The ETD Working Group, an ad hoc committee of the University Council on Graduate Study (UCGS), embarked on a voluntary pilot project from December 2001 through December 2002 to assess the procedural feasibility and scholarly advantages of accepting theses and dissertations in electronic rather than paper-based format. For more information about the ETD Pilot Project, read the ETD Proposal and the Appendix: Frequently Asked Questions.

In December 2002 the ETD Pilot Project entered a transition period, working toward all theses and dissertations being submitted electronically. This transition was endorsed unanimously by UCGS at its November 2002 meeting. During the ETD transition period, scheduled to last at least until April graduation 2004, paper-based theses and dissertations will continue to be accepted as well as ETDs.

In August 2003 the ETD Working Group expanded and re-formed, creating two separate groups with different responsibilities. The ETD Steering Committee is charged with handling policies and long-term issues. The ETD Process Group is charged with identifying and discussing issues that may arise in the ETD process.

During its November 4, 2003 meeting, ETD Steering Committee voted to recommend to UCGS that ETDs become a University requirement by the December 2004 graduation. After hearing a final update from the ETD Steering Committee, Council voted unanimously to recommend to the Provost that ETDs become a University requirement. The Provost, after consulting the Council of Deans, approved this recommendation on December 16, 2003. All theses and dissertations submitted at the University of Pittsburgh are required to be submitted as ETDs by the December graduation of 2004.

The ETD template, website, and help form were updated in 2017 after a review by the ETD Process Group and with input from students who were completing their ETDs.