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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2021
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Information Science with a Focus in Telecommunications, PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Information Science with a Focus in Telecommunications (henceforth called PhD in Telecommunications for short) prepares students for independently engaging in advanced work in high-quality research and teaching. It provides research oriented graduate study and professional specialization in telecommunications and emphasizes both scholarly and applied research. To earn a PhD degree, a student must demonstrate breadth of knowledge, give evidence of superior scholarship and mastery of a specialized field, and must demonstrate their ability to do significant and relevant research. In addition, the student must conceive, write and defend a PhD dissertation representing a significant and original contribution to current academic research as demonstrated by a public dissertation defense and publication in established peer-reviewed academic conferences and/or journals. Major milestones en-route to the PhD degree are the preliminary examination, the comprehensive examination, the dissertation proposal, and the dissertation defense. 

PhD Admissions Requirements

All applicants to the School of Computing and Information must adhere to the admissions requirements outlined in the School’s policies  . In addition, the following are requirements for admission to graduate study in Telecommunications for pursuing a PhD degree.

  1. A master’s degree from an accredited university, a recognized international program, or the equivalent. Exceptional students with a technical Bachelor’s degree may also be admitted. Such students must still satisfy all other requirements that follow.
  2. Attainment in graduate work of a minimum quality point average of 3.3 (on a scale with A having a value of 4 points per credit). An international student’s quality point average will be calculated on the basis of equivalency from universities that use a different scale.
  3. As evidence of the ability to undertake doctoral work, an essay (not exceeding 1000 words) indicating, as specifically as possible, the student’s academic and professional goals in relation to the Telecommunications doctoral program and identifying potential areas and/or topics in which the student expects to pursue dissertation research.
  4. Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within three years of the application. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the GRE must be submitted.
  5. At least three references from persons in the professional and academic communities. The faculty may, on occasion, require additional references.
  6. Evidence of academic completion of:
  • Two different scientific computer programming languages, 
  • Introductory class in probability and statistics 
  • Differential and integral calculus 

In addition, a candidate may elect to include the following optional material: 

  1. A complete curriculum vitae that provides an overview of education, work, publication, and other professional activities.
  2. An example of published writing.
  3. A description of any published or unpublished research, contributions to the professional or scholarly literature, and other professional or academic experience relevant to an assessment of his or her capacity to pursue doctoral study successfully.

Students whose complete credentials are not available for full admission may register as special students until the completed credentials are received, provided all other requirements have been satisfied. Students with deficiencies in either coursework or scholastic achievement may be admitted provisionally. Prerequisite courses should be completed within the first two terms.

Purpose of the Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Information Science with a Focus in Telecommunications (henceforth called PhD in Telecommunications for short) prepares students for independently engaging in advanced work in high-quality research and teaching. It provides research oriented graduate study and professional specialization in telecommunications and emphasizes both scholarly and applied research. To earn a PhD degree, a student must demonstrate breadth of knowledge, give evidence of superior scholarship and mastery of a specialized field, and must demonstrate their ability to do significant and relevant research. In addition, the student must conceive, write and defend a PhD dissertation representing a significant and original contribution to current academic research as demonstrated by a public dissertation defense and publication in established peer-reviewed academic conferences and/or journals. Major milestones en-route to the PhD degree are the preliminary examination, the comprehensive examination, the dissertation proposal, and the dissertation defense.

Degree Requirements

A candidate for the PhD should have broad knowledge of the field of telecommunications as well as a specialization in the area of major interest. Every candidate should have, in addition, a strong background in research methodologies.

The Telecommunications PhD program requires a minimum of 48 credits beyond a master’s degree. Exceptional students with a technical bachelor’s degree may be admitted on occasion and in such cases, a minimum of 72 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree is required.The 72 credits must include the required courses (or their equivalent) for the MST degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

All PhD candidates must complete: 

  • 12 credits of required courses
  • 12 credits of doctoral seminars
  • 6 credits of minor courses
  • At least 18 credits of dissertation research and writing (no more than 18 credits applied toward graduation)
  • 48 of the 72 credits must be advanced coursework beyond the MST degree (or its equivalent).

A plan of study should be designed by the advisor and student as early as possible after admission. A copy of the plan of study must be on file in the student’s folder and should be consulted during each registration period.

While these are minimum credit requirements, every PhD student may be required to take more credits of coursework to obtain the breadth and depth of knowledge required to successfully complete their dissertations. Graduation depends upon meeting the minimum credit requirements and all other requirements.

Preliminary Examination Requirements

The preliminary examination, according to Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, is held: 

“…to assess the breadth of the student’s knowledge of the discipline, the student’s achievement during the first year of graduate study, and the potential to apply research methods independently…. The evaluation is used to identify those students who may be expected to complete a doctoral program successfully and also to reveal areas of weakness in the student’s preparation.

The Telecommunications and Networking faculty has clarified further that the overall objectives of the preliminary examination are:

  • To test the PhD students for breadth of knowledge 
  • To evaluate their skills, and their ability to apply them 
  • To evaluate their ability to do research. 

Every student must complete the preliminary examination within four semesters of his/her admission (not counting Summer) into the program unless an exception is granted by the PhD Committee. Exceptions are typically not allowed for full-time students. Exceptions may be made for part-time PhD students in consultation with their advisors. The preliminary examination consists of authorship, presentation, and public defense of a publishable quality research paper as described below.

Eligibility and Preparation

To be admitted to the preliminary examination a student must: 

  • Have completed a master’s degree in a closely related field (e.g., telecommunications, information science, computer science, engineering, mathematics); Exceptional students admitted after a Bachelor’s degree must have completed all pre-requisite coursework.

  • Be admitted to full graduate status (i.e., all provisional admission requirements must be completed);

  • Have attended the PhD orientation session;

  • Be registered in the term in which the preliminary examination is taken; and

  • Apply in writing,with the advice and consent of a faculty advisor,to the Telecommunications PhD Chair and Department administration by the announced deadline.

Traditional preparation for the preliminary examination includes graduate-level coursework and familiarity with reading and reviewing papers and identifying research gaps. In addition, doctoral students should become familiar with the proceedings of the relevant professional societies of the field and copies of recent preliminary examination papers available from Department administrators.

Content and Format

The preliminary examination consists of two parts:

1. Research Project and Paper 

During the first year of doctoral study, under the direction of the advisor (or another full or adjunct member of the program’s graduate faculty), students will design and complete a research project. The project should reflect only those activities undertaken during the first year of study. A previous master’s thesis or other work completed prior to the start of doctoral study may not be submitted for this requirement. While much research involves working in a larger team, the student’s role in the project and in writing the paper should be significant. The student must be the primary author, and ideally should be the sole author. The student should seek a project or a part of a project in which the student can take the lead in conducting the research and writing up the results under the direction of the advisor. However, unlike a dissertation or thesis, the research paper submitted for the preliminary evaluation may include co-authors. In this case, the role of each co-author should be clearly stated in writing by the student and submitted along with the research paper. Furthermore, the paper may be integrated with other work and later submitted for publication with a longer list of authors.

Research papers take many forms, and some venues require particular nomenclature or forms. The paper submitted to the faculty to meet this requirement should include the following components:

  • A clear statement of the problem
  • An innovative idea that addresses the problem
  • A survey of the relevant research literature
  • An explication and implementation of a methodology for addressing the problem
  • Evidence that the described idea achieves its goal
  • Analysis and evaluation
  • Discussion of the research, including but not limited to shortcomings of the work and directions for future work.
  • A list of references

While it is possible to deviate from this structure, this should only be done with the support of the advisor.

2. Oral presentation and defense 

Submission and presentation of the paper must be made not later than in the last January of the first four terms in in the program. Students must complete 6 credits of doctoral courses and 6 credits of doctoral seminars before taking the preliminary examination. The due date for submission of the paper is the second Friday of January. On the fourth Friday of January, papers will be presented orally in conjunction with the IS PhD oral presentations to graduate faculty in a public forum. Each student will give a 20-minute long oral presentation of their paper to the faculty, followed by a 20-minute discussion. All presentations will be made on a single day. Faculty will meet the same day to grade the written and oral performance. The result of the exam will be: (a) pass, (b) fail with one more chance to re-take the exam the following year, or (c) fail with no chance to re-take the exam.

Timing and Completion of Milestone

A student has to pass the preliminary exam at the earliest opportunity (within the first four semesters) and should not wait till completion of coursework to attempt the preliminary exam. A student will have successfully completed the prelim exam after passing the oral presentation and defense and completion of the coursework as required.

With the successful completion of the preliminary examination, the student is fully admitted to doctoral study in telecommunications. The Program Chair will notify the student, in writing, of admission to doctoral study. After admission, the student must complete the remaining coursework including doctoral level seminars; probability and statistics, research design, and information science course requirements; and the residency requirement.

A student whose performance on the preliminary examination is judged to be inadequate may be subject to Academic Dismissal  at the end of the term.

Comprehensive Examination

The student must satisfactorily pass a comprehensive examination designed to assess mastery of the general field of telecommunications, acquisition of both depth and breadth in the area of specialization within the field, and ability to use the research methods of the discipline. The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to assess the student’s ability to understand a sub-area of telecommunications in depth. In order to do research, a student must be able to read, understand, present, and criticize research papers in the field. It is also important that the student be able to explain it in depth to someone who is unfamiliar with that area. Thus, this examination centers on the development of a tutorial as well as a lecture in which the student must explain the subject to the satisfaction of the entire Telecommunications faculty. From a learning perspective, this provides the student with the experience of structuring and explaining a technical topic in detail.

Eligibility and Preparation

Prior to the comprehensive examination, a student must complete most of the course and seminar requirements. This includes: 

  1. Completed most of the of graduate course and seminar work for completion of a PhD. These credits include: 
    1. 12 credits of doctoral-level classes (as determined by the advisor),  
    2. 6 credits of minor requirement (Telecommunications courses excluded), and  
    3. 12 credits in doctoral seminars;  
  2. Completed a “state-of-the-art” paper to be submitted to graduate faculty two weeks prior to examination date; 
  3. Be registered in the term in which the comprehensive examination is taken; and 
  4. Apply to the Chair of the PhD program for permission to take the comprehensive examination. 

Content and Format

The comprehensive examination has a written component and an oral component. In preparation for the one-hour oral examination, the examinee must prepare a written “tutorial” paper that must be submitted to the Telecommunications faculty two weeks prior to the scheduled exam date. The “tutorial” paper is a critical essay that explores the literature of the selected topic; the student identifies, synthesizes, and evaluates the relevant literature on the topic.

The comprehensive examination will be conducted by at least four members of the graduate Telecommunications faculty. The exam will be directed at the”tutorial” paper and the various relationships among the components of telecommunications. Goals of the comprehensive examination committee are to assess the student’s understanding of the topic of the “state-of-the-art” paper, the theoretical framework that supports it; the quality of the student’s research skills necessary to understand, integrate, and extend knowledge gained through scholarly inquiry; and the relationships of the topic to telecommunications. The results of the exam are conveyed to the student, by the examination committee, usually within an hour after completion of the exam. The result of the comprehensive examination is a pass or fail. If a student fails, they may retake the exam one more time. A student who fails the comprehensive examination twice is no longer eligible to continue in the PhD program.


The procedure to schedule and take the comprehensive examination is as follows:a

  1. The student will select a topic of interest in his research area in consultation with his advisor. When the advisor is satisfied that the student understands the subject matter in sufficient depth, the student prepares a tutorial paper.
  2. The student will prepare a comprehensive literature survey of the research on this topic and prepare a tutorial document that is referenced and complete in itself. This document must not exceed 20 pages in length, with a font size of 12pt, and margins of 1 inch on the left and right. Also, the document must be prepared so that the faculty can easily read it. A researcher in Telecommunications who is not familiar with the research topic should able to understand and appreciate the issues in this topic by reading this document.
  3. The work should be completely done by the student except for informal suggestions from the advisor. The advisor may provide only grammatical feedback; it is up to the student to decide what content is necessary, and how to organize it, because this is a crucial part of the tutorial. Occasionally, the advisor may suggest inclusion of certain topics.
  4. The student finds a date for the presentation where at least four of the telecommunications faculty can attend. At least two weeks prior to the examination date, the student must deliver a final copy of the tutorial document to all faculty members.
  5. It is strongly recommended that the student provide some preliminary research results on an advancement in the topic or at least reproduce the most relevant work conducted by researchers in this topic.
  6. The student has to publicly present the material from this document orally on the day of the examination to the faculty in a presentation lasting 45 minutes. The presentation will be tutorial in nature with additional results if any. The faculty may question the student to assess his or her understanding of the topic in question as well as in any general topic in the area. The faculty may ask questions for clarification and to test the student’s grasp of the subject as well as closely related subjects and methodologies.

The response of the faculty may take on several forms, including: 

  • Unconditional pass 
  • Conditional pass, with conditions such as 
    • Additional recommended or required coursework 
    • Specific modification to the tutorial paper 
    • Re-attempt the oral presentation 
  • Fail 

All Telecommunications students are encouraged to attend comprehensive exams to see what is expected and learn from the tutorial presentation. 

Timing and Completion of Milestone

The Comprehensive should be taken after the student has completed almost all coursework, seminars, etc. and after the student has successfully completed the Preliminary examination. Typically, a student will complete the comprehensive exam within 18 months of completing the preliminary exam.

After successfully completing the comprehensive examination, the student is admitted to doctoral pre-candidacy and works with a faculty advisor to prepare a dissertation proposal and form a dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination and approval of the dissertation proposal permit the student’s academic advisor to recommend the student for doctoral candidacy. Normally a student will begin to register for dissertation credits after being admitted to doctoral candidacy. A minimum of 18 dissertation credits is required. To be eligible for the dissertation defense the student must complete the residency requirement (three terms of full-time study of which two terms must be consecutive). The final defense of the dissertation is a public session announced in University-wide media. The dissertation must be unanimously approved by the dissertation committee.

A student whose performance on the comprehensive examination is judged to be inadequate may be subject to Acadmic Dismissal  at the end of the term.

Candidacy and Dissertation Requirements

Pre-Candidacy and the Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation Advisor and Committee 

Students must gain the agreement of a member of the telecommunications faculty, who is also a member of the graduate INS faculty, to chair the dissertation committee that will advise the student on the area of research.In most cases, the student’s academic advisor continues as the dissertation advisor and chair of the dissertation committee.The advisor’s agreement is recorded in the student’s file. Any request to change the dissertation advisor must be submitted in writing to the chair of the Doctoral Committee and SCI Academic Records for an update to the student’s digital record. Approval for the change and the selection of another dissertation advisor is filed in the student’s folder.

The student’s dissertation advisor: 

  1. Assists in choosing the dissertation committee and in confirming the eligibility of all members selected; 
  2. Arranges with the program administration to schedule the dissertation proposal presentation;
  3. Reviews progress toward completion of the research;
  4. Arranges with support staff to schedule the dissertation defense;
  5. Chairs the dissertation defense;f.Secures appropriate signatures from dissertation committee members and assures that all required paperwork is submitted in accordance with the Telecommunications, SCI, and University procedures.

The dissertation committee composition is dictated by SCI regulations; see the Doctoral Committee section  of the SCI Catalog for details.

Members of the dissertation committee are to be selected by the student in consultation with the dissertation advisor. One of the members must hold a primary faculty appointment outside of the Informatics and Networked Systems graduate faculty. The dissertation committee is responsible for monitoring the research, conducting and evaluating the oral defense of the dissertation, and approving the final written presentation of the dissertation. The dissertation advisor directs the dissertation research and writing, but all committee members have the responsibility to assist the student as consultants. All members of the committee may vote.

According to university policy, meetings of the doctoral candidate and their dissertation committee must occur at least annually from the time the student gains Admission to Doctoral Candidacy. During these meetings, the committee should assess the student’s progress toward degree and discuss objectives for the following year and a timetable for completing degree requirements.

While the student prepares a dissertation proposal, they are required to enroll in and complete a minimum of 18 dissertation credits as part of their study.

Students should refer to the School’s Catalog page, specifically the advising section, for further resources on the advisor/advisee relationship.

Dissertation Proposal 

The student schedules a public presentation of the dissertation proposal, notifies the department administration, and provides a written copy of the proposal to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the presentation date. The dissertation committee must unanimously approve the dissertation topic and research plan before the student may be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

The dissertation proposal represents a contract between the student and the dissertation committee. The student should specify in as much detail as possible the problem they wish to solve and the method they intend to use to solve it.

Students demonstrate their ability to complete a sound project of original research by presenting and defending the dissertation proposal to their dissertation committee. Approval of the proposal does not imply either the acceptance of a dissertation prepared in accord with the proposal or the restriction of the dissertation to this original proposal.

Originality may be reflected in a number of ways. For example, a candidate may pose an important new problem or formulate an existing problem in a novel and useful way. A candidate may investigate previously ignored material or develop new techniques for investigating issues. Extensions of previous investigations are acceptable provided they incorporate important new elements in the design or execution of the research.

Normally, a satisfactory dissertation will form the basis for one or more publishable articles. The dissertation committee may offer an opinion on the publishable content of the proposed research.

Written notice of the student’s meeting with the dissertation committee to approve the proposal will be distributed to the Telecommunications faculty at least one week in advance. The notice will contain the student’s name, the title and abstract of the proposal, the date, time, and place of the meeting. The committee will conduct the proposal hearing and must unanimously approve the dissertation topic and the research plan. The student is responsible for filing a copy of the approved proposal with the department.

When the proposal has been successfully defended, the chair of the student’s dissertation committee shall notify the Chair of the PhD Committee, the chair of the department, and the Dean that the student has achieved formal candidacy.

Timing and Completion of Milestone 

The proposal may be done any time after the successful completion of the comprehensive examination. University rules require that the proposal be completed at least eight months prior to the final defense of the dissertation. The timing of the proposal depends heavily on the student’s dissertation project. The actual timing depends on the student’s ability to demonstrate the project’s feasibility to the committee. For some,this will occur early in the research cycle; for others, this will occur later. It is generally in the student’s interest to do this earlier rather than later, since it defines the scope of the completed dissertation. In any case, every student should aim at completion of their dissertation proposal within one year of passing the comprehensive exam.


For admission to formal candidacy for the PhD degree, a student must have:

  1. Passed the preliminary examination;
  2. Completed all coursework requirements (with the possible exception of dissertation credits) with a QPA of 3.3 or higher;
  3. Passed the comprehensive examination;
  4. Successfully presented a dissertation proposal and received permission from the dissertation committee to begin research.

When these steps have been taken, the chair of the student’s dissertation committee will notify the Chair of the PhD Committee, the Chair of INS, and the Dean that the student has achieved formal candidacy. The Chair of the PhD Committee will notify the student of his admission to doctoral candidacy in writing. A copy of the notice will be placed in the student’s folder. The student is expected, at this time, to schedule and present a colloquium on their research in an open forum in the School of Computing and Information.

Dissertation Research Procedural Requirements 

The student must submit all forms, letters, and questionnaires related to the dissertation research to the members of the dissertation committee for approval before any such documents are publicly distributed.

The student is also responsible for meeting University requirements when human subjects are used in research. These requirements are found in the University of Pittsburgh’s Guidelines to the Use of Human Subjects in Psychosocial Research . The school has a faculty representative on the Psychosocial Institution Review Board who may be contacted with questions of procedure.The student must prepare a final copy of the dissertation conforming to the University of Pittsburgh’s Style and Form Manual for the format of the dissertation. Since the bibliographic style is best determined by the subject of the dissertation, a style manual of the student’s choice may be used for the content of the dissertation and must be applied consistently throughout.

For details regarding the University’s formatting guidelines and other paperwork related to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) submission process, refer to the School’s Current Students page on graduation procedures. Specifically, the PhD Graduation Checklist will assist students with resources, deadlines, and related items.

If University facilities and/or faculty time are being used in dissertation research and/or the writing of the dissertation, then students are required to register for at least 3 credits per term or such greater amount as the School or Program deems appropriate. Students who have completed all credit requirements for the PhD degree and are working full time on their dissertations, should register for fixed-fee full time dissertation credits. If the student is a doctoral candidate and off-campus, not using University facilities and/or faculty time, the candidate need only register for 1 credit per academic year to maintain active enrollment status.

Dissertation Defense 

The purpose of the final defense is to assess the student’s ability to present and defend the result(s) of their original research project. The student must be able to clearly communicate the problem, the method, the assumptions, and the results of the project. He or she must be able to clearly articulate and support all assumptions and decisions that were made toward the process of completing the project. While the student’s committee makes the final decision, the defense is public and questions are accepted from any attendee.


After completing the investigation and preparing the dissertation, the candidate is advised to submit the first draft to the dissertation advisor early in the term in which he/she expects to receive the degree. This allows time for any necessary revisions and for preparation of the final copies in an acceptable style and format.

Any exceptions to the style manual approved for the School must have prior approval by the advisor. Final decisions concerning style and format rest with the student’s dissertation advisor. Note the dissertation can either follow the traditional book format model or a collection of published research articles. If the latter case, the published work must be logically connected and integrated into the dissertation in a coherent manner, and sufficient detail must be presented to satisfy the characteristics of a dissertation. If the published articles were co-authored, the contribution of the student must be clearly delineated in the introduction so the committee can ascertain that the student’s own work satisfies the requirements of a dissertation. Instructions on incorporating articles into the dissertation are provided in the Format Guidelines for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Preparation at the University of Pittsburgh.

Eligibility for the Dissertation Defense 

To be eligible to defend the dissertation, a student must have: 

  1. Completed the residency requirement; 
  2. Completed required documents to schedule and request formal, public announcement of the defense in the University Times through the School at least four weeks prior to the date of the defense; 
  3. Distributed copies of the dissertation to the dissertation committee at least four weeks prior to the date of the defense. 

Registration Requirements 

Students completing their research work for the dissertation will be required to register for at least one credit in the term during which they expect either to complete degree requirements or have the oral defense. Students must submit an application for graduation for the term in which they have planned the dissertation defense.The application for graduation and the related deadlines and late fee structure are available on the School’s Current Students webpage.

If a student does complete all the work in a given term, including the dissertation oral examination, and has been cleared for graduation too late to be included on the graduation list for that term, the student may apply to graduate the following term and need not enroll for any courses or any credits, subject to approval by the Dean’s office.If a student is unable to complete the work during the expected term of graduation due to some extenuating circumstances related to the School and University (beyond control of the student and attested to by the Dean’s office), the student will not be required to register for additional credits in the term of graduation.

All requests for exceptions to the policy stated above should be sent to the Chair of the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems from the advisor for clearance and recommendation and then to the Dean for approval consideration.

Defense of the Dissertation 

The dissertation defense is scheduled by the dissertation advisor early enough in the term to allow for necessary revisions and final editing of the manuscript before the graduation deadline. The candidate must submit copies of the dissertation to the dissertation advisor and to the dissertation committee at least four weeks prior to the scheduled dissertation defense. A copy must also be filed with the Department at least four weeks before the date of the dissertation defense meeting. Notice of the dissertation topic/title/abstract; the defense date, time, and location; and the availability of the final draft copy of the dissertation will be publically posted and notice sent to the faculty at least one week ahead of the scheduled defense.

Dissertation defenses must be publicly announced and are open to the University community, but only the dissertation committee may vote. A student defends their dissertation successfully if the dissertation committee unanimously approves it. Although the dissertation defense is dedicated primarily to the field of the dissertation, other questions relating to telecommunications may be considered at this time. The chair of the dissertation committee serves as the session moderator.

A student who successfully defends the dissertation with conditions to be completed must satisfy those conditions with the approval of the dissertation advisor within one year.

Completion of the Dissertation 

The dissertation should be completed within the statute of limitations described below. If the statute of limitations is about to be exceeded and there is evidence of reasonable progress, the Department may recommend an extension to the statute by a specific period usually not exceeding one year. It is the student’s responsibility to present evidence of progress to thei radvisor along with a request for extension prior to the end of the statute of limitation period. All requests for extension must be approved Department; approved requests will be submitted to the Dean’s Office for final action. See details regarding the statute of limitations in the SCI Catalog page.

Publication of the Dissertation and ETD Guidelines 

All candidates for a PhD degree are required to submit their official dissertations electronically using the University of Pittsburgh’s procedures and formatting for Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD). In that case, the candidate is required to pay a fee specified by the University to Student Accounts and submit various items as outlined on the School’s PhD Graduation Checklist.

Any dissertation may be published after the final defense provided that the dissertation submitted for publication is approved as to form and content by the dissertation advisor and also provided that due acknowledgment is made to the University. No form of publication, however, shall relieve the student of the responsibility for following the University’s Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) formatting and submission guidelines as outlined on the School’s PhD Graduation Checklist.

For ETD formatting guidelines and general information, please visit the University of Pittsburgh Electronic Theses and Dissertations website. For deadlines and contact information regarding the School’s required graduation and ETD paperwork, please visit the School’s Current Students webpage on graduation procedures.

Journal Requirement 

All PhD students are required to submit an article of publishable quality (based on their dissertation) to a journal before the degree is awarded. This shall be noted when applying for graduation with signatures of the student and the advisor.

Additional Requirements

Grade Policy 

Graduation depends upon meeting the minimum credit requirements and all other requirements. Graduate degrees are conferred only on those students who have completed all courses required for the degree with at least a 3.3 GPA. Grades of C or lower are unacceptable for graduation credit.

Residency Requirements 

Full-time study on campus is considered most beneficial to students, but it is recognized that students may have off-campus responsibilities as well. The PhD degree, therefore, can be completed by a combination of full-time and part-time study. Three terms of full-time study are required, two of which must be consecutive and must be taken after successful completion of the preliminary examination. Full-time study is defined as nine or more graduate credits per term.

Transfer of Credits 

Upon petition to the faculty and with the consent of the student’s advisor, a student may be granted up to 6 credits of advanced standing. This credit for graduate course work completed at another institution may be granted if the credit has not been applied to a previous degree, has been earned within the 6-year statute of limitations, and is relevant to the student’s doctoral studies in the School of Computing and Information. Advanced standing is granted at the time of admission or during the first term of course work, if approved. Petitions for transfer of credits must be received at the time of application or during the first term of attendance. Transcripts verifying the graduate courses must accompany the petition along with sufficient documentation to permit the faculty to evaluate their relevance to the doctoral program.

Transfer credits must be earned at an accredited institution granting degrees at the doctoral level. No credit will be granted toward doctoral degrees for work completed in extension courses or in off-campus centers of another institution unless those credits are approved for graduate degrees at that institution. Transfer credits will not be accepted for courses in which grades lower than a “B,” or its equivalent, has been received. For details, see the University’s policy on transfer of credits.

Please note these transfer credits will not be applied to core courses, independent study or doctoral seminars.

Probation and Termination 

All students pursuing the doctoral degree are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 after admission to graduate study and for all course work applicable to the degree. Students are automatically placed on academic probation when their cumulative GPA falls below 3.3. The graduate faculty will terminate students on probation for two consecutive terms. A cumulative GPA of 3.3 or better is required for admission to doctoral study and for the award of the doctoral degree. In addition, students must show adequate progress through an annual review to be held in May.

Statute of Limitations

All requirements for the PhD degree must be completed in not more than six calendar years from the time of first registration. Students may, in extenuating circumstances, submit a formal request for extension of their statute of limitations or for a leave of absence from the program.More details regarding the statute of limitations and extensions can be found in the SCI Catalog.

Note: All students who are candidates for doctoral degrees are governed by the regulations of the University Council on Graduate Study, which establishes minimum standards for graduate work throughout the University as well as by those regulations established by the School of Computing and Information faculty. See the University’s Academic Regulations for details.

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