What Does It Take To Get Into The University of Pittsburgh?

Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.

Show me what areas I need to improve

The University of Pittsburgh’s acceptance rate is 59.3%. What does it take to get in?


Located in the bustling heart of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) attracts nearly 30,000 applicants each year. Of these, just over half get in.


Self-declared a research powerhouse, Pitt is known for bringing hands-on learning to its classes and providing ample opportunity to explore one’s passions beyond classroom walls. Employers nationwide have their eye on this school, allowing Pitt to offer a valuable internship guarantee to its students.


Perhaps one of the main attractions is the school’s location, however. Pittsburgh is home to a thriving economy, a vibrant art scene, and rich cultural diversity. It is fondly referred to by its residents as a hidden gem amongst cities. And Pitt, situated in the Oakland neighborhood, is at the city’s core.


Interested in being a part of the University of Pittsburgh community? In this post, we’ll tell you how to stand out in a pool of thousands of applicants.


Applying to Pitt: A Quick Review


Pitt employs a rolling admissions process. In place of predetermined deadlines and decision release dates, rolling admissions allows students to send their application in as soon as it’s ready. In turn, applicants will receive their decision shortly after the admissions committee has finished reviewing the application.


That said, rolling admissions works on a space-available basis. That means it is to your advantage to apply as soon as possible, while more spots are available. You can apply via Pitt’s online application, The Common Application, or The Coalition Application. If you have other schools on the Common Application, we recommend the Common Application to save time. There is a $55 application fee regardless of which platform you use.


Here’s a review of the steps to a complete Pitt application:


  • Create an account in the online application. The steps for a complete Common or Coalition Application will be similar.


  • Self-report your high school academic information by completing the Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR), or submit an official high school transcript (Note: Completing the SRAR may decrease the application processing time. For more information, check out Pitt’s rundown here). Transfer applicants must submit an official high school transcript.


  • Send all of your official SAT or ACT exam score results via the testing agency website (writing portion not required)


  • Short Answer Questions (found here)
    • Required: Respond to two writing prompts
    • Optional: Respond to up to three additional prompts (highly recommended)


  • Optional: Rank the Pittsburgh regional campuses in order of preference


Note that the priority review deadline for academic scholarships is December 15th. It is highly recommended that you apply by this date. The Regular Consideration Deadline is January 15th.

So, How Does One Get Into the University of Pittsburgh?


GPA & Courseload


Percentage of the University of Pittsburgh freshmen who took at least one advanced course in high school: 93%


The University of Pittsburgh does not have a minimum GPA for admission, but the average GPA of last year’s admitted class was a 3.97. This indicates that students are expected to be at the top of their class, with an average letter grade of A- and above.


Pitt’s website states an interest in advanced level classes and a well-rounded curriculum. In other words, the admissions committee wants to see a transcript that shows you are challenging yourself to take rigorous coursework, but not to the extent that your grades are suffering. In the event that you do receive a grade lower than a C, it is recommended that you retake the class during the summer.


Pitt also emphasizes a challenging senior year curriculum. As with most schools, the university values an upward trajectory in both grades and rigor, meaning a student is taking harder classes and receiving higher, or at least consistent, grades each year. This trend shows growth as a person and a persisting desire to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.


Standardized Testing


Middle 50% SAT Score: 1280-1420

Middle 50% ACT Composite: 28-33


Whether you choose to take the SAT or ACT, you want to be towards the top of the middle 50% range. Pitt will superscore the SAT, which means the highest section scores from multiple administrations of the exam will be combined into a new, and usually higher, composite score. It is therefore to your advantage to take the exam more than once.


Short Answers


The University of Pittsburgh offers five writing prompts to freshmen applications. Of these, two are required application components and the other three are optional but highly recommended.


According to Pitt’s website, the most effective responses are typically around 200 to 300 words per question; however, there is no official word limit and quality is emphasized over quantity. Your responses should show careful thought and consideration, as this is one of only a few opportunities on the application where you have room to let your personality shine.


Regarding the optional prompts, you can respond to as few or as many as you want. That said, this is a great opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself and demonstrate serious interest in the school. Responding to optional prompts shows commitment to the school, while refraining from answering may be taken for a lack of genuine interest. We encourage you to consider these prompts as mandatory in order to optimize your chances of acceptance.


For a full run-down on responding to the University of Pittsburgh’s short answer questions, check out this post.

What If You End Up Getting Rejected?


Admissions is a stressful time, and for most, a dose of rejection is inevitable. In the event that you do get rejected, know that it is going to be okay. Rejection can be a hard pill to swallow, but keep it in perspective: the University of Pittsburgh is just one school in a country full of thousands! You will find your school, and it will work out.


Looking for more schools? Here’s a list of universities that are similar to the University of Pittsburgh, and whether you’ve been rejected or not, they’re worth considering.


  • Penn State University
  • Duquesne University
  • Drexel University
  • Temple University
  • Lehigh University


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Want more college admissions tips?

We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.

Short Bio
Rebecca Weinstein is an undergraduate student at Stanford University, where she plans to study English with an emphasis in creative writing. When she is not studying at college, she lives in Morris County, New Jersey with her two dogs and three cats.

Don't miss out on the best high school & college admissions resources!

Join thousands of students and parents getting exclusive high school, test prep, and college admissions information.