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Greater Philadelphia Universities Expand Academic Options

More than 35 percent of Greater Philadelphia's population 25 years and older has a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 28 percent, and 13 percent have advanced degrees, compared to the U.S. average of 10 percent.

By Kevin Litwin on January 28, 2014

Greater Philadelphia has the smarts, outpacing the national average in percentage of the population over age 25 with bachelor’s and advanced degrees.

More than 35 percent of the region’s population 25 years and older has a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 28 percent, and 13 percent have advanced degrees, compared to the U.S. average of 10 percent.

In addition, nearly 60 percent of graduates of the 100 colleges and universities in Greater Philadelphia stay in the region for at least one year after graduating. Colleges and universities in the region earn regular recognition on national rankings, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which is ranked among the top three business schools in the nation for 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.

Relationship With Business

At Rutgers University-Camden, many grads go to work at companies with operations in the region such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Lockheed Martin, Comcast and the Cooper and Virtua health-care systems. The university’s growing science programs have supplied graduates for the region’s vast pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.

“Our university has a good relationship with businesses in the region, starting with internships we offer in partnership with numerous companies,” says Wendell Pritchett, Rutgers University-Camden president.

Pritchett says Rutgers-Camden has a growing business school and started a nursing school two years ago that has already doubled in size for student enrollment.

“We also have a strong entrepreneurship program and a technology center on campus, along with a Small Business Development Center,” he says. “If you get a degree from Rutgers University-Camden, you have an excellent chance of getting a good job in a top career – and will hopefully remain in the Greater Philadelphia region.”

Research Search

Greater Philadelphia’s higher education system includes colleges and universities with global reputations and global reach, drawing not only high-caliber students but highly valued faculty, researchers and administrators.

Faculty members and the administration at University of Delaware have been involved with research for more than 70 years, first partnering with DuPont to help build the university’s chemical engineering program. The university today attracts about $140 million in annual research funding, and the last fiscal year saw UD secure 588 new awards to support research, many of which came in the form of grants from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health.

“UD research has led to major economic development and successful spinoff companies,” says Domenico Grasso, University of Delaware provost. “One such company that started in our electrical and computer engineering department was called FingerWorks, which developed the touch-screen technology used in smartphones and tablets. The FingerWorks technology was eventually sold to Apple.”

Leadership Matters

At Drexel University, professors are partnering with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Hebrew University in Jerusalem to focus on pediatric research that will more speedily advance pediatric medicine from the lab to the bedside. The collaboration began in January 2014 when representatives from Drexel, Children’s Hospital and Hebrew University met in Philadelphia to develop joint projects and proposals, and welcomed interested funders to learn about the potential for discoveries with this partnership between the two Philadelphia landmark institutions and the Israel-based university.

At Widener University in Chester, Pa., a new Freedom Hall opened in 2013 to house communications studies, informatics and computer science research programs.

“Most of our Widener grads come from the area, stay here for their education, then get jobs and contribute to the communities in the Philadelphia region,” says Dan Hanson, Widener University director of public relations.

Hanson says for the fall 2013 semester, Widener attracted its largest-ever freshman class.

“A couple of years ago, we opened an Oskin Leadership Institute on campus to incorporate leadership training into many of our curriculums,” he says. “As a result, Widener now backs an annual High School Leadership Awards program in conjunction with NBC TV 10 in Philadelphia, to identify good leaders in Philadelphia high schools and offer them scholarships.”

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