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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 21, 2024
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Bachelor of Philosophy

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The Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) Degree is a research-based degree, requiring a rigorous curriculum and independent research under the guidance of a faculty mentor culminating in a thesis defense before a committee of faculty members, including an external examiner from another institution. 

The BPhil Degree combines General Degree Requirements for an individually approved Program of Study with Special Degree Requirements for in-depth independent scholarship that culminates in a thesis. Through the BPhil, undergraduate students any time after their first year at Pitt can begin research and scholarly work toward a rigorous baccalaureate degree in a manner usually reserved for the graduate level (the Special Degree Requirements). Simultaneously, the BPhil degree includes an element of intellectual scope in the expectation that students have a challenging academic program in the course work for their majors, minors, and/or certificates (the General Degree Requirements).

General Degree Requirements

The General Degree Requirement is met through an approved Program of Study demonstratiing that the student has exceeded the requirements for a standard undergraduate departmental degree. Existing curricular options may fulfill the Program of Study requirements, such as multiple majors or double-degree programs, or the approved Program of Study may be individualized, especially for students in highly structured programs. In general, it is expected that a student’s curriculum will reflect the breadth and/or depth. Curricula that are built around an intellectual theme (those that reflect focus) are also acceptable. It is incumbent upon each candidate to demonstrate the scholarly merits of the proposed curriculum as it relates to their own work.

To meet the General Degree Requirement, BPhil Degree candidates must:

  • Complete the degree requirements (e.g., major requirements) of their primary school/college of admission (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Swanson School of Engineering, School of Nursing, College of Business Administration, School of Computing and Information, etc.)
  • Complete a Program of Study approved by the David C. Frederick Honors College
  • Maintain a 3.50 cumulative GPA

Special Degree Requirements

The Special Degree Requirement is met through the preparation and defense of a thesis. There will be an individualized examination conducted by an Examining Committee no later than during the candidate’s last term at the University of Pittsburgh. One member of the Examining Committee must be from outside the University of Pittsburgh.

To meet the Special Degree Requirement, BPhil Degree candidates must:

  • Select a thesis advisor from the faculty in their major department of study
  • Submit a synopsis of the proposed research, the Thesis Prospectus (which has been accepted by the thesis advisor) to the David C. Frederick Honors College
  • Be evaluated by the Examining Committee; this evaluation consists of a public presentation and discussion of the thesis or project, followed by a private oral examination conducted by the Examining Committee, similar to a master’s thesis defense

Upon successful completion of the BPhil Degree program, students receive a degree/diploma jointly-conferred by the David C. Frederick Honors College and their primary school/college of admission.

Admissions Requirements

Applications for admission to BPhil Degree candidacy are accepted on a rolling basis. Students should apply for BPhil Degree candidacy as soon as they have identified a faculty member willing to serve as the thesis advisor. It is recommended, although not required, to apply for BPhil Degree candidacy prior to conducting the actual research for the thesis. The application requires students to provide a narrative of their Plan of Studies (General Degree Requirement) and Thesis Prospectus (Special Degree Requirement), along with biographical information/resume and Pitt transcript.

Total Credits

The UHC does not require students to complete additional credits for the BPhil Degree, although some departments such as Political Science, BPHIL   and International and Area Studies, BPHIL   may have addiional requirements for BPhil Degree candidates in their programs.

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