Course Offerings and Course Requirements

The University academic year is composed of three terms. The first, or fall term, begins late in August, and the spring term starts just after the beginning of the new year. The third term, summer, begins in May and ends in mid-August. Many courses are given during that period at an accelerated rate. Most graduate courses run during the fall and spring terms, and many of those offered in the spring are continuations of fall term courses. Ordinarily, not more than three courses are given at the graduate level in the summer term.

The department offers a wide variety of courses in mathematics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Those numbered from 0001 to 0999 are elementary undergraduate courses and carry no graduate credit. Courses numbered from 1000 to 1999 are at the advanced undergraduate level and are sometimes suitable for graduate credit. Courses numbered from 2000 to 2999 are beginning graduate courses and normally have 1000-level or equivalent prerequisites. Those having numbers from 3000 to 3999 frequently cover advanced graduate topics and usually have 2000-level prerequisites.

A feature of many of the graduate programs at both the master's and doctoral levels is that there are few required courses. However, specialization naturally requires that certain subjects be studied, and the student's advisor will recommend specific courses to be taken. In addition, the tracks in applied mathematics and the dual degrees with engineering and computer science have course lists. However, within these limitations, students may design course sequences tailored to their interests, needs, and capabilities.

Course Requirements

  1. University regulations require that students register for at least 9 credit hours per term of full support, but no more than 15 credit hours. If a student is supported in the summer, he or she should register for three credits. University policy excludes the audit as a grade option for courses used to satisfy the nine-credit-hour requirement. Furthermore, departmental policy excludes the S/N option for such courses when the course is a 2000- or 3000-level course that is part of the department's regular graduate curriculum. 
  2. The Independent-study course is intended to aid in preparation for passing departmental milestones, such as the preliminary or comprehensive exams. At most, 3 credits of independent study may be taken during the semester immediately preceding the scheduled milestone exam.
  3. The Directed-study course is intended to enhance a student's background in areas in which no graduate courses are regularly offered. They may be considered by students who have passed the preliminary examination, upon approval by the Graduate Committee, based on a submitted syllabus for the study (including the topics to be studied, faculty mentor, and a reading list). At most, 3 credits of directed study may be taken by qualified students during any given semester. The standard grading basis for directed study is S/N. 
  4. The Thesis research course may be considered for PhD students who have passed the comprehensive examination. Courses taken in other departments and schools need to be approved by the Graduate Committee.
  5. The minimum number of nine credits in item 1 is prorated to the amount of support. The other dispositions are unchanged. 
  6. There are no specific credit-hour requirements per term, but the University's statute of limitations applies (four calendar years for a master's degree, 10 calendar years for a PhD). See the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for details.

Deviations to the schedule outlined above may be allowed but must be approved by the Graduate Committee.

Contact Us

The Dietrich School of
Arts and Sciences
301 Thackeray Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-624-8375
Fax: 412-624-8397


Sign up to receive By the Numb3rs, the Department of Mathematics e-newsletter.

View past issues