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The University of Pittsburgh

About the University

The University of Pittsburgh is an internationally respected center of learning and research, offering exceptional educational opportunities in the humanities, sciences, and professions. A state-related, coeducational institution, the University of Pittsburgh's Pittsburgh campus offers a multitude of degree-granting and other programs housed in 16 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. The University system includes the Pittsburgh campus and four regional campuses at Bradford, Johnstown, Greensburg, and Titusville; the regional campuses offer undergraduate programs only.


The University of Pittsburgh’s mission is to advance teaching, research, and public service. This three-part commitment enables the University to serve others by

  • Educating diverse students from the region, the nation, and the world;
  • Expanding boundaries of knowledge, discovery, and technology; and
  • Enhancing quality of life in the Western Pennsylvania region and beyond.

For the University's complete mission statement, see the University of Pittsburgh's Fact Book.


The University began in the Pennsylvania wilderness as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787, the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. Thirty-two years later, the Pittsburgh Academy became the Western University of Pittsburgh, and in 1908, the school changed its name to the University of Pittsburgh.

The recognition of graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh began with the awarding of Master of Arts degrees in 1836. By 1870, over 30 MA degrees had been awarded. These degrees were conferred for study beyond the Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1884, Chancellor Milton Goff set up a two-year professional study program leading to either a Master of Philosophy (predecessor of the Master of Science degree) or a Master of Arts degree and a three-year program leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Before admission to these programs, each student was required to show proficiency in three areas of study. Both master's and doctoral candidates were required to prepare and defend theses.

In 1906, new rules were formulated for graduate study, requiring students to be in residence and requiring the completion of one year of study or 30 credits for the master's degree and three years or 90 credits for the doctoral degree. The catalogues of 1908 and 1909 announced the establishment of the Graduate School with five departments offering courses for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. These departments, plus five others, offered courses for the Master of Arts degree.

In 1910, a faculty committee drafted proposals, adopted by the board of trustees in 1913, making the Graduate School an independent administrative unit of the University and authorizing the selection of a Graduate Council. The Graduate School was grouped into three divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences) in 1947. Until 1956, the administration of graduate study was the responsibility of the dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council. At that time, the individual schools and the three divisions were given direct administrative responsibility for their graduate programs in accord with the regulations established by the University Council on Graduate Study—formerly the Graduate Council. In 1968, the dean of the Graduate School retired from his administrative role, and the position he had held was discontinued. General responsibility for the University's graduate programs was assigned to the provost pending reorganization of the University's graduate structure. The University Council on Graduate Study, the University administration, and members of the Graduate Faculty cooperated in drafting a proposed reorganization of graduate study, which was approved by written ballot by the entire Graduate Faculty and, in turn, accepted by Chancellor Wesley Posvar. This organizational structure became effective July 1, 1971, and is still the official structure.

Thus, during the 200-plus year history of the University, graduate education has grown to encompass the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and all 13 of the professional schools, which share a commitment to meet the nation's need for well-educated researchers, scholars, and leaders of professions and the tri-state region's need for trained professionals.

A private institution for most of its past, the University of Pittsburgh became state-related in 1966, establishing a relationship with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that continues to benefit both partners. Today, as an elected member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, the University of Pittsburgh claims its place among the top public research universities in the nation.


The University of Pittsburgh, including its four regional campuses, is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Higher Education. In addition, schools, programs, and departments may be accredited by discipline-specific accrediting bodies. See Schools, Departments, and Programs section of this bulletin for this information.

Web Address

For more information on the University of Pittsburgh, see the University's Web site at

Organization of Graduate and Professional Education at the University

While the University Council on Graduate Study (, acting for the Graduate Faculty, develops minimum standards for graduate work throughout the University, the immediate responsibility for developing and administering graduate programs is assigned to the deans and Graduate Faculty members of the several schools and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. This responsibility applies both to the traditional MA, MS, and PhD programs and to programs leading to advanced professional degrees, except for first-professional degrees (i.e., the MD, JD, LLM, PharmD, and DMD). The provost has responsibility for the general supervision of graduate and professional programs, including first-professional degree programs, throughout the University, giving leadership to the deans and faculties in maintaining high standards of instruction and research.

Faculty are appointed to the Graduate Faculty by the provost upon recommendation by the dean on the basis of an appraisal by the faculty of a department or other appropriate faculty group. Graduate Faculty are competent in graduate instruction and in supervision of student research at all levels and are active in advancing knowledge through their own research. 


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