New Academic Opportunities Prepare Students to Flourish in Evolving Career Landscapes

Male graduate student sitting on floor reading to two elementary school studentsThe 2017-18 University of Pittsburgh academic year brings with it a new school and new degree programs, majors and research opportunities for students.

School of Computing and Information

The new School of Computing and Information (SCI) will be the University’s first new school or college established since the College of Business Administration was reopened in 1995. Creating a multidisciplinary environment for discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, the new school’s leadership envisions Pitt becoming a national model for training a new generation of computing and information scientists.

“SCI is the product of optimism, trust and commitment at all levels of the University community,” said Paul R. Cohen, the School of Computing and Information’s founding dean. “Our administrators, faculty and staff are committed to looking outward, to collaborate on computational research and creative activities in all contexts — from studio arts to digital humanities, from computational biology to digital ethics — and helping Pitt become a model for information age universities.”

Established by Pitt’s Board of Trustees in October 2016, the new school is a key element in Pitt’s strategy to support research in data and computation-intensive fields across the University. The school brings together the School of Information Sciences and Department of Computer Science. It will offer Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and information science for undergraduates. Graduate and professional students will be offered master’s and PhD degrees in computer science, information science and technology, intelligent systems, library and information sciences, and telecommunications and networking.

Katz-UPMC Executive MBA in Healthcare

The Katz-UPMC Executive MBA in Healthcare program is a 19-month accelerated Master of Business Administration program designed to equip health care professionals with management and technical skill sets. It focuses on business leadership and management, economic analysis and health care policy and technology. Applicants — health care professionals with a minimum of five years of experience — must demonstrate a record of strong job performance, positive career progression and growth potential. Courses are taught by Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business faculty members and feature guest lectures from UPMC administrators and physicians. The first cohort started the program in May 2017.

New Programs at School of Social Work

At the School of Social Work, students in the Community, Organization, and Social Action track pursuing a master’s degree can now also pursue a Master of Business Administration. As nonprofit agencies become more competitive, their staffs are expected to be equipped with skills in market analysis and evaluate problems such as cost efficiency and cost-benefit ratios. The MSW/MBA dual degree aims to prepare social workers with the business acumen for these increasingly complex roles.

Also, the first cohort arrives this fall in the Master of Social Work with a Certificate in Advanced Study in Teaching in Secondary Education (MSW/CAST). These social workers will be equipped to teach in grades 7 through 12 with special training for high-need students in urban schools.

According to James Huguley, co-coordinator of the combined program and an assistant professor of social work, the MSW/CAST program appears to be the only one of its kind in the country and also the only social work program that offers the teaching certification at the secondary level.

three female nursing students

Arming Nurses with Management Skills

A new joint degree is also available for nursing professionals. Nurses who are at mid-career or beyond may pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice in executive leadership in conjunction with a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. This will help to strengthen their knowledge of nonprofit management.

Also at the School of Nursing, a program called RN Options allows registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree completely online. Both programs are available through Pitt Online, which provides access to a selection of Pitt certificates and degree coursework, regardless of the student’s geographical location. 

Building Computers for an Extraterrestrial Environment

In the Swanson School of Engineering, students at the new Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC) will be developing durable computer processors that can work well in the harsh conditions of outer space. This past spring, the U.S. Department of Defense deployed a payload of two experimental CHREC space processors and a high-resolution camera to the International Space Station. The processors are being remotely operated from the new CHREC lab, located in Schenley Place and funded through the National Science Foundation. CHREC has more than 30 partners, but Pitt is the lead institution.

Strengthening the Swanson School of Engineering

Four new projects in the Swanson School answer student demands for programs that make them more flexible and adept at navigating a changing field.

One of those offerings is a Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering program, in response to demand for professional programs that help students find sustainable solutions to regional and global engineering challenges. Housed within the University’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the 30-credit program integrates with nine current master's degree programs in engineering, and provides students the opportunity to complete two M.S. degree programs with a limited time increase.

The Swanson School has also retooled one of its certificate programs. Any engineering undergraduate can now earn the Innovation, Product Design, and Entrepreneurship certificate. And, in conjunction with Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany, Pitt is offering students the opportunity to earn new certificates in aeronautical or automotive engineering.

Locally, the Manufacturing Assistance Center recently relocated to a 11,500-square-foot space in Homewood. The center’s new location offers access to advanced machine training programs and other career-training opportunities for residents in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods. The Manufacturing Assistance Center was established by the Swanson School’s Department of Industrial Engineering in 1994.

Also New in Academics

  • There is a new Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree offered by Pitt’s Architectural Studies program. It requires students to complete five semesters of design courses as well as two courses in building science offered by Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture. Not only does the program bridge the two universities, it also allows students who continue to a professional Master of Architecture program the ability to complete that degree in two years rather than three and a half.
  • Other new programs from the health sciences include a PhD program in microbiology and immunology and a biomedical master's program.
  • Pitt-Greensburg is offering a new four-year nursing program, identical to the one offered at the Pittsburgh campus. The current nursing shortage is hitting Westmoreland County hard, according to Pitt-Greensburg President Sharon Smith. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry projects an 18.4 percent increase in health care job openings for this region.
  • A new four-year Bachelor of Forensic Science degree at Pitt-Bradford will combine coursework in criminal justice, biology and chemistry, preparing students for a career in criminal forensics.
  • The Department of English’s Public and Professional Writing Major seeks to prepare students for a wide range of possible career paths in business, government and nonprofit sectors. Launching in the spring of 2018, the major requires completion of 33 credit hours of in-depth practice in the department’s composition program.