qualification for membership in the Graduate Faculty. At the same time, faculty members without an earned doctorate are not automatically excluded and may be designated if they have exceptional qualifications by virtue of experience and accomplishment.
Appropriately qualified faculty members who are not either Regular or Adjunct members of the Graduate Faculty may be assigned by their department chairs (if approved by the Graduate Faculty of the department) the responsibility for the teaching of graduate courses and the direction of master’s level research. In addition, they may serve on doctoral dissertation committees provided that a majority (three or more) of the committee are Regular or Adjunct Graduate Faculty members. These responsibilities provide some of the experience required for later appointment to membership in the Graduate Faculty. Individuals who are candidates for advanced degrees, and especially those seeking a degree from the University of Pittsburgh, do not normally qualify for membership on doctoral dissertation committees and, except in a few professional areas, they should not normally be assigned the responsibility for the teaching of graduate courses.
II. Procedure for Nomination
All FE nominations for Regular or Adjunct membership in the Graduate Faculty must originate in the department or school offering graduate degree programs. All Regular Graduate Faculty members in the department, school, or unit must be polled, and the nomination must be signed by at least six of the Graduate Faculty members, the department chair, and the dean of the school making the nomination. If there are fewer than six Graduate Faculty members in the unit, additional support (including signatures) should be obtained from the Graduate Faculty members in closely related areas of the University.
The Graduate Faculty of any school may determine appropriate discipline sub-clusters to act on nomination procedures, if the total faculty so desire.
If a department or school nominates for Regular membership in the Graduate Faculty, an individual whose primary appointment is in another department, the nomination must include the concurrence of the department of primary appointment.
All nominations for Regular or Adjunct membership in the Graduate Faculty should be submitted on the appropriate form. The required supporting evidence should include a listing of graduate courses taught, service on graduate committees, research supervised, and scholarly publications.
III. Appointment to the Graduate Faculty
Appointment to membership in the Graduate Faculty is made by the Provost of the University.
The Provost utilizes a standard procedure for review of all nominations before final approval and appointment. This review is based upon the qualifications to teach and direct graduate research at all levels in accord with the objectives of the degree programs.
Authority and Responsibility
Authority of the Graduate Faculty
The Graduate Faculty of the University, acting through the University Council on Graduate Study, establishes general regulations and minimal requirements for graduate degrees throughout the University. This responsibility applies to the traditional MA, MS, and PhD degree programs as well as to advanced professional degrees and graduate certificates, except for the first professional degree programs in Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy and Law. The Provost has final authority in the interpretation and application of the regulations established by the University Council on Graduate Study.
The Graduate Faculty of each department or school establishes the requirements for degrees earned under its jurisdiction provided these requirements are in accord with those established by the University Council on Graduate Study. The dean of each school has final authority in the interpretation and application of these additional requirements and/or regulations.
Each department or school with a graduate program is expected to: (1) establish and maintain a high quality graduate program appropriate for its discipline and in accord with the regulations established by the University Council on Graduate Study; (2) provide each graduate student with a written copy of the regulations concerning graduate study and the requirements for advanced degrees; and (3) designate a faculty member (or a committee) to advise each graduate student concerning all aspects of the graduate program and provide for a thesis or dissertation adviser and the appropriate committees.
Each graduate student is expected to become familiar with the general regulations concerning graduate study and with the specific regulations of his or her major department of graduate study and to accept responsibility for the completion of degree requirements as prescribed.
Admission and Registration
An inquiry from a prospective student concerning graduate study should receive from the department or school a prompt response that includes a description of the program(s), the necessary application forms or information about applying online, and instructions concerning the completion of all forms, including the Application Data form.
The applicant is expected to:
- Complete the online application and submit the application fee through the online payment system. If the applicant submits a paper application, he or she should return to the department or school the completed application forms and a check (not cash) for the application fee payable to the University of Pittsburgh. This fee is required of all applicants and is non-refundable. It does not apply toward the payment of tuition.
- Request the registrars of all undergraduate and any graduate schools attended to send official transcripts of their records to the department or school of intended graduate study.
- Submit any additional material required by the department or school and, if available, other evidence of academic and personal qualifications for graduate study. These materials may include any or all of the following: scores achieved on standardized examinations such as the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test, letters of recommendation, term papers written during previous study, evidence of relevant work/life experience, evidence of motivation for graduate study, and a statement of career objectives.
- Arrange for a personal interview if requested by the department or school.
No action should be taken on an application for admission to graduate study until the department or school has received: (1) the completed application form; (2) the application fee; (3) official transcripts of all work done in undergraduate and graduate schools; and (4) supporting materials as required by the department or school. (Under the Admission Status section, see Special Status for circumstances in which a student may be granted temporary admission.)
Each department or school has the responsibility to establish deadline dates both for receipt of application for admission and for application for fellowships, assistantships, or other forms of aid and to notify prospective applicants of these dates. A department or school may limit admission to a specific term only or may allow admission in any of the three terms. Each department or school is obligated both to act promptly on completed applications, if submitted before the established deadline date, and to give a thorough and fair review of each completed application. Decisions regarding admission should be based on an overall evaluation of all the credentials submitted by the candidate, and be in accord with the availability of faculty, facilities, and student support necessary to meet the applicant’s expressed academic and research needs and interests. Applicants should be notified promptly of decisions concerning their applications. Many departments or programs have a limited number of places available. In cases where the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of places available, applicants should be judged competitively.
If a department or school so approves, a student may defer admission for one year without having to complete any additional applications. If approved, the student is sent a new admission letter. Additional course work taken during the deferred year and a new affidavit of financial support should also accompany any financial aid request. The deferral of admission is independent of financial aid.
Officially, admission may be granted or denied only by the dean of the school, and the issuance of visa documents may be granted or denied for non-academic reasons only by the Office of International Services. Registration is permitted only after admission is granted.
Changing the Field of Graduate Study
A student already admitted to graduate study and desiring to change a major department of graduate study must file an application for such a change in the office of the dean or the department of the school the student wishes to enter. The application for admission to the new department should be evaluated in the same manner as an application from a new student.
Acceptable students are admitted to graduate study in a specific department or school with “full,” “provisional,” or “special” graduate status depending on their qualifications and objectives. The qualifications described below represent the minimum standards of the University. These may be made more stringent or specific at the option of the department or school.
Full Graduate Status: For admission to full graduate status, an applicant must be a graduate of an accredited U.S. college or university and must be considered qualified for advanced study by the department or school. International applicants must meet the admissions guidelines described under “Admission of Students from Other Countries.” Qualification for advanced study normally is demonstrated by a B average (a grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale) or better in the total undergraduate program. If students with less than a B average present alternative evidence (such as completion of an advanced degree or successful relevant work experience) of superior ability, they may be considered for full graduate status on the recommendation of the department of proposed graduate study. Only students with full graduate status may be considered for the award of an advanced degree.
Provisional Graduate Status: 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 their undergraduate course program 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 completion of graduate degree requirements. Transfer from provisional to full graduate status is initiated and recommended by the department, and is possible only after removal of deficiencies and other conditions noted at the time of admission and satisfactory progress in graduate work.
Special Status: Students may be granted temporary admission as “special status” under the following circumstances:
- Individuals who are seeking advanced degrees but who are unable to meet the deadline for filing all required credentials for admission may be granted temporary admission provided they present acceptable evidence concerning their qualifications for graduate study. Regular admission must be accomplished within the first term of registration.
- Individuals not seeking an advanced degree but with specific qualifications for one or more courses, including courses required for licensing or certification, may register for such courses subject to review by the department and the dean. Schools providing such an opportunity may specify the number of credits or courses for which an individual may enroll while in this status and should also clearly specify the limitations on transfer of such credits toward a graduate degree if the individual is subsequently admitted to a graduate degree program.
Admission of Students from Other Countries
The University of Pittsburgh welcomes applications from students in other countries. An inquiry from a prospective student from abroad should receive from the department or school a prompt response that includes a description of the program(s), the necessary application forms, including the Application Data form and Supplemental Application for Foreign Students, and instructions concerning the completion of an application, including information about applying online.
When a department or school receives the completed application, including all academic records and letters of reference, it may request an admissions officer in the Office of International Services (OIS) to evaluate the duration of primary, secondary, and university education, the nature of the institution(s) attended, the system of grading in that institution, and to recommend admission or rejection of the candidate. Academic credentials must be originals written in the language in which credentials are normally issued. Certified translations must accompany credentials which are not in English.
Each foreign applicant must provide clear evidence of proficiency in English. (See English Language Proficiency.) In addition, each applicant must provide evidence of adequate financial resources for the estimated length of study at the University of Pittsburgh. The Office of International Services (OIS) will determine whether or not this requirement has been satisfied by the applicant.
When a department or school has completed its evaluation of the credentials of an applicant, it notifies the candidate that he or she is or is not academically qualified for admission. The letter to the applicant must state that the applicant will receive either a visa document or further instructions from the OIS. In all cases, a duplicate copy of the letter of admission and award of financial aid, if any, must be sent to OIS, as must copies of all rejection letters.
Upon satisfaction of all academic and non-academic requirements, the OIS will issue, as appropriate, the Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant “F-1” Student Status or Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor “J-1” Status. Along with visa documents, OIS will send information concerning arrival and orientation.
The University reserves the right, even after the arrival and enrollment of a student from another country, to require, at his or her own expense, individual curricular adjustments whenever particular deficiencies or needs are found. This could include enrollment without credit in additional course work in English as a foreign language or in courses prerequisite to his or her regular course of study. New students from abroad should be encouraged to use the services of OIS to help them in their adjustment to the United States and to facilitate their total educational experience.
English Language Proficiency
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. The determination that the applicant has sufficient proficiency is made by the admitting department or school, subject to University-wide minimum standards determined by the University Council on Graduate Study. The University’s full policy on Assessment for English Language Proficiency for Admission (Policy 09-02-01) can be found at http://www.cfo.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-02-01.html. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Provost or Provost’s delegate after review of the entire record and consultation with the Office of International Services.
In keeping with the University policy on Certification of English Language Fluency for Teaching, students who are not native-speakers of English and are appointed as teaching assistants or teaching fellows are required to take a test of their spoken English upon arrival. Individuals are given non-teaching assignments and are required to take special course work until they attain passing scores. An unsatisfactory score at the time of reappointment is sufficient cause for nonrenewal.
A student who has not registered for at least one credit during a 12-month period will be transferred automatically to inactive status and must file an application for readmission to graduate study (and pay the application fee) before being permitted to register again. While on inactive status, a student is not eligible to use University facilities and should not expect to receive counseling by the faculty or active supervision by his/her adviser and committee. Readmission is not automatic nor does it necessarily reinstate the student in the academic status enjoyed prior to becoming inactive. When readmitted, the student must be prepared to demonstrate proper preparation to meet all current admission and degree requirements.
The Office of the Provost publishes the University of Pittsburgh Academic Calendar, which establishes the dates for registration. A student must be officially admitted, readmitted, or reinstated to the University before he or she may register for courses.
Faculty members are responsible for advising students concerning their programs and specific course selections each term. Students are required to follow the registration process outlined by their school, and they must adhere to registration deadlines in order to avoid the assessment of a late registration fee. Students pursuing two degrees or a degree and a certificate simultaneously must list one as the primary academic program and may list the other as a secondary academic program during the registration process. Students are billed at the tuition rate of the primary academic program. It is recommended that such students meet with advisers in both the primary and secondary academic programs. Generally, a certificate program should be listed as a secondary academic program.
Students registering for the first time should be advised to complete registration well before the beginning of the term. After the start of classes, registration is permitted for new and continuing students only with the written approval of the dean in unusual circumstances and with the payment of a late registration fee.
All graduate students are expected to be registered in accordance with the program of study they are carrying. No person should expect to receive guidance and direction from members of the Graduate Faculty unless he or she is so registered. Students must be registered in the term in which they take preliminary and comprehensive examinations.
All graduate students must register for at least one credit during the 12-month period preceding graduation and must be registered for the term in which they are graduated. Waivers may be obtained by submitting a written request to the Registrar from the dean of the school. The request should be based on very extenuating circumstances, e.g., inability of the student’s dissertation committee to meet during the final term when a student has given reasonable notice or the student has completed all degree requirements in a previous term.
The Registrar will withhold registration and add/drop services from students who so warrant for financial, academic or disciplinary reasons. The University reserves the right to change registration procedures. For additional registration information, visit the University Registrar’s website at http://www.registrar.pitt.edu/enrollment.html.
Full-Time and Part-Time Study
Graduate students who register for nine to fifteen credits in the fall or spring term are full-time students and are assessed the current tuition rate for their school. A school may require students enrolled in a degree program to register for more than nine credits. Students who register for fewer than nine credits are part-time students and billed on a per-credit basis. Admission procedures for part-time students are the same as those for full-time students.
Doctoral students who have completed all credit requirements for the degree, including any minimum dissertation credit requirements and are working full-time on their dissertations may register for “Full-time Dissertation Study,” which carries no credits or letter grade but provides students full-time status. Students so enrolled are assessed a special tuition fee.
Maximum Programs of Study
No student is permitted to register for more than 15 graduate credits without written permission from the dean of the academic center in which the student is pursuing a degree. Graduate students who register for more than 15 credits will be billed for each additional credit that exceeds their full-time tuition rate. Individual schools and departments may restrict the maximum program of any or all of their graduate students.
Through the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE), Carlow University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Chatham University, Duquesne University, La Roche College, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Point Park University, Robert Morris University and the University of Pittsburgh offer graduate students the opportunity for cross-registration in graduate programs in the fall and spring terms. Credits earned by cross-registration in graduate courses, when approved in advance by the student’s graduate adviser, are accepted as University of Pittsburgh credits for the purpose of the calculation of the grade point average and the completion of degree requirements. Each department at each institution retains the authority to establish the prerequisites for admission and the maximum enrollment in its own courses and to grant priority in registration to its own graduate students.
Students may add or drop courses before the end of the Add/Drop period. A student who wishes to withdraw from an individual course after the Add/Drop period but prior to the end of the ninth week of the term or the deadlines noted in the Schedule of Classes for the summer sessions, must complete a Monitored Withdrawal form available from the dean, obtain the signature of the instructor, and return the completed form to the dean’s office of the school offering the course. A W grade will then be issued. After the official withdrawal deadline a student may withdraw from a course only in extraordinary circumstances and with the permission of the dean.
Students may terminate their registration in all classes by informing the Office of the Registrar of their intent to do so prior to the end of the Add/Drop period for the term. Students registered for courses scheduled to begin after the end of the Add/Drop period for the term may terminate their registration by informing the Registrar’s Office of their intent to do so at any time prior to the first scheduled meeting day of the class.
An official resignation occurs when the student notifies the Office of Student Accounts of the intent to terminate registration for all classes after the end of the term’s/sessions’ Add/Drop period but no later than the 60th calendar day of the term or the deadlines noted in the Schedule of Classes for the summer sessions. The R grade will be assigned for each course for which the student registered.
A student may withdraw from all courses after the 60th calendar day of the term or by the deadlines noted in the Schedule of Classes for the summer sessions by processing their withdrawal through the office of the student’s academic dean. There is no financial adjustment associated with this procedure, which results in the assignment of W grades for the courses.
A student who stops attending a course and does not initiate the withdrawal or resignation procedures may be assigned an F grade.
Students who plan to return to the University within one calendar year must indicate this when they provide notification of resignation. Students who do not advise the University of their intent to return to the University within one calendar year are classified as permanent resignations. Students who permanently resign and later decide to return to the University must apply for readmission and pay the appropriate fees. This includes cases when the readmission date is less than one year from the effective date of resignation.
Tuition, Fees and Other Charges
Tuition rates, fees, and other charges paid by graduate students are established by the Board of Trustees in cooperation with the University Administration.
The University reserves the right to change registration procedures. For additional registration information, visit the University Registrar’s website at http://www.registrar.pitt.edu/enrollment.html.
University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses
*Introductory (or master’s level) graduate courses are assigned the numbers 2000-2999; advanced (or doctoral level) graduate courses are assigned numbers 3000-3999.
The following policy includes all grades and their corresponding definitions which may be legitimately issued within the schools of the University of Pittsburgh. All available grading options and their uses are also included. Each school uses symbols and grading options consistent with this University Grading Policy. The Registrar will record for a particular course only those grades specified in the Schedule of Classes. An inappropriate grade reported for a student will register as invalid, hence Z. Students will be subject to the grading policy of the school in which a course is given. Graduate students wishing to register for undergraduate courses should contact the dean’s office of the Academic Center offering the course to explore grading option requirements and procedures.
Grading System Definitions and Grade Points
||4.00 Superior attainment
||3.00 Adequate graduate level attainment
||2.00 Minimal graduate level attainment
||Course work unfinished because of extenuating personal circumstances
||Exceptional (honors) completion of course requirements
||Incomplete course work, due to the nature of the course, clinical work, or incomplete research work in individual guidance courses or seminars
||Student resigned from the University
||Satisfactory (successful) completion of course requirements
||Unsatisfactory (failing) completion of course requirements
||Invalid grade reported
||No grade reported
||Honors/High Satisfactory/Satisfactory/Low Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory*
||Satisfactory/No Credit (formerly the S/N option)
||LG and H/S/U
||Letter Grade and Honors/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
||LG and S/NC
||Letter Grade and Satisfactory/No Credit
* This option is available for professional students in the School of Medicine only.
Each Academic Center is responsible for establishing guidelines as to which University-approved grading options are appropriate for courses offered by that Academic Center. Similarly, each department may identify from among the grading options approved by the Academic Center those it deems acceptable for the courses it offers. Furthermore, each course instructor may specify, within the range of grading options approved by the department and the Academic Center, the grading options which may be selected by students taking his or her course. A University Grade Option/Audit Request form is not required to be completed by a student and will not be accepted by the Office of the Registrar for a graduate course. Only the S/NC grading option may be used in evaluating thesis or dissertation research.
It is the responsibility of each faculty member of the University to assign a standard letter grade or option grade as listed in the Schedule of Classes to each student enrolled in an approved University course. All other grades will be recorded by the Registrar as a Z, an invalid grade.
N (Noncredit Audit) Option
A student may choose to audit any graduate course on a space available basis. After obtaining the instructor’s permission to audit a course, the student follows the same procedures as registering for credit. Tuition is assessed for all audits. An N or W are appropriate grades for courses audited.
G and I Grades
A student may be graduated without removing G and/or I grades from the record provided all degree requirements have been met and the student’s department recommends graduation. The individual school’s grading policy should be consulted for regulations dealing with the removal of I grades. Students assigned G grades are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term in which the course was taken. Once the deadline has passed, the G grade will remain on the record, and the student will be required to re-register for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation.
A faculty member wishing to effect a grade change must complete a Grade Change Request. The dean of the school in which the course is offered or his or her designee must approve a grade change before it will be honored by the Registrar. While each school may determine a time limit for grade changes, they should be processed no later than one year after the initial grade was assessed. There may be reasons that justify a later change of grade, but they must be of an unusual nature and considered most exceptional. Any exception must receive the dean’s approval. Changes in I grades are exempt from this policy.
Official University Record: GPA Calculation
A student’s graduate Grade Point Average (GPA) is obtained by dividing the total number of letter grade credits taken in the graduate program into the total number of grade points earned in the graduate program. Only letter grades with GPA values will be used in computing the Grade Point Average.
A student may repeat any course in which a grade of B- or lower is received if an authorization to repeat the course is given by the student’s adviser. A school may restrict the type and/or number of different courses which may be repeated during one degree program. The grade earned by repeating a course is used in lieu of the grade originally earned, although the original grade is not erased from the transcript. No course may be repeated more than twice. No sequence course may be repeated for credit after a more advanced course in that sequence has been passed with a B or higher grade. The repeated course must be the same as that in which the original grade was earned. In extenuating circumstances, a department chair or program director, with the dean’s approval, may substitute another course of similar content. Grades of W, R, or N reported for the repeated course will not be counted as a course repeat.
To initiate only the last course grade being computed in the GPA, a Course Repeat form must be filed with the dean’s office.
A grade average of at least B (GPA = 3.00) is required in the courses which make up the program for any graduate degree.
A student with full graduate status is automatically placed on probation whenever his or her cumulative GPA falls below 3.00. Each school determines the restrictions placed on a student on probation. A student who remains on probation is subject to dismissal within a time period determined by the school, subject to review by the University Council on Graduate Study. A student on provisional or special status or on probation is not eligible to take the Ph.D. preliminary evaluation, the MA/MS or Ph.D. comprehensive examination, or to be graduated.
Statute of Limitations
The purpose of the statute of limitations is to ensure that a graduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh represents mastery of current knowledge in the field of study. Individual schools within the University may adopt policies that are more, but not less, stringent than those stated here.
All requirements for MA and MS degrees must be completed within a period of four consecutive calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate study; all requirements for professional master’s degrees, in five years. Dual degrees and joint degrees that require course work in excess of 50 credit hours may be granted a longer statute of limitations by the University Council on Graduate Study.
From the student’s initial registration for graduate study, all requirements for the PhD degree must be completed within a period of ten years or eight years if the student has received credit for a master’s degree appropriate to the field of study. Programs for professional doctoral degrees, for which the majority of candidates pursue part-time study while working full time within their chosen disciplines, may be granted a longer statute of limitations by the schools offering the degrees.
Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for an advanced degree may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. The request must be approved by the department or departmental committee (master’s or doctoral) and submitted to the dean for final action. Requests for an extension of the statute of limitations must be accompanied by a departmental assessment of the work required of the student to complete the degree as well as documented evidence of the extenuating circumstances leading to the requested extension. Students who request an extension of the statute of limitations must demonstrate proper preparation for the completion of all current degree requirements.
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, recommended to the dean by the department, and approved by the dean. If approved, the time of the leave shall not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.
Acceptance of Transfer Credits
The completion of requirements for advanced degrees must be satisfied through registration at the Pittsburgh campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Graduate students already enrolled may, when approved in advance by their department and the dean, spend a term or more at another graduate institution to obtain training or experience not available at the University of Pittsburgh and transfer those credits toward the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Pittsburgh. In such instances, neither the University nor any of its components is responsible for providing any financial assistance to the graduate student.
Official transcripts certifying graduate courses completed in a degree granting graduate program at another appropriately accredited institution prior to admission to the University of Pittsburgh should be submitted at the time of application and should be evaluated for acceptability as transfer credit early in the student’s graduate career for acceptability as transfer credit subject to University policy, course equivalencies, and individual school requirements. In no case may the total number of credits transferred for completion of requirements for an advanced degree exceed the maximum number stated in the sections pertaining to advanced degree requirements. The Registrar, after notification by the dean, will enter the transfer (advanced standing) credits as block credits on the student’s transcript. Grades (and grade points) are not recorded for credits accepted by transfer.
Transfer credits will not be accepted for courses in which a grade lower than B (GPA = 3.00) or its equivalent has been received. No credit will be granted toward an advanced degree for work completed in extension courses, correspondence courses, or in the off-campus center of another institution unless those credits are approved for equivalent graduate degrees at that institution and the institution has an accredited program.
Credit by Course Examination
Each school authorized to offer graduate courses should clearly specify in its school bulletin whether or not students may obtain credit toward a degree by the procedure of “credit by course examination.” If such an option is provided, the courses for which this option is appropriate should be designated as such in the school bulletin. A school granting graduate credit for life or work experience should do so only through the option of credit by examination.
Registration of Undergraduate Students for Graduate Courses
Undergraduate students with sufficient preparation are permitted to enroll in graduate courses following procedures determined by each school. The graduate credits earned may be counted toward the undergraduate degree if approved by the student’s school. These may not be counted as credits toward a graduate degree except as noted below.
Undergraduate students who need fewer than 15 credits to complete requirements for the baccalaureate degree and who intend to continue study toward an advanced degree may be permitted during their final term to register for graduate courses which will later apply toward a graduate degree. The student must obtain written permission from the school of proposed graduate study that the courses may count when and if the student is admitted into the graduate degree program. This privilege should not be granted if the proposed total program exceeds a normal full-time load. Although these credits will appear on the undergraduate transcript, they will not count toward fulfilling undergraduate degree requirements. They will be posted as Advanced Standing credits on the graduate transcript.
Early Admission Program
Exceptionally able undergraduate University of Pittsburgh students may be admitted to full graduate status if their graduate and undergraduate schools have approved early admission as a permitted option, have established standards and procedures, and provided the student needs no more than 24 credits to complete the baccalaureate degree. Credits earned while enrolled in the graduate program may also be counted toward fulfilling undergraduate degree requirements.
Course Work Acceptable as Graduate Credit
A substantial proportion of courses acceptable toward a graduate degree should be designed explicitly for graduate students. Introductory graduate level (master’s level) courses are numbered 2000-2999, those at an advanced graduate level (doctoral level) are numbered 3000-3999. To be eligible for a master’s degree, a student must have completed at least four courses (12 credits) or one-half the total number of credits submitted for the degree, whichever is greater, at the graduate level (2000 or 3000 series) with at least an average grade of B (3.00). A doctoral student must complete additional graduate level courses as determined by his or her department or school. No lower level undergraduate course (numbered 0001-0999 or 7000-7999) may be applied toward a graduate degree.
Students may register for graduate courses at Carlow University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Chatham University, Duquesne University, La Roche College, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Point Park University, and Robert Morris University under the PCHE cross-registration agreement. Such work, if approved in advance by the student’s adviser, will not be considered as transfer credit and may be counted for credit toward a graduate degree; the grade earned will be used in computing the student’s grade point average.
Two Independent Degree Programs Simultaneously
Students may pursue two independent graduate degrees simultaneously in two different schools within the University or two different departments within the same school. 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 six 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.
Dual and Joint Degree Programs
Dual and joint degree programs result in two degrees being awarded. Requirements for these programs include all or most of the requirements of two distinct academic degree programs. Dual programs exist within a single school; joint programs exist between two or more schools; cooperative programs are administered by two or more institutions. The same course, examination, or thesis may be used to fulfill requirements only if so specified in the documents formally establishing the dual or joint degree program as approved by the University. These programs may result in a student earning two separate masters’ degrees, a master’s and a first professional degree, or a master’s or first professional degree and a doctoral degree, but never result in a student earning two separate doctoral degrees.
Students must be admitted to both academic programs offering the dual or joint degrees being sought and must be graduated from both degree programs at the same time.
A certificate program at the graduate level is a coherent set of courses and related work in a particular area. The minimum credit requirement for a certificate is 15 credits, of which 12 credits must be completed at the University of Pittsburgh. Normally, a certificate is an award granted at the graduate level only to persons receiving graduate degrees or persons who enter with graduate degrees and wish advanced training in some specific area. It is often an interdisciplinary program and may be entered by students pursuing different degree programs. If earned in conjunction with a degree program, a certificate must require additional work. In some professional schools a particular certificate program may be designed for students who are not pursuing a master’s degree. In this case admission requirements must be equivalent to admission requirements for a master’s degree. A student must be formally admitted into a certificate program; the certificate may appear on the transcript as a degree goal and will appear on the final transcript as an awarded certificate.
There are three types of certificate programs at the graduate level:
- Postbaccalaureate certificates are usually aimed at meeting the needs of working adults searching for changes in careers. To be admitted to a postbaccalaureate certificate program, a student must have earned a baccalaureate degree at an accredited institution and meet the University’s minimal requirements for admission to graduate school. Normally all courses are at the graduate level. As a minimum requirement, at least half of the credits required for the certificate must be earned in graduate courses and no lower-level undergraduate courses may count toward the certificate. If a student is subsequently admitted to a master’s program, the credits earned in the certificate, if accepted by that program, may count toward completion of the master’s program.
- Graduate certificates are used to enhance existing degree programs and to enable the student to show a breadth of study to future employers. To be admitted to a graduate certificate program, a student must already have earned a master’s degree or be in the process of earning a graduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Normally all courses are at the graduate level. As a minimum requirement, at least half of the credits must be earned in graduate courses and no lower-level undergraduate courses may count toward the certificate. In a few fields, separate certificates are offered for master’s students and for doctoral students, and in the latter program all courses must be at the graduate level. Certificates are awarded upon successful completion of the required program and the award of the graduate degree. They should require additional work beyond the graduate degree.
- Post-Professional certificates usually serve to provide additional and up-to-date expertise to a person who has earned the first professional degree. To be admitted to a post-professional program, a student must have earned a first professional degree or a professional master’s degree in a particular professional field. All courses must be at the graduate level.
Graduate Programs Offered in Off-Campus Locations or via Electronic Communication
The academic standards set forth in the Regulations Governing Graduate Study apply to graduate programs offered in off-campus locations and offered via electronic communication. Admission criteria should be the same as those used by a school for its on-campus programs.
A student preparing a dissertation or other written work as part of academic requirements may, when appropriate, use the assistance of professional editors, provided that (1) he or she receives the approval of the research adviser or professor of the course in which written work is being submitted; (2) that editorial assistance provided be limited to use of language and not to subject matter, content or meaning; and (3) that all editorial assistance be described and acknowledged in the report.
Publication of Theses and Dissertations
All theses and dissertations submitted at the University of Pittsburgh must be submitted electronically. Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) are theses or dissertations prepared as text-based PDF files that can contain non-text elements such as multimedia, sound, video, and hypertext links.
All ETDs are made publicly available on the University Library System’s online catalog. Students may choose to restrict access to the ETD to University of Pittsburgh IP addresses for a maximum period of five years. After five years, the ETD will automatically become fully accessible. Full access to the ETD may be withheld for a maximum of one year if a patent application has been filed and the student receives appropriate approval from the Provost’s Office.
All doctoral candidates are required to execute an agreement with ProQuest/University Microfilms Inc. for the publication of the dissertation in the ProQuest/UMI repository.
Any thesis or dissertation may be published, either by the University or through an outside agency, provided due credit is given to the University. No form of publication, however, shall relieve the student of his or her responsibility for supplying the electronic thesis or dissertation to the University Library System.
University Patent Policy
During enrollment at the University, a student may be responsible for new discoveries and inventions that could have commercial value and contribute to scientific, technological, social, or cultural progress. Those accomplishments should be patented in the best interest of the student, the University, the public, and the government. The University’s policy on patents determines the rights and obligations of the student and the University in any technology the student may invent while enrolled in the University. Details of this University policy are available from the Office of Technology Management.
Application for Graduation
Each candidate for graduation must file an official Application for Graduation in the office of the dean early in the term in which graduation is expected. Students are required to be registered for at least one credit at the University in the 12 month period before graduation. Students must be registered in the term in which they are graduated. In exceptional circumstances, students who complete all the degree requirements at the end of a term but are graduated in the next may petition the dean of their school for a waiver of this requirement.
Prior to the end of the term in which they are graduated, all doctoral candidates must submit to the office of the dean a completed Survey of Earned Doctorates Awarded in the United States.
Certification for Graduation
The Graduate Faculty of the department or program evaluates the performance of the student. If that performance is satisfactory, a report should be submitted to the dean certifying that the candidate has satisfactorily completed all departmental requirements for a graduate degree. The dean, after confirming that the overall school and University requirements have been met, certifies the candidate for graduation.
Regulations Pertaining to Master’s Degrees
Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees
Master of Arts (MA) degrees are awarded for completion of graduate programs in various departments within the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; the Master of Science (MS) degree is offered in departments within the School of Arts and Sciences, the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Education, the John A. Swanson School of Engineering, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Public Health, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Social Work. Some of the MA or MS degrees offered are specified as being “in” a particular discipline; e.g., Master of Science in Chemical Engineering.
Programs of Study
The MA and MS degree programs provide an introduction to scholarly activities and research and often serve as preparation for teaching careers. These degrees are awarded for the completion of a coherent program designed to assure the mastery of specified knowledge and skills, rather than a random accumulation of a certain number of courses. The overall form and content of the student’s program of study is the responsibility of the faculty of the department or program. To carry out this responsibility, each student must be assigned a major adviser, who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accord with school and departmental guidelines.
At least five courses (15 credits) or one-half the master’s degree program, whichever is greater, must be at the graduate level (the 2000 or 3000 series) and must be completed with at least an average grade of B (3.00). No course numbered below 1000 or from 7000 to 7999 may be applied toward graduate degree requirements.
Some master’s programs may include approved areas of concentration or minors. Areas of concentration define and describe the student’s training and expertise within the broader discipline. Minors represent significant coursework completed in an area related to the student’s specialty. Such areas of concentration or minors are added to the transcript upon the granting of the degree.
Master’s degrees are conferred only on those students who have completed all courses required for the degree with at least a 3.00 GPA.
The requirement of proficiency in foreign languages is at the discretion of individual departments or schools.
Departments or programs are expected to provide students with a copy of school and departmental regulations appropriate for their program. Students are expected to become familiar with these and to satisfy all prescribed degree requirements.
The Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees require the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credits of graduate study approved by the department or school. Not more than six credits may be granted toward the completion of the requirements for a master’s degree for work completed at another graduate institution. (See Acceptance of Transfer Credits for further information.)
MA or MS degrees are conferred only upon those students who, in one or more comprehensive examination or the equivalent, show that they have mastered the general field of their graduate study. Each department or similar unit is responsible for specifying the content and procedure for administration of the comprehensive examination and will specify for each candidate the field of his or her examination, which may vary from student to student. Whenever a program substitutes an equivalent requirement for the comprehensive examination, the department or program should notify the University Council on Graduate Study and describe the substitution.
Students on special or provisional status are not eligible to take a comprehensive examination. These examinations must be taken at least one month prior to the last day of the term in which the degree is to be granted. 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. A student who is unable to complete all degree requirements within a two-year period after passing the comprehensive examination may be re-examined at the discretion of the department, program director, or dean.
The requirement of a thesis or its equivalent is at the discretion of individual departments, programs, or schools. If a thesis is submitted, its form must be in accord with specifications stipulated in the Format Guidelines for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Preparation at the University of Pittsburgh. The thesis examining committee will consist of at least three members of the faculty recommended by the major adviser and approved by the department chair or program director. The final oral examination in defense of the master’s thesis is conducted by the thesis committee, and a report of this examination signed by all members of the committee must be filed in the office of the dean. After the examination, all master’s theses must be submitted electronically and will be made available through PITTCat, the University Library System’s online catalog.
It is usual for a program to require additional course work if a thesis is not required.
For the Master of Arts degree, each student must describe one or more substantial intellectual experience(s) or accomplishment(s) acceptably in writing. In programs in which a master’s thesis is optional, the student must satisfy this requirement by submitting a paper (or papers), as designated by the major department, and must demonstrate competence in using the methods of scholarship.
For the Master of Science degree, a paper or research project is usually required.
Professional Master’s Degrees
The University of Pittsburgh, through its professional schools, offers the following master’s degrees in professional fields of study: Master of Business Administration, Master of Dental Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Education, Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing, Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Promotion and Education, Master of Science in Information Science, Master of International Business, Master of International Development, Master of Law, Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Applied Mathematics (MA and MS), Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Occupational Therapy, Master of Physical Therapy, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Public and International Affairs, Master of Public Policy and Management, Master of Social Work, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Science in Telecommunications.
Programs of Study
The professional master’s degree programs are generally similar to those for the MA and MS except that they emphasize instruction in professional affairs and practice and serve as preparation for careers in the professions. The program of study should be a coherent program designed to assure the mastery of specified knowledge and skills, rather than a random accumulation of a certain number of courses. The overall form and content of the student’s program of study is the responsibility of the student’s department or school. To carry out this responsibility, each student must be assigned a major adviser, who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accord with school and departmental guidelines.
At least one-half of the credits earned in a master’s degree program must be at the graduate level (the 2000 or 3000 series) and must be completed with at least an average grade of B (3.00). No courses numbered below 1000 or from 7000 to 7999 may be applied toward graduate degree requirements.
Master’s degrees are conferred only on those students who have completed all course requirements with at least a 3.00 GPA.
Departments or programs are expected to provide students with a copy of school and departmental regulations appropriate for their programs. Students are expected to become familiar with these and to satisfy all prescribed degree requirements.
The professional master’s degrees require the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credits of graduate study approved by the department. No more than one-third of the total number of required credits may be granted to a student as transfer credit for work done at another graduate institution. (See Acceptance of Transfer Credits.)
Most professional master’s degree programs provide opportunities for theoretical studies and practical applications. Students are expected to acquire professional skills through course work, projects, internships, practica, and/or research papers.
Professional master’s degrees are conferred upon those students who demonstrate comprehensive mastery of the general field of study. This includes: a) satisfactory completion of all course requirements and b) other performances which indicate comprehensive mastery such as examinations, internships, research projects, theses, practica, and so forth. These requirements vary from school to school.
Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees
Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Doctor of Philosophy degrees are awarded for completion of graduate programs in various departments within the School of Arts and Sciences, the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Education, the John A. Swanson School of Engineering, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the School of Information Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the School of Pharmacy, the Graduate School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and the School of Social Work.
Admission to Doctoral Study
In some doctoral programs, the requirements for admission to graduate study and for admission to doctoral study are identical, while other programs require the completion of a master’s degree or its equivalent as a prerequisite for admission to doctoral study. Admission to doctoral study does not include any implication concerning “admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.”
Normally, only one major department of graduate study is permitted for the PhD degree. However, a few formal interdisciplinary programs and, under some circumstances, some independently designed interdisciplinary doctoral programs are available (see Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programs).
Programs of Study
All PhD programs offered at the University of Pittsburgh should provide a coherent series of courses, seminars, and discussions designed to develop in the student a mature understanding of the content, methods, theories, and values of a field of knowledge and its relation to other fields. Each program should train the student in the methods of independent research appropriate to the discipline and provide an adviser and a committee to guide the student in an extended investigation of an original and independent research project of significance in the field.
The overall form and content of each student’s program is the responsibility of the Graduate Faculty of the department or program. To carry out this responsibility, departments or programs must ensure that each student has a major adviser who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accord with school and departmental guidelines. The adviser may prescribe additional courses both within and outside the department or program that are essential and/or appropriate to the student’s program.
Some doctoral programs may include approved areas of concentration used to define and describe the students’ training and expertise within the broader discipline. Such an area of concentration is added to the transcript upon the granting of the degree.
Doctoral level courses are numbered in the 3000 series, but courses numbered in the 2000 series may also be appropriate for doctoral study. Normally, courses numbered below 2000 do not meet the minimum requirements for doctoral study, although they may be taken to supplement a doctoral program.
Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in courses to be eligible to take the preliminary and comprehensive examinations as well as to be graduated.
The requirement of proficiency in the use of foreign languages or other tools of research is at the discretion of individual departments or schools.
Departments or programs are expected to provide students with a copy of school and departmental regulations appropriate for their program and, in turn, students are expected to become familiar with these and to satisfy all prescribed degree requirements.
The minimum credit requirement for the PhD degree is met by six terms of registration as a graduate student for 12 or more credits per term or the equivalent number of credits in a reduced load. If the school requires completion of its master’s degree program prior to admission into its doctoral program, at least four terms of registration for 12 or more credits per term or the equivalent number of credits in a reduced load are required as a minimum for the PhD degree. 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 at the time of admission to meet the minimum credit requirement. (See Acceptance of Transfer Credits) No more than 30 credits may be accepted for a previously earned PhD degree in recognition of master’s degree work.
Graduate students already enrolled may, when approved in advance by their department or programs and the dean, spend a term or more at another graduate institution to obtain training or experience not available at the University of Pittsburgh and transfer those credits toward the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Pittsburgh. In all cases, at least three terms, or 36 credits, of full-time doctoral study or the equivalent in part-time study must be successfully completed at the University of Pittsburgh.
Students must register each term for the number of credits of course work, independent study, or research equivalent to the anticipated use of faculty time and University facilities. A student who has not registered for at least one credit during a 12-month period will be transferred automatically to inactive status and must file an application for readmission to graduate study (and pay the application fee) before being permitted to register again.
Students seeking the PhD degree are required to engage in a minimum of one term of full-time doctoral study, which excludes any other employment except as approved by their departments or programs.
The preliminary evaluation should be designed to assess the breadth of the student’s knowledge of the discipline, the student’s achievement during the first year of graduate study, and the potential to apply research methods independently. The form and nature of the evaluation should be approved at the school level and described in the school bulletin. It should be conducted at approximately the end of the first year of full-time graduate study. The evaluation is used to identify those students who may be expected to complete a doctoral program successfully and also to reveal areas of weakness in the student’s preparation. Evaluation results must be reported promptly to the dean’s office, but no later than the last day of the term in which the evaluation occurs.
The Comprehensive Examination should be designed to assess the student’s mastery of the general field of doctoral study, the student’s acquisition of both depth and breadth in the area of specialization within the general field, and the ability to use the research methods of the discipline. In some programs, the comprehensive examination is combined with the overview or prospectus meeting. It should be administered at approximately the time of the completion of the formal course requirements and should be passed at least eight months before the scheduling of the final oral examination and dissertation defense. In no case may the comprehensive examination be taken in the same term in which the student is graduated. Examination results must be reported promptly to the dean’s office but no later than the last day of the term in which the examination is administered. A student who is unable to complete all degree requirements within a five-year period after passing the comprehensive examination may be re-examined at the discretion of the department, program, or school.
Before admission to candidacy for the PhD degree, the student’s major adviser proposes for the approval of the doctoral program director and the dean a committee of four or more persons, including at least one from another department in the University of Pittsburgh or from an appropriate graduate program at another academic institution, to serve as the doctoral committee. The majority of the committee, including the major adviser, must be full or adjunct members of the Graduate Faculty. This committee must review and approve the proposed research project before the student may be admitted to candidacy.
This doctoral committee has the responsibility to advise the student during the progress of the candidate’s research and has the authority to require high quality research and/or the rewriting of any portion or all of the dissertation. It conducts the final oral examination and determines whether the dissertation meets acceptable standards.
Meetings of the doctoral candidate and his/her dissertation committee must occur at least annually from the time the student gains Admission to Doctoral Candidacy. During these meetings, the committee should assess the student’s progress toward degree and discuss objectives for the following year and a timetable for completing degree requirements. It is the responsibility of the dean of each school to determine a mechanism for monitoring the occurrence of these annual reviews.
The membership of the doctoral committee may be changed whenever it is appropriate or necessary, subject to the approval of the department chair or program director and the dean.
When a doctoral committee member leaves the University, he or she must be replaced unless the dissertation is almost complete or the member has an essential role on the committee. In the latter case, the dean’s approval should be obtained. When the chair of a committee leaves and cannot be conveniently replaced, a co-chair must be appointed from within the department, and the restructured committee requires the approval of the department chair or director of the school’s doctoral program and the dean. If the defense takes place within a few months of the chair’s departure, the requirement of the co-chair is usually waived.
A retired faculty member may remain as a member or chair of a committee if he or she is spending considerable time in Pittsburgh or its vicinity and is still professionally active. Retired faculty who meet these criteria may also be appointed as a member or as a co-chair (but not chair) of a newly-formed committee. Retired faculty who leave the Pittsburgh area and/or do not remain professionally active should be replaced on committees and the revised committee approved by the department chair or the school’s director of doctoral programs and the dean.
Overview or Prospectus Meeting
Each student must prepare a dissertation proposal for presentation to the doctoral committee at a formal dissertation overview or prospectus meeting. The overview requires the student to carefully formulate a plan and permits the doctoral committee members to provide guidance in shaping the conceptualization and methodology of that plan. The doctoral committee must unanimously approve the dissertation topic and research plan before the student may be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. Approval of the proposal does not imply either the acceptance of a dissertation prepared in accord with the proposal or the restriction of the dissertation to this original proposal. The student is responsible for ensuring that all appropriate regulatory approvals are obtained for the proposed research. For example, if the research proposed in the overview or prospectus involves human subjects, that proposed research must be approved by the University Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it may be carried out.
Admission to Candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree constitutes a promotion of the student to the most advanced stage of graduate study and provides formal approval to devote essentially exclusive attention to the research and the writing of the dissertation. To qualify for admission to candidacy, students must be in full graduate status, have satisfied the requirement of the preliminary evaluation, have completed formal course work with a minimum grade point average of 3.00, have passed the comprehensive examination, and have received approval of the proposed subject and plan of the dissertation from the doctoral committee following an overview or prospectus meeting of the committee. In some schools, admission to candidacy is a prerequisite to registration for dissertation credits. Students are informed of admission to candidacy by written notification from the dean, who also states the approved doctoral committee’s composition.
Dissertation and Abstract
Each student must write a dissertation that presents the results of a research project carried out by the student. An appropriate research project involves a substantive piece of original and independent research grounded in an appropriate body of literature. It is relevant to an identifiable field as it is currently practiced. It presents a hypothesis tested by data and analysis and provides a significant contribution or advancement in that field. It is the responsibility of the student’s doctoral committee to evaluate the dissertation in these terms and to recommend the awarding of the doctoral degree only if the dissertation is judged to demonstrate these qualities.
Characteristics which a dissertation should demonstrate are: the establishment of a historical context for the presentation of an innovative and creative approach to the problem analysis and solution; a clear understanding of the problem area as revealed by analysis and synthesis of a broad literature base; a well defined research design; clarity in composition and careful documentation; results of sufficient merit to be published in refereed journals or to form the basis of a book or monograph; sufficient detail so that other scholars can build on it in subsequent work; the preparation of the author to assume a position within the profession.
If the dissertation is the result of a collaborative research effort, the project should be structured in such a way that the student’s dissertation results from one, clearly identified piece of work in which the student has supplied the unquestionably major effort. The contributions of the student and the other collaborators must be clearly identified.
Published articles authored by the student and based on research conducted for the dissertation study may be included in the dissertation, if the student’s department and school have a written policy that this is acceptable. In any case, the published work must be logically connected and integrated into the dissertation in a coherent manner, and sufficient detail must be presented to satisfy the characteristics of a dissertation. The student should be the sole or primary author of the published work. If the published articles were co-authored, the contribution of the student must be clearly delineated in the introduction so the committee can ascertain that the student’s own work satisfies the requirements of a dissertation. Instructions on incorporating articles into the dissertation are provided in the Format Guidelines for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Preparation at the University of Pittsburgh.
Candidates for the doctoral degree must provide a suitable number of copies of the dissertation, as determined by the doctoral committee and school policy, for review and use during the final oral examination. The general format of the dissertation and the abstract is determined by the Office of the Provost and is set forth in the Format Guidelines for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Preparation at the University of Pittsburgh. Specific instructions should be available in the office of the dean of the school. After the final oral examination is successfully completed, the candidate must electronically submit the approved complete dissertation and abstract in final form. The candidate must submit a dissertation approval form, the required agreement with University Microfilms Inc. for the publication of the dissertation on microfilm and for the publication of the abstract in Dissertation Abstracts, and any appropriate fees to the designated student services representative in the dean’s office of the candidate’s school.
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
The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the doctoral committee and need not be confined to materials in and related to the dissertation. Any member of the Graduate Faculty of the University may attend and participate in the examination. The date, place, and time of the examination should be published well in advance in the University Times. Other qualified individuals may be invited by the committee to participate in the examination. Only members of the doctoral committee may be present during the final deliberations and may vote on the passing of the candidate. A report of this examination, signed by all the members of the doctoral committee, must be sent to the dean. If the decision of the committee is not unanimous, the case is referred to the dean for resolution. The chair of the doctoral committee should ensure that the dissertation is in final form before requesting signatures of the members of the committee.
Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programs
A student may be admitted into one of two types of interdisciplinary doctoral programs:
- Generic Programs, which are ongoing, formally structured, and approved doctoral programs, admission into which follows the same procedures as those of departmental programs; and,
- Individualized Programs, which are specially designed to permit an exceptionally able student who has earned a master’s degree or the equivalent to pursue an interdisciplinary doctoral program structured to satisfy his or her unique goals. Such students should apply to the dean of the school if the departments involved in the proposed program are organized within one school or to the Provost if the departments are organized within more than one school. The student must satisfy the admission requirements of each of the departments or schools involved in the proposed program. If the request is approved, the dean or the Provost, in consultation with the departments concerned, will designate five members from these departments to serve as an advisory committee. After these advisers meet with the student, a chief adviser is selected to assume responsibility for general guidance to the student. These advisers continue their responsibility until the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree and may, if it is appropriate, continue as the doctoral committee for this student.
Other Research Doctoral Degrees
The University of Pittsburgh, through its professional schools, offers the following research doctoral degrees in professional fields of study: Doctor of Education offered through the School of Education and the Doctor of Public Health offered through the Graduate School of Public Health.
These doctoral degree programs are similar to those for the PhD in the degree of rigor required, the minimum total credit requirements and permissible transfer credits, requirements for the successful completion of a preliminary evaluation and a comprehensive examination, admission to doctoral candidacy, nomination of a doctoral committee, preparation of the dissertation and abstract, publication of the dissertation, and successful completion of the final oral examination. These doctoral dissertations are usually based on an in-depth research project by the student and are intended to permit the student to apply relevant theory and knowledge as well as demonstrate skills in analysis of a major problem and to contribute to the improvement of practice in the student’s area of specialization.
Other Professional Doctoral Degrees
The University of Pittsburgh also offers professional doctoral degree programs for practitioners, including the JSD (Law), DNP (Nursing), AuD (Audiology), DPT (Physical Therapy), PharmD (Pharmacy), and CScD (Clinical Science). These programs provide a coherent curriculum designed to impart the mastery of a substantial and complex body of knowledge that will serve as preparation for leadership and excellence in the practice of the profession. The curriculum should contain a research component to achieve the goal for the research competence of the graduate. Students should deliver a report based on research that demonstrates both mastery of their subject matter and a high level of communication skills. The curriculum should contain an internship, a practicum or a clinical component. Each experience should have associated with it clear goals and objectives, a statement of what skills the student should master, a statement of how those skills will be assessed objectively by the academic program and what steps the program will take in response to those assessments. In addition, the program should have an objective way to evaluate the site where internships and/or clinical rotations take place and assure the expertise of those responsible for administering training and instruction. If the program is an accredited program, the standards of the accrediting body for a professional doctorate must be met.
To attain the depth of knowledge and experience required by someone earning a doctorate, a minimum 9 semesters of full-time study are required. Of this no more than one-third should be internships or clinical work. A comprehensive examination will be used to assess the student’s mastery of a substantial and complex body of knowledge.
The minimum admission requirements must be the same as for all graduate programs at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, the student must have completed a defined set of prerequisites so that all students will enter with required basic knowledge. A student must attain a 3.00 GPA in order to maintain good standing and be graduated.