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

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jun 15, 2024
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

School of Computing and Information

Grand-parenting and the new School of Computing and Information  

The University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information (SCI) opened on July 1, 2017, and includes the faculties, staff, students, and degree programs of the School of Information Sciences and the Department of Computer Science.

With the introduction of SCI, the University is answering a worldwide call for more professionals who are capable of building next-generation information systems; enabling users to find the right information; and guiding organizations and governments in sharing, preserving, and protecting data and data sources. Our degree programs will address the holistic spectrum of computing and information, from producers to users and from science-oriented exploration to human-centric applications. We foresee a future with increased opportunities to expose our students to a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, information management, and computing; expanded experiential learning opportunities; and extended career networks.

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

Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh
School of Computing and Information
Office of Student Services
135 North Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

John Ramirez, BSCS Director

Robert Perkoski, BSIS Director

Admission Procedures

Unless you are transferring from another university, the freshman and sophomore years are spent in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of General Studies. During the first two years, a student takes courses needed for admissions and begins satisfying some of the required Skills, General Education, Related Area, and Major course requirements.

Upon completion of 55 credits, students can apply to the Information Science program by meeting with their advisors and completing an Undergraduate Academic Program/Plan Add/Change Form and a School Transfer Application. Your advisor will send these plus your folder to the admissions committee for review. Decisions are made in about two weeks.

Deadlines: August 1 for the Fall Term, December 1 for the Spring Term, April 1 for the Summer Term.

If you are transferring from another college or university external to Pitt, use the University transfer guidelines  for detailed information on the transfer process on the application and transfer credit/GPA requirements.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for transfer to the School of Computing and Information, applicants must present an adequate lower-level undergraduate academic record and be in good academic standing in the college or school in which they are currently enrolled.  As well, students must have completed 55 credits (which may include current term credits).

Note: Meeting minimum qualifications does not guarantee admission to the program. The total academic record, as well as the probability of completion of the degree requirements within the remaining credit hours, will be considered.

For degree-specific admissions requirements, click here.

Transfer Students

External Transfer Students

Students at other institutions who wish to apply for admission as transfer students to the school should submit a Transfer Application and supporting materials to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Prospective transfer students should note especially that the evaluation of course work taken at other colleges and universities will be made by advisors at the School of Computing and Information. Students who have been admitted as transfer students will be told at the time of admission how much advanced standing credit they have been awarded by the undergraduate advisor.

Regional Campus Transfer Students

Students in Pitt’s undergraduate schools or regional campuses at the University should initiate the process of transferring into the school by completing an Undergraduate Academic Program/Plan Add/Change form and a Transfer Application and requesting that the school in which they were most recently enrolled send these to the School. Students currently on inactive status in the school of last registration must first be reinstated in that school before the transfer process can be completed.


Students who previously attended the University of Pittsburgh then attended other institutions and wish to return to the University are considered transfer students and must reapply following the guidelines for transfer students. The admitting school will evaluate the credits previously earned at the University of Pittsburgh along with credits earned elsewhere to determine the number of credits the transfer student will be allowed. Acceptable credits from institutions other than Pitt will appear on the student transcript as advanced standing credits and will not count in the GPA calculation. Credits earned at the University of Pittsburgh will appear as term entries on the student transcript, and courses accepted toward the degree will be used when calculating the student’s GPA.

Former University of Pittsburgh students who have not attended another institution may be reinstated through the dean’s office of the school in which they were previously enrolled. See the reinstatement section  for more information.

Post Baccalaureate and Guest Students

Post baccalaureate and guest students are holders of bachelor’s degrees who have been permitted to take additional undergraduate course work as nondegree students. The number of credits that may be taken by nondegree, post baccalaureate students is limited to a maximum of 12.

Guest students are those who are seeking a degree at another university but want to take courses at the School of Computing and Information for credit with the expectation that the credits will transfer back to the student’s home institution. Guest students must be in good academic standing and generally must apply at least a few weeks before the start of a given term. The home school must certify that the proposed arrangement is satisfactory before such a student will be admitted. Suspended or dismissed students, even with their home school’s permission, cannot be admitted as guest students. Guest student status is not usually granted for more than two terms.

Contact the school’s Office of Student Services for application information for admission as either a nondegree post baccalaureate or guest student. Acceptance cannot be granted until all necessary materials have been received, including the completed application form, official transcripts, and application fee. The deadlines for application for special students are August 1 for Fall Term, December 1 for Spring Term, and April 1 for Summer Term admissions.

Academic Integrity

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


Since several of the school’s undergraduate courses may be taken during the first and second years of study, the School of Computing and Information faculty cooperate with Arts and Sciences (A&S) and College of General Studies (CGS) advisors to help students plan the first two years of study. Computer Science and Information Science courses taken during the first two years serve two purposes:

  • For those students who are undecided on a major, early contact with computer or information science can provide a basis for deciding whether or not to major in the subject; and
  • For those students who have already decided on either computer or information science as a major, the courses can indicate more fully the topics that are of interest and also reduce the load to be taken during the third and fourth years.

*Important advising information for students deciding on their first computing course.

First computing course options: CS 0007  or CS 0401  . Students taking CS 0401  should already have some programming background:

  • Previous experience with Java (ex: CS 0007  ) is recommended, but Python (CS 0008  ), C, C++ and VB (CS 0004  ) are also acceptable.
  • Concepts that you are expected to be familiar with and have used in programs include:
  • Basic program structure and syntax
  • Primitive types and expressions
  • Control Statements and Decisions
  • Methods (or functions) and parameters
  • Arrays and their uses

If students do not have this background, they should consider taking CS 0007  before taking CS 0401 . If the student would like to discuss their background before deciding on a course, please feel free to contact CS Undergraduate Program Director.

Once students have been accepted into one of our degree programs, they are assigned an advisor. Initially, the student and advisor discuss the student’s plan of study, a related field, and other academic options. Each term, the student and advisor should review the student’s progress and select the courses to be taken to satisfy the student’s program goals. In addition, the student and advisor should discuss career goals, educational plans, and any academic-related problems.

The school’s policy emphasizes the role of an advisor in providing advice for academic decisions, and students are urged to take full advantage of their advisor’s experience and knowledge as often as needs arise. To avoid schedule conflicts, students are strongly advised to contact their advisors for an appointment.

Detailed advising information is available on the program offering pages linked below.

Policies on class registration, adding and dropping courses, cross-registration, grading systems, etc. are governed by the University at large.  Students should refer to the University’s academic regulations for general information and contact the Office of Student Services or more details on applying these policies in practice.

Academic Standards

Full-time students in the program are expected to complete 24 credit hours of work each academic year with a GPA of at least 2.75 (12 credit hours for students granted part-time status). They are also expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.50 and a 2.50 GPA in major courses. Failure to meet any or all of these conditions may place a student in academic jeopardy. Students who fail to meet these conditions for two consecutive terms and who, in their most recent term of residence, failed to complete 12 credits (6 credits for part-time students) with a GPA of 2.50 are liable to be suspended. Students who have been suspended are not permitted to enroll in University courses for one calendar year. See below for the Academic Standing review process.

Students who have been admitted to the School of Computing and Information are eligible to continue as long as a good academic standing is maintained or until the degree has been earned. The school’s statute of limitations requires that all of the credits required for the Bachelor of Science degree, whether earned in residence or transferred from another institution, must have been earned within 12 years prior to the date on which the degree is awarded. However, when given evidence that the previous courses still provide adequate preparation for courses yet to be taken and still represent a reasonable part of the total academic program, the director of the undergraduate program may waive this limitation. In such cases, the waiver is for a specific period during which the program must be completed.

Credit Load

A normal credit load ranges from 12 to 18 credits per term, with a minimum of 24 credits in an academic year. Any term credit load in excess of 18 credits requires the approval of the director of the undergraduate program and approval of the dean at the School of Computing and Information. No more than 60 credits may be taken in one department or school, and usually not more than 40 credits are considered desirable in a well-balanced program.

Repeating Courses

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

  • A sequence course may not be repeated for credit if the student passes a higher sequence course with a C or better grade.
  • A student may not enroll in the same course at another institution and have that grade replace the original grade earned at the University.
  • The original course and grade remain on the transcript; however, the grade and credits originally earned are not counted in the calculation of the GPA.
  • The grade earned by repeating a course is used instead of the grade originally earned. W, R, or N grades reported for the repeated course will not be identified as a course repeat, and therefore the original grade earned will continue to be counted in the GPA. Incomplete grades (G and I) are not identified as repeated courses until the course work is completed.
  • Students are only permitted to repeat a course twice. Any grade earned in the repeated course will be recorded on the academic transcript, even if it is lower than the original grade.

The school automatically submits a course repeat form for students who have repeated the exact course (i.e., repeating INFSCI 0017 ).  However, any student who is replacing a course with a comparable one (i.e., replacing INFSCI 0017  with CS 0401 ), must submit their own course repeat form through their advisor.

In all cases, it is the responsibility of the student to ensure their repeat course grades have been updated with the “Repeated - Excluded from GPA” flag on their academic record and that all credits have been calculated correctly.  Students should discuss repeat courses with their advisor at the beginning and end of the term of enrollment.

Similar Course Content

Students should not take courses with similar content from other departments. Limitations may have been imposed on certain courses. A listing of these limitations may be obtained from the student’s advisor and discussed during advising appointments.

Courses Taken Elsewhere

Students in good academic standing may attend a summer or special session at another accredited institution in order to supplement their program. Students should provide a course description and syllabus to their advisor to obtain approval PRIOR to registering for these special courses. Note the following stipulations:

  • Students who have already completed 90 credits of coursework are not allowed to take courses elsewhere. Generally, courses may not be a repetition of any course previously taken (passed or failed).
  • To obtain permission to attend another institution, a student must have begun his or her program at the University of Pittsburgh or have been admitted as a transfer student from another institution with no more than 60 advanced standing credits.
  • A maximum of two summer or special sessions may be taken at other institutions with a maximum of two courses per session.
  • After completing such courses, an official transcript should be submitted to the Office of Student Services along with an advisor-approved/signed transfer credit request form.

Transfer Credits

  • Students admitted by transfer will have their transfer credits evaluated subject to the following conditions:
  • Students who have not satisfied the second language requirement (detailed under the Program Description section) shall be required to do so in the first two terms of residence at the School of Computing and Information.
  • An official transcript of all courses taken at other institutions must be submitted at the time of application, whether or not it is intended that such courses be counted toward the degree. For acceptance, courses must be passed with a satisfactory grade (minimum of C or equivalent) and must be earned at an institution accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association. Grades for such courses are not used in computing a student’s GPA nor in determining probationary status or eligibility for graduation honors.
  • Generally, courses that have a reasonable counterpart in the curricula of the various schools/departments of the University of Pittsburgh are eligible for transfer.
  • The number of credits granted for a course cannot exceed the number on the transcript from the institution where they were earned nor, usually, exceed the number to be earned in the corresponding course at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • No transfer credits may be part of the final 30 required credits for the degree. These credits must be earned in residence at the School of Computing and Information. Credits earned at regional campuses and in international programs are considered as transfer credits.
  • Credits accepted for advanced standing must have been earned within 12 years of the date when the degree requirements must be completed.
  • Transfer credits for courses that do not have reasonable counterparts in the curricula of the various schools or departments of the University cannot be used to satisfy requirements for the degree, unless approved by the director of the undergraduate program.
  • No more than 90 credits may be transferred from a four-year institution, and no more than 60 credits may be transferred from a two-year institution.
  • If a course for which advanced standing credit has been granted is repeated, the advanced standing credit is canceled.

Credit by Examination

Each test for credit by examination must be arranged with the department teaching the course for which credit is desired. The examination must be in a specific course offered by the School of Computing and Information. Departments set their own policies as to the specific courses for which students may request credit by examination, the time and type of examination, and the number of courses among those required for the major for which credit may be earned by examination. Normally, the examinations are administered during the first three weeks of the term.

Credit by examination cannot be obtained for a college-level course for which credit has already been awarded, nor can it be used to alter a grade already received. Credit may not be earned by examination in lower-level sequence courses when the student has already obtained credit for a higher-level course in the sequence. Students are not permitted to audit courses without registering and then apply for credit by examination.

Students wishing to earn credit by examination should first consult with the department in which the course is given and then obtain the requisite form from the Office of Student Services. There is a $10 per credit fee payable to the Student Payment Center, to be submitted once the form is completed. This fee is nonrefundable. Credit by examination is open to all students. Questions should be directed to the departments which offer and administer the exams.


The School of Computing and Information uses both the University’s letter grade and Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) grade options (formerly the S/N option) (see Grading and Records for more information). In addition to the general University rules governing those grading systems, there are a few formal limitations to the student’s freedom of choice regarding grading systems.  The student should check with his or her academic advisor before deciding to take a course S/NC.

Note, students must decide by one week after the end of the add/drop period which grading system they propose to use for each of their courses. This decision may not be changed, nor may a grade of one kind received for a course be changed to a grade of the other kind (e.g., from an S/NC grade (formerly the S/N option) to a letter grade).

Evaluation of a student’s ability and achievement in a course is not eliminated by the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system (formerly the S/N option). Recitations, tests, and papers may all be required and assessed by instructors who will convey to the student their judgments of the worth of the student’s work. Because the publicly recorded evaluation is minimal, students should use the instructor’s comments in the most helpful way possible: as a guide to their own future course of study and for assessment of their own potential.

Since it is difficult to evaluate transcripts containing very few letter grades, students seriously considering transferring to the School of Computing and Information or considering graduate study should keep this in mind. The student may wish to ask instructors from whom they have taken courses on the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) system to write letters of recommendation for them immediately at the end of the course. The office of the undergraduate program will supply forms for such letters and will make them a permanent part of the student’s file. Students may also wish to keep portfolios of their best academic work and other evidence of ability and accomplishment with which they might supplement the formal transcript and letters of evaluation when they apply for transfer or for graduate study. This recommendation is useful for all students whatever grade options they select.

Other Academic Regulations

More information regarding grades-definitions of, requesting a change, and viewing grade reports can be found in the University’s academic regulations.


Graduation requirements differ among schools and degrees. However, all undergraduate schools require a minimum of 120 passing credits to graduate.  See specific programs for detailed graduation requirements.

Application to Graduate

Students must file an application for graduation through the School of Computing and Information. The school’s deadline for graduation applications as well as the form itself are posted on its Intranet.

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

University Commencement

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

All diplomas are mailed to students approximately four weeks after the official certification date for each graduation period.

School Recognition Ceremony

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

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

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

Academic Standing

Undergraduate students’ academic standing is maintained and monitored each term by the school in which a student is enrolled. Students who are not on academic probation or academic suspension (i.e., students who maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or higher) are considered to be in good academic standing.

Dean’s List

Early in each term, a list is compiled of students whose academic record in the preceding term indicates outstanding academic achievement. To be placed on the school’s Dean’s List, a student must have earned at least 12 letter grade credits (not including courses taken on the Satisfactory/No-Credit option) with a term GPA of at least 3.50 for Computer Science majors and 3.25 for Information Science majors.  As well, no grade earned during the term in review may be lower than a C. Full-time and part-time students are eligible for placement on the Dean’s list.

Probation, Suspension, and Dismissal

The school is committed to the success of its students and has guidelines in place to connect students with the appropriate resources at the earliest sign of academic difficulty. A student’s academic standing is comprised of three factors: term GPA, cumulative GPA, and progress toward a degree. Students in the School of Computing and Information are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA and term GPA of 2.50 or above for each term of enrollment. In addition, full-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 12 credits during each term of enrollment. Part-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 3 credits during each term of enrollment.

Students are considered for the “Academic Jeopardy” status if they earn a term GPA below a 2.50 or a cumulative GPA between a 2.50 and a 2.625.

Students are considered for the “Academic Probation” status after earning a GPA below 2.50 over two consecutive terms or have one semester at or below a 2.49 cumulative GPA. Students may also be placed on Academic Probation if they fail to make progress toward their degree (e.g. failing to earn any academic credits).

Students currently on Academic Probation who earn a term GPA below a 2.50 or fail to make progress toward their degree will be subject to Academic Suspension. After being suspended, students are not eligible to re-enroll for one calendar year. Following suspension, students are required to apply for reinstatement (see details below).

Students who have been reinstated from Academic Suspension must earn at least a 2.50 GPA for each term that they enroll until they have achieved a cumulative GPA of a 2.50 or above. Failure in any term to complete 12 credits of work (or those credits for which a part-time student has registered) with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.50 and an information science GPA of 2.50 will constitute grounds for dismissal from the School of Computing and Information for five years.

Note: Students on Academic Probation or Suspension are not eligible to earn credits at another institution toward a School of Computing and Information degree.

Leave of Absence and Reinstatement

Students who have resigned or been suspended, as well as other students who have been away from the University for more than one term may apply for reinstatement. Students interested in reinstatement should contact the Office of Student Services. A reinstatement application should provide evidence that the student can pursue an academic program with some prospects for success and an actionable plan of study with clear goals for completion of the degree. If reinstated, the student will develop an academic success plan with the assistance of their advisor upon their return.

Since registration advising meetings are usually held from the seventh to the twelfth week of the preceding term, applications for reinstatement should be received within that period so that the advisor may assist in planning the program and in registering the student. The student’s status upon reinstatement will be that attained at the end of his or her last term in residence or at the beginning of the term during which resignation took place. Applicants will be notified by letter of the action taken on their requests. Any courses that students take at another institution during a period of suspension shall not be granted credit by the school after the student has been reinstated unless the student petitioned the faculty and received permission in advance of their leave.

If possible, student should inform the school of any intentional leave of absence that may last for two or more terms. This allows the school’s staff to track student progress, provide academic advice, and update student and financial aid records. This ultimately leads to a less problematic return to studies for the student.

Special Academic Opportunities/Programs

The following additional academic opportunities are available through the School of Computing and Information:

Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) helps you achieve your highest potential. Whether you want to raise your grades, manage your time better, master complex material, or just feel more relaxed when taking an exam, the ARC is your gateway to academic excellence. The ARC is open to all undergraduates on the Pittsburgh campus!

The ARC offers the following services:

  • Peer Tutoring: Students are eligible for two hours of tutoring every week for each class in which tutoring in offered. Peer tutors are students; They understand your challenges, and are eager to share what they know. All tutors receive ongoing training in best current tutoring practices and on tutoring strategies relevant to their tutoring discipline. All peer tutors have been highly successful in the courses they tutor.
  • Study Skills Workshops and Academic Consultations for students who want to evaluate the demands on your time, set personal goals, and develop time-management strategies to help you achieve those goals.
  • Student Support Services (SSS) supports high-achieving, first-generation, low-income students. SSS students receive comprehensive advising, academic support services, and access to cultural and leadership activities.

For details regarding the Academic Resource Center and their services, see

Other resource centers available to all undergraduate students are:

Double Degrees

Students in the School of Computing and Information may choose to simultaneously pursue more than one undergraduate degree, either within the College of Arts and Sciences or in another undergraduate school at the University.

The School of Computing and Information also offers a joint degree program with the College of Business Administration for our information science majors. In general, earning two degrees requires a minimum of 150 credits and completion of the curriculum requirements of both schools. Detailed information about double degrees or joint programs is available from the student’s academic advisor.

Second Degree Program

Those who already have received a Baccalaureate degree in another discipline and wish to earn a degree offered through the School of Computing and Information are encouraged to apply to:

The school’s online application system (if you’ve received a Baccalaureate degree from the University of Pittsburgh within the last 12 years).

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (if you earned a Baccalaureate degree from an institution other than the University of Pittsburgh within the last 12 years). You will need to complete a Transfer Application and submit any requested fees.

Enrollment in Graduate Courses

Undergraduates with sufficient preparation are encouraged to take advantage of the rich variety of graduate courses offered by the departments and schools of the University. Students enrolled in the School of Computing and Information may use credits in graduate courses toward their undergraduate degree. To enroll in a graduate course, students must obtain the written consent of the instructor of the course, have a 3.00 cumulative GPA, and have the approval of the director of the undergraduate program.

Independent Study Courses

The school’s undergraduate programs offer students the option of conducting an independent study with a faculty member in the School of Computing and Information. Students who have a special project or wish to work in an area not adequately covered by regular school courses should request a faculty member to supervise independent work aimed at their particular interests, and, if accepted, they will register for a credit-bearing course as agreed upon by the faculty and the student (INFSCI 1080 , CS 1902 , or CS 1950 ).

To obtain permission to complete an independent study, students must submit a proposal presenting a design for the project and must find a faculty sponsor who will serve as director. The proposal must include detailed plans for the project. Substantial written work or some other form of creative product is usually one outcome of an independent study course.

Any student registering for an independent study course must receive consent of the faculty advisor and faculty sponsor. Students should speak to their advisor as other restrictions may apply.

The Capstone Experience/Course

Students in the School of Computing and Information will participate in a capstone experience, gaining experience through a research project in the school, an internship with regional industry, or a self-designed project.

Students planning to enter the workforce upon graduation are strongly encouraged to intern with one of the many businesses and industries in the Pittsburgh region. Pittsburgh is home to many international corporations in a variety of industries including health care, financial services, education, manufacturing, and technology.

School of Computing and Information Faculty  

School of Computing and Information Program and Course Offerings

Other Courses

    Department of Computer Science

    Go to information for this department.


    Dual Major

    Other Courses

      Department of Informatics and Networked Systems

      Go to information for this department.

      Other Courses

      Catalog Navigation