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School of Information Sciences—Telecommunications and Networking

The School of Information Sciences offers a Master's degree, Certificate of Advanced Study in
Telecommunications and a PhD degree in Information Sciences with a focus in Telecommunications. This program prepares students for careers in a variety of arenas including industry, business, government, health care, education, and the nonprofit sector in positions such as network engineers or analysts, network administrators or managers, consultants, systems engineers, and research and development engineers (with appropriate undergraduate education).

Research Focus

Members of the faculty are active researchers with funding from governmental and/or corporate sources. Both master's and doctoral students have an opportunity to work with faculty on research projects, and doctoral students conduct independent research for their dissertations. Faculty members and students conduct research on a wide variety of topics including (but not limited to) wireless networks and security, network design and survivability, computer networks, network policy, and economics of the telecommunications industry.

Contact Information

Telecommunications Program
School of Information Sciences
135 North Bellefield Avenue
412-624-3988 or 800-672-9435
Fax: 412-624-5231

Master of Science in Telecommunications Degree Program

The Telecommunications and Networking program offers hands-on learning opportunities in telecommunications systems, computer networks, policy and management, wireless systems, and network security so that you will find a rewarding career in industry, government, education or the nonprofit sector. The MST program is a 37-credit program that can be completed in one year of full-time study or as many as four years of part-time study.

For complete program details, visit


To qualify for admission, an applicant must be a graduate of an accredited college or university. Preference will be given to candidates with a scholastic average B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better.

All MST applicants are required to submit a recent score (within three years of the date of application) on the Graduate Record Examination as part of their admission credentials. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the General Section should be submitted.

While submission of the GRE scores are preferred, a recent and strong performance on the GMAT will be accepted in lieu of taking the GRE exam.  The institutional number for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927 and the department code is 0404.

The student must have completed the following course work (at the undergraduate or graduate level), with a grade of B or better, prior to admission to the MST program:

  • Computer programming skill in at least one scientific programming language
  • Probability (a 3-credit course)
  • Calculus (a 3-credit course).

The following courses (or their equivalent), while not counting towards the 37-credit degree, may be required depending upon previous educational background:

  • Introduction to Telecommunications (Telcom 2000)
  • Physical Layer of Communications I (Telcom 2200)
  • Software Tools and Techniques (Telcom 2300)

English Language Proficiency

Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to study without being hindered by language problems, to understand lectures, and to participate successfully in class discussion. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) must be taken if the applicant’s native language is not English. The institution code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927 and the department code is 90.

A minimum score of 550 (paper-based) or 80 (Internet-based) on the TOEFL is required for admission to graduate study in this program. The requirement to take the TOEFL may be waived if the applicant has received a degree from an accredited institution in the United States.

Prior to registration, students with TOEFL scores less than 600 (paper-based) or 100 (Internet- based) will be given the on-campus administered English Language Proficiency Test (The Michigan Test) . If remedial courses in English as a second language are recommended as an outcome of the Michigan Test of English Proficiency, the student must complete the remedial course during the first two terms of study.

Students may choose to take the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS) in place of the TOEFL. Students must receive a score of Band 6.5. Students who do not achieve a score of Band 7.0 or better will be given the on-campus administered English Language Proficiency Test. If remedial courses in English as a second language are recommended as an outcome of the Michigan Test of English Proficiency, the student must complete the remedial course during the first two terms of study.

MST Degree Requirements

Completion of the Master of Science in Telecommunications degree requires a minimum of 37 credits. Three credits may be in practicum (a structured supervised employment situation) or a thesis. For research-oriented students, the faculty strongly recommends a 3-credit thesis in lieu of course work.

The 37-credit minimum of course work should include the following:

  • Twenty-two credits of required courses.
  • Three credits selected from the management/policy group.
  • Twelve credits of elective course work.


Academic Advising

Each student is assigned an academic advisor at the time of admission to graduate study. These assignments are made primarily on the basis of the student’s background and interests as shown in the application. The student may at any time elect to change advisors—any such change requires the consent of the new advisor and must be reported to the Program Chair.

In consultation with the advisor, the student must complete a Plan of Study at the time of registration.  The Plan of Study forms are available here. A Plan of Studies is a series of courses designed to meet the minimum exit competencies judged by the faculty to be necessary for employment as an information professional. All Plans of Study must have the approval of the advisor and will be used to ensure that the student has met all requirements for graduation.

Statute of Limitations

The Master’s Degree program must be completed within four years of the first term in which courses were taken after admission. The normal full-time course load is 9 to 12 credits per term; thus, a full-time student will complete the program in three or four terms. The normal part-time course load is 6 credits per term, which permits the part-time students to complete the program in six terms. The faculty, in response to a student petition, may approve exceptions to the four-year limit if extenuating circumstances exist.

Registration and Residence Requirements

To maintain active student status, students must register for at least 1 credit during one of the three terms of the calendar year. It is recommended, however, that part-time students register for at least 6 credits during two of the three terms of the academic year to maintain reasonable progress through the program.

Certificate of Advanced Study—Telecommunications and Networking

Students who have graduated from a master's program may pursue a certificate in Telecommunications.

In consultation with an advisor, students project a Plan of Studies to meet their specific interests or needs, and these plans may change as the program proceeds. Students may select graduate-level courses in other departments within the University as well as at Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education-cooperating institutions. Admission to all courses is contingent upon meeting course prerequisites and is subject to the advisor's approval.

Candidates for the Telecommunications certificate must complete the following requirements:

  • A total of 24 credits in graduate-level courses acceptable to the advisor and passed with a grade point average of at least B (3.00 on a 4.00 scale)
  • Fifteen of the 24 credits must be taken from among the approved courses for the MST degree program.

Course work must be completed within a period of four calendar years from the student's initial registration in the certificate program.

Program details are available at:

The PhD in Information Science with a Focus in Telecommunications

The Doctor of Philosophy degree program provides research-oriented graduate study and professional specialization in telecommunications. The candidate must give evidence of superior scholarship, mastery of a specialized field of knowledge, and demonstration of ability to do significant and relevant research. Students interested in the PhD degree should consult the Web site,

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to the PhD program with a focus in Telecommunications must:

  • Hold a master’s degree from an accredited university, a recognized international program, or the equivalent.
  • Have maintained in graduate work of a minimum grade point average of 3.3 (on a scale with A having a value of 4 points per credit). An international student’s grade point average will be calculated on the basis of equivalency from universities that use a different scale.
  • Submit scores from a predictor test (if not taken previously) such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or equivalent examination. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the GRE must be submitted.
  • Provide evidence of the ability to undertake doctoral work, in an essay (not exceeding 1,000 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.
  • Provide at least three references from persons in the profession and academic communities.
  • Have successfully completed:
    • Two different scientific computer programming language classes
    • Coursework in probability and statistics
    • Differential and integral calculus classes

PhD Degree Requirements

The Telecommunications PhD program requires a minimum of 72 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree. The 72 credits must include the required courses (or their equivalent) for the MST degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Also included in the 72 credits are:

  • twelve credits of required courses
  • twelve credits of doctoral seminars
  • Six credits of minor courses
  • At least 18 credits of dissertation research and writing

Forty-eight of the 72 credits must be advanced coursework beyond the MST degree (or its equivalent).

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.

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 iSchool faculty.

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 ex a mini at ion.  Full-time study is defined as nine or more graduate credits per term.


Preliminary Examination Requirement

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

The prelim will consist of undertaking a research project, submitting a research paper, and an oral presentation and defense.  For more details, see

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.

Comprehensive Exam

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 such papers 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 faculty. From a learning perspective, this provides the student with an experience of structuring and explaining a technical topic in detail. It is expected that a student has completed the minimum 30 credits of coursework before taking the comprehensive exam.

Candidacy and Dissertation Requirements

Doctoral students are required to take a minimum of 18 dissertation credits as part of their study. After successfully completing the comprehensive examination, the student will select a dissertation advisor and a committee. Then, the student in consultation with the dissertation advisor, must prepare a dissertation proposal which is then presented to the committee in a public session. The dissertation committee must unanimously approve the dissertation topic and research plan before the student may be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. When the proposal has been successfully defended, the chair of the student’s dissertation committee shall notify the Chair of the PhD Committee, the Telecommunications Program Chair, and the Dean of the School of Information Sciences that the student has achieved formal candidacy. 

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.

Journal Requirement

All PhD students are mandatorily required to submit an article of publishable quality to a journal before the degree is awarded.

PhD Research Areas

Graduate Course Listing in Telecommunications

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