Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, there are 42 public colleges, 88 private non-profit colleges, and six private for-profit colleges in Pennsylvania.


    College Board estimates the average student at a public in-state college in Pennsylvania paid this sum during the 2020-21 school year.


    During the 2019-20 school year, the average full-time undergraduate student in the U.S. received this sum in financial aid.

Our Research

This list contains a selection of the best colleges in Pennsylvania. We evaluated many different types of public and private institutions, from the state’s largest research institutions to small and midsize colleges. Our recommendations are based on tuition fees, credit requirements, and the available formats for coursework (i.e., on-campus or online classes).

To ensure each institution provides a high-quality education, we curated a list of accredited colleges only. The majority of the schools are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), whose mission is to promote educational excellence in higher learning across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These accreditations also apply to distance learning and correspondence programs.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 64 hours to write this article
  • 182 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 356 education programs we compared

The Top 48 Colleges in Pennsylvania

Best Colleges In Pennsylvania
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Pennsylvania

Before settling down to study in a new state, it’s important to consider the employment opportunities in the area. As of October 2020, these five industries employ the greatest number of Pennsylvanians: education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; goods-producing services; professional and business services; and government. The top two industries employ over a million workers each.

For workers in Pennsylvania who have earned a bachelor’s degree, the top five fastest-growing careers in the state are software developers, information security analysts, operations research analysts, actuaries, and medical and health services managers. Many of these jobs are in competitive industries, so more qualified candidates have an edge over their peers.

To get an idea of specific career choices available to college graduates, here are some examples of Pennsylvania’s top 50 largest employers: Philadelphia International, Highmark Health, Vanguard Group Inc., Temple University, and many more.

What’s Next?

When researching colleges in Pennsylvania, it’s important to consider your financial aid options. The following list includes state and federal resources such as grants, scholarships, and loan programs available to undergraduate students in Pennsylvania.

  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). PHEAA is a student aid organization offering a state grant program, low-cost student loans, and college planning resources.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Every year the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office disburses more than $120 billion in financial aid. Students receive assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs, and more. To check your eligibility, visit the FAFSA4caster, and to apply for aid, complete the online application.
  • CareerOneStop. Sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop provides a comprehensive selection of financial aid resources in each state. You can filter results according to degree type and college location. Listings include the award amount, deadline, contact information, and other details.