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When you think of great college towns, you think of Boulder, Flagstaff, or Ithaca, but Pittsburgh has flown under the radar due to the perception that it’s an industrial city. However, Pittsburgh is at the center of several well-respected universities, the city has a newly vibrant downtown area, urban living is affordable, and there is great access to employment opportunities at large companies.

Because of these and many other factors, Pittsburgh is definitely a place to look into for college or graduate school. Still not convinced? Here are 15 reasons why:

1. Center of many well-respected universities

Pittsburgh isn’t just home to one big college. In fact, there are several neighboring public and private universities with outstanding reputations in higher education. These institutions include: University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Saint Vincent College, Duquesne University, Chatham University, Robert Morris University, Point Park University, Carlow University, and Mount Aloysius College.

“What I like about the campus that made it special was it was kind of like its own campus but in the middle of the city, so that way you’re not just confined to campus activities, but you could step off and have fun in the City of Pittsburgh,” said Marcus Clifton, current student at Duquesne University.

Each of these colleges are unique, but most have smaller class sizes, allowing for more interaction between students and professors. Sanju Sigdel recently graduated from Carlow University’s College of Health and Wellness. She shared why she chose to pursue a nursing degree at Carlow University:

“I chose Carlow University because I valued the small class sizes. I also loved the location of Carlow and their mission statement. I believe Carlow not only makes for great nurses, but also helps to shape individuals into wonderful members of society,” said Sigdel.

2. Major music scene

“My favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh is go to concerts. All the big names come to Pittsburgh. A bunch of us from RMU got the country mega ticket for this summer, so we are really excited for that!” said Kennedy Richey, a current marketing and management student at Robert Morris University.

Since Pittsburgh is a major city in the US, many bands, big and small, come through the area to put on concerts. There are several popular music venues, including the large outdoor Stage AE and the more intimate Rex Theater. This year, bands and artists like Twenty One Pilots, Ariana Grande, and Garth Brooks are making their way through the city.

As current Point Park University student Keely Sapienza attests, the music environment also offers great internship and employment opportunities to students interested in the music and entertainment business:

“I am a marketing intern with PromoWest Live at Stage AE in the North Shore. I get to do really fun things with the team like promotional events for upcoming concerts. One of the things I love to do is talk with people around the city about their favorite bands/artists and spread the word about Stage AE. We get to collect that data to try to eventually book those concerts. I also get to ‘street team,’ where I visit local businesses and distribute our upcoming shows calendar so everyone around town knows who’s coming! This internship is by far one of the coolest experiences a student could have,” said Sapienza.

3. Access to corporate employment opportunities

Due to Pittsburgh’s industrial roots, there are several large corporations that offer internships to students and post-grad employment opportunities. In fact, Pittsburgh was named number one in Best Cities for Jobs by Glassdoor. Companies like Kraft Heinz, American Eagle Outfitters, and PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. are all headquartered in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh has lots of internship opportunities for different careers. I know a lot of people who had internships in the city downtown,” said Richey.

4. Healthcare career opportunities, access to quality healthcare

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is a $16 billion health enterprise, consisting of 80,000 employees and over 35 hospitals worldwide. Of course, the center is based in Pittsburgh. UPMC was ranked 15th on U.S. News’ 2018-19 Best Hospitals Honor Roll.

Such a large healthcare system allows healthcare students to gain great experience, as well as top-tier post-grad employment. This is also helpful for students when they require healthcare services.

5. Proximity to the outdoors

There are several state parks, state forests, and national forests in close proximity–not to mention Lake Erie. Racoon Creek State Park and Hillman State Park are only a 30-minute drive from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania is known for its lush greenery and falls along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and there are many nearby hiking and biking trails.

6. Safety

Pittsburgh is ranked number three on the Farmers Insurance Group’s list of most secure large cities in the U.S. Crime rates are lower than the national average, and U.S. News gives Pittsburgh a crime index rate of 6.9 out of 10–lower than the national average. Pittsburgh also has a low risk of natural disasters.

7. Free or reduced cost of public transportation

Pittsburgh has a comprehensive bus system, and students at the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University, and Carnegie Mellon University can receive a free bus pass with a student ID. Discounted rates are offered to students at Point Park University, Carlow University, and Robert Morris University.

“As a University of Pittsburgh student, I am able to take the bus for free and I love being able to go out and explore new neighborhoods. All the neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have unique characteristics that make them so wonderful. They really speak to the importance of diversity that you don’t see everywhere,” said De’Jovia Davis, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh.

8. Affordable urban living

In Pittsburgh, you get the liveliness of urban living without sky-high prices. The median rent for a one bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh is $727. In comparison to the national median of $947, this is a pretty great deal. The overall cost of living index is 94.2, falling well below the 100 point national average.

9. Exciting sports environment

Pittsburgh is home to major sports teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’re a sports fan, even if you already root for a different team, the lively sports environment at Heinz Field, PNC Park, and the PPG Paints Arena are your spots. Plus, your favorite team may make a visit to one of these stadiums!

“I was a Browns fan before I came to college. But you can’t help but become a Steelers fan when you’re in Pittsburgh, so now I pretty much cheer for both,” said Richey, who’s been to several Steelers-Browns games at Heinz Field.

10. Pierogies

While they may not be the sole reason you move to Pittsburgh, these Polish bundles of joy are definitely a cherry on top! Famous for its top-notch pierogies, Pittsburgh serves up the dumplings in all their sweet, savory, fried, and boiled forms. Check out this article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to sniff out the best pierogies in the city.

11. Vibrant brewing and distilling scene

It’s not just pierogies that Pittsburgh does well. The city also boasts dozens of craft breweries and distilleries. Some of the most famous include Penn Brewery, the oldest brewery in Pittsburgh, the Brew Gentleman, which hosts a beer and yoga series and a monthly food truck event, and East End Brewing, which hosts numerous events, including an annual keg ride.

12. Scientific research hotbed

With such a large medical system in Pittsburgh, it’s only natural that the area also promotes cutting-edge scientific research. Research performed at the University of Pittsburgh claims to have “beat polio, pioneered TV and heavier-than-air flight, and turned Pittsburgh into the world’s organ-transplantation capital.” In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, current leading research is in quantum computers, nanoscience, global health, aging, and more.

13. Surge in new restaurants

Pittsburgh has been climbing the foodie social ladder with new restaurants and creative culinary concepts. Good Food Pittsburgh reviewed 24 new restaurants that all opened during the summer of 2018, and the city was named the “Food City” of the year by af&co in its 2019 Trend Report. The upscale Fish nor Foul gives the city style points, Driftwood Oven serves the best wood-fired pizza around, and fun-loving Pie for Breakfast gives you what you really want.

This vibrant restaurant scene means there are great options all over the city–including close to campus. Jordan Slobodinsky, current student at Point Park University, shares his love of nearby Genoa’s Pizza:

“I cannot lie to you when I say that I have spent over half my free time at Genoa’s Pizza up the street. When I discovered that place during my sophomore year, I thought it was just another pizza joint. Here we are two years later, and Genoa’s is the place where all of my friends and I come together to eat and hang out. It’s close to campus and is such a great atmosphere,” said Slobodinsky.

14. Museums galore

If you’re looking for the culture that an abundance of museums offers a city, you’ve come to the right place. Pittsburgh is home to 34 museums ranging from science to contemporary art to…mattresses. Another claim to fame is that Pittsburgh is the birthplace of renowned artist Andy Warhol, so of course there is the iconic Andy Warhol museum, which includes the largest collection of Warhol’s paintings, sculptures, films, and famous compilation of 610 time capsules.

15. Strong community involvement

Pittsburgh has the goldilocks effect–not too big, not too small. This allows for a thriving city, without the disconnect. Pittsburgh still carries plenty of pride, and there is plenty of community involvement in local events and culture.

“I love the pride and admiration that Pittsburghers have for their city. No matter how long you’ve lived in Pittsburgh, the residents are welcoming, and I have never felt so connected to a place before,” said Madison Faizon, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. “There is always something fun to do and it’s amazing to see the Pittsburgh community come together to celebrate cultures or support philanthropic events. I recently attended the Lawrenceville Art Crawl. The atmosphere was that of a block party, where friends and neighbors gathered and spent time in the community. I felt welcomed and valued as a member of the Pittsburgh community.”