Admissions FAQ

Thank you for your interest in our program at Pitt! Below are answers to some frequently asked questions from applicants. Instructions for applying and additional admissions information can be found at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences web page:

*A note on Departments – Some applicants are not aware that HPS refers to the Department of History & Philosophy of Science which is a different department from the Department of Philosophy. Please make sure you are applying to the correct department for your interests and profile.

If you have additional questions or need further assistance, please contact the department’s graduate administrator:

Name: Jennifer Smoak


In your inquiry, please include your full name and to which PhD program you are applying (History and Philosophy of Science / Philosophy/ Both).


a. Do you require GRE scores?

No. For the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the department has decided not to require GRE scores. 

b. Do you offer an MA program?

Currently, the department does not admit students solely to pursue an MA.  Students pursuing PhDs in other fields at the University of Pittsburgh should contact the DGS to learn about the possibility of adding an MA in HPS to their studies.

c. Do I need to earn an MA before I enroll in the PhD program?

No. Generally each year’s incoming PhD class is a mix of students coming from previous master’s and bachelor’s degree programs.

2.Written Materials

a. What should be included in the Statement of Purpose?

The Statement of Purpose should include career objectives and reasons for wanting to undertake graduate study in either HPS or Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Knowing why you want to join the department is an important thing to articulate in your application statement. You should do your best to explain why the program is a good fit for you and why you are a good fit for the program.

b. What is the writing sample?

The required essay is a sample of your written work prepared for anonymous review. Pitt HPS takes your writing sample very seriously. You should select something that shows your capacity to draw philosophically interesting conclusions from the careful examination of current or historical science.  

3.Application System and Documents

 a. Where do I find the application?

The University of Pittsburgh now uses GradCAS by Liaison for online applications. The application can be found here:

Please make sure to select FALL 2022 when beginning your application. The Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences only accepts new students beginning in the Fall terms.

b. Who do I contact for Application troubleshooting?

If you are having issues with any part of your on-line application for the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences please reach out to the GradCas Applicant Help center:  If you cannot find the answer to your question you can also contact them by phone 857-304-2086 or via email:  For the quickest response it is best to contact them via chat on the Applicant Help center page.

c. Does the University offer fee waivers?

In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST.  To be considered for a fee waiver, please complete the following fee waiver survey for review:

4.International Applicants

a. What are the minimum TOEFL/IELTS Scores that I must have?

Our department must comply with the minimums set by the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. That information is available on this web page:

b. I am a non-native English speaker, but I went/currently go to an English-speaking university. Am I required to submit TOEFL or IELTS standardized scores?

You have met the University of Pittsburgh English requirements and are not required to submit English TOEFL/IELTS scores if:

  • You are a citizen of a country whose official languages include English
  • You have received a university degree from an accredited U.S. institution located in the United States (or will receive a degree before you potentially enroll at the University of Pittsburgh).
  • You have received a university degree from an institution whose language of instruction is English AND if it is located in a country whose official language is English (or will receive a degree before you potentially enroll at the University of Pittsburgh).

Please contact the graduate administrator if you have questions about whether you meet these criteria; however, know that the final decision as to whether you have met the English requirements lies with the Dietrich School of Arts and Science Graduate Dean’s office.

 c. I’m from Puerto Rico. Do I need to submit TOEFL or IELTs scores?

As U.S. citizens, natives of Puerto Rico are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTs scores.

d. Can Duolingo scores be used as an alternative to TOEFL and IELTS?

Yes, the Duolingo English Test can be used for the 2022/23 admissions season. The Duolingo English Test is an online English proficiency test that can be taken on demand in approximately one hour (requires computer with camera, microphone, speakers, internet connection). It involves an adaptive test via a graded section that evaluates applicants’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills (45 mins) and a video interview recording answers to open-ended questions (10 mins). Certified results are available within 48 hours of the test session. For more information, please visit Duolingo’s website.