Joel Kotkin and Mark Schill at Forbes call the list an effort to “determine the metro areas that are gaining brain power in the 21st century.”

Bested only by the Cambridge-Boston-Newton area, Pittsburgh has attained the title of 2nd smartest American city.

“[Boston] is followed in second place by Pittsburgh, which logged the largest percentage point increase since 2000 in the proportion of its population that is college-educated, 8.8 points, to 32.2%, on the strength of 37.3% growth in raw numbers,” reports Kotkin.

Kotkin says the rankings were determined by three criteria: (1) growth rate of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree from 2000 to 2013 (2) percentage point increase in the share of the population that is college educated over that same span of time and (3) the share of educated people in the area in 2013.

Pittsburgh’s high concentration of academic institutions may have a great deal to do with its ranking, as Kotkin reports that “For the most part, the top 10 on our list of the 51 largest metro areas is dominated by places with large concentrations of colleges, and those that long ago made the transition from industrial to information-based economies.”

Placing just after Pittsburgh is the San Jose-Santa Clara area, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Washington D.C.

Kotkin and Schill also note that the “geography of brainpower” is making a shift toward college towns and “amenity regions.” The college town’s recent ability to nurture tech startups bodes well for its continued growth, as well as the growth of other small-scale geographies.

Kotkin ad Schill also point out that growth in the Rust Belt cities is due largely to their lower cost of living, and their abundance of high-paying jobs.

Read the full article here.