Pittsburgh’s Colleges and Universities: A Community Advantage

One of Pittsburgh’s foremost assets, which sets it apart from many American cities, is the breadth and diversity of its institutions of higher education.  Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, La Roche College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, and the University of Pittsburgh, are the ten schools that comprise the membership of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE).  Together, they educate more than 54,000 full-time, 24,000 part-time, and 20,000 non-credit students annually.

The benefits that accrue to the Pittsburgh region from its colleges and universities go far beyond the direct provision of educational services and training to thousands of area citizens.  The ten PCHE institutions represent a formidable engine for maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for all of the citizens of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and Southwestern Pennsylvania.  What follows is a snapshot of some of the myriad ways that the PCHE schools, as a group, contribute to the growth and vitality of our community.

Economic Impact

Together, the PCHE schools employ nearly 25,000 individuals and have a combined economic impact in the billions of dollars.  Some of the specifics:

Income Tax Paid to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – $34,678,550
Income Tax Paid to Local Governments – $14,501,344
Institutional Expenditures (value of purchased goods and services) – $560,778,498
Faculty and Staff Spending – $792,786,894
Student Spending – $361,875,354
Visitor and Tourist Spending – $118,601,247
Construction/Renovation Expenditures – $198,988,000
Direct Economic Impact – $2,003,638,541

Estimated Indirect and Induced Impact – $1,162,110,354

TOTAL Economic Impact – $3,165,748,895*

*Economic impact data was compiled with the assistance of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania

As impressive as these numbers are, the ways in which the PCHE institutions contribute to the community go far beyond the dollars.

Arts and Culture

  • Throughout the course of a year, more than half a million individuals attend the hundreds of lectures, performances, and exhibitions presented by PCHE schools.  Some of the programs they enjoy include:
  • Lectures by actors and directors, prominent politicians and pundits, journalists, scholars, religious leaders, ambassadors, writers and poets
  • Dance programs ranging from traditional folk, to ballet, to modern jazz.
  • Live theater that runs the gamut from classical, to Broadway, to avant garde, to works by new playwrights, performed by many of the future stars of stage and screen.
  • Art exhibits featuring prominent alumni artists and cultural displays that pay homage to Pittsburgh’s ethnic diversity, along with historical tributes to individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi and Pope John Paul II
  • Hundreds of musical performances ranging from internationally acclaimed jazz musicians, to classical and Baroque ensembles, to rock and roll headliners, to opera greats.


Every year, more than 715,000 fans are in the stands or on the sidelines cheering on their favorite collegiate teams and athletes. PCHE schools field teams at all levels from Division I to Division III in the NCAA as well as in the NJCAA and the NAIA.  These teams carry the Pittsburgh name throughout the country as they visit other schools for games and tournaments, and each year they play host to hundreds of teams from other schools around the country, giving them a first hand look at Pittsburgh.  PCHE schools have hosted athletic tournaments in swimming, basketball, baseball, and soccer.


Pittsburgh has a well-deserved reputation for being a city with a heart, and that characteristic is reflected in its colleges and universities. While it is impossible to track all of the volunteer involvement on the part of PCHE schools, available records show that more than 20,000 faculty, staff and students contribute in excess of 300,000 hours of volunteer community service over the course of a year.  Projects include:

  • United Way Day of Caring
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Scouting for Food and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
  • Tutoring at a variety of after-school programs across the city
  • Visiting senior citizen centers
  • Preparing and serving meals at a homeless  shelters
  • Contributing academic and professional expertise to organizations without charge and serving on the boards of many area non-profits
  • Reaching out to other parts of the country and the world, including several alternate spring break trips throughout the United States and other countries

Health Care

Pittsburgh’s prominence as a center for world-class health care is certainly reflected in its educational institutions.  Together, the PCHE schools offer more than 100 programs in healthcare and healthcare related fields.  Programs, many of them nationally and internationally recognized, range from the more traditional nursing and medicine degrees (with numerous areas of specialization) to areas such as biomedical engineering, gerontology, speech pathology, and computational biology.  Not only are PCHE schools meeting the needs of the region for trained health care professionals, but they are also training the next generation of medical researchers who will continue the quest for cures for the major diseases that confront our nation and the world.

Workforce Support and Job Creation

Addressing the region’s workforce needs – both from the perspective of the employers and businesses and from the perspective of the workers – is a key role of PCHE institutions.  In addition to the health professions, PCHE schools offer an extensive number of programs geared to both workforce development and worker retraining, including:

  • Programs for single parents and displaced homemakers who are attempting to reenter the workforce
  • Training to support the life sciences and medical device manufacturing industries
  • Customer service training for the insurance industry
  • Management and technical assistance to small businesses and individuals seeking assistance in developing a business plan
  • Leadership training for non-profit executives
  • Continuing education for CPAs and Certified Financial Planners, attorneys and others
  • Entrepreneurial training for women and veterans
  • Creation of new companies through technology transfer
  • Degree completion programs for adult learners


Nearly 245,000 graduates of PCHE institutions live, work, and raise their families in the Pittsburgh region. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, business executives, entrepreneurs, artists, accountants, engineers, architects, athletes, police officers, firefighters, elected officials, and a host of other occupations.  Included among their ranks are CEOs, judges, Pulitzer Prize winners, inventors, bishops, and even a Nobel laureate or two.


PCHE schools are instrumental in bringing the world to Pittsburgh.  Currently, almost 7,000 students from more than 100 different countries are studying on the campuses of the 10 PCHE institutions.  These students come from all over the world, from as far away as China and as near as Canada. All contribute to the diversity of the region and help prepare the region to become a more effective participant in today’s global economy, and some stay to become permanent members of the Pittsburgh community.

Research and Development

Expanding knowledge is one of the key roles of a college or university and the PCHE schools are well-represented in the research field.  In the process of searching for new knowledge and applications of existing knowledge, the ten institutions bring more than $1 billion a year in research funding into the Pittsburgh region.  Widely known for research in medicine, computer science, engineering, and the physical and social sciences, the PCHE institutions have initiated programs in energy, environment, globalization, and other areas of importance to industry and society.


Each year, PCHE schools play host to more than 1.2 million visitors.  In addition to the thousands of prospective students and their families, some come for days at a time to attend conferences and seminars; some come for an afternoon to visit an art gallery or library; and some come to see how their children are faring in college, far from the parents’ watchful gaze.  No matter the reason, they all leave with a better appreciation for all that Pittsburgh has to offer.

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