Information for International Students

We are delighted that you have chosen the Dietrich School and the University of Pittsburgh for your studies in the United States, and we want to ensure that your transition to the University goes as smoothly as possible. You may notice many differences between the schooling system in your home country and how things operate at Pitt. Listed below are some things to consider when adjusting to the University.

Prior to enrolling in Fall courses, it will be necessary for all incoming undergraduate international students to be evaluated for English language placement. Please be aware that we are in the process of developing a new placement system and more information will be available later in the Summer. Your academic advisor will provide you with more information following your initial meeting. The only exception to the English placement process is for students from countries where English is a predominate language. A list of those countries can be seen here.

Things to Consider When Adjusting to the University

In addition to the guidelines we give all students about choosing first semester courses, international students should also consider the following:

  • Class Participation: In American universities, students are expected to be active participants in their learning. This means that asking questions in class and contributing to class discussions are encouraged and often even evaluated as part of your grade for the course. If you are not used to this style of learning, it may take you some time to get comfortable with your courses.
  • Reading, Writing and Listening in English: If English is not your first language, you may find that you are spending more time just doing the basic work for a course, such as completing assigned readings and papers. You may also find class time to be more challenging, trying to keep up with the instructor’s lecture or the class discussion. This is one reason we recommend a lighter credit load in your first semester.
  • Meeting with Instructors Outside of Class: One way to get adjusted to University expectations is to meet individually with your instructors during their weekly office hours or by making an appointment with them. You can share any concerns you have about the course and ask for suggestions or help. But it is also a good time to let the instructor know more about you and find out more about them and their subject.

Other Academic Support:

  • Your Academic Advisor: We are not just here to talk about course selection. Let us know about any concerns you have and also about your successes!
  • The Writing Center: They can help with written work for any class, not just for composition courses. You can even request a consultant who is trained to work specifically with English as a Second Language students.
  • Successful students also use the the Study Lab to learn how to manage their time, take better lecture notes, read textbooks more effectively and become more efficient test-takers.

Scheduling: All international students must be enrolled in a MINIMUM of 12 credits. We strongly advise no more than 15 credits for your first semester. Once you have adjusted to the University, you will be able to enroll in more than 15 credits in future terms. 

Getting Involved: Pitt offers a wide array of student organizations and clubs. An Activities Fair is held each term to showcase what organizations and clubs Pitt has to offer. We know it can be overwhelming trying to do everything on your own.  Connecting with other students and people from the local community may help ease your transition.


  • If you still have an OIS Missing Data hold on your account, you must contact the Office of International Services to make sure that all of your documentation has been received. You can upload digital copies of your immigration related documents along with a copy of your passport and financial documentation through the MY OIS portal. Please visit My OIS, or contact if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Remember, if you have on-campus housing, you will be able to move into your residence hall the week before the domestic students so that you can attend the International Student Orientation.
  • If you need to review anything about the enrollment process as an international student please refer back to the International Enrollment Process Resource.