Profile Update: University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh, aka ‘Pitt’ is one of my favorite urban universities, offering achievable admissions, a broad selection of academic programs, spirit and sports and a nice city setting at a very competitive price. I had the opportunity to return to Pitt to learn more about the Honors College, which I missed last time. This allowed me to prepare an update and add more Pitt pictures to my Pinterest page. I also give Pitt my personal award for “best pizza at a college dining hall.”

The University of Pittsburgh is considered a “state related” school, versus a “state supported” one such as Rutgers or Ohio State. The university has (supposedly) more independence in setting an academic and student services direction from elected state government, but also has one of the higher resident tuition and fee charges in the country. Pennsylvania residents are asked to pay over $18,000 to attend Pitt, depending on the undergraduate school where they are enrolled. That about $3,000 more than New Jersey residents could be assessed to go to Rutgers. But, to be fair, Pitt also charges residents less than either Penn State-University Park or Temple, and it is the smallest of the three schools. Pitt also has a larger Honors College (2,100 to 2,200 students vs. 1,800 to 1,900) than Penn State.

Pitt has approximately 18,000 undergraduates, about 15,000 fewer than Rutgers main campus, and less than half as many as Penn State, but about the same number as Boston University, the most similar private school. If you can come to think of the University of Pittsburgh as “Boston University at a discount,” you might want to give it a serious look. Pitt offers much of the same academics and amenities as Boston University for a 4.0/1300+ SAT student for a lot less money.

Like Boston University, Pitt offers several “guaranteed admissions” programs for incoming freshmen who have their sights set on graduate and professional schools. While admissions to these programs are exceptionally competitive, as are admissions to the Honors College and the more lucrative scholarships, admissions to the university schools of arts and sciences, business and engineering are more achievable than they are at most other urban public or private universities, including not only Boston University and Southern Cal, but also Georgia Tech, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Ohio State, UCLA and the University of Washington. This may not be true for long, since Pitt’s applicant pool continues to grow as the university continues to prove its value.

The University of Pittsburgh also makes it easier for new students to become more connected with a city than other urban universities. Show your student ID to a bus driver and you can ride for free. Present it at a Pirates or Penguins game on a Friday night and you get a student discount, with food and the seat for $25. The university also draws popular entertainers to campus and competes in the high-profile Atlantic Coast Conference in football, among other sports. And when you go to a Pitt Panthers football game, you sit in the same seat as Steelers fans. Few schools offer so much within a college and city setting as Pitt.

Pitt will satisfy the needs of most exceptionally bright students who would prefer a city setting to a more isolated college town, but also want the scope of academic programs and student services that only a large university can offer. It’s also located in a city that offers nearly everything that you could also find in Boston, New York or Philadelphia, but at lower living costs. Pitt is one of the few schools that might prove to be a good value proposition and a good academic fit, as long as you like the city setting.

Report Card: University of Pittsburgh

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
  • Freshman Retention: A
  • Costs: C+ residents/B non-residents
  • Curriculum:A
  • Community: A
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: A

Check out my update on the University of Pittsburgh!

Check out my Pitt Pinterest Page!

Need help in considering colleges? Contact me at or call me at 609-406-0062.

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