Frequently Asked Questions

Application Materials

How do I apply to Pitt Public Health?

Please refer to the How to Apply page for the individual application instructions. This will depend on the specific program to which you are applying.

Is there a required question that I must answer for my personal goals statement?

Generally, no. Most applicants use their personal goals statement as a way to introduce themselves to the admissions committees. Your personal statement is intended to give you the opportunity to describe your education, experience and professional career objectives. You may want to describe your reasons for interest in public health, reasons for interest in the specific degree program, reasons for interest in the University of Pittsburgh and/or career goals. 

Some programs do have a specific prompt for the personal statement, which you will see in your SOPHAS or SOPHAS Express application under the Documents section. 

Where should I have my additional application materials sent?

Please refer to the How to Apply page for the individual application instructions. This will depend on the specific program to which you are applying.

Do all of my application materials need to be submitted at the same time?

Non-degree applicants: Although we prefer that you submit a complete application, if we receive materials before you have submitted an application, we will keep those items on file for one year.

Degree and certificate applicants: No. Materials do not have to be submitted all at once but they must be submitted within the application cycle to which you are applying. 

We encourage you to submit all materials in a timely way so that we can prepare your application file for review as quickly as possible.

May I submit copies of my transcripts?

No, we will not accept transcripts directly from applicants. SOPHAS applicants must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary U.S. education directly to SOPHAS. Genetic Counseling applicants will upload copies of their transcripts directly to SOPHAS Express. Non-degree and Certificate only applicants must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary U.S. education directly to the Office of Student Affairs ( Applicants with education from outside of the U.S. must submit a WES evaluation.

Do my official transcripts have to be sent directly from previous institutions?

Yes. SOPHAS applicants must have their previous institutions send official transcripts directly to SOPHAS. See SOPHAS' instructions for their specific requirements. Non-degree and Certificate must submit to the Office of Student Affairs.

Are GRE scores required?

GRE requirements vary by program. Individual requirements can be found on the GRE requirement chart. If the chart indicates that GRE scores are optional, you are not required to submit as part of your application. If GRE scores are marked as required, you will not be considered for admission until your official score report is received.

I have already taken the GRE; May I submit those scores?

Yes, if the exam was taken within three years of application.

May I submit a copy of the GRE score report?

No. Applicants must submit official GRE score reports through ETS.

What do I do if ETS says that the GRE score report has been sent but Pitt Public Health has not received it?

It may take ETS up to three weeks to submit your score report. Official score reports sent to the University of Pittsburgh code 2927 with no department code will be forwarded directly to the University. Score reports sent to the School of Public Health code 4234 will be sent directly to SOPHAS to be included with your Pitt Public Health application only. In order to ensure your scores are received, contact ETS and confirm where the score report was sent. You can then follow-up with the appropriate office.

I am a SOPHAS applicant but I submitted my GRE/TOEFL scores to the University of Pittsburgh - what should I do?

The Office of Student Affairs will match your GRE/TOEFL scores submitted to the University of Pittsburgh with your SOPHAS application.

Does the individual providing my reference have to complete the recommendation form?


What if I have not met the prerequisite course requirements?

If you have not completed the required prerequisite courses at the time of application and the department determines that you are eligible for admission, the department may admit you provisionally on the condition that you complete the required prerequisite courses before or during your study here.

International Applicants

What is the minimum required TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo score?

International students are required by the University to score at least an 80 on the TOEFL iBT Test. The minimum acceptable score on the IELTS is Band 6.5 and applicants must take the academic writing and reading modules. The minimum acceptable Duolingo English Test score is 115. Please note that these are the minimum scores for applying to the University. Some departments may require higher scores. Please visit here for more information about our department's minimum requirements.

I have already taken the TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo; May I submit those scores?

Yes, if the exam was taken within two years of application.

What if I do not meet the required TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo score?

You must take the exam again and meet the score requirement or the admissions committee will not review your file.

May I submit a copy of my TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo score report?

Applicants must submit official TOEFL score reports through ETS. Scores can be sent either to SOPHAS code 5688, or to the University of Pittsburgh code 2927, with no department code. Official Duolingo English Test scores must be sent to the University of Pittsburgh - School of Public Health. To submit IELTS scores: if you are applying to a program through SOPHAS, self-report your test scores under the Standardized Tests section and include the TRF number. Then, request official IELTS scores be sent to SOPHAS. If you are applying to a program in SOPHAS Express or HAMPCAS, official IELTS scores may be emailed to Pitt Public Health Student Affairs at

When is the TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo exam waived?

An exam will be waived if:

  • You already have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from a U.S. accredited institution located within the U.S.
  • If you are a citizen of a specific country in which English is the official language
  • If you have completed a degree program at an institution within a specific country outside of the U.S. where the language of instruction is English and where the official national language of the country in which the institution is located is English.

If none of these circumstances applies, the TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo exam is required. The departments reserve the right to request TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores if they feel that they are necessary for the evaluation of the application, even if the applicant meets one of the criteria above.

Financial Aid

How do I apply for student loans?

You must submit the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to the federal government. Student loans are processed by the University's Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

More information on student loans

How do I apply for a graduate student researcher (GSR) position?

Graduate student assistants (GSAs), graduate student researchers (GSRs), teaching assistants (TAs), and teaching fellows (TFs) are students who receive support in return for specified duties while gaining teaching, teaching-related, or research experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

A graduate student researcher (GSR) is a student hired by a department to work on research studies or other projects. The student works 20 hours a week and receives a stipend, health insurance, and tuition remission. Some students may secure a partial GSR. If you receive a half GSR you would work 10 hours in exchange for a smaller stipend and half of your tuition.

Departments appoint all GSRs. Each department awards a limited number of these assistantships, usually to doctoral students. Some master's students may secure a GSR, although that may not happen until their second year. To be considered for a GSR position, contact the department directly and inquire about the process.

Who do I contact about the status of a GSR application?

Contact the department student services staff

Who should I talk to about obtaining financial aid?

Most aid is awarded through the department, so you should first speak with your academic advisor and your department's student services staff.

What do I do if I was awarded financial aid after I submitted my application for a student loan?

The University recalculates a student's loan eligibility whenever additional financial aid appears in the student financial system. New aid may result in a reduction or total cancellation of loan eligibility, including an obligation to immediately repay all or part of a loan already disbursed. If you receive a scholarship, you may want to schedule a meeting with a loan counselor in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid and ask for a recalculation of your loan eligibility.

When I first applied for a student loan I had no aid, but I’ve since been awarded a GSR. Must I return my loan disbursement?

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will recalculate your need based on the aid that you have since received. If the sum of the loan disbursement and the new aid exceeds your need, the University is required to return the excess to the loan agency, and you will be required to repay the University for that amount. If the amount to be returned is substantial, you may contact the Student Payment Center at 412-624-7520 about setting up a plan that will allow you to make several payments. Although it may seem like a hardship to repay all or part of the loan disbursement, remember that it is always preferable to receive scholarship aid, as those funds will never have to be repaid.

May I accept a university student hourly position or a partial GSR if I already have a full GSR or other assistantship?

No. You may hold the equivalent of no more than one student assistantship. If you have a full assistantship, you may not accept additional employment in the University or University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). We do not encourage full GSRs/GSAs/TAs to take on additional work responsibilities, as their academic performance or work performance may be affected.

How many credits must I take to defer repayment of previous student loans?

In most cases, a student who enrolls without having gone into repayment on past loans may enroll as a half-time student (5 credits or more in fall and spring terms) to defer repayment. Half-time status in the summer term is defined as 4.5 credits. Students who have gone into repayment may have to maintain full-time registration. To be safe, contact your lender to determine what enrollment status is required of you. You may also contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid for up-to-date information on loan regulations.

May I ever defer loan repayment if I am registered part-time?

In some cases, a lender will permit a student enrolled part-time but working full-time on an internship to defer repayment. Contact your lender to determine if this is possible.

Who should sign my loan deferral paperwork?

The University's Office of the Registrar is the only office on campus permitted to confirm student enrollment. You should bring your paperwork to G3 Thackeray Hall (412-624-7635).

Must I continue to register as a full-time student if I have a full GSR appointment?

You should continue to register full-time as long as you have nine or more class credits remaining in your degree requirements, and those credits are available in any given term. If you have completed most of your course requirements and are devoting most of your time to research for the dissertation, thesis, or essay, you may register for less than a full-time credit load. Note: international students should obtain the permission of the Office of International Services to register for less than a full-time load in fall and spring terms. If you register for fewer than six credits during the fall and spring terms, or fewer than three credits in the summer term, you will be charged FICA tax on your stipend. Be sure to discuss registration with your department’s student services staff if you have a full GSR and plan to register for less than full-time status.

I have a GSR but was awarded another scholarship. May I keep the scholarship even though my tuition has been paid in full by the GSR?

You may keep the scholarship if it was awarded from a refundable account, as opposed to a non-refundable account. Scholarships awarded from a refundable account will be applied to your student account and applied to tuition if there is an outstanding balance. If tuition is paid, you may keep the scholarship as an additional resource. Scholarships awarded from a non-refundable account may be applied only to tuition charges, and if the student's tuition was paid by another account (not out-of-pocket) the non-refundable scholarship must be returned.

I have been notified that I was awarded a scholarship (or student assistantship) but it has not been applied to my invoice. How can I have it processed?

If you received a student assistantship from your department, be sure to sign your appointment letter and return it to the individual named in the letter. That person may also be responsible for processing your award. If (s)he is not, ask her who in your department is responsible for applying your award. If your assistantship was awarded through a department outside Pitt Public Health, your appointment letter should direct you to the responsible party in that department. If it does not, you should speak with the fiscal administrator in the department that awarded the assistantship.

If you have received a department scholarship or fellowship, you may speak with your department’s student services coordinator to discuss processing of the award.

If you received a Pitt Public Health scholarship (e.g., Duncan, Green, or Rycheck award, Campaign for Next 5000 Alumni, etc.) contact the Office of Student Affairs to inquire about processing of your award.

Application Review Process

How will I know if my application is complete? How long is the application review process?

Degree applicants: SOPHAS will notify you when your application has been verified. When you submit your application, please closely follow SOPHAS' instructions. Failure to complete your application as SOPHAS requires will cause a delay in our receipt of your application. Be sure to immediately request your transcripts, WES evaluations, GRE and/or TOEFL scores and contact your references upon submission of your application. You should periodically check your application status on the SOPHAS Website to verify that all materials have been received.

You will then be notified via e-mail upon Pitt Public Health's receipt of your verified SOPHAS application. You should add and to your safe-senders list and be alert for our e-mail messages. Once we receive all required materials, your application will be sent to the department for admission review. It takes on average four to six weeks for the department to make the admissions decision but the timing may vary by department or by season, and, some departments will not begin to review their applications until after the deadline.

Genetic Counseling, Certificate Only, and Non-degree applicants: You will be notified by email once your application is received. Once we receive all required materials, your application will then be processed.

Will the admission committee review my application if it is not complete?

No. The admissions committee will not see your application until it is complete.

Does my application have to be submitted or completed by the recommended deadline?

Your application must be submitted and completed by the deadline listed in the deadline chart

Is the application deadline for international students firm?

Yes. Due to the time it takes to process I-20s and Visas, deadlines for international students must be firmly followed in order for you to enroll in the term for which you have applied.

Who do I contact to inquire about the status of my application?

Email the Office of Student Affairs.

How will I be notified of the admissions decision?

You will be notified by email with the final decision.