The doctoral program is administered by the director, who is appointed by the dean of the school. Academic policies, including admissions, curricular review and development, and implementation of the program, are set by the doctoral program committee.

Students are welcome to participate in doctoral committee meetings and may yearly elect a student from each class on campus to represent students at the faculty meetings. Matters that involve performance of individual students or decisions on applicants to the program exclude student participation since this would necessitate sitting in judgment on current or prospective peers. In all other respects, meetings are fully open to student representatives.

At the beginning of the first semester, students are assigned to a faculty adviser. However, students are free to change faculty advisers if they so desire. The student and adviser develop an agreed-upon curriculum that will best serve the student.

Graduate Student Assistant, Teaching Assistants, and Teaching Fellows

GSA/TA/TF appointments are provided to full time students in the Social Work PhD program. 

TAs, TFs and GSAs at the University of Pittsburgh are graduate students who are receiving support in return for specified duties while gaining teaching and teaching-related experience under the guidance of faculty mentors. Their primary objective, from the standpoint of the University and the individual, is to make steady progress toward an advanced degree. TA/TF/GSA employment status is dependent upon graduate student status. The primary responsibility for all courses taught at the University rests with the faculty.

GSA/TA/TF appointments provide a monthly stipend which is paid on the last business day of the month, tuition support, and health insurance.  Each appointment is made for one term or one academic year (September – April).  A student can choose to have their academic stipend (eight months), spread over 12 months.  A student must re-enroll each year for their health coverage, this is not an automatic process.

University guidelines regarding GSA/TA/TF appointments

University services, resources and information for students

Teaching Assistant (TA): a graduate student who holds a teaching or teaching-related appointment made in accord with the University regulations pertaining to Teaching Assistants. No Teaching Assistant shall be employed to teach postbaccalaureate courses.

Teaching Fellow (TF): the same as a Teaching Assistant except that the Teaching Fellow is more educationally advanced or experienced, typically holding the equivalent of a master's degree. TFs should not be assigned to teach graduate courses. Exceptions may be made only in rare cases where the individual shows clear evidence of outstanding skills in specialized areas and when the individual is directly supervised by a member of the graduate faculty.

Graduate Student Assistant (GSA): a graduate student who performs duties to assist in the educational or research mission of the University, but does not teach a class, recitation or laboratory.

Health Insurance Coverage

 TAs, TFs, and GSAs who receive full-time or fractional appointments are eligible to participate in the graduate student health insurance plan. The University will provide individual coverage at no cost to the TA/TF/GSA. Family coverage through the graduate student plan (for student, spouse, and dependent children) is available by paying the difference between the premium cost for individual coverage and the family coverage. To enroll in the individual or family plan, the TA/TF/GSA must complete an enrollment form and return it to the address indicated on the form, within 10 days after the effective date of the appointment. Students who participate in the graduate student health insurance plan may elect to purchase optional dental and vision coverage; premium costs for this coverage are withdrawn from students’ monthly salary. In the event of serious illness or physical incapacitation, the graduate student appointee involved shall receive salary and health benefits for the remainder of the academic term.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tuition Scholarships

In recognition of academic merit, the University offers TAs, TFs, and GSAs a tuition scholarship. For the fall and spring terms, the maximum tuition scholarship that will be provided is as follows:

Full-time appointment 12 credits*

3/4 appointment 9 credits*

1/2 appointment 6 credits

1/4 appointment 3credits

* Students registered for 9 or more credits are billed at the flat full-time rate; therefore, scholarships for students with ¾ or full appointments in the fall and/or spring terms could cover up to 15 credits.

TAs/TFs/GSAs who receive full-time or fractional appointment in the summer term or in the summer sessions must be registered for at least 3 credits or for the Full-Time Dissertation Study option in the term or session. A graduate student who registers for more will be provided a tuition scholarship proportionate to the appointment, but in no case more than 12 credits.

The prevailing student health fee for use of the Student Health Service will be included in the merit scholarship for TAs, TFs, or GSAs who receive a full-time appointment in the fall and/or spring terms and are registered for at least 9 credits or the Full-Time Dissertation Study option. If registration is for fewer than 9 credits, the student has the option of signing up for the Student Health Service and paying the fee. The University will pay the student health fee for any TA, TF, or GSA who receives a full appointment in the summer and who is registered.

The prevailing computing and network services fee and the security, safety and transportation fee will be included in this merit scholarship. The fee assessed full-time students will be included with the full tuition scholarship to a TA/TF/GSA holding an appointment in the fall, spring, or summer terms or in the summer sessions; the fee assessed part-time students will be included with the scholarship awarded to students holding fractional appointments.

The student is responsible for his or her registration and for payment of all charges appearing on the student invoice not covered by the tuition scholarship. The tuition scholarship does not cover course-related fees and the student activity fee. In some schools, arrangements have been made for the tuition scholarship to appear on the student invoice. If a tuition scholarship is not on the invoice, the student must report to the office of the dean, where a scholarship will be issued.