Best Colleges in Pennsylvania

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Once you’ve set your sights on attending college, choosing the right school becomes a challenging but essential process. Pennsylvania is home to more than 450 two-year and four-year colleges, universities and trade schools, providing a range of diverse opportunities for those pursuing higher education. Prospective students not only face the question of attending either a two-year or four-year program, but a multitude of other considerations, like financial aid and retention rates. To simplify your search, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Pennsylvania, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Admissions to any of Pennsylvania’s four-year programs is highly competitive. As part of its “Strategic Plan 2020,” the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is committed to preserving and promoting accessibility and affordability, among other initiatives. Additional key points of the Strategic Plan aim to move toward adapting to an ever-changing student population and aligning academic programs with workforce and personal growth needs.

A short list of proposals have been at the forefront of higher education news this year in the state. Lawmakers have proposed increased funding of higher education programs by $1.7 billion to offset dramatic spending cuts in recent years. Additional suggestions promote freezing state college tuitions in an effort to make higher education more accessible to first-year students. With these initiatives on the horizon for 2015, the future looks bright for prospective Pennsylvania students. We’ve created the following list of top colleges to help guide the way.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

University of Pennsylvania

 5/595.61%Philadelphia, PA

campus-University-of-Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania continues to support the legacy of academic excellence and innovation begun by its founder, Benjamin Franklin. This four-year research university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in majors ranging from accounting to design to veterinary medicine. Penn's urban campus, located in the heart of Philadelphia, features over 300 acres of state-of-the-art facilities. Of the university's total student population of 24,806, nearly equal parts are full-time undergraduate and full-time graduate/professional students. Furthermore, 52% of students identify as minorities and 53% are women. Financial aid packages awarded to incoming freshmen averaged $44,772 in 2013.

Quick Facts

  • Penn recently ranked among Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Universities.
  • The University is home to 4,559 international students, from over 100 countries and foreign territories.
  • Over 4,000 active faculty members uphold Penn's legacy of esteemed instructors with expertise in their respective fields.
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2

Swarthmore College

 5/594.09%Swarthmore, PA

campus-swarthmore-college

The Quakers founded Swarthmore in 1864 as a coeducational college; today it is a leading private, non-sectarian institution. Though Swarthmore is known for its liberal arts and engineering programs, the university offers more than 40 courses of study, as well as a fully customizable design-your-own-major option. Of the 1,534 students, the majority are from Mid-Atlantic States and 93% live on campus. 50% of students receive need-based financial aid, with combined financial aid and scholarship awards ranging from $1,000-$57,870. Total aid packages, including work-study and merit-based scholarships, average $38,701 per student.

Quick Facts

  • Swarthmore College consistently ranks among the top three liberal arts colleges in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • U.S. News and World Report recognized Swarthmore among "8 Colleges That Are Energetic About Going Green."
  • The Princeton Review included Swarthmore in its annual list of the country's greenest schools.
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3

Bucknell University

 5/588.6%Lewisburg, PA

campus-bucknell-university

To prepare students for real world success, this liberal arts university located in Lewisburg combines an intensive curriculum of globally-oriented disciplines with personalized instruction and a sense of community. More than 50 available majors allow students to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, management or arts & sciences. The student body at Bucknell is comprised of 3,600 undergraduates and 60 graduate students, hailing from almost all fifty states and 45 countries. Bucknell reports a 93% retention rate among first-year students and 97% of the class of 2014 reported being employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation. Approximately 52% of Bucknell students receive financial aid from the university, while 62% receive it or other forms of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Bucknell No.32 among national liberal arts colleges.
  • Bucknell ranked ninth among undergraduate engineering programs in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • Newsweek listed Bucknell No.5 among its college rankings of most beautiful schools in 2012.
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4

Haverford College

 5/594.19%Haverford, PA

campus-haverford-college

Located just outside of Philadelphia on a lush arboretum, Haverford College is known for its highly personalized learning model that allows students to forge their own higher education path by choosing from three major academic divisions and a variety of courses to create a custom degree. The school uses the Honor Code, an entirely student-run system, to exchange ideas and hold exams without proctors. Of more than 1,100 total students, 98% live on campus and over 48% receive a college grant to supplement tuition costs. Additionally, 98% of Haverford faculty hold the highest degree available in their field.

Quick Facts

  • Haverford abides by a need-blind admissions policy for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
  • The university has been home to 38 Fulbright Scholar Program Fellows.
  • Haverford College holds one of the world's most extensive collections of Quaker history.
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5

Lehigh University

 5/587.39%Bethlehem, PA

campus_lehigh_university

Set on 2,358 acres in Bethlehem, Lehigh University is one of the nation's largest private campuses and is internationally renowned as a leading research university. Lehigh is home to more than 6,900 students, pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees at one of the university's four major colleges, which represent arts & sciences, economics, education and engineering and applied science. Of the university's domestic student population, nearly a quarter are Pennsylvania residents, followed closely by students from New Jersey. More than 50% of Lehigh students receive some form of financial aid, with average aid packages totaling $34,180.

Quick Facts

  • Student-faculty ratio is 10:1.
  • 96% of the 506 full-time faculty at Lehigh hold a terminal degree in their field.
  • Lehigh was recently ranked third for salary potential in the Northeast.
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6

Carnegie Mellon University

 5/588.3%Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon University is a renowned research institution known for its pioneering efforts in global science and technology. CMU's campus boasts a student body of 13,285 and more than 5,000 esteemed faculty, dedicated to developing new ideas for international industry. Students may choose a major from within one of seven schools and colleges, including engineering, fine arts and computer science. The university is home to over 275 student organizations and encourages participation in a variety of CMU-hosted internships, study-abroad and work-study opportunities.

Quick Facts

  • 100% of CMU's electricity comes from green power sources and the university is ranked a green power leader by the U.S. EPA.
  • The Times Higher Education of London ranked CMU No. 24 in the world and No. 17 among U.S. universities for 2014-2015.
  • CMU has helped to greenlight more than 1,000 companies, especially in Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley and India, creating domestic and international jobs in these locations.
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7

Bryn Mawr College

 5/581.69%Bryn Mawr, PA

For 130 years, Bryn Mawr has built a reputation as a leader in liberal arts and socially-minded education for its predominantly female student population. While Bryn Mawr's undergraduate programs are exclusive to women, its graduate programs are available to both genders. The university's total population of over 1,700 includes students from 45 states and 62 countries. Students may choose from over 36 majors and 41 minors in topics including architecture, chemistry, physics, psychology and many more. Furthermore, 76% of students at Bryn Mawr receive some form of financial aid, with average packages totaling $40,897.

Quick Facts

  • 35% of students hail from Mid-Atlantic States, while 25% are international.
  • 92.5% of first-year students were among the top 25% of their high school class.
  • The median ACT score for students entering their first year is 30.
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8

Lafayette College

 5/590.33%Easton, PA

Lafayette College was founded in 1826 in Easton, with a focus on arts & humanities, social & natural sciences and engineering. The school's principles center on undergraduate needs, providing a coeducational learning environment that is academically competitive and independent. The Lafayette campus is home to 2,400 students from 42 U.S. states and 37 foreign countries. Lafayette boasts a student–faculty ratio of 10.5:1, and 99% of full-time faculty hold a doctorate or other terminal degree.

Quick Facts

  • 95% of graduates find employment, enroll in grad school, or start an internship within six months of graduation.
  • Lafayette ranks among the top ten schools in the country for its four-year graduation rate, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • 53% of Lafayette students have studied abroad by the time they begin their senior year.
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9

Franklin and Marshall College

 5/586.73%Lancaster, PA

Franklin and Marshall College is a residential liberal-arts university with a focus on hands-on learning and student-faculty collaboration. Located in the small city of Lancaster, the university's 2,350 students pursue Bachelor of Arts degrees in over 54 fields of study, including arts and humanities, science and global education. F&M's sister campus in Bath, England and partnering Millport Conservatory host respective study-abroad and supplemental programs. The university reports a student–faculty ratio of 9:1 and an average class size of 16.

Quick Facts

  • 95% of graduates find employment, enroll in grad school or start an internship within six months of graduation.
  • Lafayette ranks among the top ten schools in the country for its four-year graduation rate, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • 53% of Lafayette students have studied abroad by the time they begin their senior year.
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10

Gettysburg College

 5/583.75%Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg College has a strong commitment to providing a well-rounded education through rigorous academic study and experiential learning. The campus, home to 2,600 students from 34 states and 28 countries, occupies some of the most scenic and historically relevant landscape in the nation. Students may select from 69 academic programs, ranging from art history to mathematics to public policy. The college also features numerous off-campus study opportunities, as well as a robust career services department and alumni network. Of the students, 66% received some form of financial aid in 2013-2014, with the average package totaling $33,317.

Quick Facts

  • The Princeton Review named Gettysburg a Best Value College for 2014.
  • Gettysburg ranked among the best schools for internships in 2015 by The Princeton Review.
  • Payscale Salary Report ranked mid-career salaries of Gettysburg graduates highest among peer liberal arts institutions, at $100,400 in 2014.
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11

Villanova University

 5/589.37%Villanova, PA

Founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842, Villanova University is a Roman Catholic institution dedicated to providing a liberal arts education that promotes unity and community service. Located outside of Philadelphia, Villanova's suburban campus is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in one of the university's six colleges. Students may choose from hundreds of majors in liberal arts and sciences, business, engineering, nursing, law and professional studies. Average student-faculty ratio for undergraduates in fall 2014 was 12:1. Of the full-time undergraduates in 2012-2013, 53% received university-sponsored aid totaling more than $85 million.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Villanova No.1 among regional universities in the northern U.S.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education recently named Villanova a top producer of Fulbright students among master's institutions.
  • Students at Villanova complete more than 220,000 hours of annual community service.
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12

Dickinson College

 5/5N/APA

Founded in 1783, Dickinson College encourages students to incorporate a global-minded perspective into their liberal arts education. The school's 2,339 students represent 42 U.S. states and 44 foreign countries and more than 50% participate in one of the college's numerous study-abroad programs. Students at Dickinson can pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in one of 22 disciplinary majors and 20 interdisciplinary majors, including topics like American studies, economics and sustainability. Average student-faculty ratio is 9:1. Within one year, 91% of Dickinson graduates have jobs or enroll in grad school.

Quick Facts

  • The Princeton Review listed Dickinson among its Green Rating list.
  • Dickinson was the No.8 Top College 2013 in the small-schools category.
  • The university is among the top ten Fulbright-producing liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
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13

Muhlenberg College

 5/585.76%Allentown, PA

Founded in the tradition of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1848, Muhlenberg College provides liberal arts education and pre-professional training to a student body of 2,200. The college's 82-acre campus in Allentown houses more than 100 student clubs and organizations, numerous Centennial-Conference Division III intercollegiate sports and over 650,000 on-campus library and research resources. Muhlenberg offers 40 majors and numerous minors in subjects such as humanities, fine arts, social sciences, natural sciences, pre-medicine and allied health, pre-law, business, education and pre-theological studies. New Jersey residents make up the majority of students at 33%, followed closely by 23% from Pennsylvania. Approximately 80% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • 85% of faculty holds a PhD or terminal degree.
  • Student-faculty ratio is 12:1.
  • 43% of incoming freshmen were in the top 10% of their high-school class.
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14

Messiah College

 5/579.69%Mechanicsburg, PA

Messiah delivers a faith-based, evangelical education in more than 80 majors related to leadership and service in life and work. Founded in 1909, this private Christian college in Mechanicsburg is home to 2,680 full-time students, representing 38 states and 23 countries. Messiah strives to celebrate diversity on campus, with 11.1% of the student body representing underrepresented populations. All first-year students receive financial aid at Messiah College, with total packages averaging $27,264.

Quick Facts

  • Messiah offers more than 40 study-abroad locations and opportunities.
  • Career and internship services are nationally recognized.
  • Student-faculty ratio is 13:1.
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15

Pennsylvania State University

 3/586.11%University Park, PA

Penn State is world-renowned for its global-minded ideas and forward-thinking innovations, guiding students toward community improvement through leadership and intensive research. In addition to a campus spanning 23,000 acres, Penn State boasts the "largest student-run philanthropic organization on the planet," with its online World Campus system. Penn offers more than 90 associate degrees, over 160 baccalaureate programs and over 160 graduate degrees. Of a total enrollment of nearly 96,000, more than 75% of Penn State students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report ranked Penn State among the nation's best public universities and among best overall national universities for 2015.
  • Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings listed Penn 39th among the world's top universities in 2014.
  • Penn ranked No.47 internationally according to 2014 Center for World University Rankings.
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16

University of Pittsburgh

 3/581.85%Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh is a highly regarded research university located in the heart of Pennsylvania's second largest city. Pitt's campus includes a 42-story Gothic Cathedral, housing classrooms and other university facilities still in-use today. Of a student body of nearly 35,000, undergraduates and graduates may choose from hundreds of available majors, including arts and sciences, business and engineering. Only 30 students are enrolled in the majority of Pitt's classes. Six out of ten students who applied for financial aid at Pitt during the 2014-2015 school year received it, with average packages ranging from $2,000 to complete tuition and room and board each year.

Quick Facts

  • Led by Jonas Salk, Pitt researchers developed the first Polio vaccine in 1955.
  • The Princeton Review ranked Pitt among the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education in 2015.
  • The Times Higher Education World Reputational Rankings listed Pitt among Top 100 Universities for 2015.
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17

Temple University

 3/569.18%Philadelphia, PA

Among Temple University's many unique attributes, the university aims to promote a supportive learning environment and innovations in global research. The Temple campus promises to be an "incubator for tomorrow's leaders." Founded in 1884, Temple is home to 38,626 students, 404 academic programs and 17 schools and colleges. Available undergraduate and graduate majors span liberal arts, engineering, psychology and others. Medicine and law-related disciplines are among the university's most popular professional studies programs. Approximately 60% of first-year students receive need-based financial aid, with the average award totaling around $15,000.

Quick Facts

  • Four of Temple University's graduate school programs ranked among the nation's best for 2016, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • The Princeton Review gave Temple an A+ for being an environmentally responsible college in its 2015 Guide to 353 Green Colleges.
  • Temple was first in the world to successfully remove HIV from human cells.
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18

West Chester University

 2/567.07%West Chester, PA

Located near Philadelphia, West Chester University aims to deliver not only academic excellence, but also analytical and communication skills. Students can major in fields such as medicine, science, communication, business, government and law and more. The university community is comprised of 15,845 students, 93% of whom live on campus. The student-faculty ratio averages 18:1; all classes are taught by full-time faculty, not graduate assistants. Each year, more than 600 students gain off-campus experience through internships, practicums and field projects. An impressive 85% of graduates from the university's esteemed accounting program have found employment shortly after graduation.

Quick Facts

  • West Chester recently ranked 17th among top public schools in the northern U.S. region, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • Kiplinger recently named West Chester a national Best Buy on its list including only three schools located in Pennsylvania.
  • GI Jobs recently named West Chester a military-friendly school.
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19

Duquesne University

 5/577.96%Pittsburgh, PA

As a leading Catholic university in the U.S., Duquesne promises to challenge students academically while supporting their spiritual and ethical enrichment. Serving nearly 10,000 students, the university offers 80 undergraduate programs, 85 graduate and professional programs and 22 post-graduate certificate programs, spanning nine schools of study. Student-faculty ratio averages 15:1, with the average class size at 28 students. Students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries are represented on campus. Approximately 3,400 students live on-campus and have the opportunity to participate in the university's more than 180 student clubs and organizations.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report ranked Duquesne's Nursing School among the Top 100 Best Graduate Schools for 2016.
  • Princeton Review named Duquesne's school of business among the best in the nation in 2015.
  • Washington Monthly recently named Duquesne a "best bang for the buck" university.
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20

Saint Vincent College

 5/574.21%Latrobe, PA

As the nation's first Benedictine college, Saint Vincent still upholds strong traditions in academic excellence and individualized instruction. Of the current faculty at Saint Vincent's scenic 200-acre campus in Laurel Highlands, 17% are Benedictine priests and brothers, with a student-faculty ratio of only 12:1. Saint Vincent serves fewer than 1,800 students, and offers 50 undergraduate majors and 10 graduate majors in subjects such as accounting, pre-law and theology. The college has an 85% retention rate among freshmen students; the average age of incoming freshman is 20, while the average age for graduate students is 29. Additionally, more than 60 student organizations and clubs are offered to on-campus residents.

Quick Facts

  • Money Magazine ranked Saint Vincent among the best colleges in the U.S in 2014.
  • Saint Vincent College ranked among U.S. News and World Report's top tier of best national liberal arts colleges for the fifth year in a row in 2015.
  • In 2013, Forbes listed Saint Vincent among the top colleges in the nation.
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21

Allegheny College

 5/578.29%Meadville, PA

Allegheny College aims to combine undergraduate residential education with intellectual, social and moral development skills. Here, students are required to choose both a major and minor area of study and unique combinations are encouraged. Allegheny's student body of 2,100 come from 45 states and 33 countries and the majority reside on the college's Meadville campus. As a county seat of Pennsylvania, Meadville provides relevant local internship opportunities to students pursuing especially popular majors, including law, environmental issues and medicine. Over 60% of students participate in community-inspired service initiatives each year. More than 60 student organizations and clubs are offered to on-campus residents. Approximately 90% of graduates are hired within eight months of graduation.

Quick Facts

  • The book Colleges That Change Lives named Allegheny first out of 40 national institutions to hold this distinction.
  • Newsweek recently named Allegheny among the 25 most rigorous colleges in the U.S.
  • Allegheny was named one of the top ten up-and-coming liberal arts colleges in the U.S. in 2014.
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22

Juniata College

 5/577.87%Huntingdon, PA

Founded in 1876, Juniata College promotes empowerment in education and fulfillment through service-oriented skill-building and ethical leadership. Operating within an independent, private, co-educational model, this four-year college offers flexibility and customization to its student population of 1,565. Students may choose a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, or design their own Programs of Emphasis. Popular majors include biology/pre-health, environmental science and accounting/business. Of all first-year students, 100% deemed to need financial assistance received some form of financial aid, with average packages totaling $30,985.

Quick Facts

  • 90% of Juniata students are accepted into graduate or professional schools.
  • U.S. News and World Report named Juniata an "A+ School for B Students" in 2013.
  • 90% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months.
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23

Ursinus College

 5/580.48%Collegeville, PA

Founded in 1869, Ursinus College promotes "consequential learning resulting from personalized and rigorous education.” This residential, private liberal arts institution aims to provide academic excellence through a customized learning option focused on "uncommon" opportunities. Students may choose a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in over 60 majors and minors, including arts and humanities, pre-professional programs and interdisciplinary studies. Ursinus's suburban campus, located on 170 acres near Philadelphia, is home to 1,650 students from 35 states and 12 countries around the world. Class size ranges from 15-20 students, with a typical student-faculty ratio of 12:1.

Quick Facts

  • Ursinus is recognized in the book Colleges That Change Lives among only 40 national institutions to receive this distinction.
  • U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Ursinus among the top tier of national liberal arts colleges in the nation.
  • Ursinus is one of only 8% of national colleges to host a chapter of the national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.
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24

Washington & Jefferson College

 5/575.69%Washington, PA

Washington and Jefferson College is dedicated to a long-term commitment to bring high-quality, practical education to its students, holding them to rigorous standards of scholarship, integrity, competence and maturity. Located in Washington, PA, the W&J campus is home to 1,362 students; 70% of the students are residents of the state. Though a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available, the most popular majors include business administration/accounting, economics and history, respectively. Of the students, 40% study abroad each year. On-campus, the student-teacher ratio averages 10:1. As of 2013, 98% of students received some form of financial aid, with the average package for first-year students totaling $30,100.

Quick Facts

  • W&J connects current students with over 300 alumni as part of its mentoring network program.
  • 91% of 2014 graduates are employed or in graduate school.
  • 98% of W&J students complete their education in four years.
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25

University of the Sciences

 5/573.97%Philadelphia, PA

University of the Sciences has been preparing students to lead research and innovation in the science and healthcare industries for nearly two centuries. Located on 35 acres in University City, the USciences campus is home to 2,800 students enrolled in one of four colleges. Students may choose from bachelor's, master's, PhD's and professional degrees, as well as a variety of certificate programs. Majors offered include those in pharmacy studies, science, healthcare, governmental, administrative and business areas. Average class size is 38 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 10:1.

Quick Facts

  • USciences is the first college of pharmacy studies in North America.
  • Six of the world's founders of major pharmaceutical companies are alumni of USciences.
  • Majors with the highest enrollment are pharmacy, physical therapy, biology and occupational therapy.
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Higher education initiatives are especially important for Pennsylvania’s population of students in two-year programs. Since 2011, the state has been struggling to bridge the gap between the 43% of adults who currently hold an associate’s degree or higher and the 60% of jobs requiring a college degree. Despite this skills gap of 17%, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education counts 500,000 alumni living and working in the Commonwealth after graduating from one of the state’s colleges or vocational schools.

Some students in Pennsylvania choose to complete a two-year program and then transition into a four-year degree. However, associate-level students pursuing a two-year degree alone have had extremely low retention rates compared to those who pursued the four-year alternative. Studies show that recent initiatives have increased accessibility and incentives for two-year students in the state, aiming to increase retention in these programs.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

Pennsylvania State University-Mont Alto

 3/551.92%Mont Alto, PA

campus-pennsylvania-state-university-mont-alto

Penn State Mont Alto strives to offer students a unique learning experience, boasting "a small campus with a big degree." Mont Alto promises the same commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence, community enrichment, and public service that precede the Penn State name, while maintaining a strong sense of campus comradery. Of Mont Alto's population of 1,200, many are part-time, and 23% are adult learners in professional study. Mont Alto offers more than 160 majors, spanning business, nursing, and information sciences and technology. Many two- and four-year programs may be completed entirely at this location, while students may also opt to begin study here and transfer to another Penn State campus to complete their degree.

Quick Facts

  • Mont Alto campus location is adjacent to the 83,000-acre Michaux State Forest.
  • Student-teacher ratio averages 16:1.
  • More than 25 clubs and organizations serve the on-campus student population.
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2

Johnson College

  63.52%Scranton, PA

campus-johnson-college

Johnson College is among the nation's leading providers of technical and professional skills, preparing students to enter industry-oriented careers in electronics, technology and more. Johnson counts diesel truck technology, computer information technology and radiologic technology, respectively, among its most popular and lucrative programs. Here, students may choose from 13 courses of study, enjoying a student-faculty ratio of just 17:1 to ensure more personalized face time with highly qualified instructors. Johnson's 44-acre campus features not only classrooms, but also laboratories, as well as a library and student center, where students can perform research and practice hands-on skills.

Quick Facts

  • Johnson's three-year average employment rate since 2012 is 90%.
  • The student body is 71% male and 29% female.
  • All students are required to complete 60% of their course work in technology, with the remainder devoted to general education.
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3

Pennsylvania State University-Shenango

 3/531.78%Sharon, PA

campus-pennsylvania-state-university-shenango

Penn State Shenango offers their highly diverse student body a variety of programs and professional training. Shenango's enrollment of 500-600 students a year attracts those looking for personalized instruction in an individualized academic setting. Students may choose from associate's and bachelor's degrees in subjects including business, IT and technology and nursing, or complete the first two years of a variety of additional programs before transferring to another Penn State campus. Average class size is 25 students, with a student-faculty ratio of 10:1

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report ranked Penn State among America's best graduate schools for 2016.
  • Penn State online bachelor's programs were ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Times Higher Education World University ranked Penn State among the top 100 universities in the world for 2014-2015.
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4

Pennsylvania State University-Fayette-Eberly

 3/547.06%Lemont Furnace, PA

campus-pennsylvania-state-university-fayette-eberly

In the tradition of Penn State, the Fayette-Eberly campus offers the "benefits of a small college atmosphere with Penn State’s world-class quality education." The campus sits on 100 acres in Fayette County, adjacent to Pennsylvania's scenic Lauren Highlands. Home to 1,100 students, the campus attracts students from all walks of life, representing eight states and five countries of both traditional and nontraditional (25 and older) ages. Students may pursue one of seven associate's degrees, six bachelor's degrees, miscellaneous certificates, or non-degree programs and workshops for professional development, or opt to begin a program here and transfer to another Penn State campus to complete their degree.

Quick Facts

  • More than 90% of students at Fayette-Eberly receive some form of financial aid.
  • Average class size is 22 students.
  • Fayette-Eberly hosts eight athletic teams which compete in the Penn State University Athletic Conference.
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5

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

  61.85%Lancaster, PA

campus-thaddeus-stevens-college-of-technology

Thaddeus Stevens aims to provide financially and/or academically disadvantaged students with the tools needed to achieve success at work and in their community. Of its coed population of 900 students, the majority are working to build vocational skills in a relevant industry. Associate's degrees and certificates are available in automotive technology, plumbing technology, HVAC-R, electrical technology and many more. The TSCT campus is located near downtown Lancaster, providing a range of urban experiences and social and cultural enrichment opportunities. In 2012, job placement for TSCT graduates was 96%.

Quick Facts

  • Student satisfaction rate was "excellent", as of the college's 2012 report.
  • 68% of students received some form of financial aid during the 2011-2012 academic year.
  • Graduation rates of minority populations increased, on average, in 2009.
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6

Pennsylvania State University-Hazleton

 3/553.79%Hazleton, PA

At just 1,000 students, Hazelton is able to offer a student-focused environment while still incorporating the educational benefits Penn State is known for. Encompassing 125 acres in picturesque Conyngham Valley, Hazleton is home to more than 490 students who reside in on-campus housing. With five associate's degrees and eight bachelor's programs available at this location, Hazleton also offers the first two years of over 160 programs, the remainder of which may be completed at another Penn State campus. Popular majors include business, corporate communication, general engineering and others. Over 87% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • Times Higher Education World University ranked Penn State among the top 100 universities in the world for 2014-2015.
  • Penn State's online bachelor's programs were ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranked Penn State among America's best graduate schools for 2016.
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7

Bucks County Community College

  12.08%Newtown, PA

Bucks County Community College has built a reputation on providing high-quality career training services, ultimately striving to increase economic growth and reinforce community values in Bucks County and beyond. With over 80 programs leading to an associate's degree or certificate, BCCC graduates are prepared to take their education to the next level or start a career. Popular majors include business administration, liberal arts and nursing. Of a student body of 80,000, the mass majority are non-credit-seeking students and 1,400 perform coursework online. Of the freshman, 60% attend immediately out of high school; no SAT scores are required for admission, as part of the college's "open door" policy. Nearly 50% of all students receive some form of financial aid each year, with Bucks County aid awards averaging $20.9 million annually.

Quick Facts

  • Lower Bucks campus features a 55,000 square-foot “green” building.
  • BCCC is home to ten intercollegiate sports competing in the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and the National Junior College Athletic Association, Region XIX.
  • Average class size ranges from 18-25 students.
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8

Community College of Beaver County

  20.97%Monaca, PA

Community College of Beaver County aims to engage students by helping to expand educational opportunities and ultimately impacting economic growth in the surrounding areas. Located in Monaca, the CCBC campus offers a variety of degrees and certificates aimed at promoting career-readiness and designed to transition the graduate into relevant employment in the workforce. Programs offered include arts and sciences, criminal justice and technologies and many more. CCBC is home to more than 20 student clubs and organizations for those living on campus to enjoy. The college helps to support students post-graduation through extensive career services education and assistance.

Quick Facts

  • Students may qualify for on-campus childcare at CCBC.
  • The college developed the CCBC Foundation as a non-profit educational trust, supporting students via scholarships and other donation-oriented initiatives.
  • CCBC promotes an "open door" admissions policy for prospective students.
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9

Pennsylvania State University-Dubois

 3/551.93%DuBois, PA

Penn State Dubois aims to prepare students to be able to meet the needs of the local workforce, while building real-life skills and upholding the rigorous standards of Penn State academia. Dubois's student population of approximately 1,000 may choose from nine associate's degrees, six bachelor's degrees, or complete the first two years of a variety of additional programs before transferring to another Penn State campus. Popular subjects are rooted in business, arts and sciences and technology, among many others. Of the students, 85% typically qualify for financial aid; more than $280,000 in aid and scholarships were awarded to Dubois students for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Quick Facts

  • Approximately one-third of students are 24 or older.
  • 15% of Dubois students reside in on-campus housing.
  • There are more than 20 student clubs and organizations on campus.
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10

Northampton Community College

  18.8%Bethlehem, PA

Established in 1967, Northampton supports Lehigh Valley residents looking to pursue higher education and gain valuable hands-on experience. NCC's student population of more than 300,000 students make up a diverse group of for-credit learners earning a degree or certificate. Degree-seeking students may pursue an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science or Associate in Applied Science; general studies, liberal arts and criminal justice are among the college's most popular majors. Of the graduates, 90% have found employment within a year of graduation, while 65% of students will continue their education after graduation.

Quick Facts

  • NCC alumni include a four-time Pulitzer Prize-recipient and an Academy Award-winning documentary director, among numerous other experts in their respective fields.
  • The college was the recipient of the largest grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities for strengthening the teaching and understanding of U.S. history and culture in 2008.
  • NCC ranked 4th in the nation among large community colleges advancing the use of technology by the Center for Digital Education in 2014.
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11

Harrisburg Area Community College

  9.53%Harrisburg, PA

Established in 1964 as Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College is the largest and oldest community college in the state and holds the distinction of being the only one of its kind serving the central region of Pennsylvania. Currently, HACC is home to 19,000 degree-seeking students and more than 6,000 workforce development trainees. Distributed over multiple campuses in the Central Pennsylvania Community College system, 43.8% of the student population attend Harrisburg. Nursing, general studies and business administration, respectively, are among the college's most popular majors, though the college offers more than 150 programs in a variety of subjects. The average age of HACC students is 26.

Quick Facts

  • From 1964 to 2014, 49,405 students have graduated from HACC.
  • 62.6% of students on campus are female; 37.4% are male.
  • African-American and Hispanic/Latino students make up the largest combined percentage of minorities on campus.
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12

Luzerne County Community College

  18.93%Nanticoke, PA

Founded in 1966, Luzerne County Community College covers 167 acres in Nanticoke, PA. Of a total enrollment of more than 10,000 for-credit and and non-credit-seeking students, 73% live in Luzerne County, 58% are enrolled in transfer programs and 42% are enrolled in occupational programs. Students may pursue one of 84 associate's degrees and certificates, 25 liberal arts/transfer programs and 10 not-for-credit career-training options; majors range from animation to health sciences to social work. A total of 938 degrees were awarded to graduates of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Quick Facts

  • LCCC has articulation/transfer agreements with more than 40 baccalaureate degree-awarding institutions.
  • LCCC counts more than 28,000 degree-bearing alumni.
  • This college is the largest supplier of credit-free education in the area.
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13

Mount Aloysius College

 4/544.17%Cresson, PA

Mount Aloysius was founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1831 and still delivers high-quality education in the tradition of the Catholic, Judeo-Christian faith. The college aims to encourage not only academic, but also spiritual, cultural, social and personal growth. Over 2,500 students at Mount Aloysius pursue a variety of 70 degrees and certificates spanning 20 majors and minors in the liberal arts tradition. The Mount Aloysius campus is home to more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Over 94% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News and World Report has ranked MAC among its best national colleges list for 14 consecutive years.
  • MAC has been recognized and listed with the United States President's Honor Roll for Distinguished Community Service for five out of the past six years.
  • MAC is one of the oldest Catholic colleges in the U.S.
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14

Montgomery County Community College

  16.42%Blue Bell, PA

Montgomery County Community College has continued to support the growing needs of the area's professional and student population for 50 years. Here, students may pursue one of over 100 associate's degrees and certificates, in subjects including engineering science, engineering technology and criminal justice. The MCCC campus celebrates diversity, with 27% of the student population comprised of ethnic minorities. In 2013-2014, the college awarded $300,000 in scholarships and financial aid to students. Of the MCCC alumni, 64% are employed in Montgomery County and 95% are employed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Quick Facts

  • MCCC is one of only 73 institutions nationally designated as an Achieving the Dream Leader College.
  • Victory Media recently named the college a Military Friendly School for the fifth consecutive year.
  • The college is one of only 43 institutions in the country selected to participate in the Gateway to College National Network.
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15

Delaware County Community College

  16.17%Media, PA

Founded in 1967, Delaware County Community College began at the forefront of the tech research and education industry and has grown to serve more than 28,000 students annually in Delaware and Chester counties. Students may pursue associate's degrees and certificates spanning six academic divisions, including majors in business, technology, healthcare and more. DCCC offers a variety of student clubs and organizations to support academic, social, professional and service-oriented initiatives and to build a sense of community on and off-campus. The college awards over $300,000 in scholarships each year.

Quick Facts

  • Delaware County Community College is home to eight intercollegiate sports teams.
  • Students formed the Men of Color Helping Alliance (MOCHA) on campus in 2008 to support and empower ethnic minority male students enrolled at DCCC.
  • DCCC offers 5 locations and a total of 33 associate degrees, 17 transfer degrees and 33 certificate programs.
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16

University of Pittsburgh-Titusville

  10.8%Titusville, PA

University of Pittsburgh-Titusville may have a small population of students, but this institution incorporates globally minded ideas about learning and liberal arts. Students may pursue associate's degrees in over 100 subjects such as biology, history, liberal arts, psychology and natural sciences, as well as additional programs that lead into baccalaureate study. Focused on the adult professional student and with less than 400 people in the student body, Titusville is committed to providing personalized instruction and skill-building for the Pennsylvania workforce. Of the students, 91% hail from Pennsylvania and 86% receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • Average student-teacher ratio is 10:1.
  • 56% of full-time faculty are women.
  • Average yearly financial aid award is $7,037.
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17

Westmoreland County Community College

  12.53%Youngwood, PA

Located in Youngwood, PA, Westmoreland was founded in 1970 to improve "the quality of life of everyone we touch through education, training and cultural enrichment." Students may choose from 63 associate's degrees, 13 diplomas and 55 certificate programs in subjects like business, graphic communication, web technology and many more. They can also pursue additional programs that lead into baccalaureate study. Of a student body of nearly 6,000, ages of students on campus range from 17-75. Westmoreland employs 86 full-time and 400 part-time faculty to deliver classes on weekdays, evenings and weekends.

Quick Facts

  • In addition to the Westmoreland campus, the college also operates six off-campus education centers that serve Westmoreland, Armstrong, Greene and Indiana counties.
  • Courses are available during spring, summer and fall terms.
  • Westmoreland offers more than 140 available courses of study.
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18

Lackawanna College

  26.82%Scranton, PA

Lackawanna College is a two-year, private, non-profit educational institution providing its students with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Established in 1894, Lackawanna operates its main campus in Scranton, with satellite locations in New Milford, Hawley, Towanda and Hazleton. Students may choose from 30 academic majors and subjects, including accounting, environmental science, sustainable agriculture and others. Lackawanna requires all students to satisfy a core curriculum in college writing, college speaking and college-level math and/or statistics, along with additional core electives. Of a student body of 1,408, 420 are freshmen and 98% receive some form of financial aid. Class sizes average 14 students and the student–faculty ratio is 16:1.

Quick Facts

  • Lackawanna's motto is Spes Sibi Quisque (“Let each be a hope unto himself”).
  • 379 Lackawanna students graduated with honors in 2012.
  • Average financial aid packages total $9,698.
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19

Harcum College

  18.42%Bryn Mawr, PA

Harcum College is a two-year institution with a focus on the arts, providing both occupational skill-building and attention to individual academic goals. Opened in 1915, the Harcum campus is now home to 1,700 students from 7 states and 8 countries. Students may choose from over 20 majors in dental hygiene, early childhood education, physical therapy and more, which include practicums and internships for experiential learning. Courses are available at Harcum's Bryn Mawr campus, via other partner locations or online. More than 90% of Harcum students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • Only 5% of students live on campus.
  • Average class size is 16 students.
  • Harcum also offers continuing education and professional development courses.
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20

Butler County Community College

  19.75%Butler, PA

Butler County Community College has been "The Smart Place to Start" for an education in liberal arts and professional training for 49 years. Today, BC3 is home to nearly 3,600 students supporting equality and diversity with a larger population of women than men and minorities representing a substantial percentage of total enrollment. Students may choose from 63 associate's degrees, as well as career programs and those leading to baccalaureate study. Academic divisions encompass business, nursing and allied health, humanities and social sciences and natural science and technology programs. BC3 also offers an extensive online learning option.

Quick Facts

  • BC3 has graduated more than 100,000 students since opening its doors.
  • The college offers over $200,000 in scholarships each year.
  • Work-study and veterans educational benefits are available to students who qualify.
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21

Manor College

  26.6%Jenkintown, PA

Located in suburban Philadelphia, Manor programs focus on the first two years of college, specializing in career training and providing an education that can be transferred to continuing education beyond the Manor College experience. Founded in 1947 by the Byzantine Ukrainian Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, Manor is affiliated with the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Eastern tradition. Manor offers associate's degrees, certificates and high school dual enrollment courses in allied health, science, mathematics and more. Of a total student enrollment of 1,000, 43 countries from around the world are represented on campus. The student–faculty ratio is 13:1 and approximately 96% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • Manor awards $658,000 in scholarships and financial aid each year.
  • The college participates in five NJCAA Division II and III Sports.
  • There are 18 on-campus student clubs and organizations.
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22

Lehigh Carbon Community College

  17.61%Schnecksville, PA

Founded in 1966, Lehigh Carbon Community College offers more than 90 programs of study, providing training for careers in healthcare, information technology, business administration and many more. At both its main campus in Schnecksville, PA and satellite locations in Allentown, Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe, Lehigh Carbon serves a total student enrollment of 7,500, providing associate's degrees, certificates and specialized diploma programs. The student–faculty ratio is 18:1. LCCC makes more than 100 scholarship opportunities available to students to offset tuition costs and 47% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • LCCC offers 17 art programs and 14 science programs.
  • The college offers both for-credit and not-for-credit courses online.
  • Average age of students at LCCC is 25.
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23

Community College of Allegheny County

  10.51%Pittsburgh, PA

Community College of Allegheny County is on a mission to "provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment." CCAC offers students in Allegheny County and surrounding areas the opportunity to build the skills they need to engage in the local workforce as well as their local community. Of a total student enrollment of 48,395, 27% represent ethnic minorities and 39 countries are represented by international students. CCAC offers associate's degrees, certificates and diplomas, in subjects like arts and humanities, business and education. The average age of CCAC students is 27. Roughly $52.8 million in financial aid and scholarships are distributed annually.

Quick Facts

  • 74% of CCAC students selected CCAC as their college of first choice in 2013.
  • AS of 2013, 94% of graduates live and work locally.
  • CCAC supports more than 100 student clubs and organizations.
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24

Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

  31.87%Media, PA

Founded in 1953, the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology aims to provide students with career-focused training and college education transfer opportunities through a combination of traditional learning and hands-on experience. PIT offers ten associate's degree programs in allied health (various concentrations), communications, computer science, engineering, general studies, health science and physical therapist assistant training. The PIT campus serves approximately 800 active students and 150 faculty members. PIT offers free financial aid and career counseling, peer and professional tutoring and job placement assistance. The institution advises students on nearly $15,000 of available scholarship options per year and provides grant opportunities for up to 100% of tuition costs.

Quick Facts

  • PIT's Center City location is located in historic downtown Philadelphia.
  • This institution abides by a “student success-centered” approach to higher education.
  • PIT offers financial aid services for veterans and honors the 1098T and education tax credit.
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25

Valley Forge Military College

  31.2%Wayne, PA

Established in 1928, Valley Forge Military College provides a unique educational experience centered on personal growth. VFMC has structured its learning model according to five cornerstones: academic excellence, character development, personal motivation, physical development and leadership. The VFMC campus serves a diverse student body, representing 31 states and 27 countries. Associate's degrees and certificates are available in non-military-specific majors including business administration, liberal arts and physical sciences, though approximately 40% of graduates pursue the military as a career. Among those who transfer to a four-year institution after VFMC, 95% are accepted to their first or second choices and over 63% are admitted to one of the country's top-tier schools.

Quick Facts

  • 92% of students receive some form of financial aid.
  • VFMC distributes an average of $2.6 million in financial assistance each year.
  • The college offers more than 15 on-campus student activities.
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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Pennsylvania, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Keystone State.

Spanning 46,055 square miles, Pennsylvania boasts a wealth of resources and unique experiences. Fine art enthusiasts can visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while thrill-seekers may find the roller coasters at Pittsburgh’s Kennywood more their speed. History buffs shouldn’t miss Independence National Park in Philadelphia—home to the Liberty Bell and also the location where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Gettysburg Military Museum, Valley Forge, Strasburg’s Amish farms and the state capitol are also major attractions.

The many perks of living in a diversified state make this one a highly desirable place to attend school. Though, as is typical of many high population states, the cost of living in Pennsylvania’s most populated regions is high; the state’s largest city, Philadelphia, is 5.1% more expensive than the national average.

The northern region of the state encompasses coal-mining territory and the Endless Mountains, while central Pennsylvania dips down into rivers and valleys. Greater Pittsburgh sits between the Laurel Highlands and Allegheny National Forest in the west. In the southeast, the Delaware Valley contains the majority of Philadelphia metro, alongside Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the agricultural Pennsylvania Piedmont region.

Regional Spotlight: Southeastern Pennsylvania

  • Major Cities: Philadelphia, Reading
  • Attractions: Gettysburg Museum, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Liberty Bell
  • Cost of Living: Philadelphia
  • Popular Schools: West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Penn State
  • Population: 7.1 million
  • Unemployment: 7.1%
  • Climate: Humid (warmest part of Pennsylvania)

Regional Spotlight: Northeastern Pennsylvania

  • Major Cities: Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston
  • Attractions: Blue Mountain Ski Resort, Houdini Museum, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic
  • Cost of Living: Scranton
  • Popular Schools: Lackawanna College, Penn State (Wilkes-Barre campus), Luzerne County Community College
  • Population: 563,631
  • Unemployment: 5.7%
  • Climate: Moderate

Regional Spotlight: Central Pennsylvania

  • Major Cities: Lancaster, Harrisburg, York
  • Attractions: Susquehanna River Valley, Knoebels Amusement Resort, Indian Caverns
  • Cost of Living: Harrisburg
  • Popular Schools: Franklin and Marshall College, Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
  • Population: 519,445
  • Unemployment: 3.6%
  • Climate: Moderate

Regional Spotlight: Western Pennsylvania

  • Major Cities: Pittsburgh, Eerie, Altoona
  • Attractions: Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Point State Park
  • Cost of Living: Pittsburgh
  • Popular Schools: Carnegie Mellon University, Allegheny College, Community College of Beaver County
  • Population: 4 million
  • Unemployment: 4.6%
  • Climate: Humid

Residency

Pennsylvania’s unique historical identity creates an ideal setting for students. The many world-renowned educational institutions and cultural centers allow for ample research, study and internship opportunities. Those looking to attend school in Pennsylvania should plan to establish residency as soon as possible, prior to enrollment. Residency requirements vary depending on the student’s age and individual university regulations.

For Minors:

Residency of minors in Pennsylvania depends on their parents. The student’s parents must live in the state of Pennsylvania and the student must provide proof of residency at the parent’s household. If the parents are divorced or separated, the minor student must currently live with a parent who is a resident of Pennsylvania to be considered an in-state applicant; he or she cannot reside with an out-of-state parent.

For Adults:

The criteria below are required in order to prove residency in Pennsylvania for the purpose of tuition as an individual age 18 or older:

  • You must physically reside in Pennsylvania for at least 12 consecutive months preceding school enrollment.
  • You must prove intent to maintain your permanent residence in Pennsylvania, including full-time, self-sustaining employment in the state.
  • You must prove that you currently aren’t receiving financial support from someone who is not a resident of Pennsylvania and have not in the past 12 consecutive months.

Additional Resources for Pennsylvania College Students

College Savings

Education Nonprofits

Higher Education News

Official State Links