Commonwealth System of Higher Education

Last updated

The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is a statutory designation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that confers "state-related" status on four universities located within the state. The designation establishes the schools as an "instrumentality of the commonwealth" [1] and provides each university with annual, non-preferred [2] financial appropriations in exchange offering tuition discounts to students who are residents of Pennsylvania and a minority state-representation on each school's board of trustees. Legally, the universities remain separate and private entities, operating under their own charters, governed by independent boards of trustees, and with assets under their own ownership and control, thereby retaining much of the freedom and individuality of private institutions, both administratively and academically. [3] It is the only public-private hybrid system of higher education in the United States that is so constituted, although Cornell University, the University of Delaware, and Rutgers University [4] represent alternative types of public-private university hybrids. [5]

Pennsylvania State in the United States

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Cornell University Private Ivy League research university in Upstate New York

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

University of Delaware American university

The University of Delaware is a public research university located in Newark, Delaware. The University of Delaware is the largest university in Delaware. UD currently offers three associate's programs, 148 bachelor's programs, 121 master's programs and 55 doctoral programs across its eight colleges. The main campus is in Newark, with satellite campuses in Dover, Wilmington, Lewes, and Georgetown. It is considered a large institution with approximately 18,500 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students. UD is a privately governed university which receives public funding for being a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant state-supported research institution.


Universities of the Commonwealth System are considered public universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching because they offer reduced tuition for citizens of the Commonwealth and therefore are often referred to as "public" universities in publications, by the state, and the schools themselves. Because their annual state allocations that supplement less than 10% of their budgets, universities in the Commonwealth System tend to have higher tuition costs compared to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education which contains 14 state-owned and operated universities. Because of their independence, universities in the Commonwealth System are exempt from Pennsylvania's Open Records law except for a few minor provisions. [6]

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching foundation

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) is a U.S.-based education policy and research center. It was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of the United States Congress. Among its most notable accomplishments are the development of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), the Flexner Report on medical education, the Carnegie Unit, the Educational Testing Service, and the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Agency that oversees Pennsylvania-owned colleges and universities

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is a state agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that oversees 14 state-owned colleges and universities. Collectively, it is the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth. It is the 43rd largest university system in the world. The system comprises 14 state-owned schools, all of which are NCAA Division II members in most sports by virtue of being members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Several schools also participate in NCAA Division I sports including wrestling and field hockey.


Before the creation of the "state-related" legal status in the 1960s, Lincoln University, Temple University, and University of Pittsburgh were fully private universities. [5] Temple and Pitt were granted state-related status by acts of Commonwealth's legislature in 1965 and 1966, respectively. Lincoln University, a historically black university, was designated as a state-related university in 1972. [7]

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. During the period of segregation in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Act, the overwhelming majority of higher education institutions were predominantly white and disqualified African Americans from enrollment. For a century after the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of blacks.

Although the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded as a private school, it was later designated as the Commonwealth's sole land-grant institution. It was repeatedly defined as a "state-owned university" in numerous official acts and Pennsylvania Attorney General opinions from its creation as a land-grant, then named the Pennsylvania State College, in 1855. It was thus applicable to having its road system and buildings on state campuses constructed using state funding, paying its employees through state-issued checks, and having them eligible to collect state employee retirement system benefits.

Land-grant university institution of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890

A land-grant university is an institution of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.

Penn State was already treated and referred to as a public state-related university by the Commonwealth, including receiving non-preferred appropriations, when the other three universities were designated as state-related institutions by the legislature. In 1989, Penn State asserted a public status in court for the purpose of not having a private bank branch's operations on its University Park campus subject to local county taxes, while simultaneously asserting private status for the purpose of not having to reveal the salaries of its top administrative employees. [8] With the enabling legislation changing the failing Williamsport (PA) Area Community College to the affiliated "Pennsylvania College of Technology" in 1989, Penn State was reaffirmed as a "state-related" institution.


The following universities (listed with their branch and regional campuses) are members of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education


Lincoln University - University City (Graduate)
Lincoln University - Coatesville

Penn State


University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (4-year undergraduate and graduate)
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (4-year undergraduate)
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (4-year undergraduate)
University of Pittsburgh at Titusville (2-year undergraduate)


Temple University Ambler (4-year undergraduate and graduate)
Temple University Fort Washington (Graduate)
Temple University Harrisburg (1-year undergraduate and graduate)
Temple University, Japan Campus (4-year undergraduate and graduate)

Rankings of universities

School U.S. News & World Report, Best Colleges 2020 (undergrad) [9] [10] U.S. News & World Report, Best Business Schools 2020 [11] U.S. News & World Report, Best Education Schools 2020 [12] U.S. News & World Report, Best Engineering Schools 2020 [13] U.S. News & World Report, Best Fine Arts Schools 2017 [14] U.S. News & World Report, Best Law Schools 2020 [15] U.S. News & World Report, Best Library & Information Studies Schools, 2018 [16] U.S. News & World Report, Best Medical Schools, Research [17] & Primary Care [18] 2020U.S. News & World Report, Best Nursing Schools, Masters [19] & Doctoral [20] 2020U.S. News & World Report, Best Public Affairs Schools 2020 [21] CMUP, Top Public American Research Universities 2017 [22] Wall Street Journal/THE US College Rankings 2019 [23] Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019 [24] QS World University Rankings 2020 [25]
Lincoln University 119, Regional Universities (North)N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Pennsylvania State University 57th, National Universities (University Park)33rd (Smeal)39th35th69th64th (University Park)
71st (Dickinson)
N/A"unranked"26th & "unranked"82nd
Temple University 104th, National UniversitiesN/A45th124th15th (Tyler)48th (Beasley)N/A60th & 85th (Katz)N/A & 72ndN/AN/A168th301st-400th651st-700th
University of Pittsburgh 57th, National Universities (Pittsburgh Campus)43rd (Katz)33rd47th (Swanson)N/A77th10th13th & 14th12th & 9th35th13th-15th80th89th140th

Endowment and research

See also

Related Research Articles

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania U.S. county in Pennsylvania

Allegheny County is a county in the southwest of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2017 the population was 1,223,048, making it the state's second-most populous county, following Philadelphia County. The county seat is Pittsburgh. Allegheny County is included in the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and in the Pittsburgh Designated Market Area.

University of Pittsburgh American state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on the edge of the American frontier. It developed and was renamed as Western University of Pennsylvania by a change to its charter in 1819. After surviving two devastating fires and various relocations within the area, the school moved to its current location in the Oakland neighborhood of the city; it was renamed as the University of Pittsburgh in 1908. Pitt was a private institution until 1966 when it became part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

Temple University public research university in Philadelphia, United States

Temple University is a public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1884 by the Baptist minister Russell Conwell. In 1882, Conwell came to Pennsylvania to lead the Grace Baptist Church while he began tutoring working-class citizens late at night to accommodate their work schedules. These students, later dubbed "night owls", were taught in the basement of Conwell's Baptist Temple, hence the origin of the university's name and mascot. By 1907, the institution revised its institutional status and was incorporated as a university.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Established in 1881 through a donation from Joseph Wharton, the Wharton School is the world's oldest collegiate school of business. Furthermore, Wharton is the business school that has produced the highest number of billionaires in the US.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Public university in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, United States

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is a public research university in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. As of fall 2019, the university enrolled 9,215 undergraduates and 2,110 postgraduates, for a total enrollment of 11,325 students. The university is 55 miles (89 km) northeast of Pittsburgh. It is governed by a local Council of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. IUP has branch campuses at Punxsutawney, Northpointe, and Monroeville. IUP is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

A research university is a university that is committed to research as a central part of its mission. It does not matter whether the institution is public or private, or how the research is funded. Such universities have a strong focus on research and often have well known names. Undergraduate courses at many research universities are often academic rather than vocational and may not prepare students for particular careers, but many employers value degrees from research universities because they teach fundamental life skills such as critical thinking. Globally, research universities are predominantly public universities, with notable exceptions being the United States and Japan.

Pennsylvania State University Public university with multiple campuses in Pennsylvania, United States

The Pennsylvania State University is a state-related, land-grant, doctoral university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State conducts teaching, research, and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery. Its University Park campus, the flagship campus, lies within the Borough of State College and College Township. It has two law schools: Penn State Law, on the school's University Park campus, and Dickinson Law, located in Carlisle, 90 miles south of State College. The College of Medicine is located in Hershey. Penn State has another 19 commonwealth campuses and 5 special mission campuses located across the state. Penn State has been labeled one of the "Public Ivies," a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.

The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology High School also known as SciTech High, located in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, welcomed its first students in September 2003. SciTech High is a regional math and science magnet school that attracts students from Harrisburg and neighboring school districts and is affiliated with the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Beginning with the 9th grade, SciTech High prepares students for a university curriculum, studying toward degrees in science, engineering and technology. Enrollment is limited to 400 pupils The opportunity to create a unified 9-16 curriculum is unique in the nation and represents a potentially replicable approach to bridging the frequent discontinuity between high school and higher education. The school is a federally designated Title I school.

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, also known as UPJ or Pitt-Johnstown, is a four-year, degree-granting state-related university institution that is a residential, regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The university is located in Richland Township, a suburban area of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and was founded in 1927 as one of the first regional campuses of a major university in the United States. UPJ was listed among the best baccalaureate colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report in its "America's Best Colleges 2010" annual college guide and ranked 92nd in the nation among baccalaureate colleges by Washington Monthly in 2019. UPJ is also listed among the "Best Colleges in the Northeastern Region" by The Princeton Review.

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh

The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), which students are now required to call the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in all communications, is one of the 17 schools and colleges of University of Pittsburgh located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A direct descendant of the Pittsburgh Academy chartered in 1787, and the oldest part of the university, the school serves as the liberal arts core of the university and provides instruction in natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences for all students studying at the Oakland campus, including more than 10,000 students registered as Arts and Sciences undergraduates. In addition, the School of Arts and Sciences educates 15% of the University’s graduate and graduate professional students, making it the largest graduate program in the Pittsburgh area.

The Smeal College of Business at the Pennsylvania State University offers undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs to more than 6,000 students. Smeal, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), is home to more than 150 faculty members who teach and conduct academic research on a range of business topics. The college also features a network of industry supported research centers.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus or "Penn State Online" is the online campus of The Pennsylvania State University. Launched in 1998, World Campus grew out of the university's long and distinguished history in distance education that began in 1892. The mission of World Campus is to extend Penn State's undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs to learners who cannot attend another Penn State campus because of geography or life factors. World Campus offers more than 150 online undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs in partnership with Penn State academic units, with additional programs being added to the curriculum on a continuing basis. World Campus offices and a major part of its technical infrastructure are located iat Innovation Park on the University Park Campus.

North Penn School District Public school in Lansdale, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States

The North Penn School District is a large, suburban, regional public school district that consists of thirteen elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. It serves the North Penn Valley, a 42-square-mile (110 km2) area in the Montgomery County suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Penn Hills School District Public school in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States

The Penn Hills School District (PHSD) is a mid sized, public school district located in Pittsburgh, serving the community of Penn Hills, which is about 10 miles (16 km) east of Downtown Pittsburgh. According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 46,809. By 2010, the district's population declined to 42,431 people. The educational attainment levels for the Penn Hills School District population were 91.8% high school graduates and 22.8% college graduates. The district is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is an undergraduate and graduate institution at the University of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to U.S. News & World Report, the School of Nursing at Penn is among the top-ranked graduate nursing schools in the United States. The School of Nursing receives approximately $480 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, making it among the most highly funded nursing schools in the country.

There are numerous elementary, secondary, and higher institutions of learning in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, which is home to 500 public school districts, thousands of private schools, many publicly funded colleges and universities, and over 100 private institutions of higher education.

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools is the public school district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States and adjacent Mount Oliver.


  1. "State-Related Universities". Pennsylvania Department of Education. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  2. Barlow, Kimberly K. (March 17, 2011). "How state budget process works". University Times. 43 (14). Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  3. Alberts, Robert C. (1986). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787–1987. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 343. ISBN   0-8229-1150-7.
  4. Dane, Perry; Stein, Allan; Williams, Williams (2014). "Saving Rutgers-Camden". Rutgers Law Journal. 44: 337–412. SSRN   2302826 .
  5. 1 2 Deibler, William E. (May 8, 1967). "Discover State-related Universities Found Only in this State; 3 of Them". The Gettysburg Times. Gettysburgh, PA. p. 9. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  6. Schackner, Bill (February 17, 2008). "Pitt, Penn State escape parts of open records law". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  7. "About Lincoln". Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. April 9, 2013.
  8. Roy v. Pennsylvania State University, 568 A.2d 751, 130 Pa.Commw. 468 (1990); Pennsylvania State University v. County of Centre, 615 A.2d 303, 532 Pa. 142 (1992).
  9. "Best Regional Universities North Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 9, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  10. "National University Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 9, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  11. "U.S. News & World Report Best Education Schools 2020". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  12. "Best Business Schools 2020". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  13. "Best Engineering Schools 2020". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  14. "Best Fine Arts Schools 2017". US News & World Report. 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  15. "Best Law Schools". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  16. "Best Library and Information Science Programs". US News & World Report. 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  17. "Best Medical Schools: Research". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  18. "Best Medical Schools: Primary Care". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  19. "Best Nursing Schools: Master's". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  20. "Best Nursing Schools: Doctor of Nursing Practice". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  21. "Best Public Affairs Programs". US News & World Report. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  22. Lombardi, John V.; Abbey, Craig W.; Craig, Diane D. (2018). The Top American Research Universities: 2017 Annual Report (PDF). The Center for Measuring University Performance. pp. 22–23. ISBN   978-0-9856170-7-3 . Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  23. "Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2019". Times Higher Education. September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  24. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019". ShanghaiRanking Consultancy. August 15, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  25. "QS World University Rankings". QS Top Universities. 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  26. 1 2 3 4 "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Endowment Market Value and Change* in Endowment Market Value from FY17 to FY18". 2018.
  27. "University Facts". November 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  28. "Rankings by total R&D expenditures". National Science Foundation. Archived from the original on January 13, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2019.