Study Abroad

Studying abroad is one of the most exciting and unique things you can do during your time at Pitt. In this guide we will explain the basics of how to study abroad as a Pitt CS student. You can learn more about specific programs at abroad.pitt.edu/.

In order to study abroad, you must have completed 24 credits on campus, have a clear judicial record, and have at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA (some programs have higher requirements, such as a 3.0 or 3.25).

There's no best time to study abroad, but most students do it some time during their Sophomore Spring semester and their Junior Spring semester.

Why Study Abroad?

  • To learn about a new culture
  • To gain global skills
  • To network abroad
  • To take unique classes with unique professors/students
  • To experience life in a different country
  • To put a unique experience on your resume and set yourself apart
  • To have fun and develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally.

Types of Study Abroad Programs

The first thing to know is that there are multiple types of study abroad programs at Pitt. Each one is slightly different than the other in how the program is run, how credits come back to Pitt, where you can go, and more.

  • Panther Programs

    • These programs are the closest you can get to still taking Pitt classes while being abroad.
    • The program is designed by Pitt Study Abroad Office staff, composed mostly by Pitt students, and is typically led by a faculty member or someone Pitt-affiliated.
    • Courses taken in Panther Programs will return 'fully', meaning that the courses will affect your GPA and will show on your Pitt transcript.
    • A lot of experiential learning opportunities are provided by Pitt such as service learning, research, and internships. Note that these internships usually don't equate to industry experience, but are generally helpful for your resume.
    • Housing details are listed on individual program pages.
  • Study Away Programs

    • You don't actually study abroad in these (you actually don't leave the US), but you can get gen ed's knocked off and
    • Study Away Programs are designed by Pitt Study Abroad staff and are taught by Pitt faculty.
    • Courses taken in Study Away will return 'fully', meaning that the courses will affect your GPA and will show on your Pitt transcript.
    • These programs are generally shorter (like one-two weeks) and have a niche subject, such as Environmental Policy Writing or Bilingual Education.
    • Housing details are listed on individual program pages.
  • Partner Programs

    • These are special study abroad programs at institutions that the University has good relationships with.
    • These are similar to Exchange Programs, with one major difference. Since Pitt has a good relationship with these schools, they trust the grading schemes of Partner Program schools. Thus, your GPA will show up on a transcript and credits will transfer back either as Pitt equivalent credit (eg: There's no Data Mining class at Pitt, so if you took Data Mining at Trinity College Dublin, then you'll receive CS elective credit on your transcript in the form of ARTSC 1761 - Trinity College Dublin Elective)rather than a CS course on your transcript.
  • Exchange Programs

    • This type programs allow you to study abroad at the highest variety of locations (obviously Pitt Study Abroad can't make all programs Panther/Partner programs due to the amount of work).
    • This program allows you for the deepest amount of immersion possible at Pitt, at one major cost - you need to navigate with both Pitt bureaucracy and your host university bureaucracy.
    • This means that you will need to go on your host university's page, find courses that you think can count as elective credit or replace Pitt requirements (eg: taking Automata Theory abroad to replace Pitt's CS 1502 requirement), and go to your department advisor (Ramirez for CS) and get it signed off.
    • If you are studying multiple subjects in which you plan to receive a degree/minor/certificate, you will need to get course approval from the department heads from each of those department heads. The good news is that you only need to go to your Study Abroad Advisor for getting your general education requirements knocked off.
    • NOTE: You are only permitted to take 2 of your CS classes abroad - so if you plan to take 1 semester, try to take 2 CS classes, and if you take 2 semesters/1 year, then take 1 CS class/semester to balance out your learning.

      • Our suggestion is to take classes that are normally not offered at Pitt and get them approved as one of the five electives towards the CS major. It's a lot easier to do this because Pitt CS is generally skeptical of getting major requirements approved abroad. You can also get similar classes approved as course equivalents if the topics are similar enough (eg: 'Network Programming in C++' abroad is similar enough to CS 1652 to likely get approved as equivalent).
    • Additionally, because of the hassle of getting courses approved, I suggest you get CS classes approved and then just take gen eds that can be approved by your study abroad advisor. This will prevent you from scrambling to and from your major/minor head offices trying to get courses approved (in reality you need to get this done relatively quick before courses open up abroad)
    • Some universities are on different timelines than Pitt and will have course registration times that will require you to be extra proactive. For example, if you're planning to study abroad in Korea, they open their course listings relatively late due to semester schedules, and thus you need to look in the course catalog ASAP once it opens in order to get courses approved for transfer back to Pitt.
    • Make sure you remain in steady contact with your Study Abroad advisor! They are an incredibly useful resource who can help you a lot with obtaining documentation, writing your application, and more. There are mandatory meetings and presentations you must have with your advisor before you can do/even apply for an exchange program.
    • For exchange programs, you pay normal Pitt Tuition/some fees and you pay for housing/living expenses abroad.
    • Classes show up as S/NC (Pitt's way of saying Pass/Fail) on your transcript, with the class showing up as "EXCHANGE PROGRAM" with some ARTSC course number. You need a C or higher at your host university in order to get credit back at Pitt.
    • You will need to apply twice, first to Pitt's study abroad page in order to get their nomination as an approved candidate for study abroad. Once you receive that nomination, apply to your host university's study abroad page. You will need to show acceptance by the host university in order to get Pitt's approval to study abroad. In almost all cases, if you have university nomination, your exchange application will get approved.
    • Housing will also need to be coordinated through the host university or done on your own.
    • Exchange programs require a lot of proactiveness and work, but are arguably the most 'worth it'.
  • Pitt-Recognized Programs and Institutions

    • These are programs that are organized by heavily trusted third party organizations such as CIEE, API, ISA, and more.
    • These programs have a lot of international students as well as students across the US.
    • Your grades return as S/NC, so you need to get a C or better in order to receive credit from Pitt.
    • Your application/experience with these will vary depending on location/organization, so check out more information on the study abroad website.

Applying to Study Abroad Programs + General Tips

Generally, there's going to be some short answer questions and maybe a quick essay (plus some opportunities for supplementary information). Don't be afraid, the entire process isn't that bad. All the information can be found on Pitt's study abroad website.

Unfortunately, however, Pitt isn't going to let you go to Germany because you're a fan of German-brewed beverages. Here's a few tips that we've collected when applying to study abroad programs.

Tips for Applying

  1. Have a good reason to go. If you're trying to learn about a culture, write a good explanation about what you've done to learn about the culture already and what's making you curious. If you're looking for academics, explain professors you've looked into at the University you've applied to. Looking for professional development? Explain how the university/country has programs that will help you become more experienced. Show that you've done your research and make it seem like this program is the perfect program for you.
  2. Get your essay reviewed by friends and colleagues. This is a no-brainer, just ask them to read it over a couple of times and give their thoughts. It's really easy to explain your thoughts when you understand them to begin with, but by asking others, you can get a good understanding of how clear your case is.

General Tips

  1. Get your visa approved as fast as possible. There are lots of guides online for this.
  2. Be very quick to reply to your emails, you'll get a ton of them.
  3. If you're going to Ramirez for course approval, have a case planned out for why certain courses should transfer they way they should. Show up early to office hours and have questions ready (if you have any). Ramirez is a very busy man so the quicker you can make the approval process, the easier on the both of you.
  4. Make sure the SCI has access to your Study Abroad course approvals - this is big because in some cases the SCI can take upwards of a year to get your courses properly set into your PeopleSoft degree requirements. If you're a senior, you need to be especially proactive.

All in all, studying abroad is an incredibly exciting experience and is the main highlight for many people's college careers. We hope this article helped you learn more about what it takes to study abroad in CS at Pitt!

Related Resources

Last updated: Jul 2nd 2020