2021 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

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Published on July 30, 2021

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Pennsylvania features one of the largest higher education systems in the country, housing almost 150 colleges and universities, including 14 state universities, 14 public community colleges, and over 120 private universities. Some of the top schools in the country — including an Ivy League school — and several innovative colleges call Pennsylvania home.

Both in-state and out-of-state learners can pursue higher education in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University developed one of the earliest distance education programs, and now students can choose from many online colleges in Pennsylvania.

To help students make an informed decision, we ranked the best online colleges in Pennsylvania and outlined the benefits of attending each school. Read on to explore your options.

What Are the 2021 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
#2 Villanova University Villanova, PA
#3 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
#4 Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster, PA
#5 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
#6 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
#7 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA
#8 Saint Francis University Loretto, PA
#9 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
#10 Cairn University-Langhorne Langhorne, PA
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile University Park, PA

Located in University Park, Penn State offers a variety of online degree programs through its World Campus, which teaches more than 20,000 students each year.

Penn State hosts more than 150 online options, from undergraduate certificates to doctoral degrees, earning the school recognition as one of the best online colleges in Pennsylvania. Notable online programs include a bachelor of science in biobehavioral health; a bachelor of science in recreation, park, and tourism management; a bachelor of science in turfgrass management; and a master of engineering in additive manufacturing and design.

Tuition costs vary based on the degree level and program, as well as a student's enrollment status. Undergraduate degrees start at $576 per credit. Admission requirements also vary by degree program. All applicants must submit transcripts, and some programs require additional material or proof of prerequisites.

Villanova University View School Profile Villanova, PA

A private institution founded in 1842, Villanova operates as Pennsylvania's oldest and largest Catholic university. Most of Villanova's online offerings are master's degree or graduate certificate programs, although its College of Professional Studies does offer a few bachelor's degree programs for nontraditional learners or students seeking a degree completion pathway.

Notable online programs include a master's in sustainable engineering, a doctor of nursing practice, a master's in church management, and a master's in classical studies.

Admission requirements vary by program, but undergraduate applicants should expect to submit transcripts and an essay. Graduate applicants should expect to submit transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Temple University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Located in Lancaster, PA College initially offered just one nursing program but now offers 18 different degree options in the health sciences.

As one of the top online colleges in Pennsylvania, PA College offers eight online programs and a variety of other online courses to make its in-person programs more flexible and convenient. Notable online degree programs include a bachelor of science in health sciences, a bachelor of science in healthcare administration, and a master of science in nursing education.

General tuition costs are $628 per credit for undergraduate courses, $896 per credit for master's courses, and $1,030 per credit for doctoral courses. Some programs or courses are more expensive. Admission requirements vary based on the program of study, but applicants should expect to submit a transcript and relevant test scores.

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences View School Profile Lancaster, PA

Located in Lancaster, PA College initially offered just one nursing program but now offers 18 different degree options in the health sciences.

As one of the top online colleges in Pennsylvania, PA College offers eight online programs and a variety of other online courses to make its in-person programs more flexible and convenient. Notable online degree programs include a bachelor of science in health sciences, a bachelor of science in healthcare administration, and a master of science in nursing education.

General tuition costs are $628 per credit for undergraduate courses, $896 per credit for master's courses, and $1,030 per credit for doctoral courses. Some programs or courses are more expensive. Admission requirements vary based on the program of study, but applicants should expect to submit a transcript and relevant test scores.

Duquesne University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA

A private institution located in Pittsburgh, Duquesne represents the only Spiritan-based university in the U.S. Duquesne's online campus focuses primarily on graduate programs, including a doctor of pharmacy, doctor of philosophy in nursing, and a master of science in leadership. Duquesne's two online undergraduate programs include a bachelor's in computer systems technology and a bachelor's in organizational leadership.

Online programs use the same tuition rates as on-campus programs. Admission requirements vary from program to program. However, applicants can expect to submit transcripts and letters of recommendation. Additionally, graduate applicants may need to provide a resume, while undergraduate applicants must submit an essay. Online nursing applicants must reside in specific states.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania View School Profile Slippery Rock, PA

A public institution located in the town of the same name, SRU opened its doors in 1889 as a teaching school. Today, SRU offers seven online undergraduate degree completion programs in areas like accounting, management, and nursing. SRU also offers three graduate certificate programs, 17 online master's programs, and two doctoral programs.

Online undergraduate tuition costs $322 per credit for in-state students and $328 per credit for out-of-state students. In general, online graduate tuition costs $516 per credit for in-state students and $526 for out-of-state students.

First-year applicants must submit transcripts, and students showing a GPA of at least 3.25 will be automatically admitted. Graduate applicants should review the application requirements of their program of interest.

Saint Joseph's University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

A private institution located in Philadelphia, SJU teaches from a Jesuit perspective, which prioritizes "care of the entire person."

SJU offers one online undergraduate degree program: a bachelor of liberal studies in general studies. The university also offers various certificate options and eight master's programs online in areas like health administration, criminal justice, and education. Online undergraduate tuition costs $584 per credit, while online graduate tuition ranges from $796-$1,107 per credit.

Admission requirements vary. However, both undergraduate and graduate applicants should expect to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Saint Francis University View School Profile Loretto, PA

A private university located in Loretto, Saint Francis traces its roots back to 1847, when five Franciscan friars from Ireland began clearing land for the future campus.

Through its online branch — Francis Worldwide — students can enroll in fully online degree programs in business, education, healthcare, and human services. Depending on their program, students can pursue an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree online. The school also offers a variety of post-baccalaureate certificates.

Online undergraduate tuition costs $485 per credit, and online graduate tuition ranges from $625-$850 per credit. All applicants must submit transcripts. Graduate applicants should also expect to submit a resume.

Thomas Jefferson University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Located in Philadelphia, Jefferson formed after Philadelphia University merged with Jefferson Medical College in 2017.

Jefferson offers eight online bachelor's programs, 12 online master's programs, and three online doctoral programs. Notable areas of study include midwifery, sustainable design, and disaster medicine and management. Tuition costs $605 per credit for undergraduate programs. Graduate tuition costs vary widely depending on the program.

All applicants must submit transcripts, and graduate applicants may also be asked to submit a resume. Online students can access various services, including tutoring, IT help, library services, and career services.

Cairn University-Langhorne View School Profile Langhorne, PA

A private university located in Langhorne, Cairn traces its roots back to 1913. Faculty deliver classes from a Christian perspective.

Students at Cairn can earn online certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees in fields like biblical studies, business administration, and sport management. Cairn also offers online degree completion programs and accelerated bachelor's-to-master's pathways. Undergraduate tuition costs $425 per credit, while graduate tuition ranges from $609-$774 per credit.

First-year applicants must submit transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and an essay. Graduate application requirements vary, although aspiring students typically need to submit transcripts, an essay, and letters of reference.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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