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Application for Admission

Graduate admissions to the University of Pittsburgh are handled by the particular graduate school or program; there is no central admissions office for graduate and professional schools at the University.

This section details only the University requirements and procedures for admission to the University. The Graduate Admissions Office of each school provides admissions information for prospective students to that school.

The admissions information in this section is subject to change at any time. It is intended to serve only as a general source of information.

Graduate Admissions

Decisions regarding admission are based on an overall evaluation of all the credentials submitted by the candidate and in accord with the availability of faculty, facilities, and student support necessary to meet the applicant's expressed academic and research needs and interests. Many departments or programs have a limited number of places available. Interested students should refer to the Schools, Departments, and Programs section of this bulletin in addition to the general admission information provided here.

Application Procedures

Students seeking admission should apply online or call or write to the school or program of intended graduate study for application forms or information about applying online, instructions concerning the completion of all forms including the Application Data Form, and description materials. See the Schools, Departments, and Programs section of this bulletin for contact information and Web site addresses.

The applicant should complete the online application and submit the application fee through the online payment system. If the applicant submits a paper application, he or she should return the completed application and a check for the application fee (payable to the University of Pittsburgh) to the department or school. Cash is not accepted for application fees.

Applicants must also request that the registrars of all undergraduate and any graduate schools attended send official transcripts of their records to the department or school of intended graduate study. In addition, many schools and departments require additional material. These materials may include any or all of the following: scores achieved on standardized examinations such as the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test, letters of recommendation, term papers written during previous study, evidence of work/life experience, evidence of motivation for graduate study, and a statement of career objectives. Applicants should arrange for a personal interview if requested by the department or school.

Application Deadlines

See the Schools, Departments, and Programs sections of this bulletin for information about specific application deadlines, but note that students applying for fellowships and assistantships should file their applications at the earliest possible date. Applicants interested only in admission may be considered up to the deadline dates, but postponing applications may entail the risk that available spaces will be filled. Some programs admit students only for a particular term, so prospective students are encouraged to check with the school and program for specific admissions information.

International Graduate Student Admission

The admission of international graduate and first-professional students is processed by the school or department. Information about graduate and first-professional programs, access to the online application, deadlines, financial aid information, the admission requirements and procedures are available on the Web site of the school or department of intended study Web site addresses may be found in the School, Department, and Programs section of this bulletin or on the Graduate and Professional Web site. International students are recommended to start the application process at least 12 months in advance of the intended term of enrollment.

International Student Academic Requirements and Credentials

The minimum requirement for admission to a graduate program is the completion of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or the completion of education that the University of Pittsburgh deems comparable to a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States.

Applicants are required to submit official original academic credentials. Official original academic credentials that are issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. In cases where the transcript (grade report, academic record, examination results, mark sheet) does not attest to the awarding of a degree or an academic qualification, a certified copy of the original certificate or diploma awarding the degree or qualification must also be submitted. Certificates or diplomas that are issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

International graduate students must possess proficiency in English at a level to enable them to succeed in graduate-level studies. The University of Pittsburgh uses the official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as a measure of having the necessary English language proficiency. Official test results are required if the applicant is a citizen of a country where English is not the official language of that country. The required minimum acceptable score for graduate admission for the TOEFL is 80 for the Internet-based test, 213 on the computer-based version or 550 on the paper-based test; or Band 6.5 on the IELTS (taking the academic writing and reading modules of the test). Some graduate programs may require higher test results. Only officially reported results of the TOEFL or IELTS are accepted in meeting this requirement. Applicants who are citizens of a country where English is the official language are exempt from submitting the results of the TOEFL or IELTS. In addition, applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. are also exempt from submitting the results of the TOEFL or IELTS.

Students with a TOEFL score of less than 600 (250 on the computer-based test or 100 on the Internet-based test) or less than 7.0 on the IELTS must verify English language proficiency prior to completing registration by sitting for an additional Test of English Language Proficiency (TELP) administered through the English Language Institute. Individual schools or departments may require students with higher test scores to sit for this TELP. Based on the test results, students may be required by their academic department or school to take courses in English as a second language as part of their graduate program.

English Language Fluency for Teaching Assistants/Fellows

Teaching assistants (TAs) and teaching fellows (TFs) who are non-native speakers of English must be evaluated through a test designed to assess spoken English and English comprehension, approved by the Office of the Provost and administered by the English Language Institute (ELI). The Office of the Provost in consultation with ELI will establish minimum scores acceptable to permit a TA/TF to teach. Individual academic centers or departments may require higher scores than the established University minimums. All TAs/TFs with unsatisfactory scores on this test will be given non-teaching assignments and are required to take special course work until they attain a passing score. An unsatisfactory score at the time of reappointment is sufficient cause for nonrenewal of the student's TA/TF appointment.

Office of International Services

The Office of International Services (OIS) is under the Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs, and provides services not only to international students, but also to international faculty, researchers, and staff. 

The Office of International Services–Admissions Section provides guidance to schools and departments in the admission process by reviewing and evaluating the academic credentials for education completed outside the United States.

Process for Issuing Visa Documents for International Graduate Students

Upon issuing a letter of admission, the school or department will request the international student to complete the following:

  • Notify the school or department that the offer of admission is accepted
  • Complete and submit to the school or department the appropriate International Graduate Student Supplemental Form  

Upon receipt of the above, the school or department will send the following to OIS – Immigration Services Section for processing:

  • Copy of the letter of admission
  • Documentation that the student accepts the offer of admission
  • Completed English Language Proficiency Report
  • Completed International Graduate Student Supplemental Form
  • Completed department Mail Preference Form

Upon receipt of all of the above, the file will be processed in OIS - Advising Section for a visa document and/or registration.  The deadlines for schools or departments submitting a complete admission file for processing are:

  • Fall June 1
  • Spring October 1
  • Summer March 1

Additional International Student Requirements

The University of Pittsburgh reserves the right, even after arrival and enrollment, to make individual curricular adjustments whenever particular deficiencies or needs of a student are identified. In such instances, students may be required to take, at their own expense and without receiving credit, courses in English language (see English Language Proficiency Requirements above) or courses prerequisite to their course of study to make up deficiencies.

It is strongly recommended that students arrive in Pittsburgh at least two weeks before the start of the term to allow sufficient time to make housing arrangements and to take part in the orientation program conducted by the Office of International Services. This orientation assists international students with U.S. immigration rules and regulations, signing up for the additional Test of English Language Proficiency (TELP), and adjustment to the University and the city of Pittsburgh.

Admissions Status

Admission may be granted or denied only by the dean of the school or his or her designee. However, non-immigrant students must 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. The qualifications described below represent the minimum standards of the University. These may be made more stringent or specific at the option of the department or school.

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.

A student on provisional or special status or on probation is not eligible to take the PhD preliminary evaluation, to take the MA/MS or PhD comprehensive examination, or to be graduated.

Special Status

Students may be granted temporary admission as "special status" under the following circumstances:

1. Students who are seeking advanced degrees but who are unable to meet the deadline for filing all required credentials for admission may be granted temporary admission provided they present acceptable evidence concerning their qualifications for graduate study. Regular admission must be accomplished within the first term of registration.

2. Students who are not seeking an advanced degree but who have specific qualifications for one or more courses, including courses required for learning or certification, may register for such courses subject to review by the department and the dean of the school. Schools providing such an opportunity may specify the number of credits or courses for which a student may enroll while in this status and should also clearly specify the limitations on transfer of such credits toward a graduate degree if the student is subsequently admitted to a graduate degree program.

See Schools, Departments, and Programs section for specific requirements connected to special status students.

Guarantees and Early Admission to Graduate and First-Professional Programs

Undergraduate students receiving an academic merit scholarship who indicate certain professional programs (including communication science, dental medicine, education, law, medicine, physical therapy, and public and international affairs) as their intended field of study on the Freshman Application to the University of Pittsburgh will be automatically reviewed for guaranteed admission into that professional program. Early application is recommended, as spaces are limited.

Exceptionally able undergraduate University of Pittsburgh students may be admitted to full graduate status if their graduate and undergraduate schools have approved early admission as a permitted option and have established standards and procedures, and if the student needs no more than 24 credits to complete the baccalaureate degree.

Tuition Deposit

Once a student is admitted to a program, some of the graduate and professional schools at the University of Pittsburgh require a tuition deposit to secure the student's place in the incoming class. Students should refer to the Financial Issues: Tuition, Fees, Loans, and Scholarships section or to the admissions information for their specific school to determine the amount required for the tuition deposit.

Deferred Admission

If a department or school so approves, a student may defer admission for one year without having to complete any additional applications. If approved, the student is sent a new admission letter. Approval of a student's request to defer admission does not necessarily mean that any financial aid awarded is also deferred. See the Deferred Payments section of this bulletin for more information on deferring financial aid.


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. When readmitted, the student must be prepared to demonstrate proper preparation to meet all current admission and degree requirements. Readmission is automatic, however, for students who receive prior approval for a formal leave of absence.

Changing the Field of Graduate Study

A student already admitted to graduate study and desiring to change a major department or school of graduate study must file an application for such a change in the office of the dean or the department of the school the student wishes to enter. The application for admission to the new department will be evaluated in the same manner as an application from a new student.

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