Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

Economic Impact

The following FAQs are based on a FY20 economic impact study from ESI-Econsult Solutions, Inc. Carnegie Mellon University’s economic impacts were estimated for three distinct geographies: city of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh 10-county region, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

CMU’s increase in operating expenses is largely a result of the university’s growth in enrollment (primarily in graduate programs), a steady increase in research funding, and a significant increase in major capital investments in recent years.

Most of the new jobs between 2016 and 2019 were created indirectly as a result of our capital projects and other activities. As of that time, CMU has contributed to the creation of 19,600 direct, indirect, and induced jobs across the Commonwealth. Many of these jobs are in construction, food service, tourism and transportation — industries that support well-paying jobs for individuals and their families well beyond the CMU community.

As of 2020, CMU directly employs 5,750 people; a modest increase from 5,575 in 2016.

CMU’s Strategic Plan 2025 calls for the creation of an ecosystem of services, support, and infrastructure to better support education, research, and student life. The investments CMU has made since 2016 contribute directly to that goal – building and renovating high quality space for the university’s future. Moving forward, CMU’s strategic investments in new spaces will continue, led by a significant new housing initiative to update the on-campus experience for undergraduate students, as well as the reimagination of Scaife Hall, a central hub in CMU’s College of Engineering.

CMU’s economic activity generates a total of $16.4 million in tax revenue for the City of Pittsburgh and $86.9 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But tax revenue is only part of the story. CMU’s ability to attract world-class talent, startup companies, and corporate partners to the Pittsburgh region is a critical contributor to Pittsburgh’s recent renaissance and results in $2.26 billion in annual economic output in the City of Pittsburgh alone.

Just as importantly, CMU faculty, students, and staff dedicate a significant amount of time serving fellow citizens each year through efforts in research and education – from providing computer science education in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, to piloting smart traffic signals on Pittsburgh’s streets, to investing in the future of manufacturing at Hazelwood Green, a former steel mill site in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

As of 2020, CMU’s spending was centered in the City of Pittsburgh at approximately 47% — a 5% increase from 42% in 2016.

In FY20, CMU had $447 million in sponsored research funding — the highest recorded in the university's history. CMU expects research expenditures to increase even further in 2021 and beyond.

CMU provides world-class education and research opportunities to the next generation of leaders – and their numbers are growing. As of Academic Year 2019-2020, the total number of students on the Pittsburgh campus is 14,799, a 10% increase from 2016. This increase is primarily the result of growth in graduate programs.

Members of the CMU community hail from all 50 states and more than 65 countries, bringing together a wealth of perspectives, identities, backgrounds, and cultures. Many of these students choose to stay in Pittsburgh and the region to begin their careers. CMU’s undergraduate population is about 18% international, and its graduate student population is about 65% international.

About one-third of CMU’s more than 6,000 undergraduate students choose to live off campus. Nearly 100% of CMU’s graduate students live off campus.

CMU does not include contract employees in the direct jobs number. Contract employees are accounted for within the university’s operations.

Community Impact

The following FAQs relate to CMU’s commitment to community engagement in our region.

CMU made a commitment to provide resources and support to communities during the COVID-19 crisis. We leveraged our strengths in research and technology to support response actions during a challenging time.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our students and faculty worked behind the scenes with hospitals and health professionals, finding new ways to fabricate medical supplies and optimize respirator use. CMU teams analyzed virus data to help policymakers determine when it was safe to re-open schools and businesses.

CMU faculty leveraged years of research and expertise in forecasting nationwide influenza activity to predict the spread of COVID-19. Through a partnership with Facebook and Google, the research team estimated the spread of the virus weeks in advance. CMU researchers used those estimates to provide forecasts that helped hospitals, first responders, and other health officials anticipate the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions likely to occur in their locales several weeks in advance.

More information about CMU’s commitment during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on CMU News.

CMU is invested in all of Pittsburgh. Fueling shared prosperity across all areas of the city and region remain important to university leadership and the campus community. Because CMU recognizes that technological advances are not available to everyone, we intentionally focus our research and community engagement efforts on applying our strengths in data, computer science, engineering, and policy to identify, understand, and address structural barriers to economic inclusion and opportunity – including and especially those here in Pittsburgh.

Diversity, inclusion, empathy, and respect for the dignity of others are at the core of CMU’s mission and values. Fostering an environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all is important for the student experience, as well as the experiences of our faculty, staff, and alumni.

CMU is committed to supporting the growth of Hazelwood Green. It has the potential to be a national model for collaborating with the community to achieve economic success. We are proud to partner with our local foundations to support the growth and prosperity of Hazelwood Green and Mill 19, which officially opened in July 2019.

Mill 19 aims to attract public and private sector partners to push advanced manufacturing research, bridge the gap between manufacturing research and industrial use, and foster economic development in Greater Hazelwood, the Mon Valley, and beyond.

Our faculty and staff have strong working relationships with the community organizations in Hazelwood and continue to expand and support activities in the neighborhood.

CMU students are committed to supporting the broader community through service activities, fundraisers, and research. They volunteered more than 63,000 hours globally during the 2019-2020 school year, and more than 41,000 of those hours were served locally.

We encourage all of our students to get involved and connect with opportunities to serve the campus community as well as the greater Pittsburgh community. You can learn more about student service opportunities through SLICE.

CMU values its responsibility to support the greater Pittsburgh area and its residents through our strengths in education, research, and service. Our faculty and staff have a long history of engaging with community organizations, elected officials, government agencies, and nonprofits. If you are interested in collaborating with CMU on a project, please reach out to us at

At every point in modern history, industry has changed and adapted to new technology and work trends. Right now, our society is in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology and the infusion of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) into everyday tasks are changing how and where we work, and these fields are creating new jobs and new career pathways for individuals at all levels throughout the region. Because of CMU’s strengths in these areas and their importance to the job market, CMU brings computer science, AI, and robotics programs into our communities to ensure everyone has access to education that will prepare them for the future of work.

Housed in CMU’s Robotics Institute, the Robotics Academy excites students about science and technology through research-based and classroom-tested robotics curricula. The Institute has trained over 3,000 teachers worldwide and its materials have been used in over 16,000 schools.

The Institute also runs the SMART Robotics Technician Curriculum, consisting of micro-certification courses in mechanical design, circuitry, fabrication, software, and robotics integration, to help people quickly track into careers in advanced manufacturing and robotics. The curriculum is currently being piloted by the Bridge of Pittsburgh.


The following definitions provide additional details behind the economic and community impact figures presented on this website.

Annual Operations
CMU’s most direct and consistent contribution to the economy is through its large and growing annual operations. Its ongoing operations and payroll to its employees support jobs and businesses within the city, regional, and state economies.The overall economic impact of CMU’s annual operations is the sum of its direct economic footprint plus the indirect and induced effects that that footprint creates.

Capital Investments
CMU capital investments include new construction, renovation or major maintenance projects. At CMU, capital projects are often represented as one-time costs that support the university’s mission and goals.

Out-of-Town and Visitor Spending
CMU draws out-of-town spending into the city and region from students and visitors that would likely not occur without the school’s presence. The largest category of ancillary spending is CMU students, who spend money on and off campus during their academic careers.

Wage Premium
A wage premium associated with additional education is often conceptualized and calculated from the perspective of the student, who can compare the costs associated with various educational (or non-educational) options with the expected return. Additional earnings attributable to CMU alumni are estimated, and translated into additional spending power within the local economy, which supports local employment and earnings.