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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 15, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies 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
412-624-5230 (prospective students) (current students)


The School of Computing and Information seeks students with diverse interests and abilities for its graduate degree and certification programs. All applicants will be judged on their own merits. Applicants for master’s study must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better; the doctoral programs have more stringent requirements. For those who have been in the workforce, admission will be based upon academic achievement, area of study, career orientation, and work experience.

Admission Status

Admission may be granted or denied only by the dean of the school or his or her designee. However, non-immigrant students must also meet U.S. Department of Homeland Security eligibility requirements for visa document issuance as determined by the Office of International Services. 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.

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. This 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 take the PhD preliminary evaluation, take the MA/MS or PhD comprehensive examination, be considered for the award of an advanced degree or certificate, or be graduated.

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 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.

Students at the School of Computing and Information are expected to complete a Provisional Condition Review form in order to have their status reviewed upon completion of provisions/removal of deficiencies. Students are notified by e-mail when they have reach full graduate status and may request a new admissions letter at that time.

Special Status

A special status student who takes courses while not seeking an advanced degree may transfer up to four courses (12 credits) taken while on special status to a degree program if the student is subsequently admitted into one, and if the department recommends the transfer. A transferred course must carry a grade of B or better.

Deferred Admission

Admission to graduate study is valid for the academic year. A student may defer admission for one year without having to complete any additional applications. The student must submit a deferral request to the Office of Student Services and request a new admission offer 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.

Leave of Absence and Readmission

A student who has not registered for at least one credit or full-time dissertation study 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. Inactive students cannot apply to graduate, nor take preliminary or comprehensive exams. Readmission is not automatic nor does it necessarily reinstate the student to the academic status enjoyed prior to becoming inactive.

Readmission is automatic, however, for students who receive prior approval for a formal leave of absence. Students should submit a Leave of Absence Request through the Office of Student Services PRIOR to their temporary departure from the school. This allows the staff to update the student’s record and contact financial aid or other offices to ensure a more seamless transition out of and back into the school.

All students seeking readmission must be prepare a plan of study and formal letter to the department demonstrating proper preparation to meet all current admission and degree requirements. These items should be submitted through the Office of Student Services.

Transferring Between SCI Departments

A student desiring to change a major department of graduate study within the School of Computing and Information must file an application for admission through the school’s online application. This will include submitting an additional application fee. Applications for transfer will be evaluated in the same way as applications for admission to the designated department.[BBL1] 

Admission of International Students

Before reading the school-specific details below, see the International Graduate Student Admission section of the University’s Application for Admission page for a complete overview of University admissions requirements, including TOEFL or IELTS scores, for students from other countries.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Submission of TOEFL test results is required for admission to graduate study in this school. The individual degree programs have varying minimum requirements, outlined in the checklist for admissions materials table below. The requirement to take the TOEFL may be waived if the applicant has received a degree from an accredited institution in the United States.

Prior to registration, students with TOEFL scores less than 600 (paper) or 100 (Internet-based) will be given the on-campus administered English Language Proficiency Test. If remedial courses in English as a second language are recommended as an outcome of the test, the student must complete the remedial course during the first two terms of study.

Students may choose to take the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS) in place of the TOEFL. Students must receive a score of Band 6.5. Students who do not achieve a score of Band 7.0 score or better will be given the on-campus administered English Language Proficiency Test. If remedial courses in English as a second language are recommended as an outcome of the test, the student must complete the remedial course during the first two terms of study. Other admission requirements vary depending upon the chosen program.

Application Instructions

Apply Online

Applications for graduate study must be completed and submitted entirely online. Applicants must set up a free account with the ApplyYourself Application Network, which enables you to work on your application over several sessions. Your information is transmitted through a secured server and is kept confidential until you submit your application.

Please see the Checklist of Admissions Materials Required by Each Degree Program .

Application Processing

Your application will be available for review by the department once all the recommender’s letters are submitted and all test results and transcripts are uploaded.

The School of Computing and Information makes every effort to issue a determination about applications within 4-6 weeks of the application deadline. This is dependent upon the timely receipt of all required application materials. You will be notified via e-mail when an admissions decision has been posted to your online application account.

Please note that, during the December-January timeframe, numerous applications are received. Due to the volume of submissions, there may be a delay in notification of receipt of materials.

Applicants are encouraged to check their online application account to ascertain if documentation has been received or if an admissions decision has been made PRIOR to contacting the school for such details. Note, the status of your application, related documents and admission decision cannot be verified until you have submitted the application fee (which is the final step in submitting your application).

Begin the online application process at

Application Deadlines for US Citizens and Permanent Residents

Degree Program

Fall Term

Spring Term

Summer Term


January 15



MLIS Online*

July 1




January 15












July 15

November 1



January 15




January 15

September 15

January 15

PhD Tele

January 15

September 15


*Rolling Admissions. However, priority consideration will be given to applications received by these deadlines. 

International Student Application Deadlines

Due to delays in the issuance of visas it is recommended that international students apply as early as possible, preferably at least six months prior to the start of the term of admittance, so that paperwork can be processed in a timely manner.

Deadlines for international students’ applications to the School of Computing and Information are:

Term of Admission

Application Deadline

Deadline by which you must accept your offer of admission in order for your visa to be processed.


January 15

Between April 15 and June 15


June 15

By November 1


December 15

By March


Admissions Requirements

In addition to the aforementioned requirements for admission to the school in full graduate status, some programs require prerequisite coursework and skills knowledge. These requirements are outlined on the individual program pages (click through to the appropriate program).

More details regarding expectations for statement of intent or writing portfolios are available on the school’s admissions Web site at

Pre-requisite courses, and any coursework required to prepare for pre-requisite courses, are not calculated in the total credits required to earn a degree.

Academic Regulations and Standards

Policies on allowable credits, cross-registration, credit limits, 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 for more details on applying these policies in practice.

In addition to those University-wide regulations and standards detailed in the section on General Academic Regulations, each student in the School of Computing and Information is expected to be familiar with the following school-specific regulations and academic standards.

Academic Integrity

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). Students have the responsibility to be honest and to conduct themselves in an ethical manner while pursuing academic studies. 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 general procedures may be found in Guidelines on Academic Integrity: Student and Faculty Obligations and Hearing Procedures at Individual schools have their own academic integrity policies, and students are encouraged to review these school-specific guidelines as well.

The School of Computing and Information’s academic integrity policy is hosted on its Intranet.


The quality of education that graduate students receive is greatly enhanced with good academic advising at all stages of their program. Given the diversity of these needs, each program must determine the best way to provide these services. Academic advising provides the foundation upon which students plan their studies. It is the policy of the School for each student to have an academic advisor whose responsibilities include providing guidance in developing the student’s career goals and academic programs, approving course selections, and advising as needed on issues affecting the student’s academic and professional careers. The goal of academic advising is to develop a consistent academic program coordinated to meet general program requirements and specific needs of individual students. Ideally, the student and faculty advisor function as a team working toward the objective of career preparation by means of the strongest possible academic experiences for the student. Students are matched with an advisor upon admission; they may, however, change advisors at any time. Students should meet each term with their advisors to ensure timely progress through their program.

In concert with the school’s plan of study worksheets, the University’s Class Search tool and the school’s “Year at a Glance” schedule can be a useful advising tools in laying out a path to degree completion.

Detailed advising information is available on the program offering pages.

Acceptance of Transfer Credits

Students who have completed graduate courses in degree-granting graduate programs at other appropriately accredited institutions prior to admission to the University of Pittsburgh and who would like to request a transfer of credits should submit official transcripts from those institutions in addition to the school’s Transfer Credit Request form so that the courses can be evaluated for transfer credit.

The transfer credit request will be evaluated by the program faculty.  Requests must adhere to the University’s limitations for transfer credits.  See the University’s Academic Regulations for details.

Credits and Grade Points

Courses for which a G, I, N, R, or W grade is recorded do not contribute either credits or grade points toward graduation.  Courses numbered below 1000 (0-0999) only contribute either credits or grade points toward graduation when approved by the department PRIOR to enrollment.

Students must achieve the minimum GPA established by their departments, in no case less than 3.00, in order to be eligible to retain teaching assistantships or fellowships, to undergo the preliminary evaluations, to take comprehensive examinations, to be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree, and to graduate.

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 further regulations:

  • Students typically only repeat a course in which the grade of C- or lower has been earned, however, upon departmental approval the student may repeat a course in which they have earned a B- or lower.
  • 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 and calculated in the GPA, even if it is lower than the original grade.

The school automatically submits a course repeat form for students however 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.

Academic Standing

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 3.00. Graduate 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 3.00 or higher) are considered to be in good academic standing.

Academic Probation and Dismissal

A graduate student who fails to maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or to make satisfactory progress in a degree program is subject to dismissal from graduate study at the University. When the overall GPA of a student falls below 3.00, the student is automatically placed on academic probation; is not eligible for a teaching assistantship, fellowship, or participation in the department comprehensive examination; and is subject to dismissal at the end of the following term. The department should so warn the student in writing.

In addition, any student who is not making satisfactory progress toward the completion of an advanced degree (completion of an acceptable number of required courses and/or research each term or year) may be placed on academic probation by the department. The student must be informed in writing of this action by the department. Normally, one term will be granted in which to correct the deficiency.

A student whose performance on a preliminary or comprehensive examination is judged to be inadequate may be subject to dismissal at the end of the term.

Statute of Limitations and Leaves of Absence

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 stringent than the University policies. Variations and additions to those rules within the School of Computing and Information are as follows:

All requirements for Masters degrees must be completed within a period of four consecutive calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate study. 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 10 years, or within eight years if the student has received credit for a master’s degree appropriate to the field of study. Some departments may have a more stringent statute of limitations for completion of master’s or doctoral degrees. See the program offerings for specific details.

There is a strictly enforced limit of four calendar years on the master’s comprehensive examination or its equivalent for students beginning or readmitted for graduate study and a seven-calendar-year limit on the PhD comprehensive examination. If the student has not completed all requirements for the master’s or doctoral degrees within the 5-year limit on comprehensive examinations, the comprehensive examination for the degree must be retaken in order to graduate.

Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for an advanced degree may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. Requests for an extension must state the reason for the delay, provide evidence of continuing progress toward the completion of the degree, and include a detailed plan of study and proposed date for completion. The request must be approved by the chair of the student’s doctoral or master’s committee and the department chair or director of graduate studies and be submitted to the dean for final action.

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, submitted via the school’s Leave of Absence Request form, 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. See the Leave of Absence and Readmission section above for details regarding a readmission after a leave.


Graduation requirements differ among the school’s degrees. 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.

Additionally, students must abide by the following rules:

  • Must be in active status (registered for at least 1 credit or full-time dissertation study within the past 12 months)
  • Must be enrolled for a minimum of 1 credit in their term of graduation.
  • Masters students must submit an approved plan of study worksheet with their application for graduation.  All exceptions to the degree requirements that were petitioned and approved PRIOR to applying to graduate should be marked and initialed on this plan of study by the student’s advisor.
  • Joint Degree students must apply to graduate through each school awarding a degree, adhering to each school’s deadlines.
  • Doctoral candidates must submit to the dean’s office a completed Survey of Earned Doctorates.
  • Doctoral candidates must submit an electronic version of their dissertation (Electronic Thesis & Dissertation, ETD) and all-related paperwork by the deadlines posted on the school’s Intranet.

In exceptional circumstances, students who complete all the degree requirements at the end of a term but graduate in the next term may petition the dean of the school for a waiver of this registration requirement.  The requirement that a student be on active status cannot be waived.

Certification for Graduation

The Graduate Faculty of the department or program evaluates the performance of the student. If that performance is satisfactory, a report is 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.

Masters students in the INS and ICDS departments must submit a plan of study with their graduation application that assists the Faculty in the certification process.  As well, this plan of study should assure the student of their eligibility for graduation.  Doctoral candidates should be consult with their advisor regularly regarding their progress toward graduation.

University Commencement

Candidates for graduation are encouraged to appear in person at the University Commencement Ceremony, usually held the weekend 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

Special Academic Opportunities/Programs

In addition to the degree offered, the School of Computing and Information offers other academic opportunities and programming to its students:

Joint SCI/GSPIA MSIS Degree Program

The School of Computing and Information will continue to honor the joint degree agreement made between the School of Information Sciences and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). The program allows for students to complete the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree and one of three degrees in GSPIA simultaneously. To be admitted fully into the joint program, students must be accepted by both GSPIA and SCI.  Admissions and course of study details are available on the MSIS degree requirements page of this catalog.


Throughout the year, nationally and internationally recognized speakers from the information professions present research colloquiums, which are open to all faculty and students at the school. Colloquiums further enrich the school’s educational programs.

Student Organizations

The School encourages students to become members of-and to participate actively in-the student chapters of professional associations. The school cooperates with local chapters and special divisions of these organizations and other professional associations in promoting meaningful programs of interaction with practicing professionals.

Alumni Association

The alumni of the school meet each year at professional associations, assist with recruitment efforts, and offer career/skill development opportunities. For more information, please visit the school’s Web site at

Beta Phi Mu

Graduates who achieve a grade point average of at least 3.75 on a 4.0 scale in their work for the MLIS degree and are nominated by a member of the faculty are eligible for election to membership.

School of Computing and Information Faculty  

School of Computing and Information Program and Course Offerings


    Certificate of Advanced StudyDoctor of PhilosophyMaster of Science


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