2015 Brookings Institute Report Ranks Pitt-Johnstown as Top Area University for ‘Value-Added’ Earning Potential

Natalie Bombatch

posted June 09, 2015


In a report published this year, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program ranked the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown as one of the top, four-year universities in the region for the Institution’s impact on actual, mid-career earnings of graduates (“value-added”). Out-ranking area institutions like Duquesne, Washington and Jefferson, Robert Morris, Saint Francis, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the report indicated that Pitt-Johnstown graduates enjoy average, mid-career earnings that are 17.6% higher than what a graduate from a similar school would have earned given his/her characteristics.

The University’s high ranking is attributed in the report to its focus on natural sciences, engineering technology, business, and nursing (STEM fields); its alumni’s 95.8% loan repayment rate that puts Pitt-Johnstown in the 91st percentile for four-year institutions in terms of loan repayment; and what the report refers to as “the x-factor.” The x-factor includes the unmeasurable student characteristics that Pitt-Johnstown is able to reach in order to help its students succeed beyond what is expected.

“The vision of Pitt-Johnstown is to be the regional leader educating for success in the Real World,” said Dr. Jem Spectar, University of Pittsburgh Johnstown President. “While success cannot be defined exclusively in terms of earnings, it is very important to us, our students, our alumni, and the parents who entrust their children to us that our graduates are prepared to secure well-paying jobs. This report, which places Pitt-Johnstown as a top performer in the area based on the impact we make on mid-career earnings, validates our efforts to prepare students for success in the Real World.”

This recent report, “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four- Year Schools,” analyzed data on economic outcomes of graduates to determine the contributions– or “value” – that the colleges add to their graduates’ eventual economic success. The value added by the institution creates the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and the outcomes one would expect given a student’s characteristics and the type of institution.

“Colleges serve very diverse populations,” said Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell, who co-authored the report. “The advantage of measuring value-added is that it adjusts a school’s rankings based on the type of college and the characteristics of its student body.”  Compared to popular college rankings, the value–added method focuses on how well colleges contribute to student economic success, rather than simply their ability to attract top students.

The detailed report can be viewed at http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/04/29-beyond-college-rankings-rothwell-kulkarni.


 Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University is the regional leader, educating for the Real World. The distinctive combination of our people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” by AC Online as one of the “Highest ROI Colleges in Pennsylvania,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and has been presented with The Seven Seals Award by the US Department of Defense’s office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.