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When Do I Register For Classes?
Each semester, a course listing of classes will be sent to the coordinators. This list along with an enrollment form will be sent to the students with the deadline dates for registration and add/drop. The course listing can also be found here. It is the student's responsibility to fill out the registration form, have it signed by his/her mentor, and then process their self-enrollment using the portal.

How Many Credits Do I Register For Each Semester?
You must register for a minimum of 9 credits or a maximum of 15 credits in the fall and spring semesters and a total of 3 credits in the summer semester.

What Courses Will I Take During The First Year?
Each first year student is required to take Foundations Lecture, Foundations Conference and a lab rotation during the first semester. During the second semester, the student will consult with his/her first year mentor and take courses that will apply to their program choice. The first year mentor will also help with the selection of lab rotation mentors. Scientific Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research and Introduction to Biostatistics for Biomedical Scientists will be taken during the summer of the first year.

How Do I Pick A Lab Rotation?
It is the student's responsibility to contact the faculty members and make arrangements for one of their rotations. The research rotation page with instructions and the lab rotations available can be found here.

Does Everyone Take Three Rotations, And How Would I Petition To Waive One Rotation?
In rare cases, the Associate Dean will allow a student to stay in the same lab for two of the rotations. A request in writing must be submitted to the Associate Dean stating the reason for the request and evidence that this would be beneficial to the student.

Can I Do A Fourth Rotation?
In rare instances, there may be a need to complete a fourth rotation. This request must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for approval.

How Do I Transfer To My Final Lab Choice At The End Of My First Year?
Near the end of your first year, the Steering Committee will vote to pass you on to your second year. After approval, you will be given a transfer form to fill out and have signed by your mentor, the program director and the Associate Dean. After this is signed, the Graduate Studies Office will officially transfer your payroll paperwork to the person who handles this for your mentor.

How Many Credits Do I Need In Order To Graduate?
In order to graduate with your PhD, you need a total of 72 credits (32 coursework and 40 PhD dissertation credits).

When Can I Begin Registering For PhD Dissertation Credits?
You can begin registering for PhD dissertation credits after you have nominated your dissertation committee, had your overview/prospectus meeting and the Associate Dean has approved your admission to candidacy.  These three milestone forms must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office three days prior to the add/drop deadline of any given term.

How Do I Select A Dissertation Committee?
There shall be a minimum of five members on the committee including the thesis advisor. The majority of the committee, including the advisor, must have graduate faculty status from the University and must be from the student's training program. A minimum of one faculty member from the university community who is not a member of the student's training program must participate on the committee. This committee must be approved by the Program Director and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

What Do I Need To Do To Graduate?
There are various steps you need to complete to graduate.  All of the information you need regading the graduation process and deadlines can be found here.  

Can I Apply For A Student Loan?
Yes, student loans are processed through the Financial Aid Office of the University. They are located on the 1st floor of Alumni Hall, 412-624-7488. There is information on the form that must be filled out and signed by the Graduate Studies Office in the School of Medicine.

How Do I Defer My Undergraduate Student Loans?
If you have an undergraduate loan that you would like to defer, you need to contact the Registrar's Office, G-3 Thackeray Hall, 412-624-7635.

Do Students Get Vacation/Sick Time Off?
Student appointments are considered to be 52-week appointments and do not follow academic vacation schedules. Planned absences should be approved by the mentor and unplanned absences reported to them.

How Do I Access My Pitt Email Account?
You can access your Pitt email account through the portal. Login by using your email account ( and the password that is given to you. You can change the password once you log on. Click "View Mail" to access your email account. You can use this portal to update your information, forward your email to existing accounts, and access various student services.

How Do I Forward My Pitt Email To Another Email Account?
All students are given a email address. This is the address that will be used by faculty and staff for various reasons. If you prefer to read your e-mail at a different email address it is important that you forward your University e-mail to that address. Just log on to with your Pitt username and password; click edit forwarding addresses; enter your forwarding email address and click save changes. Need help? Contact the help desk at (412) 624-HELP (4357)

May I Take A Leave of Absence?
A PhD student can request one official leave of absence for up to two years. This request must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for approval. During this time the student will not be paid by the advisor and will not be registered as a full-time student. If the student does not return by the specified date, he/she will be considered to have withdrawn from the graduate program.

May I Supplement My Stipend With Other Employment?
Students supported by a stipend are not permitted to work at an outside job. The stipends are intended to support the living costs of the students so they can devote full time to their studies. An exception to this policy is paid tutoring of first-year graduate students who require expert tutoring by upper-classmates. Tutors are selected by course directors and approved by the Associate Dean.