University of Pittsburgh Course Descriptions University of Pittsburgh Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences College of General Studies University Honors College College of Business Administration Swanson School of Engineering Course Descriptions

About Course Descriptions

This database includes courses offered in the University of Pittsburgh's Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, the College of General Studies, and the University Honors College. It also contains descriptions of the core courses in the College of Business Administration that pertain to the Dietrich School/Business Dual Degree Program and Business Service (BUSERV) courses. Course offerings are subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions:


1. Is this PeopleSoft?

No. PeopleSoft is the main course data management system of the University of Pittsburgh and all its campuses. The Course Descriptions database is a snapshot of select data from PeopleSoft that we program into a customized Web site for the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, the College of General Studies, and the University Honors College. PeopleSoft is managed by the Registrar's Office and Course Descriptions is managed by the Dean's Office in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Prior to each term, the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences' Data Team pulls certain data from PeopleSoft into our own database: catalog numbers, titles, class numbers, prerequisites, days, times, rooms, whether or not there is a recitation, number of units/credits, class enrollment limits, and special indicators such as UHC or WRIT. We also add designations for courses that fulfill Dietrich School general education requirements.

Then, departments can add descriptions, instructor names, and how often the course is offered. They can also designate courses that belong to a special program such as Film and Media Studies or the Children's Literature Program. All of this input from departments results in a public Web site at where anyone can search for course offerings and descriptions available in the three most current and/or upcoming terms.

2. Why do some descriptions in Course Descriptions differ from those in PeopleSoft?

In PeopleSoft there is one description per catalog number. In Course Descriptions there may be different descriptions according to class number each term when necessary. For example, the course ANTH 1540 Special Topics in Archeology:

Description in PeopleSoft for both class numbers 12460 and 18685:

“Topics covered vary greatly with instructor and term.”

Descriptions in Course Descriptions:

class # 12460:
“Tombs, Temples, and Towns! This course is a survey of the archaeology of Ancient Egypt from Neolithic times through Roman periods, ca. 5000 B.C. - A.D. 285. In this course, we will focus on the material remains of Ancient Egyptian civilization using selected sites in the Nile Valley to address specific topics in the development of Egypt. Topics to be discussed include the formation of the centralized state, sacred vs. secular space, urbanism, religion, role of women in society, everyday life, recent discoveries, and future directions in the archaeology of Egypt.”
class # 18685:
“In this course we examine pottery from two perspectives: the people who made the pots in the past and the archaeologists who seek to interpret pottery found at archaeological sites. The aim of this course is to engender a perspective on pottery that is based on real life experience with it. Students will work through the process of producing the clay fabric, manufacturing pots, decorating them, and firing. In the last section of the course, we analyze pots produced in the class using archaeological techniques. These include characterizing vessel shape, vessel size, temper, cross-section analysis to determine manufacturing techniques and firing conditions. This will lead to a better understanding of how pottery was produced in the past and of how the analysis of it will answer archaeological questions. Readings will focus on pottery manufacture and on archaeological approaches to the study of ceramics.”

3. What are the main differences between PeopleSoft and Course Descriptions?

  1. PeopleSoft contains a master catalog of all courses on all University of Pittsburgh campuses. Course Descriptions contains the three latest terms of course information relevant to students in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, the College of General Studies, and the University Honors College—Pittsburgh campus. The Course Descriptions database also contains some College of Business Administration courses but this is not a primary resource used by CBA students. We include the core business courses in the Dietrich School/Business Dual Degree Program and Business Service (BUSERV) courses.
  2. PeopleSoft data is accessible via the Pitt portal to users with Pitt accounts. Course Descriptions data is available to the public on a Web site,
  3. In PeopleSoft, descriptions go by catalog number. In Course Descriptions, descriptions can go by either catalog number or class number. (see question #2 above)
  4. Course Descriptions provides some additional functionality:
  5. The Course Descriptions database does NOT include:

4. How is this related to the Registrar's Schedule of Classes?

The Schedule of Classes is a PDF file published each term on the Registrar's Web site at It does not contain course descriptions. It lists catalog numbers, titles, class numbers, credits, special indicators, days, times, classrooms, campuses, grade options, and instructors for all courses at the University of Pittsburgh in a given term. It includes recitation sections and laboratory sections under their relevant lecture classes. It is generated by the Registrar.