Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Getting Started: Online Orientation, Course Selection, and Registration

Not only should you be excited about your future at Pitt, but you probably also have lots of questions about your next steps and what your schedule will look like this Fall. All of these questions will be answered when you complete your Online Orientation this summer. Generally speaking, the process this summer will go like this:

  • In May, you will receive information about placement testing and Online Orientation. Through the Online Orientation process, you will learn all about Pitt, its programs and processes, and academics.
  • As you watch the Online Orientation program, the Academics section will include information from the Swanson School about selecting fall classes. While you watch this portion, you'll fill out a scheduling worksheet form. It is strongly suggested that you take your Math Placement Exam (the ALEKS exam) before you watch the Academics section of Online Orientation.
  • After you watch the Academics portion of the Online Orientation program, you will be given instructions for uploading the scheduling worksheet form for an Advisor to review, and for making a summer appointment with an Academic Advisor. That appointment can be in person, via Skype, or by phone; whatever format is most convenient for you works just fine for us!
  • During your Advising appointment, you'll discuss class placement, your selections, and your Advisor's recommendations.  
  • After this advising appointment, you will follow the instructions in the Online Orientation to register yourself for classes using Peoplesoft, our student information and registration system.

Placement Exams

Placement exams are no cause for panic, but they are important. These tests are simply a tool your advisor will use to determine how to place you in appropriate classes. Your success is important to us, and that means registering you for classes in which you will have every opportunity to earn an "A."  

All first-year engineering students are required to take the ALEKS Math Placement Exam, regardless of prior experience with AP or college classes. Placement exams in languages or Music are optional and available to students interested in those areas of study.

Take your placement exams seriously; you should take a placement exam when you are well-rested, focused, and have plenty of time to devote to the task. Some placement exams only allow for one attempt and some allow for multiple attempts (you have three tries at the ALEKS math exam). Once you exhaust those attempts, you will not have a chance to retest, and it is therefore important that your attempts represent your best work.

To take the ALEKS Math Placement Exam:

Login to the Pitt portal at http://www.my.pitt.edu. Click the “Academic Resources” tab at the top of the page. Click the ALEKS link on the right side to take the exam. The ALEKS placement exam fee is $25, payable directly to ALEKS when you sign in. You must complete the ALEKS exam even if you have AP/IB/college credit for Calculus. This may not be true for your friends in different Pitt colleges, but all engineering freshmen need to take ALEKS. We take your math placement seriously because we want you to succeed. For your ALEKS fee, you receive access to the placement exam and to practice modules in areas where you might be a little rusty. It’s a “smart” test that uses artificial intelligence to gauge your abilities and we value the information that ALEKS provides to us. The minimum score to take Calculus at Pitt is 76; if you fail to meet the minimum score, you may repeat the test up to 3 total tries, which will require practice modules in between. So if you’re rusty in algebra or trig, ALEKS will require you to practice. 

For more information about the Math Placement Exam, click here.

Admitted First-Year Engineering Students 

Now that you have accepted admission to the Swanson School of Engineering, please be aware of some of the links below which will help you navigate through the new student process here at the University of Pittsburgh.

What now?  How do I know which classes I will take, and what about online placement testing?

New Student Orientation

Where do I live? 

Housing Process

What happens when I arrive?

New Student Orientation

When do classes begin?

Academic Calendar

Who can I contact with questions?

Contact the Freshman Engineering Program Office



Additional Resources

To help answer your questions, the Academic Advising team is providing information on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses you may have already taken, your online placement exams for your summer registration appointment, and Online Orientation. Use the links provided below and feel free to contact the First Year Program Office with any additional questions.

AP/IB Credit Accepted Page

Online Orientation Main Page

2018 Summer Reading Packet