Student Guideline Overview

Introduction

Pitt Honors gives qualified University of Pittsburgh undergraduates the opportunity to pursue a unique research-based degree.

Designed by faculty from throughout the University and designated the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) by the University Board of Trustees, this University-wide degree combines (i) General Degree Requirements for an individually approved Program of Study with (ii) Special Degree Requirements for concentration and evaluation following upper-level research and independent scholarship that culminates in a thesis. Through the BPhil, undergraduate students any time after their first year at Pitt can begin research and scholarly work toward a rigorous baccalaureate degree in a manner usually reserved for the graduate level. Simultaneously, the BPhil degree includes an element of intellectual scope in the expectation that students have a challenging academic program in the course work for their majors, minors, and/or certificates.

General Degree Requirements

Each BPhil degree candidate must:

  • Complete the degree requirements (e.g., major requirements) of their home school (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Swanson School of Engineering, School of Nursing, College of Business Administration, School of Computing and Information, etc.)
  • Complete a Program of Study approved by Pitt Honors (review samples of previously approved Programs of Study)
  • Maintain a 3.50 cumulative GPA

An approved Program of Study will demonstrate that the student has exceeded the requirements for a standard undergraduate departmental degree. Existing curricular options may fulfill the Program of Study requirements, such as multiple majors or double-degree programs, or approved Program of Study may be highly individualized, especially for students in highly structured programs. In general, it is expected that a student’s curriculum will reflect the breadth and/or depth. Curricula that are built around an intellectual theme (those that reflect focus) are also acceptable. It is incumbent upon each candidate to demonstrate the scholarly merits of the proposed curriculum as it relates to their own work.

Special Degree Requirements

The special degree requirement is met through the preparation and defense of a thesis. There will be an individualized examination conducted by an Examining Committee no later than during the candidate’s last term at the University of Pittsburgh. One member of the Examining Committee must be from outside the University of Pittsburgh.

Each BPhil degree candidate must:

  • Select a thesis advisor from the faculty in their major department of study (students should review these guidelines for choosing a thesis advisor)
  • Submit a synopsis of the proposed research, the Thesis Prospectus (which has been accepted by the thesis advisor) to Pitt Honors (review samples of previously approved Thesis Prospectuses)
  • Be evaluated by the Examining Committee; this evaluation consists of a public presentation and discussion of the thesis or project, followed by a private oral examination conducted by the Examining Committee, similar to a master's thesis defense

Admission to Degree Candidacy

Students who wish to pursue the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) should have completed at least two terms of course work at the University of Pittsburgh prior to application for degree candidacy with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50 (successful BPhil dregree recipients in the past have had average cumulative GPAs of 3.80 at the time of graduation). Admission to candidacy will be based on academic promise, demonstrated achievement in university-level work, and potential for independent scholarship. 

Completing the BPhil requirements generally takes about two years, one year to learn how to conduct research/scholarship, and one year to conduct focused work for the BPhil.

Application for candidacy must include:

  • A description of the student’s intended Program of Study, part of which is a statement of progress toward the graduation requirements of the candidate’s home school (or schools), including the student’s most recent transcript
  • A preliminary plan for the fulfillment of the Special Degree Requirement (the Thesis Prospectus)

Upon approval of the above documents by the Pitt Honors, admission to degree candidacy will be granted.

Apply for admission to BPhil degree candidacy »

Guide for faculty asked to serve as BPhil thesis advisors »