Frequently Asked Questions


What is Pitt Honors?

Above all, Pitt Honors is a community of scholars who cross boundaries. If you want to advance research, better the community, and leave a global footprint, we will connect you to the best opportunities of a big-city major research University, so you can forge your own path and make it happen. 

There are different ways to engage with the Honors College. All Pitt undergraduates are welcome in most of our courses, fellowships, and programs, and there are multiple degree options to enhance your academic experience in any major. 

Admitted students are placed on the Honors degree path. The curriculum is incredibly flexible, guiding you to challenge yourself both in and outside of the classroom, regardless of your major. Choose from a variety of innovative programs and courses, with personal mentors to guide you to new opportunities (like community engagement, national scholarships, and more). 

Honors degree path benefits: 

  • Priority course registration*
  • Priority for courses, fellowships and awards
  • Guaranteed placement in Honors housing
  • Designation on your transcript, and your degree
  • A personal mentor to help you design the most advantageous Honors experience for your interests

*Priority course registration applies to the spring semester of freshman year and every following semester.


How do I apply to Pitt Honors?

Incoming freshmen apply to Pitt Honors during their regular University of Pittsburgh application process (including through the Common Application.) If you choose to apply, you'll answer an additional essay question (see below). 

Is it competitive? 

Yes, Pitt Honors is competitive. We accept about 400 incoming students each year.

We know you are more than your test scores. Although we don’t have set SAT/ACT requirements, on average, a Pitt Honors student has a 1450 SAT and/or 32 to 33 ACT. We will also consider your achievements both in and outside the classroom.  

Selection is also based heavily on your essay response to the following question: If you could change anything in the world, what would it be? Explain why and how you would change it. Responses should be stated in 500 words or less.

Does Pitt Honors offer scholarships? 

You do not need to fill out a separate application for first-year Pitt Honors scholarships. You will be considered for financial awards based on your full University application.

Based on your application strength, you might be invited to compete for the University's highest first-year award, the Chancellor's Scholarship. (It's invitation only.) If so, we will let you know what extra steps to take to apply. 

Are transfer or upperclassmen students eligible?

Yes, we do allow students to apply as upperclassmen. If you transfer in, you will need to complete 2 semesters at Pitt before you apply to Pitt Honors. In the meantime, most of our programs are open to all undergraduates. Engaging with the Honors community before you apply can help your chances of being admitted as an upperclassman.


What's Pitt Honors housing like?

The curious energy in an Honors hall is infectious! You live together in a community with other driven peers, all from different backgrounds and majors. You'll also have a great time with fun events all year long — everything from movie nights and a big Halloween mystery to trips around the region and sharing your stories with TED-style talks.  

All first-year students are guaranteed a spot in Honors housing. If you choose to stay on campus as an upperclassman, you get priority selection in the Irvis Hall dorm or Forbes-Craig apartment-style building. 

Why should I take Honors courses?

Honors courses cover topics in more interesting and in-depth ways. They're not just more challenging; they're more engaging.

They're small-group classes, so the environment is more dynamic and personal. Professors dig deeper into the material, leading you through richer analysis, incorporating cutting-edge tools, or even using pop culture and society as an academic lens. 

A few student favorites: 

  • A course on literature about the body, which actually includes an anatomy lab.
  • Analytics classes that use emerging science to predict who will win the big NBA game, or the big election.
  • A multifaceted class that looks at politics through the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton. 

If you're interested in the subject and willing to work hard to master the material, Honors courses will help you rethink the world.

Worried about your GPA? Don't be! Analysis shows that taking Pitt Honors classes doesn't significantly impact your GPA. Honors courses aren't weighted, but they are noted in your transcript, so reviewers can see that you took on more challenging work.

What is the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) degree?

The BPhil enhances your bachelor's degree with the highest undergraduate distinction. You can earn a BPhil in any subject by adding an intensive research thesis to your regular course of study. 

You'll get the opportunity to defend your work before a committee of leading scholars in your field. We'll even fly in a prominent external examiner who's at the forefront of the topic you choose. It's a rigorous process, but you'll have dedicated mentors to guide you along the way with feedback at every stage. 

Can I visit to the Honors college?

Yes. Join us for drop-in information sessions every Monday and Friday throughout the year, at 1 p.m. on the 35th floor of the Cathedral of Learning. To schedule a 1-on-1 discussion, contact our Manager of Recruitment, Matt Schultz, at