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General Academic Regulations


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 school and program must determine the best way to provide these services. Each program should have a document describing its view of good graduate advising practices and a clear policy on how good graduate advising is assessed and rewarded. For more information on academic advising at the graduate level, see Elements of Good Academic Advising.

Students are encouraged to consult with the individual school for school-specific advising services. In addition, the online Schedule of Classes can be a useful advising tool in planning a course of study.

Allowable Credits

There are certain limitations on the credits that can be earned toward a graduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Those limitations are detailed below.

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 should submit official transcripts from those institutions at the time they apply so that the courses can be evaluated for transfer credit. In no case may the total number of credits transferred exceed the maximum number stated in the sections of this bulletin pertaining to advanced degree requirements. For more detail, see credit requirement information in the sections on Regulations Pertaining to Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees, Professional Master's Degrees, or Doctoral Degrees as well as the relevant program information in Schools, Departments, and Programs. Grades (and grade points) are not recorded for credits accepted by transfer.

Transfer credits will not be accepted for courses in which a grade lower than B (GPA=3.00) or its equivalent has been received. No credit will be granted toward an advanced degree for work completed in extension courses, correspondence courses, courses delivered electronically, or those offered in the off-campus center of another institution unless those courses are approved for equivalent graduate degrees at that institution and the institution has an accredited program.

The completion of requirements for advanced degrees must be satisfied through registration at the Pittsburgh campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Graduate students already enrolled may, when approved in advance by their department and the dean, spend a term or more at another graduate institution to obtain training or experience not available at the University of Pittsburgh and transfer those credits toward the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Pittsburgh. In such instances, neither the University nor any of its components are responsible for providing any financial assistance to the graduate student.

Course Work Acceptable as Graduate Credit

A substantial proportion of courses acceptable toward a graduate degree should be designed explicitly for graduate students. Introductory graduate-level (master's-level) courses are numbered 2000–2999, and those at an advanced graduate-level (doctoral-level) are numbered 3000–3999. To be eligible for a master's degree, a student must have completed at least four courses (12 credits) or one-half the total number of credits submitted for the degree, whichever is greater, at the graduate level (2000 or 3000 series). Doctoral students must complete additional graduate-level courses as determined by their department or school. No lower-level undergraduate courses numbered 0001–0999 may be applied toward a graduate degree.

Credit by Course Examination

Some schools at the University offer credit by course examination. Each school authorized to offer graduate courses clearly specifies whether or not students may obtain credit toward a degree in this fashion and, if so, for which courses. A school granting graduate credit for life or work experience will do so only through the option of credit by examination.

Cross-Registration Credits

Students may register for graduate courses at Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Robert Morris University under the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) cross-registration agreement. Such work, if approved in advance by the student's advisor, will not be considered as transfer credit and may be counted for credit toward a graduate degree; the grade earned will be used in computing the student's grade point average. See also Cross Registration in the Registration section of this bulletin.

Enrollment in Graduate Courses as an Undergraduate

University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students with sufficient preparation are permitted to enroll in certain graduate courses at the University following procedures determined by each school. The graduate credits earned may be counted toward the undergraduate degree if approved by the student's school. These may not be counted as credits toward a graduate degree except as noted below.

Undergraduate students who need fewer than 15 credits to complete requirements for the baccalaureate degree and who intend to continue study toward an advanced degree may be permitted during their final term to register for graduate courses that will later apply toward a graduate degree. The student must obtain written permission from the school of proposed graduate study that the courses may count when and if the student is admitted into the graduate degree program. This privilege should not be granted if the proposed total program exceeds a normal full-time load. Although these credits will appear on the undergraduate transcript, they will not count toward fulfilling undergraduate degree requirements. They will be posted as advanced standing credits on the graduate transcript.

Registration (Enrollment)

Registering for Classes

After being admitted to a graduate program, students may register for classes with their academic advisor. The registration period for a term or session is published in the University's Schedule of Classes (see, in course descriptions, on calendars (including the University's Academic Calendar at, and in numerous other publications.

Students registering for the first time are advised to complete registration well before the beginning of the term. Typically, the first day of classes is the last day for students to register. After the start of classes, registration for new and continuing students is permitted only in unusual circumstances and only with the written approval of the dean and the payment of a late registration fee.

Many students have the convenience of submitting their registration form online to their school or advisor's office. Students may also process their registration form in the Registration Office, G-1 Thackeray Hall.

Students are required to have the signature of their academic advisor on the registration form. The student's signature on the registration form creates a financial obligation to the University of Pittsburgh. Once students have registered, they may view their class schedules online via the University Portal at

Full-Time and Part-Time Study

Students must be officially admitted to the University to be eligible to register for classes. Graduate students who register for 9 to 15 credits in the fall or spring term are full-time students and are assessed the tuition rate for their school (for detail, see A school may require students enrolled in a degree program to register for more than 9 credits. Students who register for fewer than 9 credits are part-time students and are billed on a per-credit basis. During the summer term and summer sessions, most students are billed on a per-credit basis regardless of the number of credits taken. At the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, full-time MBA students are billed a flat rate in the summer term (since this is a one-year program, tuition is spread over three terms).

Doctoral students who have completed all credit requirements for the degree, including any minimum dissertation credit requirements, and are working full-time on their dissertations may register for full-time dissertation study, which carries no credits or letter grade but provides students full-time status. Students so enrolled are assessed a special tuition fee but are still responsible for paying the full-time computer and network, security/transportation, student health service, and activity fees. Students must consult with the dean's office of their school for permission to register for full-time dissertation study.

Maximum Credits Per Term

No student is permitted to register for more than 15 graduate credits without written permission from the dean of the academic center in which the student is pursuing a degree. Graduate students who register for more than 15 credits will be billed for each additional credit that exceeds their full-time tuition rate. Exceptions include the following:

  • The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business allows its full-time MBA students to register for up to 18 credits in the fall and spring terms before additional per-credit tuition charges apply.
  • The School of Law has no maximum number of credits in its first-professional programs for billing purposes, but permission of the associate dean is required to register for more than 15 credits per term.
  • The Graduate School of Public Health allows students pursuing the Master of Health Administration or the Master of Public Health in environmental and occupational health to take up to 16 credits during their first year of study.
  • The School of Social Work allows its students to register for 16 credits in the fall term before additional per-credit tuition charges apply.
  • Individual schools and departments may restrict the maximum credit load for programs of any or all of their graduate students.

    Registration Status at Graduation

    All graduate students must register for at least 1 credit or full-time dissertation study during the 12-month period preceding graduation (that is, must be on active status). Waivers may be requested by submitting a written request to the University registrar from the dean of the school. The request should be based on extenuating circumstances, e.g., inability of the student's dissertation committee to meet during the final term when a student has given reasonable notice or the student has completed all degree requirements in a previous term. Waivers will not be granted to students who are inactive.

    Inactive Status

    Students who have not registered for at least 1 credit or full-time dissertation study (eligible doctoral students) during a 12-month period are transferred to inactive status and must file an application for readmission to graduate study (application fee required) before being permitted to register again. Students on inactive status cannot apply to graduate or take preliminary or comprehensive examinations. Also, students on inactive status are not eligible to use University facilities and should not expect to receive counseling from the faculty or active supervision by their advisor and committee.

    Adding and Dropping Courses

    Students may add and drop courses only during the add/drop period. The dates for the add/drop period are listed in the University's Schedule of Classes, in course descriptions, on calendars (including the University's Academic Calendar at, and in numerous other publications. Students who no longer wish to remain enrolled in a course after the add/drop period has ended may withdraw from the course or resign from the University. See Monitored Withdrawal from a Course or Resigning from the University.

    Auditing Courses

    With the consent of the school and instructor, students may choose to audit a course. To audit a course, a student must register and pay tuition for the course. The audit grade (N) is not counted toward graduation or the GPA.


    Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Robert Morris University, and the University of Pittsburgh offer graduate students the opportunity for cross-registration in graduate programs in the five institutions in the fall and spring terms. Credits earned by cross-registration in graduate courses at Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne University, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Robert Morris University, when approved in advance by the student's graduate advisor, are accepted as University of Pittsburgh credits for the purpose of the calculation of the grade point average and the completion of degree requirements. Each department at each institution retains the authority to establish the prerequisites for admission and the maximum enrollment in its own courses and to grant priority in registration to its own graduate students.

    Cross-registration is only available in the fall and spring terms. Only full-time students may cross-register. Students who cross-register do not pay tuition to the host institution; however, they are responsible for any additional fees associated with the course such as laboratory fees, books, and the like. During the summer, students may attend one of the above colleges as guest students, but they must pay that institution's tuition and fees. Students are discouraged from cross-registering during their term of graduation to avoid any delays in the receipt of course credit needed to graduate. Students should meet with their advisor before they cross-register. See also Cross-Registration Credit or visit the Pittsburgh Council of Higher Education (PCHE) Web site for organization history and available program information.

    Registering for Two Independent Degree Programs Simultaneously

    Students may pursue two independent graduate degrees simultaneously in two different schools within the University (joint degree) or two different departments within the same school (dual degree). Normally, such students should be enrolled for no more than a total of 15 credits per term. Special approvals and regulations apply before a student is allowed to register for courses in pursuit of two independent graduate degrees. See discussion in Special Academic Opportunities for further detail.

    Registering for Cooperative, Dual-Degree, and Joint-Degree Programs

    Dual- and joint-degree programs result in two degrees being awarded. Requirements for these programs include all or most of the requirements of two distinct academic degree programs. Dual programs exist within a single school; joint programs exist between two or more schools; cooperative programs are administered by two or more institutions. Before registering for courses in pursuit of a cooperative, dual-degree, or joint-degree program, a student must be admitted to both programs. See discussion in Special Academic Opportunities for further detail.

    Monitored Withdrawal from a Course

    After the add/drop period has ended, students may withdraw from a course that they no longer wish to attend by completing a Monitored Withdrawal Request form in the office of the school offering the course. Students must process the Monitored Withdrawal Request form within the first nine weeks of the term in the fall and spring. Because summer sessions vary in length, students should check the summer Schedule of Classes for those deadlines. Students should check with the school offering the course for the last day to submit a Monitored Withdrawal Request form. The grade W will appear on the student's grade report and transcript. There is no financial adjustment to students' tuition or fee obligations involved in withdrawing from courses, but withdrawing may jeopardize satisfactory academic progress, financial aid, and assistantships or fellowships.

    Resigning from the University for a Specific Term

    If students decide to drop all of their courses after the add/drop period has ended and before 60 percent of the term or session has been completed, they must resign from the University for that term. Official resignation from the University requires students to contact the Student Appeals Office. Students have several options. They may resign in person, by mail, or by calling 412-624-7585, where students may leave a message 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. An R grade will appear on the student's academic transcript. Tuition is prorated from the date of the student's notification to the Student Appeals Office of the student's desire to resign, unless 60 percent of the term has been completed, in which case there is no refund.

    After the 60 percent point of the term or session has passed, students who wish to terminate their registration may process withdrawal from all classes only with the permission of their academic dean. If the reason for withdrawal is medical or psychological in nature, the academic dean may consult with the director of the Student Health Service prior to making a determination. There is no financial adjustment associated with this procedure, which results in the assignment of W grades for the courses.

    Grading and Records


    The Grade Point Average (GPA) is the numeric indication of a student's academic achievement based on a 4.00 grade point scale. The value averages the total letter grades earned and is available by term or career. Some academic centers may also maintain degree and/or major/departmental GPA values.

    Academic Standards

    An average of at least B (GPA=3.00) is required in the courses that make up the program for any graduate degree. Students with full graduate status are automatically placed on probation whenever their cumulative GPA falls below 3.00. Each school determines the restrictions placed on a student on probation. See Probation, Suspension, and Dismissal for further detail.

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

    Grading System

    The University of Pittsburgh has a standard letter grade system (see Letter Grades below). Some additional grading options are available in some courses as determined by the school and the instructor (see sections below on University Grading Options and Other Grades). Students are subject to the grading system of the school in which they are taking the course.

    University Grading Options

    Individual schools may elect to offer one of the following grade options for its courses:


    LG Letter Grade
    H/S/U Honors/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
    H/HS/S/LS/U Honors/High Satisfactory/Satisfactory/Low Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory*
    S/NC Satisfactory/No-Credit (Formerly the S/N Option)
    LG and H/S/U Letter Grade and Honors/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
    LG and S/NC Letter Grade and Satisfactory/No-Credit


    *This option is available for professional students in the School of Medicine only.

    From among the grading options approved by the school, each department identifies those it deems acceptable for its courses. Furthermore, course instructors may specify, within the grading options approved by the school and department, which grading options may be selected by students taking their course.

    Students should choose a grading option from those listed with the course in the Schedule of Classes. Grade Option/Audit Request forms for graduate courses are not required. Schools establish their own deadlines and procedures for processing grade option and audit requests.

    Students receive the grade H or S for satisfactory work and U for unsatisfactory work. The grades H and S are counted toward graduation but not the student's GPA. The grades NC and U are not counted toward graduation or the GPA. The S grade indicates adequate graduate attainment; in evaluating thesis or dissertation research, an instructor may only use the S/NC grading option.

    Students may audit a course and receive an N grade with the consent of the instructor and school offering the course. However, to audit a course, a student must register and pay tuition for the course. The N grade is not counted toward graduation or the GPA.

    Letter Grades

    The University's letter grade system for graduate and professional courses is as follows:


    Grade   Quality Points
    A+ = 4.00
    A = 4.00 Superior Attainment
    A- = 3.75
    B+ = 3.25
    B = 3.00 Adequate graduate-level attainment
    B- = 2.75
    C+ = 2.25
    C = 2.00 Minimal graduate-level attainment
    C- = 1.75
    D+ = 1.25
    D = 1.00
    D- = 0.75
    F 0.00 Failure


    Courses in the first-professional programs in law, dental medicine, medicine, and pharmacy may use different attainment standards.

    Other Grades: Incomplete, Withdraw, Resign

    Upon a student's completion of a course, one of the grades listed below may appear on the student's transcript in lieu of one of the options selected by the student and/or instructor under University Grading Options. None of these grades carries quality points. Students should consult with their individual school for information on any school-specific regulations regarding these grades.

    G Grade

    The G grade signifies unfinished course work due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students assigned G grades are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term in which the course was taken. After the deadline has passed, the G grade will remain on the record, and the student will be required to reregister for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation.

    I Grade

    The I grade signifies incomplete course work due to nature of the course, clinical work, or incomplete research work in individual guidance courses or seminars.

    W Grade

    The W grade signifies that a student withdrew from the course. See Monitored Withdrawal from a Course for more information.

    R Grade

    The R grade indicates that a student has resigned from the University. See Resigning from the University for more information.

    Repeating Courses

    A student may repeat any course in which a grade of B- or lower is received if an authorization to repeat the course is given by the student's advisor and/or department. A school may restrict the type and/or number of different courses that may be repeated during one degree program. The grade earned by repeating a course is used in lieu of the grade originally earned, although the original grade is not erased from the transcript. No course may be repeated more than twice. No sequence course may be repeated for credit after a more advanced course in that sequence has been passed with a B or higher grade. The repeated course must be the same as that in which the original grade was earned. In extenuating circumstances, a department chair, with the dean's approval, may substitute another course of similar content. Grades of W, R, or N reported for the repeated course will not be counted as a course repeat. To initiate only the last course grade being computed in the GPA, a Course Repeat form must be filed with the dean's office.

    Changing Grades

    The instructor of a course may change a student's grade by submitting a Change of Grade Card. All grade changes require the authorization of the dean of the school from which the original grade was issued. While each school may determine a time limit for grade changes, they should be processed no later than one year after the initial grade was assessed. Changes in I grades are exempt from this one-year policy.


    An academic transcript serves as a permanent record of a student's academic progress. The transcript is a cumulative record of the student's GPA, as well as a record of the department, title, and grade for each course in which the student has enrolled and summary advanced standing information if applicable. Students may request an official transcript that bears the seal and the signature of the University registrar. Current students may also receive one unofficial transcript per term for personal use. Upon graduation, the transcript reflects a student's degree and date; major; and, if applicable, honors, area of concentration, and minor.

    Academic Record

    The academic record is not an official University transcript, but a document containing a student's complete University of Pittsburgh academic history. In addition to the information provided on the transcript (as listed above), the academic record provides students and advisors with admission data, academic events, and advanced standing/placement/transfer credit information. Students with no outstanding financial obligations to the University can receive one copy of their academic records each term in G-3 Thackeray Hall. For more information, send E-mail to

    Grade Report

    Shortly after the term ends, students can access their grades online via the University Portal at

    Academic Honors

    Schools and programs may recognize academic achievement by students through fellowships, scholarships, and other awards. Students should consult with their individual school and/or program for more information.

    Probation, Suspension, and Dismissal

    Students who fail to make satisfactory progress may be subject to academic probation and/or suspension and dismissal. Students who have completed at least 9 quality point credits and whose GPA falls below 3.00 will be placed on academic probation by the dean of their school. After a certain period of time on academic probation (the period is determined by the student's school), a student is subject to academic suspension and restricted from registering for classes in that school. Details of the school's probation system are available through that school. Students on probation are not eligible to take the PhD preliminary evaluation or the MA, MS, or PhD comprehensive examination, or to be graduated.

    Effect on Financial Aid and Scholarships

    Conditions for loan eligibility and many scholarships (including those for teaching assistants, teaching fellows, graduate student assistants, and graduate student researchers) usually require students to complete a specified number of credits each year and maintain a specified grade point average (GPA: credits counted toward the degree). Questions about the effect of unsatisfactory academic standing on loans should be directed to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in Alumni Hall (4227 Fifth Avenue) at 412-624-7488. Questions about the effect of unsatisfactory academic standing on scholarships, including teaching and research assistantships, should be directed to the particular graduate school.

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