University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Adrianna

I am a political science/English double major and am working towards a Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies certificate as well. I've found the professors to be very helpful and invested. There are a ton of extra curricular items for my major that allow me to supplement my learning.

Jonathan

At first, you're going to be doing Gen Ed requirements and those are usually 200+ kids per class, so it's pretty much a lecture. But after that you start specializing and there's more like 10-30 kids per class. You get to know everyone throughout the semester and it becomes more enjoyable (but the work does get harder). It really depends on your major though. Almost all the students here take the school seriously, the library is packed from morning to evening. And during finals week it's impossible to find a table. Of course there are some slackers that won't work, but they won't get the grades required for a job.

Alyssa

Classes at the University of Pittsburgh can be very large. The lecture set up of classes can accomodate hundreds of students. But, some classes also have recitation sections where a smaller group of around 20 students meet and discuss any questions regarding what was gone over in the lecture. Class participation is very common in lectures and is sometimes a grade requirement in recitations but it can start very interesting discussions so it is very beneficial. I also often overhear my classmates continuing a discussion after class is over so that shows other students enjoy this aspect as well. Some students can get competitive, especially in the science classes, but it does not interfere with the learning experience. I am in the School of Arts and Sciences studying a major in Psychology and because of this I have to take a lot of general education classes to fulfill requirements. Sometimes it can be frustrating having to learn material that I would not otherwise be using in my career, but a lot of the time there are really interesting classes available. The most unique class I have taken is either Russian Fairy Tales or Vampire: Blood and Empire. I never would have learned about those topics anywhere else and it was really enjoyable to learn more about areas that I knew a little about previously. My favorite class that I have taken so far is Psychology of Gender. I was really nervous about taking it at first because it was only offered online and I had never taken a class in that format before. But, the material was just as easy to follow as in an actual in-person class because there were video lectures and a discussion board where all the students posted questions or comments they had about that week's material.

MonaLisa

I love my school in that Pitt students understand the importance of education. I remember the first day I visited Pitt back in 2010 during my senior year of high school. It was finals week, and everywhere I went, students were intensely studying. There were student son the lawn, at the bus stop, in restaurants, leaning on the light post, and they were all studying! This is the primary motivation for me to come to Pitt and continue to earn good grades. When you surround yourself with students that want to do well, you naturally want to do well in school also. I am from Springfield, Massachusetts. Many people ask me "how did you hear of Pitt? Isn't that so random for you to be here?" Well, it wasn't random at all. First of all, Pitt is one of the top tier schools in this nation. I had a 4.67 GPA in high school I was the salutatorian. I wanted to go to a school that fits my academic standards and can provide me the academic challenge that I need, and I chose Pitt for that reason. The best thing about this school is that it is a large school that has every department that there is (majors such as nursing, communication, business, theatre arts, neuroscience), which attracts students of all interests. Students that come to college with no clue of what they want to do in life will find the answer to that because students are provided so many opportunities here at Pitt to explore different fields of study and to find the field that they ultimately fall in love with. The professors at Pitt are so friendly, and they all want their students to success and earn good grades. Either big classes with 200 students or smaller classes with 8 students, professors are always there to help their students learn, study, and understand course concepts. This doesn't mean that students shouldn't take initiative! Students should attend office hours and email professors on a regular basis in order to develop a relationship with their professors. After all, students need professor recommendations when the time comes for scholarship or internship applications, and you have to get to know professors in order to get well-written recommendation letters.

Becky

The academics at Pitt are extremely varied, which is good because it means there's something for everyone's preferences. A lot of the intro classes are several hundred people (the biggest being 300-400), so it's easy to get lost in them (which, in classes you don't really care about and want to be able to skip without being docked attendance points, this is great). A lot of the upper-level classes within majors are smaller and more intimate, around 20 or 30 students, and in this case the professor will know your name. This is generally a good thing though, because in your major, you usually want the opportunity to be more engaged. My favorite class was Intro to Poetry Writing, which isn't even close to either of my majors. As a freshman science major it was the first small class I had ever had, so I liked that, and also my professor was really young, cool, and understanding. He listened to the interests of the class, which helped us decide what to read, and made assignments really flexible so that we could tailor them to our individual interests. Though the typical Pitt student might be stereotyped as lazy in regards to homework, most Pitt students are actually pretty intellectual, and random intellectual conversation is, while not prevalent, definitely not out of the ordinary. I've walked by students sitting around randomly debating nuclear energy, and one of my friends met his current girlfriend because they got to talking about social issues in society today at an otherwise typical twenty-first birthday party. One great thing about the Pitt student's laid-back attitude is that most students aren't competitive academically. The one glaring exception to this is pre-med students, and if you're taking what's considered a weed-out class for pre-med students (intro biology or organic chemistry) and you are not pre-med, it will be an awful experience because you literally won't be able to get an A without giving up 30 hours a week to the library. The school's liberal arts and academic requirements are relatively easy and painless, especially if you're coming in with some AP credits. The "global" requirements are a bit hefty if you don't study abroad, but just the mere act of studying abroad (regardless of the classes you take abroad) will knock out anywhere from 2-3 of them. Most of the professors at Pitt are pretty approachable, friendly, and willing to see you outside of class (I've had a few in the hard sciences which aren't very approachable though). I've definitely gotten the opportunity to get really close to a couple professors, one of whom serves as essentially a mentor to me, and I've even been to his house and met his wife and children. In most cases professors are willing to talk to and establish relationships with students, but usually this is something the student must initiate. The education at this school isn't really geared toward getting a job for the most part - we have a strong liberal arts program, and the second best philosophy program in the nation (and philosophy majors are notorious for not having jobs when they graduate). That being said, the engineering school and any pre-professional track (pharmacy, med, dental) are clearly geared toward getting you a job/into the relevant professional schools.

Adam

The academics here are decent. There's a lot to address, so I'll start out by talking about class difficulty. Maybe the easiest way to explain class difficulties would be to categorize classes as either "easy" or "hard" (this is obviously a generalization, in reality, the difficulty of classes would be more accurately described as a spectrum, rather than two groupings). Easy classes you can get by by going to class and paying attention, and doing (maybe) a few hours of work per week outside of class (depending on the class, some mixture of reading, practice problems, projects and/or essays). Examples of "easy" classes that I've took include Intro to Macroeconomics, Intro to Sociology, Social Psychology, Logic, Modern Philosophy, and Brain and Behavior. "Hard" classes are different. They require you to go to class and pay close attention and take notes. They might require an average of an hour or two a day of work. It can be easy to fall behind in these classes if you are confused during lecture and can't find the time to catch up. This can be bad. Because the material is usually cumulative, if you fall behind, it has a snowball effect, because if you didn't understand last weeks lecture material, you'll have no clue what is going on in this weeks lecture. Also, what makes "hard" classes hard is often the tests. Sometimes (ex. Introductory Biology I and II) you'll put a good amount of time in, and know the material pretty well, but not do well on the test because of tricky/unfair questions. For example, in many science classes, class averages for tests will often/usually be in the 60s, and sometimes 50s. Assuming that the majority of the class isn't very stupid/lazy, this probably indicates either a hard test, or bad teaching. With that said, getting an A is never out of the question if you work hard (and smart). It's kinda hard to compare these "hard" classes with AP classes because AP classes seemed slower and more spread out, and also because high school is just different than college. However, I think these hard classes are a little/moderately harder than AP classes. Examples of "hard" classes that I've taken include Honors Calculus, Biology I and II, and Organic Chemistry I. I've also heard that physics classes tend to be hard. Regarding the quality of professors, some where decent, some were disappointing. I haven't had that inspiring professor yet, although once in a while I hear of those cases. Again, it may be easiest to explain professors' quality as "good" or "bad". "Good" professors explain things in a logically consistent, and moderately clear way, and they'll also be pretty organized and fair. (A "truly good" professor, I think, not only explains things in a logically consistent way and is decently organized and fair, but they should make the material as clear as it can be, make it interesting and stimulate your thinking, and also provide the students with study material and practice questions that make it very easy for the student to study. I haven't had any "truly good" professors yet, although I've had some reglar "good" ones). "Bad" professors are very frustrating to encounter. They might not explain things in a logically consistent way, they might be confusing, have a bad accent, be very boring and not thought provoking, be disorganized and expect kids to know things that they shouldn't be expected to know, they might be lazy and not provide much to the students to study, and not prepare much for their lectures. I'm probably forgetting some characteristics of bad professors, but you know one when you see one, it's common sense. I obviously haven't had anyone who has all these (bad) characteristics, but I've definitely had professors with enough of them where I'd loosely categorize them as "bad". Hopefully, if you do get a bad professor, it'd be in an easy elective. If not, it'll be difficult to pull of a good grade, and you might not be as knowledgeable and interested in a core class for your major. At Pitt, there's a pretty normal ratio of "good":"bad" professors. It's important not to think of the quality I've been describing in absolute terms, but rather in relative (to other colleges) terms. I think that Pitt is pretty average academically. Regarding scheduling, often times it can be frustrating and difficult to get into the classes you want (let alone getting the time slot that you want). Sometimes you may not even get into a class that is required for your major (ex. organic chemistry labs, biology labs). Another issue is that some (important) classes are only offered in fall, and others are only offered in spring. Still, the scheduling inconveniences are probably comparable to other schools (maybe a little worse than other schools). Regarding the class "styles", it definitely depends on the class. I've been in a lot of natural and social science lectures. These have all been lectures with little if any class participation (although sometimes kids ask questions). Even during the recitations there isn't much participation. (Even in discussion oriented recitations, like Modern Philosophy and Intro to Sociology, kids aren't very eager to participate. Usually you'll get 2-4 students who are the "talkers" amongst a group of 20 students) However, it may be the case that I simply haven't encountered a class with much participation. I suspect that in some of the arts/humanities classes, as well as upper level classes in any field, the kids in the class are there because they like that field, rather than because it's a prerequisite, and thus are more inclined to discuss things. Regarding the academic requirements, although they're pretty standard as far as colleges go, I still think they're a bit much. I have to take like 2 arts/humanities classes, 3 international related classes, and a literature class (in addition to the requirements I've already fulfilled), which seems a bit much considering I'm a neuroscience major. I think I could get enough exposure to these fields in 2-3 classes rather than 6. Regarding the work ethic of students, it's hard to say because there are so many different types of kids. Most kids go to class (usually), try to pay attention (mostly), do some reading and homework throughout the week, and cram a good amount before the test. There are other kids that don't take work very seriously and don't do much work outside of class, and will also often miss class. Then there are kids who take work pretty seriously. These kids almost always go to class and pay attention, and they'll do a good amount of work throughout the week. Two last messages. To people for whom Pitt may be a reach school, I think that with hard (and smart) work, you'll absolutely be fine. I don't think the difficulty level will be too high, as long as you put in a good amount of time and effort, and be efficient as well. To people who may have Pitt as a safety school, a few things to consider. Don't worry about it being too easy. You can definitely challenge yourself by taking a heavy/difficult course load, and you could gain valuable experience by volunteering, doing research, or participating in a club. On that note, because Pitt is such a big research university, there are a lot of opportunities to do research (one of Pitts strengths). You can also take graduate level courses (or courses next door at carnegie mellon). I know plenty of kids who could have went to an Ivy league school, but chose Pitt, and are definitely being sufficiently challenged. Also, lots of kids from Pitt win international scholarships, and go on to competitive graduate/professional schools. I think that shows that Pitt has a lot of resources that can allow you to achieve anything.

Elise

I am currently in the College of Business Administration and the staff has done an excellent job preparing me for my internship search, and eventually a job search. In the business school, even the introductory classes are relatively small, approximately 100 students. All of the professors hold office hours and are extremely willing to meet with students during or outside of the assigned hours. Student participation, even in the bigger classes is definitely a common aspect of class, and most often incorporated into each student's grade. If a student approaches or contacts a professor multiple times, it is safe to assume that the professor will recognize that student in the future. The School of Arts and Sciences has much larger introductory classes, such as economics and psychology, with class sizes up to 400 students. In these larger classes, participation is slim to none. I have found that students in academic focused groups are rather competitive when it comes to grades and jobs, more so than students that are not involved.

Mark

Professors rarely know your name in intro classes (size range of 60-400 kids.) But in any other class, personal communication with professors is common. Class participation is usually voluntary but I'd recommend it because it helps you learn and the professor will get to know you better if it seems like you care about the class. The classes aren't bad. I've taken everything from Calculus to Psychology and the time I spend studying isn't too much more than highschool, but the classes are not "Easy A's".

Seth

One of the greatest things about Pitt is that our school has 18,000 undergraduates, yet only 6% of our classes are 100 students are more. If you are in one of those classes that is over 100 students, once a week you will break down into what is called a "recitation". These recitations do not go over any new material, and is instead a time to review old material and ask questions you might not have been able to ask in lecture. In addition to the recitations, all professors and teaching assistants (regardless of class size) are required to hold office hours. If you still need more help, Pitt has the MAC (Math Assistance Center) the WAC (Writing Assistance Center) and the ARC (Academic Resource Center). These are all free tutoring services that are available to students. At Pitt we take our academics very seriously, and there are a lot of resources available to students to ensure they have the most academically stimulating experience possible.

Becky

The academics at Pitt are extremely varied, which is good because it means there's something for everyone's preferences. A lot of the intro classes are several hundred people (the biggest being 300-400), so it's easy to get lost in them (which, in classes you don't really care about and want to be able to skip without being docked attendance points, this is great). A lot of the upper-level classes within majors are smaller and more intimate, around 20 or 30 students, and in this case the professor will know your name. This is generally a good thing though, because in your major, you usually want the opportunity to be more engaged. My favorite class was Intro to Poetry Writing, which isn't even close to either of my majors. As a freshman science major it was the first small class I had ever had, so I liked that, and also my professor was really young, cool, and understanding. He listened to the interests of the class, which helped us decide what to read, and made assignments really flexible so that we could tailor them to our individual interests. Though the typical Pitt student might be stereotyped as lazy in regards to homework, most Pitt students are actually pretty intellectual, and random intellectual conversation is, while not prevalent, definitely not out of the ordinary. I've walked by students sitting around randomly debating nuclear energy, and one of my friends met his current girlfriend because they got to talking about social issues is society today at an otherwise typical twenty-first birthday party. One great thing about the Pitt student's laid-back attitude is that most students aren't competitive. The one glaring exception to this is pre-med students, and if you're taking what's considered a weed-out class for pre-med students and you are not pre-med, it will be an awful experience because you literally won't be able to get an A without giving up 30 hours a week to the library. The school's liberal arts and academic requirements are relatively easy and painless, especially if you're coming in with some AP credits. The "global" requirements are a bit hefty if you don't study abroad, but just the mere act of studying abroad (regardless of the classes you take abroad) will knock out anywhere from 2-3 of them. Most of the professors at Pitt are pretty approachable, friendly, and willing to see you outside of class (I've had a few in the hard sciences which aren't very approachable though). I've definitely gotten the opportunity to get really close to a couple professors, one of whom serves as essentially a mentor to me, and I've even been to his house and met his wife and children. In most cases professors are willing to talk to and establish relationships with students, but usually this is something the student must initiate. The education at this school isn't really geared toward getting a job for the most part - we have a strong liberal arts program, and the second best philosophy program in the nation (and philosophy majors are notorious for not having jobs when they graduate). That being said, the engineering school and any pre-professional track (pharmacy, med, dental) are clearly geared toward getting you a job/into the relevant professional schools.

Julia

I've had a good academic experience so far. My favorite classes have been in the film department (some amazing professors in there). I'd say most students here take academics seriously and want to do well. Most intellectual discussions go on in upper-level classes that weed out the non-majors or the non-interested. The honors college is a popular program that provides accelerated classes to those interested. Class size varies from large lecture to small seminar, and we have TONS of class variety. Most TAs I've had have been knowledgeable and helpful. One of the best things about Pitt is never feeling like you don't have options. We have classes on everything you can think of: the black plague, myth and science, hong kong cinema, and almost any language you can think of. Check out www.courses.as.pit.edu

Adam

I am a marketing major in the College of Business Administration at Pitt. I have had some teachers that I did not particularly like, but I have had some amazing teachers as well. One in particular was Professor Raymond Jones who taught me Business Ethics. This teacher had me excited to go to class because the first thing he did was extreme. He started reading a definition of ethics out of the book in an extremely dorky way. Then he through the book onto the ground screaming, "This is not one of those classes where you read the book and forget everything as soon as you're done, I can't STAND those classes". This made me jump two feet but it demanded my attention and made me laugh. This teacher really made class exciting. I never thought I would be saying this about studying. Anyways, if you come to Pitt you will be challenged by students and teachers intellectually and you will have a great time while your here.

Lexi

I was a triple major in philosophy, french, and history. The french and philosophy departments were small enough that most of the professors in the department knew my name. I graduated three years ago and the professors still say hi to me when they see me on campus (I'm a grad student now) or at the grocery store. The first year you end up taking mostly large classes. Once you pick a major, most of the classes, at least in the departments I was a part of, were pretty small and class participation was much more common. People were not that competitive. I didn't mind the academic requirements all that much. I wish the College of Arts and Sciences had a larger math requirement looking back on it.

Mel

This is for the Honors College prospective students particularly. Virtually any other school would do better by you post-graduation. I have friends who had C and D averages from Harvard and Brown respectively. They had better opportunities than I did with straight A's from Pitt's Honors College. No kidding. Go to another school. Even if you get the free ride it's not worth even that price. I had that and it turned out to be the most expensive mistake of my life. Think about it. No one knows Pitt outside of the tristate region and even that is sketchy. No one will want to know or care if you were in UHC. People will look on you with pity if you mention it. I've even seen some gateways to cultural and academic capital computerize this process of discrimination. If you don't have an alum email from the right list, you're not allowed in. Go to Penn, CMU, or a smaller private school. Play the student loan game so you don't resent this most important academic choice of your life. If you have any goals of postgraduate education, where you go for undergrad is a much more important decision than who you marry. Don't let Stewart seduce you. Pitt is a terrible choice for a spouse.

Ryan

Professors tend to learn your name if you participate actively in class and/or go to office hours for extra help or clarification. Students vary in their levels of competitiveness. Some care a lot while others don't. Outside of class you will find some students having intellectual conversations while others just talk about how many bongs they did last weekend without throwing up. My least favorite class was as a first semester freshman. I took an economics class that I thought I would fail. The professor was terrible, and a lot of people thought she was unclear in her explanations.

Emilie

The education at Pitt is amazing. I found high school pretty dull; but a lot of that which I've learned while at college has been pretty interesting. The professors I've encountered have been very personable; and they all seem to have your success in mind.

Chrissy

Pitt is known for academic excellence. In the classes I am enrolled everyone is very competitive and is trying for an A+. The teahcers are very helpful too. They hold office hours and stduy sessions before exams, and are mostly available whenever you need extra help. I study every day for at least roughly 4 hours, as do most students. Most of the classes are over 100 students, and do not have frequent participation. Howevver, there are some smaller classes that base your grade on participation. Pitt has what is called a recitation for most classes. Recitation is a study period that reviews material covered in class and allows time for you to ask questions. Some teachers also use this time to give quizzes or homework assignments.

Nina

There are good professors and bad professors. But the TA system with recitations is really beneficial to students.

Sarah

I am a science major so my classes are really big, so unless you go out of your way and talk to a teacher they won't know your name. There really isnt a lot of participation in these classes but its for the better because when people do ask questions people get annoyed because it takes time away from the professor to teach. Advising freshmen year is absolutely horrible! I am pre-med and told my advisor I wanted to take Chem and Bio at the same time, which she responded by advising me very strongly not to take it despite my complaints. So instead she signed me up just for Chem and instead of Bio recommended a Philosophy class. The Philosophy class was taught by a horrible teacher and I was in a class with all seniors. Apparently people wait until senior year to take this class because it ruins your GPA because its so hard. And what happened? It ruined my GPA, I had all As and a C+ in this Philosophy class. Horrible advice!! And what is worse, I went to the Pre Health Advisor and she told me that by not taking Chem and Bio at the same time I am not going to graduate in four years. So now I am taking Bio over the summer here at Pitt, 5000 bucks later I am back on track. Thanks a lot freshmen advising.

Jo

Pitt's a great school in many ways. The campus is nationally ranked in a variety of undergrad and graduate areas: philosophy, english, communications, neuroscience, nursing, medicine, rehabilitation sciences, public affairs, and a top 50 MBA program. The school's based on research. They offer undergraduate research positions across the campus, which almost no one does. There are many neuroscience, biology, and chemistry majors, but over 700 graduates per year major in communications. Most of the lower-level courses are large. Don't get discouraged. They get smaller as you progress and evening classes are usually small from the beginning. With some of the large classes, especially science and math, they require and extra hour of "recitation." These recitations are taught by TAs and offer time for specific questions and homework review. The school career services center and most of the full-time faculty are really supportive if you're interested in completing any graduate work. I can't stress this enough - get involved early and get to know the profs! They enjoy your enthusiasm and want you to succeed. It has helped me out countless times. There is financial aid, but you have to work for it. Funding is getting tight EVERYWHERE. Seek our scholarships and write those essays! I averaged about $2,000 a year in scholarships alone...

Dale

Academics at Pitt is hit-or-miss. Some professors are EXCELLENT, but most are not. There is no recourse for bad professors (I've had a prof abandon a class, flip out in class, never give out a syllabus, and force students to watch inappropriate movies). Moreover, Pitt also hires foreign graduate students as Teaching Assistants- unfortunately most of them do not speak English. Class size varies greatly depending on the course and semester. Oh and be prepared to buy about 5 mandatory books per class ($200) that you never use and can't sell back.

Pete

Professors know your name outside of the big introductory classes and pre-req courses. Some classes are completely about class participation such as writing and language courses. Intellectual conversations outside of class really depends on your crowd of friends, but they always find ways to sneak up when needed before an exam or midterm. Students are extremely competitive, especially if the class is for their major. The most unique class I've taking it a swimming class. I got credit for working out. I also took a class where I had to go to the Peterson Events Center (our huge gym in the basketball facility) and work out for credit. I spend time with professors when I need to. I meet with all of them at least a few times during the semester. Pitt's academic requirements are reasonable, and are getting more challenging every year. It is becoming increasingly competitive. More example I declared one of my majors, Political Science, this year because they are adding many more classes to the requirements for the major before next year. I plan to dual major in Finance/ Political Science to set me on my way for a Law Degree. I am also planning to minor in International Relations and grab a Leadership Certificate in the process. I feel the education is geared for getting a job and learning for different people who feel differently. Teachers are happy to sit with you and discuss in depth issues regarding the topics of their classes. Obviously if a class is for your major you are more interested in learning about all aspects of the topic rather than just trying to get the grade.

Ellen

Classes can be big, especially freshman year. Despite this, for the most part, professors care. They will take the time to assist you or direct you to a place where you can be helped.

Trevor

So why should you study at Pitt? First and foremost, Pitt is definitely a research college. If you go into business, medicine, or other research-intensive fields, Pitt's definitely going to give you a lot of real-world experience. Last year, I had motion sensors all over me for a few hours, for a kinesiology experiment (and made $30 doing it). I'm in the business school right now, and have been thoroughly underwhelmed. I've dealt with a lot of TA's and professors who don't use English as their first language. If you can understand Indian accents well, you'll be fine; but it's been a little tough understanding some of them. That being said, the American teachers I've had are always accessible, and genuinely want to talk with you. They know you're spending $20,000 a year to go to Pitt; they want to help. Most are very casual and relaxed about post-class conversations. The academic requirements are appropriate. Pitt's big on "diversifying yourself." So, you accounting majors will have to take some science and English courses; and you English majors will have to take courses that may actually help you find work later in life. The Pitt foreign language department is excellent. I've taken Mandarin Chinese for the past two years, and understand the language pretty well. Other languages offered are your standard Spanish, French, German; but also Indian, Arabic, even Icelandic! There are a ton of classes; and largely, you design your own schedule (within the confines of your major). Some unique classes include the History of Sci-Fi, Vampirism, Islamic Culture, and others.

zack

Students are competitive, and usually very smart. the only major that's known to not be so smart is the business majors, but someof them are ok. a lot of kids like to brag about how hard they have it, but its all pretty equal, unless you're an engineer, that's probably the hardest major at Pitt. I'm a double major, political science and fiction writing. In the liberal arts majors, its failrly easy to meet with professors outside of class, or meet intellectual students and discuss things with them outside of class. the academic requirements can sometimes be tough, and class registration is usually pretty hassling, but other than that, there's not a whole lot of red tape. i've changed my major four times, but i'll still graduate on time because Pitt's credit transfer system is pretty uncomplicated. as a large school though, professors sometimes don't care that much about their classes, but all that does is work towards making your own experience more self-reliant, so you will develop independantly and maturely.

April

The professors were very nice. They all knew me, and the classes were small enough that everyone in my program knew each other. Education at Pitt, in my opinion (for my program, anyways), is basically learning for its own sake. I do not view it as geared towards getting a job.

Shannon

Freshman year classes are about 350 which can be overwhelming, but by junior year my classes were about 50 each. You can get to know your teacher if you truly want to. They have manditory office hours and there are always TA's that will help you, there are often times study sessions held by the teacher before tests, there are 2-3 Peer Leading sessions a week in certain classes (physics, chemistry, o-chem, physics, and biology), which are really helpful because they are led by students that have already taken the class, there is the Academic Resource Center, a tutoring center that is free for all Pitt students and will help you in any subject, and most majors have their own tutoring center as well. Pitt really prepares you for a career in my field (physical therapy) and has so many organizations that it is hard to not get involved.

Megan

Academic life at Pitt varies immensely depending on what your major is. As a business major, I found that I was able to party more than I studied and still get good grades. Science and engineering majors, though, all spend hours and hours on studying and homework every week. They spend more time in their room or at the library than anywhere else.

Ash

Every professor I have had thus far at Pitt has been of a different nationality. I have been taught by men and women of varying ages, disciplines, interests and genders. Each and every one of them has known my name and each and every one has had a great impact on my academic goals, beliefs and success. Class participation is not incredibly common. Usually, it is a small group of students that run the class. Teachers often urge the shy ones to chime in, however, thus creating more of a balance in an already excited and charged atmosphere. I am a person who can never learn enough. I am an English Major, Psych Minor and am completing a Children's Literature Certificate. I have earned pre-graduate school acceptance and plan to complete a 5 year MAT program to earn my masters and teaching certification in secondary education at Pitt's Graduate School of Education. Someday I hope to augment my studies and certification to teach at the college level. I also aim to both publish some day, and record my music in the areas of piano and vocals. Pitt absolutely meets my academic needs. Both semesters, I filled my schedule with English and Philosophy courses of which I relished every moment. I also take a biological science course each semester to satisfy a great interest of mine. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which I was able to earn A's my freshman year. I was definitely challenged in my classes, but I didn't find any of them to be difficult or time-consuming. Rather, I enjoyed them with great gusto and did a lot of outside work simply for the personal satisfaction that it brought. My professors were all uniquely phenomenal and I know that I will keep in contact with some of them throughout my stay at Pitt.

Darren

One thing that has dissapointed me about Pitt is the large class sizes. I understand with a University the size of Pitt that intro courses are large, but even in my junior year I have found that classes are still well over 100 students and teachers are lucky to learn 5 names a semester. Furthermore, it has been my experience that most teachers enjoy the subject they teach but could care less about the students since each one is only one of hundreds each semester. For example, some courses have 450 students in them. If a professor has multiple classes with that volume of students, where is the individual attention. Also, many classes aren't even taught by professors, rather by Teacher Assistants. I feel scammed in some courses because I'm being taught by a grad student and not even a real professor.

Staci

The academics here really differ. I've had classes where the professor wouldn't have known if I showed up or not but I've had classes where the professor was really interested in my studies and myself as a person. Overall, it just really depends. My best advice would be to be prepared for anything. Not many schools offer classes like 'Magic, Medicine, and Science', Neurosurgery, and Intro to Massage. Keep an open mind.

Jaren

During my freshmen year, the classes were taught in a good environmental setting. There was never any hostility. All of the teachers were approachable. I was not a big fan of the scheduling. I came into college expecting to take classes I was interested in. It almost felt like I was back in high school again when I met with my academic adviser and she told me I had to take certain classes. Students are very competitive, but in a helpful way. Everyone wants to earn a better grade than the next person, but people are always willing to help.

Parker

Professors make an effort to know as many students in the class as they can but they're not going to learn your name if you sit in the back of lecture every day. I've gotten to know most of my professors on a name to name basis but smaller classes (such as seminars and honors sections) provide more opportunities to get close to your teachers. My least favorite class was seminar in composition because my teacher was a hardcore feminist lesbian and wasn't very open minded. My absolute favorite class was Dr.Stricker's intro to neuro class. I've never been so excited to go to a class before. He oriented the class towards logic based learning of neuroscience and research and it stimulated my thinking more than anything. I don't study very much and that simply varies from person to person and what their majors are. Students are very competitive in the pre-med sections but I don't know about others. The most unique class I took was Russian Fairy Tales, very interesting but also bizzare. At Pitt, if you want an extremely challenging and interesting class there are plenty to choose from but if you want a blow off class there are plenty of those too. It just depends on what you want.

Jordan

all of my professors knew my name after one class except the one class i took that was a gen ed science. and i'm pretty convinced that after the first test was handed back he knew my name even though it was a class of over 300 people and i never participated in lecture discussions. that could be because he was very italian, and i am too. all of my upper level english classes were amazing, but the best class i took, hands down, was queer theory. it's one of the capstone classes for the women, gender and sexuality certificate, and i highly recommend it to anyone in the women's studies department. i ran into a few competitive students, but mostly, they keep their grades to themselves either out of modesty or embarassment. the english department and the women's studies department are both incredible as far as advisors and classes go. i've heard complaints about the english advisors, but i have never had an issue.

Dave

Professors offer generous amounts of office hours so its easy to get to know them. I am studying mechanical engineering so I study frequently with a group of friends in my classes. (At least a few hours every weekday.) Class participation is very common and in most classes we have design project. This is how I got to know other students in my classes. For my major, many classes are geared to what we need to know to find a job in industry, but at the same time, we are encouraged to consider grad school. Also, a lot of the material has to be taught for the sake of learning because undergrad is the only time appropriate for learning that material. Our senior design class allows us to work with a professor, in my case the chairman of the ME department, to do some research, and produce a final product. Also, some electives I've take are the legendary history of jazz class, digital recording where we went into a studio and cut some tracks. Also, I've taken music lessons for the four years I've been here with one of the best bass players in the city.

Sierra

Pitt academics are just amazing. We have amazing professors that are very interesting. I'm a psych/sociology major and we have really good professors. I think we also have a good mix of big and small classes.

Lynn

Unless you take writing classes you are in a big class and the professors may not know your name, unless you visit them. I am in nursing school and most of the professors were good and knowledgeable. The clinical instructors (about 75%) were very good. The teachers want you to participate but it ends up being a couple people who do most of the talking (there is about 100-120 people in your graduating class). Students can be competitive but a lot of people in nursing were friends. The only thing a lot of us didn't enjoy was the big push on research- so you will do a lot of evidenced based research papers. So they make you take the HESI every semester now to prepare you for the NCLEX- which is good but hard to take the extra time to study. Nursing school is very difficult and you will be studying a lot. You don't get the opportunity to take classes outside the requirements really but it is a liberal college so you do take non-nursing classes. It's geared toward getting a job. Umm...there's not to much intellectual conversation outside class that I have seen, but maybe in other majors. There are alot of clubs that bring awareness to different issues going on. The most unique class was swedish massage class.

Chrissy

My professors thus far are so wonderful. They have all helped me in their own way more than I would have ever expected in college. My favorite subjects are those that deal with my major which is psychology. There is a lot of help offered to us all outside of the classroom which I use quite frequently. I feel with all the knowledge I am entitled to knowing at Pitt, I will be able to get the job I desire after school.

Alex

Pitt is a big school, but if you communicate with your professors on a regular basis, they will know your name (which can be very helpful later on). Not all of the classes at Pitt are over 100 either. Spring of my sophomore year all of my classes were gen eds and they had 30 or less in all of them. Students study pretty much all through finals week, and it's pretty scattered during the week. There are quiet hours at night time, but depending on which residence hall you live in, it's unlikely to be quiet no matter what time. I got lucky freshman year but some people don't. it depends on the RA and whether they tolerate that kind of thing. Pitt students are very diverse too so you are pretty much guaranteed to find anything and everything on campus and off. The education at Pitt is geared towards learning for its own sake. Pitt strives to develop its students into educated adults that are successful in the real world, not simply getting a good job, which is also good.

jennifer

Pitt is a large school. Enormous even. That being said, yes, there are going to be some lectures with 200+ students in them; some people cannot learn without one-on-one attention, without someone holding their hand....this isn't high school. Personally, I don't find it bothersome. I think it encourages people to take more challenging courses; the only classes with that many students are usually lower-level, introductory classes....upper levels, at least in my majors (political science and history) tend to have 35 or less students, and in that setting the professors usually get to know everyone's names, encourage participation and class discussions are common. The academic departments themselves are nationally recognized, enormous resources are available to students, and the professors are top-notch.

Julia

Most of my professors have no idea who I am. I'm a psych major and all of my classes are pretty big. However, I have noticed that when the initiative is taken to get to know the teachers most are very receptive and very nice. The psychology advising department is amazing. They are so willing to help and so incredibly responsive. I also have to say that for the sociology department which counted many of my classes while i was abroad that really shouldnt have been counted. Class participation is not common in big classes. In fact, dont raise your hand at all in big classes, no one appreciates it.

Ryan

The Finance department has an amazing group of professors all of which I enjoyed. Many have spent years researching and have published well known papers in the Journal of Finance mostly regarding Financial Theory. The Finance curriculum is challenging and is on par with Accounting for difficulty. For business majors, accounting and finance students largely are dedicated to their academics and therefore find excellent jobs post graduation. Marketing and General Management majors have less attractive but much easier degrees and many of them slack off/don't go to class/don't study. The education is more geared towards a great overall education, but Leadership Development helps with getting a job. You will do team work and see everything that you would have to know in order to get a top entry level position.

Lorie

Your classes will be what you make of them. You can choose to take huge lecture classes that you can skip all the time and never really learn anything, or you can take small, intimate classes with only a few other students. In my experience professors are very willing to help students in and outside of class. I've only had two or three profs that I didn't like. Class participation is always encouraged, even in lecture classes. Study time is really up to the individual, although my bio major friends tend to always be stuck studying. The English department is full of amazing professors who really care about their students. The literature major is one of the largest credits-wise, but most of the classes are great. My favorite professors have been David Brumble, Jim Seitz, and Kellie Robertson. The only thing that is terrible about the English department are the advisers - Fiore is a horrible human being and has made me cry.

Reese

Basiaclly all of these questions depend on yourself and your teachers...help is always available to those who seek it and your relationships with your teachers will depend on if you want one to exist or not. The engineering department is geared towards job placement but also focuses heavily on learning.

Pat

In my major of engineering, and further, civil engineering, you form a brotherhood with your peers. I have a lot of pride in my major because we have all gone through the insanely intense courses. There is no room for laziness if you want to succeed. Being a research school, I would change the fact that Pitt focuses a lot on theory and not enough on practical applications. I'm not a researcher nor do I ever plan to be. I hate theory and I hate bookwork. However, I LOVE applying what I know to the real world. I would suggest that Pitt needs more avenues to let students APPLY what they know and not just write it on a piece of paper.

Jessica

Most professors don't know your name, a lot do though. How much you study depends on your major. I study ALL THE TIME. If you're thinking about majoring in the sciences at Pitt, be prepared to constantly study to make it on top. Most Pitt students are not intellectual at all. This is probably my biggest complaint about the people that go to Pitt. It's very hard to find intellectually stimulating people and extremely easy to find a party. My major is Ecology and Evolution and I really like it. It's almost exactly the biology major but on a more macroscopic level. This summer I'm going to the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology to take my ecology class and I'm extremely excited about it. The academic requirements are very much "doable" here. I went to Pitt because I knew that with a Pitt degree I would be more likely to get a job.

Jessica

When taking into consideration the number of students that go to the University of Pittsburgh, I was sure all of my classes were going to be huge. However, I was mistaken. I have had more classes that hold 30 students than anything, and only 3 classes with more than 100 students. I always make an attempt, regardless of the class size, to let the teacher know my name- and they usually remember. My favorite experience so far was my first semester at Pitt. I took Biology for non-majors and it was a huge class. However, the professor came in and shook everyone's hand and introduced us. He knew we weren't majoring in biology so he even made a course packet so we wouldn't have to purchase an expensive text. It was a nice first class to have when I was so anxious about school starting. I've taken several unique courses like Vampire: Blood and Empire and Indo-European Folk Tales. The variety of courses is another thing I love about Pitt. Yes, they require that annoying core of classes required, however, there are tons of unique classes you can take to fulfill the requirements. It makes getting your degree more fun, and when you take an odd-ball class is can lighten your academic load, which is always nice. It creates a nice balance between education needed for the workforce and education just for learnings sake. The only complaint I have, being a communication major, is that a lot of my professors have been adjunct, which means teaching was their night job. Therefore, they weren't really available outside of class. Its frustrating to have someone teaching you who doesn't want to be teaching. However, I think my academic experience thus far has been pretty good. I've had interesting professors who are good to talk to in and out of class and some interesting classmates who I've had great academic discussions with in and out of the classroom.

Jessica

The key to doing well in any class, no matter how big or small, is to get involved. Because it is impossible for the professor to get to know every single student in a 200 person lecture, standing out is important. Always participate in class discussion and introduce yourself to the professor and speak with him or her after class. If the professor knows who you are, your chances at doing well are significantly higher. In smaller classes, however, chances are the professor knows your name and if you don't participate you'll stand out like a sore thumb. Like at any school, it is not hard to do well at Pitt if you commit the time and energy to studying. In high school, it's possible to get by without doing much work, but if you think that's also true in college you will fail, especially in classes where one test can account for more than 20% of your final grade. Every freshman at Pitt is required to take an English course called Seminar in Composition. It is THE WORST CLASS you will ever take at Pitt, guaranteed. Most of the Comp teachers are pretty bad and it's not easy to do well in it, no matter how good a writer you think you are. But it's inevitable, so brace yourself for one sucky semester of paper writing.

Michelle

Since Pitt offers a variety of majors, the classes you take can really determine your class size, if professors will know your name, etc. Even for general education courses, you can fulfill your social science requirement by taking Intro to Sociology with 200 students or Intro to Urban Studies with less than 50 students. Of course, upper level, specialized courses will have less students, sometimes 10 or less students. One of the best courses I took my freshman year was Seminar in Composition, a required course for any Arts and Sciences student. You can take a general seminar course or one that focuses on certain topics such as education, gender studies, or service learning. I took one that focused on service learning and required us to find a place to volunteer throughout the semester. It was a great class with less than 20 students, a passionate professor, and interesting readings, writings, and discussions that were all connected to the bigger picture of service. This is one of the reasons why Pitt is incredible - we have access to resources and opportunities that you won't find at even a huge university if it's surrounded by farmland or in suburbia. Interniships and service are easily found. We have students with perfect SAT scores attending on a full ride but also ones that make you wonder how they were accepted. Intellects, dumbasses, and everyone in between can be found at Pitt, and it makes for a great atmosphere. If you want a challenge, you can pursue it with like-minded individuals, and if you want to slack off, you can do that, too. Pitt also offers the opportunity to cross-register and neighboring universities. Yes, we offer classes about Russian madmen, but we don't offer a great number of dance classes. If you want, you can take a course at Chatham, Carnegie Mellon, Point Park, Carlow, and a few other schools nearby. We also can take classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The types of classes we can register for are so diverse, and the number is uncountable.

Adam

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