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Our Research

This list features some of the best online schools in Pennsylvania. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

All the online colleges on our list are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This regional accreditor is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and accredits schools based on a number of criteria for excellence, including ethics and integrity, support of the student experience, and educational effectiveness. Credits and degrees from accredited colleges are usually transferrable to other accredited schools and professionally recognized.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania Badge

Penn State World Campus

Villanova University

Temple University

Saint Joseph's University

Thomas Jefferson University

University of Pennsylvania

Drexel University

Duquesne University

Lehigh University

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

DeSales University

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

La Salle University

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Peirce College

Alvernia University

Holy Family University

The University of Scranton

Widener University

Gwynedd Mercy University

Immaculata University

University of Pittsburgh

Wilkes University

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Messiah University

Saint Francis University

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Robert Morris University

Lock Haven University

Chatham University

Point Park University

Eastern University

Clarion University

PennWest California

Carnegie Mellon University

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Misericordia University

Carlow University

Cairn University

Gannon University

Cedar Crest College

Mercyhurst University

Clarks Summit University

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Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Does Pennsylvania have good online colleges and universities?

Yes. The state offers a wealth of online educational opportunities, such as Pittsburgh Technical College’s Online Associate in Graphic Design and Drexel University’s Online Bachelor’s in Communications. After you graduate, you may want to consider staying in Pennsylvania to complete a master’s degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as healthcare. Pennsylvania is rich in graduate school options, like Villanova University’s Online Master of Business Administration and Mercyhurst University’s Online Master’s in Applied Intelligence.

It’s also worth mentioning that we selected Penn State as one of the 30 best schools in the entire United States for distance education. For more information, check out our guide to the best accredited online colleges. In addition to showing you the top options in the country for remote learning, this guide offers expert advice on how to choose a college and complete the application process.

Do online college credits in Pennsylvania cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some schools offer discounted rates for online courses, whereas others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. Pennsylvania became a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2017, which means that out-of-state students who live in a SARA-participating state can take online courses from Pennsylvania schools without incurring additional fees.

Why should you choose Pennsylvania for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to religious institutions to top public research universities, Pennsylvania offers something for every online college student. One option that stands out as a particularly appealing choice is Geneva College, where all online undergraduate students pay a flat rate of $440 (plus a $43 administrative fee) per credit hour, regardless of state residency. Geneva offers four online bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields such as management and human resources.

The Cost of Online College in Pennsylvania

How much does an online degree in Pennsylvania cost?

The cost of an online degree in Pennsylvania depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree that you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save money on indirect expenses, such as transportation, parking, and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Pennsylvania below:

Most affordable online college in Pennsylvania: Slippery Rock University, $328 per credit

Most expensive online college in Pennsylvania: Duquesne University, $1,095 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in Pennsylvania to get in-state tuition rates?

Typically, you would be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you have lived in Pennsylvania for 12 consecutive months. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and graduate fellows, are entitled to in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program was started in 2020. It provides financial support to children who are part of the state’s foster care system. The waiver can be used at all Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including private universities, public universities, and community colleges.

Pennsylvania also offers a Pennsylvania State Grant program that provides funding to eligible state residents to help them afford the costs of higher education at the undergraduate level. The program is entirely based on need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Grants can be used for online programs if the college or university is located in Pennsylvania.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in Pennsylvania

If you don’t qualify for a tuition waiver or grant from the commonwealth, there are many other sources of financial support available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are based on income, whereas others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent scholarship options for you below:

PASFAA Scholarship

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA), this scholarship is for Pennsylvania residents enrolled in a degree-seeking program at a postsecondary institution of higher education. Preference will be given to applicants attending colleges and universities that are part of the PASFAA network.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the requirements above, applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA. They must also have completed 30 credits or the hours equivalent from a postsecondary institution of higher education at the time of application.

Contact information: [email protected] | 717-573-8721

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New York Women in Communications Scholarships

Also eligible to applicants from New Jersey, these scholarships are awarded to women planning to major in (or already pursuing an advanced degree in) a communications-related field at a U.S.-accredited college or university. Acceptable communications fields include advertising, broadcasting, communications, digital media, English, film, journalism, marketing, public relations, or publishing.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the requirements above, applicants should have an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher and be able to participate in an online interview.

Contact information: [email protected] | 212-251-7255

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Horatio Alger State Scholarship - Pennsylvania

This is a national scholarship program named after American author Horatio Alger. In Pennsylvania, it’s funded by the Neubauer Family Foundation and Alan B. Miller and offered to students who exhibit integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity. You may begin your studies at a two-year institution and later transfer to a four-year institution.

Who’s eligible? High school juniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and Pennsylvania residency.

Contact information: [email protected] | 844-422-4200

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First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania

This nonprofit organization oversees 15 private funds that provide scholarships to students from Pennsylvania. You only need to fill out one application to be considered for all scholarships you’re eligible for.

Who’s eligible? Although each scholarship has different criteria in terms of GPA and course of study, most require Pennsylvania residency. Most also look for strong involvement in community service, extracurricular activities, and financial need.

Contact information: [email protected] | 570-321-1500

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Top 5 Fast-Growing Industries in Pennsylvania

If you still don’t know where you will attend college, it’s also quite possible you don’t yet know what you will major in. In that case, one of the most important factors to consider is which industries are growing the fastest in Pennsylvania — this will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By examining the Pennsylvania Occupational Employment 2020-2030 Long-Term Projections, we’ve determined that the following five industries will have particularly high growth rates in the Keystone State over the next several years.

Personal Care and Service

The personal care and service industry is a broad sector that mostly focuses on consumer quality-of-life services across the age spectrum. In Pennsylvania, the most common occupations in this sector are child-care workers, hairdressers, and recreation workers. Other occupations include funeral attendants, makeup artists, animal trainers, and gambling service workers. All jobs in this industry have an average salary of $33,020 in Pennsylvania.

  • Growth: 23.1%
  • Degree options: Associate in Cosmetology, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, Bachelor’s in Recreation and Leisure, Bachelor’s in Funeral Service Management, Bachelors in Animal Behavior, Master’s in Leadership, Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology

Healthcare Support

Driving the demand for healthcare support workers in Pennsylvania is the state’s aging population — the ninth highest in the nation. Within this sector, the most common occupations are home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. Other occupations in this domain include psychiatric aides, physical therapy assistants, veterinary assistants, massage therapists, and pharmacy aides. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $33,120.

  • Growth: 18.4%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Technology, Associate in Nursing, Associate in Dental Assisting, Associate in Clinical Laboratory Technician, Bachelor’s in Health Administration, Bachelor’s in Health and Human Services, Bachelor’s in Pre-Occupational Therapy

Computer and Mathematics

Pennsylvania is the home of top tech companies such as SAP America and Duolingo, so it’s no surprise to see that this industry is one of the strongest in the state. Within this sector, the most common occupations are software developers, computer systems analysts, and computer user support specialists. Other occupations in this domain include information research scientists, actuaries, and web developers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $94,730.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

Pennsylvania’s senior citizen population also contributes to its robust healthcare practitioner job market. Within this sector, the most common occupations in Pennsylvania are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physicians, and pharmacy technicians. Other occupations in this domain include dental hygienists, speech-language pathologists, and athletic trainers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $89,820.

  • Growth: 10.4%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor’s in Nursing, Bachelor’s in Recreational Therapy, Bachelor’s in Audiology, Master’s in Genetic Counseling, Master’s in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Doctor of Medicine

Community and Social Service

There are many job openings in Pennsylvania for professionals in the mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse fields. Within this sector, the average salary in Pennsylvania is $51,980, with the most common occupations being child, family, and school social workers. Many occupations in this sector, such as community health workers and career counselors, do not require a graduate degree.

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