College of General Studies
The College of General Studies provides adult and nontraditional students with a wide variety of learning options. Students who enroll in the College of General Studies can complete a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree in career-oriented fields and in concentrations in the arts and sciences. In addition to a degree, students may prepare for transfer to any of the University’s upper-division and professional schools. The college also offers a wide range of certificate programs in specialized fields such as health services, accounting, and information sciences. For those students who already have a degree but desire career-related study or preparation for graduate study, the College of General Studies permits them to register in a non-degree program. The College of General Studies uses the same faculties as Arts and Sciences and the professional schools of the University to provide instruction.
The College of General Studies (CGS) targets its curriculum to adult and transfer students who have been out of high school at least two years. Most of the students attending the college have full-time work or family responsibilities and therefore take full advantage of the unique delivery systems available for instruction. Students may enroll in traditional day classes, evening classes, or Saturday classes; they may attend one of the suburban locations; or they may enroll for CGS Online courses.
- University of Pittsburgh
College of General Studies
1400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
- 230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
- 230 South Bouquet Street
The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid handles all financial aid processing for College of General Studies students. Obtain information regarding the necessary forms and important deadline dates from the University's financial aid Web site, http://www.oafa.pitt.edu/fahome.aspx or call 412-624-7488.
Students who wish to be considered for supplemental financial aid may apply through the Office of the Associate Dean, College of General Studies. Students must have a completed current application for University assistance and all federal programs, including loans, on file with the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid located in Alumni Hall (forms are available on the financial aid Web site). CGS supplemental aid is awarded on a rolling basis and is need-based. The CGS supplemental financial aid application is available at www.cgs.pitt.edu/admissions.
Academic and need-based scholarships are available through CGS. Information concerning these scholarships for enrolled CGS students is available at
A full-time career consultant is available to assist students with the formulation of career objectives and preparation for the job search. Various seminars are offered throughout the year, and a variety of resource materials are available for student use. The consultant can be contacted by at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College of General Studies students can now self register using the University portal, www.my.pitt.edu. Enrollment periods are posted in the Student Center prior to each term.
Students in the College of General Studies have an array of options for where and when to pursue their course work.
The full range of courses offered by the College of General Studies is available at the Pittsburgh campus. The 120-acre campus is located in Oakland.
Off-campus classes are currently offered in Butler County to increase accessibility to higher education. Courses are offered for degree credit in the arts and sciences and in a few professional areas, but full majors are not available. Faculty for all off-campus courses are provided by the academic schools and departments of the University.
CGS Online provides students with the opportunity to earn credit towards degrees and certificates through three unique course formats. All courses offered through CGS Online are Web-based, meaning that most course materials can be accessed through CourseWeb, the University's course management system. CGS Online courses are offered in the following formats:
- Web courses feature Web-based instruction and interaction. Students interact with their instructors and other students through the class Web site. Students complete the course requirements within one term and move through the course materials as a cohort.
- Hybrid courses combine Web-based interaction and face-to-face instructions. Students are required to attend scheduled workshops and participate in online discussions and activities. Students complete the course requirements within one term and move through the course materials as a cohort.
- Self-paced courses utilize a flexible format where students move through assigned course materials at their own pace. Workshops, proctored exams and Web-based activities are features of some of the courses. The course syllabus provides more information about the activities for these courses.
CGS Online courses meet the same standards for content excellence and expert instruction as our traditional classroom courses.
Saturday classes are offered on the Pittsburgh campus for students who find Saturday a convenient time to attend class.
In general, courses meet 50 minutes per week for each credit hour awarded. Most courses are three credits and meet once a week for two-and-a-half hours. Courses including recitations or lab sections may have longer class times.
Admission requirements vary based on the program the student is applying to and are detailed as follows.
Those students who desire to complete a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, either in the College of General Studies or ultimately transferring elsewhere in the University, are required to apply as degree-seeking students through the University's Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA). Students applying as degree-seeking students must provide
- A completed application,
- The $45 application fee,
- A high school transcript, and
- Transcripts from all colleges or universities previously attended.
Once this information has been provided, students will be reviewed for admission. OAFA makes all admission decisions on an individual basis, with past performance and future potential considered. While it is not required, it is highly recommended to have the strongest application possible that students supply a personal statement to explain any exceptional circumstances that they believe the Admission Committee should take into account in reviewing their records.
Students must meet a number of specific admissions criteria, depending on their previous experience:
- Less than two years since high school graduation: To be considered for admission, recent high school graduates must apply for Arts and Sciences admission and must meet the regular standards for admission as defined by Arts and Sciences. (See Pittsburgh campus Freshman Admissions section of this bulletin for details.) Students may apply for transfer to the College of General Studies after completing 12 credits, including the mathematics and seminar in composition requirements.
- More than two years since high school graduation: Less weight is given to high school performance. Evidence of maturity, motivation, ability, and consistency as reflected in the fulfillment of adult responsibilities are an important basis for the admission decision.
- GED/high school equivalency: Students scoring at the 50th percentile or higher may be considered for admission.
- Disciplinary dismissal: Students who are dismissed from a college or university for disciplinary reasons must provide documentation from a college official stating the reason(s) for dismissal.
Students seeking admission to one of the certificate programs in the College of General Studies must complete the CGS application, and they are required to provide transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. The certificates offered by CGS are as follows:
- Accounting (postbaccalaureate program)
- Community health assessment
- Corporate/community relations
- Digital media
- English writing
- Gender, sexuality, and women's studies
- Information system design
- Managing health services programs and projects
- National preparedness and homeland security
- Nonprofit management
- Writing for the professions
Students who already hold a bachelor’s degree and desire to complete University course work as preparation for graduate study or for personal or professional interest, but do not desire to complete a second degree, may apply for admission as nondegree students. These students need to complete the CGS application for admission and provide transcripts for all previous college work. Students who enroll under this program and later desire to earn a degree will be reviewed for admission under the normal admission criteria.
Reinstatement is necessary for any Pitt student who is seeking re-admission to CGS and has not registered for at least one course in three consecutive terms. Such students are considered "inactive" and must reapply to the College of General Studies before they can register for class, completing all applications and resubmitting all official transcripts, if necessary, and paying the application fee. Students who have not been enrolled in CGS or some other college or school within the University for more than six terms or two calendar years must follow all academic policies in effect at the time of their re-admission to CGS. Students who have not been enrolled for less than the six terms or two calendar years will be treated as continuously enrolled students and as such will have a choice to follow any new policies or those in existence prior to the end of their previous enrollment.
International students (applicants from other countries on student visas) who are interested in full-time attendance in programs offered only in the College of General Studies must first contact the International Student Admissions Officer, Office of International Services, 708 William Pitt Union, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. (See the International Student Admissions Section of this bulletin.)
Applicants must submit official transcripts from each accredited college or university attended, whether or not it is intended that the courses be counted toward a degree. Grades for credits transferred are not used in computing a student’s grade point average (GPA). All credits eligible for transfer are subject to the following regulations:
- Only courses with C or better grades will be considered for transfer.
- Courses must correspond with those offered by the University in objectives and content.
- The number of credits granted for a given course cannot exceed the number on the transcript from the school where they were earned, nor can it exceed the number earned in the corresponding courses at the University of Pittsburgh.
- A maximum of 90 credits may be transferred from a four-year institution and 60 credits from a two-year institution, however no more than 90 credits can be transferred.
- While the College of General Studies does not have a statute of limitations, it does reserve the right to invalidate some courses for transfer in which the content is outmoded.
- Students in CGS degree programs may transfer up to 18 credits of professional courses as electives (e.g. business, engineering, nursing, etc.).
- All transfer credits are subject to reevaluation if a student transfers from one school to another or from one major to another within the University of Pittsburgh or becomes inactive and is subsequently readmitted.
- If a course for which advanced standing is given is repeated at the University of Pittsburgh, the advanced-standing credit is cancelled.
Students in CGS may also earn advanced standing credits through the following means:
The CLEP program provides a way of earning college credits through testing. Specific regulations governing the awarding of CLEP general examination credits are available by calling 412-624-6600, from an academic advisor, or at www.cgs.pitt.edu.
Students may earn credits toward graduation by successfully completing examinations in courses offered in the College of General Studies. Such examinations must be arranged through both the office of the CGS Associate Dean and the department teaching the course for which credit is desired. Many courses, except those with laboratories, special restrictions, or in the performing arts, may be challenged by examination. Course-specific credit by examination is open to all students enrolled in the College of General Studies who are in good academic standing. Cost for the exam is $10 per credit.
Once a student has enrolled in a course at any institution (including the University of Pittsburgh) and received a grade, including a grade for incomplete work, the student cannot be given credit toward graduation by taking a challenge examination for that course.
Students may be given credit for successfully completed the advanced-standing tests of the College Entrance Examination Board.
Students who are majoring in administration of justice and who have successfully completed Pennsylvania Act 120 or state police cadet training can receive up to 15 credits of advanced standing. The credits are awarded for specific courses.
An internship is a supervised, work-related experience, volunteer or paid, which is related to an academic discipline and is sponsored, evaluated, and graded by a University faculty member. The internship is a new experience and does not represent credit for past work or continuation of the current employment situation. A detailed outline of CGS internship requirements is available from CGS academic advisers, and at www.cgs.pitt.edu.
PLEASE NOTE: Several CGS majors require that you complete an internship at a facility that may or will require a criminal background check, an ACT 33/34 clearance, and perhaps a drug screen to determine whether you are qualified to participate in the internship. Additionally, in order to become licensed or employed, many states will inquire as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, a felony, or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse.
College of General Studies students are encouraged to enhance their undergraduate education by including a study abroad experience. Credit may be earned toward a CGS degree through participation in either Pitt-sponsored, exchange, or Pitt-recognized programs. Students may study in virtually any part of the world in these programs or others offered by many American and international institutions. Some programs are of short duration to fit the schedules of students with extensive work, family and other commitments.
Before study abroad is undertaken, approval for credit must be obtained. The study abroad advisor provides program approval and the CGS advisor approves the course selections and credits. Students should have at least a 2.75 GPA before seeking permission to study abroad.
Visit the Study Abroad Office in Room 802 William Pitt Union, call 412-648-7413, or review www.abroad.pitt.edu for more information.
The College of General Studies’ Guidelines on Academic Integrity outlines obligations of both students and instructors for maintaining academic integrity in CGS classes. Copies of this publication, which lists the obligations, procedures, penalties, and remedies for maintaining such integrity, are available by contacting the CGS judicial coordinator.
The Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree will be awarded upon the fulfillment of the following conditions:
- Completion of at least 120 credits of University work in one of the prescribed curricular courses, by advanced standing, or by examinations.
- Completion of at least one-half of the major or 15 credits, whichever is greater, at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh campus.
- Completion of the senior year (30 credits) in the College of General Studies.
- Attainment of at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 in courses taken at the University of Pittsburgh.
- Attainment of at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 in the major.
- Satisfactory completion of all required CGS and major courses.
In order to qualify for honors, students must have earned at least 60 letter-graded credits. All of these credits must be taken at the University of Pittsburgh.
(For further information on honors criteria and GPA requirements, see the general section on Graduation in this bulletin.)
There are two grading options available to students registering for courses offered by the College of General Studies: the letter grade option and the satisfactory/no-credit (S/NC) option (formerly the S/N option). (See the Grading and Records section of this bulletin for additional details on the two systems.)
Students must choose the grading option they desire when self-registering or by submitting a Grade Option/Audit Request form by the end of the fourth full week of classes during a term (second full week of classes during summer sessions 1 and 2). This decision may not be changed. Grade Option/Audit Request forms are available in the CGS registration center, 1400 Wesley W. Posvar or at www.registrar.pitt.edu/ under grades. If the student does not fill out a Grade Option/Audit Request form for a course in which more than one grade option is available, the default option (generally a letter grade) will automatically be selected.
There are two limitations to the choice of the satisfactory/no-credit (S/NC) grade option in the College of General Studies:
- Departments may decide which courses are required for the major and if any may be taken as satisfactory/no-credit. Departmental rules may cover not only courses within the department but those in other departments that are considered essential to the major. Students should be sure before selecting this grading option that their decision will not have an adverse effect on their plans for majoring in a particular field.
- Under certain circumstances, departments may declare a course available only for a letter grade or as satisfactory/no-credit. In such courses students will not have a choice for the other grade option.
The G grade signifies unfinished course work due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students assigned G grades are required to complete course requirements with the same instructor assigning the G grade. A course in which a student has received a G grade cannot be completed by sitting in the same course with the same or different instructor in a subsequent term. Exception to these conditions can be granted only by the CGS Associate Dean and must be approved before the G grade is issued.
At the time of requesting a G grade, the student should arrange with the instructor a plan and schedule for completing the course work. The instructor and student should complete the G-grade Request form. G-Grade Request forms are available in the CGS registration office, 1400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall.
Shortly after the term ends, students can access their grades online via the university portal at www.my.pitt.edu. This report shows the total credits carried, the grade received in each course, and total quality points earned.
Students who have earned a minimum of 12 credits in the College of General Studies and whose cumulative grade point average falls below 2.00 at the end of any term will be placed on probation. Students placed on probation may be limited to 612 credits a term until they have regained good academic standing. Any students placed on probation who fail to regain good academic standing by the time they have completed an additional 12 credits of course work are subject to suspension.
The Dean’s List, a recognition of high academic performance, is achieved by degree students each time they complete 12 letter-graded credits in continuous active status in the College of General Studies with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students cannot have incomplete grades in terms reviewed for the Dean's List.
The College of General Studies awards Bachelor of Arts degrees in the following majors:
- Administration of justice
- Health services
- Humanities area
- Legal studies
- Liberal studies
- Media and professional communications
- Public service
- Social sciences area
Bachelor of Science degrees are awarded in the following majors:
- Dental hygiene
- Health services
- Natural sciences area
To earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of General Studies, you must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 120 credits (approximately 40 courses), at least 30 credits of which must be in upper-division (1000-level) courses. These 1000-level courses may come from any of the requirements for the degree listed below. Requirements are subject to change; students should check with an academic advisor before registering. Approved courses are listed each term at www.cgs.pitt.edu
Certain tools of knowledge are required of all students in the baccalaureate degree program: ability to use the English language orally and in writing and ability to understand and use basic mathematical symbols. The courses required to satisfy each of the skills requirements are listed below:
- Oral Communication3 credits
COMMRC 0520 Public Speaking or COMMRC 0500 Argument
- Writing9 credits minimum
English composition: Any seminar in composition course and two other courses from English composition (ENGCMP), English writing (ENGWRT), or those designated W (writing). (At least 3 credits of composition/writing must be from the University of Pittsburgh.)
- Mathematics3 credits minimum
MATH 0010 College Algebra Part 1 and 0020 College Algebra Part 2 or MATH 0025 Applied College Algebra or MATH 0031 Algebra or CS 0004 Introduction to Computer Programing - Basic or CS 0007 Introduction to Computer Programing
Note: Students admitted to CGS for the fall term 2008 (2091) and thereafter are required to complete the public speaking, math, and first University writing course (ENGCMP 0200 or above) with a C- or better grade.
In addition to the acquisition of certain tools of knowledge through the skills requirements, students also need to acquire the ability to apply logic and formal reasoning to reading, writing, and thinking. Choose one course from the following list:
- Computer science (an approved course, 3 credits)
- INFSCI 0010 Introduction to Information, Systems, and Society (3 credits)
- HPS 0611 Principles of Scientific Reasoning (3 credits)
- HPS 0621 Problem Solving: How Science Works (3 credits)
- PHIL 0500 Introduction to Logic (3 credits)
- MATH 0120 Business Calculus, or a more advanced course (4 credits)
- Statistics (any course, 34 credits)
A liberal education provides broad exposure to the three major bodies of knowledgehumanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students are exposed to social, scientific, aesthetic, moral, and religious information, the purpose of which is to furnish insight into how the concerns of people are interrelated, how knowledge has been accumulated, and how unsolved problems still challenge humanity. The courses needed to fulfill the understandings requirements are listed below. Note that a course can only be used to fulfill one of the following requirements for the degree: understandings, literature, or history.
- Humanities (9 credits)
Three courses (one at the 1000 level) distributed over three of the disciplines listed below:
Africana Studies Linguistics Classics Music Communication Philosophy English Religious studies Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Spanish, literature/culture German, literature/culture Studio Arts History of Art and Architecture Theatre Arts
See other second language departments for approved literature/culture courses.
- Social Sciences (9 credits)
Three courses (one at the 1000 level) distributed over three of the disciplines listed below:
Africana Studies Legal Studies Anthropology Political Science Economics Psychology Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Religious Studies History Sociology Jewish Studies Urban Studies
- Natural Sciences (9 credits)
Three courses distributed over two or three of the disciplines listed below:
Anthropology History and philosophy of science Astronomy Neuroscience Biological sciences Physics Chemistry Psychology Geology and planetary science
As these tables show, some departments have courses used in different categories. For the list of approved courses, view Academics at www.cgs.pitt.edu.
This requirement introduces students to works of literature that have abiding value and, in the process, to the techniques of literary interpretation. This one-course requirement may also be fulfilled from disciplines other than English.
The study of history provides an understanding of contemporary society from the viewpoint of long-term change. This one-course requirement may also be fulfilled with courses other than those offered by the Department of History.
The world of today is economically, politically, and culturally interdependent. In the 21st century, knowledge of countries has become essential. This three-course requirement may be fulfilled by taking internationally focused courses offered by a variety of departments. At least one of the courses must be a non-Western course. All international courses may overlap with another requirement.
The baccalaureate degree, in addition to providing certain skills and broad exposure to the major bodies of knowledge, also allows the opportunity to specialize in a particular field, providing depth of experience essential for vocational competence or further graduate study. An outline of each major may be obtained at the CGS information display in 1400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall or on the CGS Web site, www.cgs.pitt.edu.
Students admitted to CGS can choose from the following 13 majors. Two of these majors (indicated by asterisks) are also available by combining Saturday and CGS Online courses.
- Administration of justice
- Dental hygiene (for licensed dental hygienists)
- Health services (BA and BS)
- Humanities area*
- Legal studies
- Liberal studies (must complete by April 2012 if applying to Pitt's School of Education)
- Media and professional communications
- Natural sciences area
- Public service
- Self-design (BA and BS)
- Social sciences area*
Students who want a major in an arts and sciences field can begin in CGS and transfer to Arts and Sciences after completing 12 credits including the mathematics and seminar in composition requirements. Admission is determined by Arts and Sciences.
Any credits not used specifically to satisfy the previous requirements are considered electives. Electives can be taken in a wide variety of subjects to complement, reinforce, or add further breadth to the chosen program of study.
Students may have no more than 18 credits in professional courses, such as administration of justice, business, education, engineering, information science, public service, and social work, as electives.
Credits earned in aerospace science (Air Force ROTC), military science (Army ROTC), or naval science (Navy ROTC) through cross registration at Carnegie Mellon University are accepted toward a College of General Studies degree. CGS will grant up to four credits toward graduation for the following courses in lieu of or in combination with physical education courses: AFROTC 0001, 0002, 0003, and 0004; MILS 0011, 0012, 0021, and 0022; or freshman/sophomore level Navy ROTC courses from CMU.
Also, four junior and senior level courses from these three ROTC programs may be used as professional electives for the CGS degree program, if professional electives are permitted. These courses are AFROTC 1013, 1014, 1015, and 1016 (all 3-credit courses); MILS 1031, 1032, 1041, and 1042 (all 1-credit courses); and similar courses from Navy ROTC.
Prerequisite courses for the following programs may be taken through CGS: business, education, engineering, health and rehabilitation sciences, information sciences, nursing, pharmacy, and social work. Upon successful completion of the courses, students may apply to the school offering the program. See an academic advisor for further information about requirements and acceptance.
Students with a GPA of 3.5 or better planning to pursue graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh may want to consider the Early Admission Option for Graduate Study. This option allows students to use the first 24 credits of graduate work as the last 24 elective credits of their undergraduate program. The following graduate schools at Pitt allow this option in conjunction with the CGS degree program: the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Graduate School of Public Health. The School of Law has a similar program for it's Master of Studies in Law Degree program for CGS Legal Studies students.
- Students must be superior graduate school candidates and be admitted to the Pitt graduate program. Admissions requirements can be obtained from the graduate schools.
- Students must complete a minimum of 96 credits toward the CGS degree, including all general education and major requirements, before the graduate program begins. In addition, the last 30 of the 96 undergraduate should be in residence in CGS. Satisfactory completion of these requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the graduate program. This decision is made by the graduate program.
- The graduate program must include at least 24 credits of graduate-level coursework. Students must earn a B or better grade in all graduate coursework. (S or H grades in the MSL program)
- Twenty-four credits is the maximum number of graduate credits that can be used to fulfill elective requirements of the undergraduate degree. A student may seek to use fewer than 24 graduate credits toward their elective credits if they have already partially fulfilled their elective requirements.
Note: Students who choose this option must be aware that enrolling as a graduate student may affect their financial aid package. Students are responsible for contacting the Financial Aid Office regarding this issue.
Graduation from CGS
- Students must apply for graduation from CGS at the beginning of the term when completing the necessary credits in the graduate program. Students must have minimum of 120 credits in order to graduate.
- Students receive a BA or BS degree depending upon the CGS major. The final undergraduate transcript will specify the major completed in CGS.
- The GPA for graduation from CGS will be calculated solely on the earned Pitt credits on the undergraduate transcript. The graduate program courses appear on the graduate transcript and the undergraduate transcript is noted: Baccalaureate degree awarded in conjunction with graduate degree.
- In order for CGS students to graduate with honors from the University, they must have at least 60 letter-graded University of Pittsburgh credits at the undergraduate level. Courses at the graduate level and undergraduate courses graded S or H are not included in this 60 credit requirement.