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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Apr 15, 2024
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest academic unit within the University of Pittsburgh, with more than 10,000 students and over 600 faculty from around the world. The Dietrich School offers a competitive liberal arts education within the setting of a comprehensive research university and a dynamic urban setting.

The Dietrich School instructional programs provide a liberal arts curriculum designed to prepare students for the world of work, research, professional schools, and graduate programs. This education helps students cultivate the skills and knowledge that provide a foundation for lifelong learning, and educates students so that they can become perceptive, reflective, and intellectually self-conscious citizens of the world. The main elements of the Dietrich School general education are: an acquaintance with great works of art, literature, and philosophy; an understanding of social institutions and processes; a sense of history and familiarity with the richness and variety of human cultural achievements; an awareness of the main ideas of contemporary natural science and mathematics; and engagement with languages and cultures other than one’s own.

The Dietrich School curriculum spans the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Students are encouraged to pursue a broad range of academic subjects. Through one-on-one academic advising, students may choose from over 55 majors, 30 minors, and 20 certificate programs. With each academic program, the school’s faculty from across the disciplines consistently builds the Dietrich School curriculum to reflect current research, so that our students are poised to meet today’s expectations in their various academic pursuits.

In addition to the majors, minors, and certificates, Dietrich School students are encouraged to participate in enriching experiences outside the classroom. These opportunities include undergraduate research with top research faculty and participation in academic internships with reputable corporate and nonprofit institutions. Students may also pursue study abroad in approximately 45 countries, including summer study abroad with Dietrich School humanities and social sciences faculty. Leadership development is encouraged through participation in student organizations and governance, serving in honorary societies, and assisting a faculty member as an undergraduate teaching assistant.

Dietrich School Undergraduate Web site

Please visit for detailed information on:

  • Dietrich School majors, minors, and certificates
  • Dietrich School general education requirements
  • Academic resources, services, and opportunities
  • Additional policies and procedures for current Dietrich School students

Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh
Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
140 Thackeray Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Fax: 412-624-8265

Dietrich School Undergraduate Calendar

Admission through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid

The following students are admitted to Dietrich School by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. These students should see the Application for Admission section of this bulletin for general admissions information.

  • First year students (see Pittsburgh campus Freshman Admissions for general admissions information).
  • Transfer students who have previously enrolled at a college or university other than the University of Pittsburgh. These include former University of Pittsburgh students who have since earned college credits at another institution and now wish to return to the Dietrich School.
  • Continuing education students: Adults who wish to begin or continue to work toward an undergraduate degree by taking a full- or part-time course load should apply as new or transfer students through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
  • Students who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree from an institution other than the University of Pittsburgh and now wish to earn a second undergraduate degree.
  • International students should refer to admission guidelines on the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.

Transfer Students/Transfer Credits

Previous course work for transfer students is evaluated by the Dietrich School Student Records Office with respect to general education requirements. Before initial registration, transfer students receive an Undergraduate Degree Requirement Evaluation indicating which requirements they have satisfied and which ones must be completed in order to complete their degree in the Dietrich School. Transfer students may be required to complete one or more placement tests to determine if certain requirements have been met.

Courses from other colleges and universities are evaluated according to the following guidelines:

  • Courses must be passed with a grade of C or better and must be earned at an institution accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association. Courses that have reasonable counterparts in the Dietrich School curriculum are eligible for transfer. Non-Dietrich School credit is granted when there is no comparable course in the Dietrich School, but there is an equivalent course in another undergraduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. Only 18 non-Dietrich School credits will count toward a Dietrich School degree. When requested, students are responsible for supplying descriptions for courses taken elsewhere.
  • A maximum of 60 credits can be accepted from accredited community colleges and two-year junior colleges. A maximum of 90 credits can be accepted from accredited four-year institutions. At least 50 percent of the credits required in a Dietrich School major, minor or certificate must be earned while enrolled in the Dietrich School.
  • The number of transfer credits granted for a given course cannot exceed the number awarded on the transcript of the original school or the number earned for the corresponding course in the Dietrich School. Credits earned on the quarter system will be converted into semester credits. A quarter credit is equal to two-thirds of a semester credit (e.g., five quarter-system credits equal three semester credits, and three quarter-system credits equal two semester credits).
  • The Dietrich School accepts credits, but not grades, for transfer. Consequently, any courses that are accepted for transfer will be used as credit toward graduation, but will not be calculated into the student’s GPA at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Transfer credits do not apply towards University honors.

Please contact the Dietrich School Student Records Office at 412-624-6776 for information about transfer credit evaluation. Please note: All transfer credits are subject to re-evaluation when a student transfers from one school to another within the University of Pittsburgh.

Admission through the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

The following students must apply directly to the Dietrich School for admission.

Transfers from Other University of Pittsburgh Schools at the Pittsburgh campus

To transfer to the Dietrich School from another school at the Pittsburgh campus, students should request that the other Pittsburgh campus school send their records to the Dietrich School in 140 Thackeray Hall. The Dietrich School will review the student records and send letters of acceptance to students who are eligible to transfer into the Dietrich School. To qualify, students must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 and have completed their basic skills requirements in composition and algebra according to Dietrich School guidelines. In addition, students enrolled in the College of General Studies (CGS) must earn at least 12 credits through CGS before applying for transfer to the Dietrich School.

Upon acceptance into the Dietrich School, students will receive evaluations of their previous course work, acknowledging the courses that have fulfilled Dietrich School skills and general education requirements. To graduate with a degree from the Dietrich School, students are required to earn their last 30 credits while enrolled in the Dietrich School and to earn at least half of the credits for their majors, minors, and certificates while enrolled in the Dietrich School.

Relocation from University of Pittsburgh Regional Campuses

  1. For students seeking guaranteed relocation who have earned credits only from one of the regional campuses, the normal requirement is for completion of 45 credits at the specific regional campus, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. For students seeking guaranteed relocation who have earned 30 or more credits at the specific regional campus and a total of 45 credits overall, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all courses is required.
  3. For students seeking relocation who have between 15 and 30 credits at the specific regional campus and a total of 45 credits overall, a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required in all courses, and the normal requirements of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences for external transfer students must be met. For these students, relocation is not guaranteed. Students must complete at least 15 credits at the regional campus to transfer to the Pittsburgh campus.
  4. All students must complete the Algebra and Composition skills requirements before relocating from a regional campus.

Students Seeking a Second University of Pittsburgh Degree

Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in any University of Pittsburgh school or campus and wish to earn a second undergraduate degree in the Dietrich School should apply directly to the Dietrich School. Applicants should note the following:

  • Course work for the second degree will continue to be recorded on the original University of Pittsburgh undergraduate transcript.
  • All appropriate course work from the first degree will apply to the second degree.
  • Students must earn a minimum of 30 new credits.
  • At least half of the credits for the second major toward the second degree must be earned while enrolled in the Dietrich School.
  • The cumulative GPA and credit total will be based on all credits from the first degree and all new course work taken that applies to the second degree.

Students Seeking Reinstatement

The following students must apply for reinstatement through the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 140 Thackeray Hall:

  • Dietrich School students who have not enrolled for three consecutive terms (one calendar year);
  • Dietrich School students who have completed their suspension periods and wish to continue their studies; and
  • Students who last attended another school at the Pittsburgh campus but have not enrolled in classes for three consecutive terms (one calendar year), have not attended another institution, and wish to be admitted to the Dietrich School.

Students who are returning after completing their suspension period will be reinstated on probation.

The deadline for reinstatement is August 15 for the fall term, December 15 for the spring term, and one week before the beginning of classes in the summer term or sessions. An application fee of $45 is required. Students who last attended another University of Pittsburgh school on the Pittsburgh campus or who attended a regional campus must meet the admissions requirements for transfer to the Dietrich School. Students’ academic standing upon reinstatement will continue to be that attained at the end of their last term in residence.

Students who are reinstated for a particular term but do not enroll for that term must apply for reinstatement again if they wish to attend for a later term. Students who have been away from the University for two or more years will be subject to the requirements of the school and of their major at the time of their reinstatement, rather than those in place at the time of their last attendance.

Post-baccalaureate Students

Students who have completed an undergraduate degree and wish to take additional undergraduate courses on a non degree-seeking basis may apply directly to the College of General Studies.

Accelerated High School Students

Accelerated High School students are high school juniors and seniors, age 16 years or older, who take up to six regular undergraduate college credits on campus while continuing their high school programs. Qualified students become part-time, non-matriculated students in the Dietrich School. They attend regular on-campus classes with undergraduate students and are not identified in the classroom as high school students.

For more detailed information, contact Accelerated High School in G-1 Gardner Steel Conference Center at 412-624-7428.

College in High School (CHS) Program

The College in High School Program offers qualified high school students throughout Pennsylvania the opportunity to earn University of Pittsburgh credits on their own high school campuses. Participating schools now offer approved University of Pittsburgh courses in communications, computer/information science, classical/modern languages, study skills, mathematics, statistics, natural/physical sciences, and social work. The courses are taught by experienced teachers who have been certified through the appropriate University of Pittsburgh departments. All University regulations governing course registration, withdrawal, resignation, and tuition payment are enforced.

For more information, contact College in High School in G-1 Gardner Steel Conference Center at 412-624-6828.

Academic Integrity

As members of the University of Pittsburgh community, Dietrich School students are expected to meet their obligation to exhibit honesty and to respect the ethical standards of the University community and of their chosen field of study in carrying out academic assignments. Dietrich School students are therefore expected to familiarize themselves with the published rules and regulations governing academic integrity. For specific information, see the Academic Integrity policy.

The Dietrich School maintains an Academic Integrity Board, consisting of both faculty and students, for adjudication of grievances from faculty about student behavior and from students about faculty behavior. 

Grading Policies

Letter Grade Option

The Dietrich School adheres to the following University letter grade system without exception:

A+   Superior
A 4.00
A- 3.75
B+ 3.25 Meritorious
B 3.00
B- 2.75
C+ 2.25 Adequate
C 2.00
C- 1.75
D 1.25 Minimal
D+ 1.00
D- 0.75
F 0.0 Failure

S/NC Grade Option

The Dietrich School offers both a standard letter-grade option and the Satisfactory/No-Credit (S/NC) option for students enrolled in most Dietrich School courses. Under the S/NC option, a student who does satisfactory work (a grade of C or better) in a course receives the grade of S. If the student’s work is not satisfactory (a grade of C- or lower), the grade of NC (no credit) is given. Courses for which an S is earned are counted toward graduation but are not computed in the GPA. Courses for which an NC is earned are not counted toward graduation or the GPA, since the NC designates that no credit has been earned.

Students can select the S/NC grade option when enrolling for a course.  After the end of the add/drop period, a student must complete a Grade Option/Audit Request form in the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, 140 Thackeray Hall, by the grade option change deadline noted each term on the Dietrich School undergraduate calendar.

Note: There are some formal limitations to a student’s choice of grading systems; he or she should check with an academic advisor before deciding to take a course S/NC.

Audit (N Grade)

To audit a course, a student must register for and pay tuition for the course. A Grade Option/Audit Request form must be submitted for undergraduate courses by the grade option change deadline noted each term on the Dietrich School undergraduate calendar. The instructor for the course must sign the Grade Option/Audit Request form before the form can be processed. Completed forms must be submitted to the Student Records Office at 140 Thackeray Hall. Students who audit a course are given an N grade, which means that the course is counted neither towards graduation nor the GPA. A student typically chooses to audit a course for personal enrichment.

G Grades

At the discretion of an instructor, a G grade may be awarded when students who have been attending a course and making regular progress are prevented from completing the course due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students who are assigned a G grade are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term or session in which the course was taken, or by an earlier deadline established by the instructor. After that year, the grade cannot be changed, and the student will be required to re-register for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation. The Dietrich School encourages students with G grades to work with their instructors to complete the requirements for the course as soon as possible.

Academic Honors

Outstanding students in the Dietrich School are recognized for their academic achievement in several ways:

Dean’s List

Early each fall and spring term, Dietrich School students whose grades in the preceding term indicate outstanding academic achievement are recognized on the Dean’s List. To be placed on the 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 and no grade lower than a C.

Scholarships, Prizes, and Awards

Please check with your departmental advisor for information about departmental scholarships, prizes, and awards.

University Honors

Those members of a Dietrich School graduating class who have attained an outstanding scholastic record and have completed at least 60 letter-graded credits at the University of Pittsburgh are graduated with honors.  All coursework completed at the University for a letter grade is calculated in the grade point average. University honors are awarded in the following levels of distinction according to grade point average at graduation:

                Summa Cum Laude:  3.75

                Magna Cum Laude:  3.50

                Cum Laude:  3.25  

Departmental Honors

Many departments offer an honors major. Successful completion of the honors major, as well as normal graduation requirements, lead to the awarding of the bachelor’s degree with departmental honors. For detailed information, contact the departmental advisor or visit the department’s Web site.

Academic Standing

The Dietrich 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 Dietrich School are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA and term GPA of 2.00 or above for each term of enrollment. In addition, full-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 12 credits during each term of enrollment. Part-time students are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 3 credits during each term of enrollment.

Academic Alert is a marker designed to notify students who show signs, early on and throughout their academic career, of jeopardizing successful progress toward the completion of their undergraduate degree. This may be due to their inability to maintain a satisfactory GPA and/or failing to fulfill the algebra or composition requirement within the first two terms of full-time enrollment. Students who receive two consecutive Academic Alerts will be placed on Academic Probation.

Students are placed on Academic Probation after earning a GPA between a 1.50 and a 1.99 over two consecutive terms or have one semester at or below a 1.49 cumulative GPA. Students may also be placed on Academic Probation if they fail to make progress toward their degree (e.g. failing to earn any academic credits).

Students currently on Academic Probation who earn a term GPA below a 2.00 or fail to make progress toward their degree will be subject to Academic Suspension. After being suspended, students are not eligible to re-enroll for one calendar year. Following suspension, students are required to apply for reinstatement at the Dietrich School Undergraduate Dean’s Office in 140 Thackeray Hall. Students returning from academic suspension are reinstated on academic probation and are required to develop an academic success plan upon their return. These reinstated students’ records are reviewed after each subsequent term of enrollment.

Students who have been reinstated from Academic Suspension must earn at least a 2.00 GPA for each term that they enroll until they have achieved a cumulative GPA of a 2.0 or above. If a student fails to earn a 2.00 term GPA, they are subject to Academic Dismissal from the University. Dismissed students are not eligible for reinstatement.

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

Probation and Eligibility for Financial Aid

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) monitors financial aid eligibility. Students on probation should contact OAFA in Alumni Hall at 412-624-7488 for more information.

Credit Policies

The following section details the Dietrich School’s rules regarding allowable credits and courses for students earning a degree in the Dietrich School.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credits

See the AP credit section of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Web site.

Career Development and Noncredit Courses

Career development courses offered by the College of General Studies (numbered in the 6000s) and noncredit courses (numbered in the 4000s) may not be counted for credit toward a degree in the Dietrich School.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Testing

The Dietrich School does not accept CLEP general examination credits.

Summer Courses Taken Elsewhere

Dietrich School students in good academic standing (cumulative GPA of at least 2.00) may attend a summer or special session of another accredited institution in order to supplement their program, provided they receive prior approval from the Dietrich School Student Records Office. Students must submit a completed summer course approval form (available on the Student Records Office Web site), as well as the relevant course descriptions to the Student Records Office. Upper-class students (those who have earned 60 or more credits) may not take courses at two-year schools. Courses taken elsewhere are subject to the 18 non-Dietrich School credit limitation and may not be a repeat of any course taken (passed or failed) before. A maximum of two courses (no more than 8 credits) may be taken in a single period of enrollment elsewhere. 

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 Dietrich School. 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.

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 Student Records Office in 140 Thackeray Hall. 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.

Departmental Credits

No more than 60 credits may be taken in one department, and normally no more than 40 in a single department are considered desirable in a well-balanced program.

Repeating a Course/Duplication of Course Content 

If a student repeats a course, they must complete a course repeat form and submit it to the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in 140 Thackeray Hall.  Please note the following: 

  • The original grade remains on the transcript, but is not counted in the calculation of the GPA.
  • Any grade earned in the repeated course will be factored into the GPA, even if it is lower than the original grade.
  • The repeated course does not increase the number of credits counted toward meeting degree requirements unless an F is replaced by a passing grade.
  • W, R, N, or NC grades reported for the repeated course will not be identified as a course repeat, thus the original grade earned will continue to be counted in the GPA.  Incomplete (G) grades will not be identified as repeated courses until the course work is completed.
  • No sequential course may be repeated for credit after a higher numbered course in that sequence has been passed with a C or higher grade.
  • No course can be repeated at any other institution.
  • Students may repeat a course no more than two times.

Students may not earn duplicate credit for courses that substantially duplicate the content of courses taken previously. For example, duplicate credit cannot be earned for the following:

  • Both a regular version of a course and an honors version of that course.
  • Courses that are cross listed with a course the student has already taken.
  • Courses taken under a newly assigned course number if already taken under an old course number.
  • Certain specific courses that duplicate material.

Students with questions about repeating courses or duplicating course content should consult with their academic advisors.

English Language Institute Courses

LING 0007 , LING 0008 , and LING 0009  courses count toward the degree but are not counted toward a linguistics major.

Enrollment in Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Dietrich School students who demonstrate exemplary competencies and proficiencies may take advantage of the rich variety of graduate courses offered by the Dietrich School. Credits earned in graduate courses may count toward the degree. Students should consult with both their academic advisor and instructor of a course before registering.

Independent Study, Undergraduate Research, Internships, and Undergraduate Teaching

Dietrich School students may earn up to 24 credits of independent study, undergraduate research, internships, and undergraduate teaching as part of the 120 credits required for a degree. Ordinarily, no more than six credits may be earned in any term in a single undergraduate research experience or internship. Under certain conditions, students in good standing may register for a block of 15 credits of independent study. These credits are to be earned for work done within one academic term. A student may register for a 15-credit independent study term only once during his or her college career. This needs to be approved by a dean prior to registration.

Learning Agreement forms for independent study, undergraduate research, and internships, as well as specific information about eligibility, procedures, and guidelines, are available from the academic department through which the activity will be conducted.

Paid (non-academic) internships may not count towards academic credit.

International Baccalaureate

The Dietrich School recognizes the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Examinations and may grant advanced standing and/or credit for various fields for scores on the Higher-Level Examinations, which range from five to seven. Advanced standing is determined individually by subject according to departmental policy. Students should send the results of their IB examinations directly to the Student Records Office in 140 Thackeray Hall. No credit will be given for Subsidiary-Level Examinations.

Lower-Level or Sequential Courses

Credit cannot be earned for courses taken after more advanced course work in the same field has been successfully passed with a C or higher. For example, credit cannot be earned for an algebra course taken after the successful completion of a calculus course.

Non-Dietrich School Courses

A student may take no more than 18 credits of the 120 required for graduation in other University of Pittsburgh schools, such as the Swanson School of Engineering. This rule does not apply to graduate courses offered in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Restrictions on non-Dietrich School courses apply also to courses taken by cross registration. The student who has doubts about the status of any course should check with their academic advisor before registering.

Normal Credit Load

A normal credit load is 12 to 18 credits per academic term (e.g. fall and spring). Students should complete a minimum of 15 credits per term in order to graduate within four years.

Any term in excess of 18 credits requires the recommendation of the student’s academic advisor and dean’s approval (call 412-624-6480 to make an appointment with an assistant dean). Students who enroll for more than 18 credits in a term will be charged additional tuition per credit.

Physical Education

Students are not required to take any courses in physical education (PEDC), but they may do so. Up to four credits of courses offered by the School of Education’s Department of Health, Physical, and Recreation Education may be counted toward a Dietrich School degree.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

Credits earned in aerospace science (Air Force ROTC), military science (Army ROTC), or naval science (Navy ROTC through cross registration at Carnegie Mellon University [CMU]) are not accepted toward a Dietrich School degree. The Dietrich School will grant up to four credits toward graduation for the following military science courses in lieu of physical education and recreation courses: AFROTC 0001 , AFROTC 0002 , AFROTC 0003 , and AFROTC 0004 ; MILS 0012  and MILS 0022 . Any four credits of Navy ROTC courses from CMU will count in lieu of physical education and recreation courses.

Statute of Limitations

All of the credits required for a degree, whether earned in residence or transferred from another institution, must have been earned within 12 years prior to the date on which the degree is awarded. However, when given evidence that the previous courses still provide adequate preparation for courses yet to be taken and still represent a reasonable part of the total academic program, this limitation may be waived. In such cases, the waiver is for a specific period during which the program must be completed.


Dietrich School students may count a maximum of two PittOnline courses toward their degree. For more information about PittOnline courses, contact the College of General Studies.

Adding and Dropping Courses

Generally, students enrolled in the Dietrich School are not required to have their academic advisor’s approval before adding or dropping a course. However, Student Support Services (SSS) students and student athletes must see their academic advisor before processing an add/drop. Additionally, all first year students are strongly urged to consult their academic advisor before adding or dropping a course.

Withdrawing from Courses

First year students are required to see their academic advisor before withdrawing from any course. In addition, any student considering withdrawing from a course that fulfills either the composition or the algebra requirement must first see an assistant dean (please call 412-624-6480 to schedule an appointment). Withdrawing from a course or courses may impact a student’s financial aid status. Withdrawal from a course must be done by the withdrawal deadline, which is posted in the Dietrich School undergraduate calendar and on the Office of the University Registrar’s Web site.

Bachelor Degree Requirements

The following sections describe the general requirements for all majors offered by the Dietrich School:

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the Dietrich School, students must earn at least 120 degree credits with a minimum 2.00 GPA. In addition, students must achieve a 2.00 GPA both in the major and in the minor, certificate, or related area. Within the 120 credits, students must fulfill the Dietrich School’s curriculum requirements which are of three types: skills, general education, and requirements for a major, minor, certificate, or related area (see Skills Requirements, General Education Requirements, and Requirements for Major sections below). Furthermore, students must earn at least half of the credits for their major(s), minor(s), and certificates(s) and the final 30 credits toward the Dietrich School degree while enrolled as a Dietrich School student.

Graduation Application

Students must file an application for graduation in the Students Records Office, 140 Thackeray Hall, by a specified deadline prior to the term during which they expect to complete all requirements (i.e., a student who expects to graduate at the end of the spring term must apply before the end of the immediately preceding fall term; see the Dietrich School undergraduate calendar each term for application deadlines). This permits Student Records to make a complete appraisal of the student’s record before the student begins the coursework of the final term. Any deficiency discovered during the evaluation will be communicated to the student in writing, and should be promptly corrected either in conference with the departmental advisor at registration or during the add/drop period in the final term. The caps, gowns, and hoods for the commencement ceremony are purchased through the University Store on Fifth.  Diplomas are mailed through the Registrar’s Office.

Skills Requirements

Skills requirements help ensure that all students attain appropriate levels of competence in writing, algebra, and quantitative and formal reasoning. Skills requirements must be completed within the first year of enrollment. Students are placed in or exempted from skills requirements based on certain achievement test scores, University of Pittsburgh placement test scores, or course work completed at other colleges and universities. Skills requirements are outlined below:

Composition Requirement

  • Students who earn 560 or above on SAT Verbal (Critical Reading) or 24 or above on ACT English are placed into Seminar in Composition (or equivalent course).
  • Students who earn below 560 on SAT Verbal (Critical Reading) or below 24 on ACT English will be placed into a Workshop in Composition course.
  • Recommendations for ENGCMP 0201  or ENGCMP 0151  (tutorials) will be based on class diagnostic writing during add/drop period.
  • English as a Second Language students will be placed into appropriate courses based on English language proficiency.

Students must pass foundational composition courses with a grade of C- or better to fulfill the requirement, and students must complete the requirement by the end of their first two terms of full-time enrollment.  Transfer students must complete this requirement by the end of the first term of full-time enrollment.

Writing-Designated Courses (W-Courses)

After the completion of Seminar in Composition, each student must complete two courses that are designated as writing intensive (W-courses) or one W-course and a second English composition course. W-courses are designed to promote writing within a discipline through the use of writing assignments spread over the course of a term. If this is done through a term paper the student will be required to produce a draft for discussion and revision no later than a month before the end of the course; all W-courses require a minimum of 20-24 pages of written work that has been through at least one cycle of revision. Each student must complete one W-course within his or her major field of study.

Algebra Requirement

The mathematical proficiency of all incoming students will be assessed. Students who need additional mathematical preparation will be required to complete the preparation by the end of the first two terms of full-time enrollment.  Transfer students must complete this preparation by the end of the first term of full-time enrollment. Preparation includes, but is not limited to earning a grade of C- or better in a course in algebra. Students will be exempt from additional mathematical preparation if:

  • they have achieved a satisfactory grade on the Advanced Placement examination in calculus in high school;
  • they have earned a C- or better in calculus through College in High School;
  • they have completed an approved equivalent of Algebra or another approved course; or
  • they have scored 620 or better on the Math SAT or a 27 or better on the Math ACT.

Quantitative and Formal Reasoning

All students are required to take and pass with a grade of C- or better at least one course in university mathematics (other than trigonometry) for which algebra is a prerequisite, or an approved course in statistics or mathematical or formal logic in a department of the Dietrich School.

Placement Assessments

ALEKS Math Placement Assessment

The ALEKS math placement assessment helps students and their advisors determine appropriate enrollment in Mathematics courses. Advisors can assist students with determining whether or not they need to complete the assessment. Please visit the Department of Mathematics’ Web site for more information, including examples of when students are exempted from completing the assessment.

Second Language Placement Assessment(s)

Second language placement assessments are used to decide placement into second language courses for those students who have not satisfied the second language requirement while in high school or those who plan to continue study of a second language in their first term of enrollment in the Dietrich School. The language departments encourage students to prepare for the assessment by reviewing first- and second-year second language texts. These exams take about 60 minutes to complete.  The French, Spanish, German, and Italian placement assessments are available online, whereas placement assessments for other languages must be completed on campus.

Music Theory Placement Assessment

Students considering a major or minor in music should complete this assessment. A sufficient score will exempt them from the required Fundamentals of Western Music (MUSIC 0100) class. This assessment takes about 60 minutes to complete.

General Education Requirements

All students graduating from the Dietrich School must satisfy 14 general education requirements covering prominent areas in the liberal arts such as second language, literature, music, art, philosophy, social science, history, natural science, and foreign culture/international courses. In the process of satisfying these requirements, students select from a broad range of approved courses.

Requirements for the Major

All students are required to complete a major of their choice, in addition to skills and general education requirements, in order to graduate from the Dietrich School. The Dietrich School offers over 55 majors in 31 departments. Some departments offer more than one major. Each department specifies the particular courses needed to fulfill its major(s). 

Students must complete the major with a 2.00 GPA, and half of the credits earned for the major must be earned at the University of Pittsburgh main campus. 

Students declare their major by filling out an Academic Plan Change Form in the Dietrich School Advising Center. Students normally declare their major during their fourth term of full-time study.

Note: Transfer students receive an evaluation of their previous course work indicating the equivalent University of Pittsburgh courses for which transfer credits have been awarded. Equivalent Dietrich School courses will meet requirements for the major where appropriate. Students who believe that a previous course not equivalent to a Dietrich School course should meet a requirement for a major may petition the department to review that course.

Minors and Certificates

Minors and certificates are earned in addition to a major. Students must complete minors and certificates with a 2.00 GPA, and half of the credits earned for the minor or certificate must be earned at the University of Pittsburgh main campus. Students who complete an approved minor or certificate will have it listed on their transcript, provided that the minor or certificate is indicated on the application for graduation.

Related Area

Students must earn at least 12 Dietrich School credits (with a minimum GPA of 2.00) in a “related area” specified by the departmental advisor. The departmental advisor may designate these 12 credits as those from a single department, thematic cluster, or geographic grouping. Please note that the completion of an official minor or a certificate usually fulfills the requirement for a related area. Courses used to complete the algebra and composition skills requirements may not be used as part of a related area. Students should contact their departmental advisor with any questions regarding the completion of this requirement.

Special Academic Opportunities

Dietrich School students may choose to pursue a variety of academic programs leading to multiple majors, majors within more than one department, or majors that either prepare students for or offer advanced admission to graduate or professional programs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Double and Triple Majors

Students can declare a double or triple major, but will usually earn only one degree. If one major leads to the BA degree and another to the BS degree, students must decide when applying for graduation which degree they wish to receive. A maximum of six credits can overlap from one major to another.

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences/Business Dual Major 

Qualified students may apply for admission to a Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences/ Business dual major.  The dual major allows students to complement a Dietrich School major with a solid foundation in business.  Students may apply to the program after their first year at the University of Pittsburgh.

Double Degrees

Dietrich School students may choose to simultaneously pursue more than one undergraduate degree, either within the Dietrich School (i.e., both a BA and a BS) or in another undergraduate school of the University. In general, earning two degrees requires a minimum of 150 credits and the completion of the curriculum requirements of both schools.

Combined Degree Options

These intensive programs give Dietrich School students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degree while beginning their first year of a graduate or professional program. To qualify, students must:

  • Complete 96 or more Dietrich School credits,
  • Satisfy all of the general education requirements, and
  • Be accepted into a graduate or professional school at the University of Pittsburgh.

Preparation for Professional Programs of Study

Students interested in spending their junior and senior years in the University of Pittsburgh’s professional Schools of Social Work, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Computing and Information, or Pharmacy normally spend two years in the Dietrich School taking necessary prerequisite courses and electives in preparation for professional study. Although first year students are accepted directly into the Schools of Engineering, Nursing, and the College of Business Administration (CBA), it is possible for students who begin in the Dietrich School to transfer into those schools after one or two years. 

Preparation for Graduate Professional Studies

Although the Dietrich School does not offer specific majors in pre-law, pre-medical, pre-dental, or education, it is possible for students in the Dietrich School to complete all the necessary prerequisites for entry into these graduate professional schools while fulfilling their Dietrich School degree requirements. 

Accelerated Law Admissions Program (ALAP)

The Accelerated Law Admissions Program (ALAP), open to any student enrolled in the Dietrich School, grants admission to the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law to those students who meet the ALAP’s requirements. Students who enter the program complete their undergraduate major in three years, applying for admission to the School of Law during their junior year, and then go on to law school for another three years.

Students interested in the program are encouraged to declare a major early at the end of the first year in order to allow them to complete their undergraduate Dietrich School major(s) by the end of their third year. Also, interested students are encouraged to take summer classes during their second year in order to reduce the credits to be completed in their third year. The requirements for the ALAP are as follows:

  • Students must complete 102 credits by the end of their junior year.
  • Students must take three writing-designated courses (rather than two) beyond the freshman writing requirement.
  • The Dietrich School requirement of 12 credits in a related area is waived for students in the ALAP.
  • Students must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) by the fall of their junior year. This would include the June, October, or December test.

Acceptance into the program is competitive, and only those students with above-average grades and competitive LSAT scores should apply.

Five-Year Program

  • BS in statistics and an MA or MS in applied statistics: This program is intended to give outstanding students interested in statistics the opportunity to progress quickly toward their educational objectives. Contact the Department of Statistics for details.

Study Abroad

Dietrich School students are encouraged to add an international dimension to their undergraduate education through study abroad. Credit may be earned toward the Dietrich School degree through participation in one of several University of Pittsburgh programs or consortia-sponsored programs including Konan Year in Japan, the Denmark International Studies Program, and studies at the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico, or the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex in England, to name a few. Students may study in virtually any part of the world in these programs or others sponsored by most American or international institutions.

Before study abroad is undertaken, approval for credit must be obtained. The study abroad advisor provides program approval, and the advisor in the department in which credit is sought and the Dietrich School Advising Center must approve the course selections and credits. Students should have at least a 2.75 GPA before seeking permission from the Dietrich School Advising Center to study abroad. In most cases, registration must be completed in the Dietrich School Advising Center. Call the Study Abroad Office in Room 802 William Pitt Union at 412-648-7413 or see for more information.

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