Private Universities in Pennsylvania: A Complete List

Private universities in Pennsylvania feature high acceptance rates and excellent programs. Learn more about what these schools can offer you.
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Updated on September 7, 2023
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Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn, wrote famed Pennsylvanian and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin of education. Over 200 years later, private universities in Pennsylvania uphold Franklin's ideas with engaging undergraduate and graduate programs.

Top private colleges in Pennsylvania may cost more than comparable public schools, but their resources, faculty, and majors can make them an attractive option depending on your academic and career interests.

Use this guide to research popular private universities in Pennsylvania and explore the many benefits of studying there.

5 Popular Private Universities in Pennsylvania

The following private colleges in Pennsylvania are well known for their academic rigor, student success, and overall positive reputations. Consider applying to them today.

1. University of Pennsylvania

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $26,123
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 28,201

A member of the Ivy League, Penn features undergraduate majors in four schools. The university's Wharton School prides itself on its extensive alumni network and positive graduate outcomes. Consider Penn if you want to major in a STEM field, as the university invests a ton in scientific research.

Penn offers many on- and off-campus housing options and runs markets open to the public. Services within the extensive athletics department include personal trainers and group exercise sessions.

2. Carnegie Mellon University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $33,499
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 16,002

Situated in the heart of Pittsburgh, CMU educates over 14,000 students. You can choose an undergraduate major from one of the university's seven colleges. You can also customize your education through the university's variety of interdisciplinary majors and minors.

CMU wants to inspire athleticism in every learner with the Highmark Center, a state-of-the-art athletics facility under construction as of July 2023. Other ways to get involved at CMU include joining one of more than 400 student organizations or applying to one of the university's many fraternities and sororities.

3. Villanova University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $34,837
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 10,383

A Catholic school located in the Philadelphia suburbs, Villanova educates nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers seven fully online undergraduate degrees, such as human resource management and general studies. Undergraduates can enhance their education with a five-year bachelor's/master's program.

Villanova helps you make the most of your time on campus with many student organizations, fitness centers, and state-of-the-art facilities. You can give back to the community by signing up for one of the Center for Service and Social Justice's volunteer opportunities.

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4. Drexel University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $39,267
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 22,344

Founded in 1891, Drexel runs three campuses in Philadelphia and partners with universities around the world, including in China and Brazil. You can select from dozens of majors and may qualify for the Pennoni Honors College. Honors students can create a custom-tailored major or minor in interdisciplinary problem-solving.

Student organizations and Greek life define the Drexel campus experience. Nearly half of learners join a sport or participate in one of the university's many recreational programs.

5. Swarthmore College

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $20,715
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 1,625

Founded during the Civil War, Swarthmore College has an 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and a 425-acre campus surrounded by nature. Some of the college's dozens of undergraduate majors include cognitive science, Latin, and peace and conflict studies. You can also design a unique major.

Many opportunities exist for you to get involved in campus life, including the Swarthmore Christian Fellowship and Queer Union. The college's athletics department features 20 varsity sports. You can also explore club sports, such as fencing.

List of All Private Universities in Pennsylvania

We've created a complete list of all four-year nonprofit private universities in Pennsylvania. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Schools that enroll fewer than 500 undergrads were not included in this list.

All Private Colleges in Pennsylvania
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
Albright College 1,465 $21,496 85% 5,578
Allegheny College 1,575 $26,719 70% 4,148
Alvernia University 2,536 $27,091 59% 5,703
Arcadia University 3,064 $29,692 78% 6,321
Bryn Mawr College 1,778 $39,072 31% 3,594
Bucknell University 3,757 $39,965 33% 11,707
Cabrini University 1,760 $21,981 79% 3,403
Cairn University-Langhorne 1,116 $25,923 81% 468
Carlow University 1,984 $17,437 93% 1,124
Carnegie Mellon University 15,057 $33,499 11% 34,261
Cedar Crest College 1,440 $23,500 84% 946
Chatham University 2,439 $28,322 66% 3,514
Chestnut Hill College 1,505 $25,357 98% 1,543
Delaware Valley University 2,168 $29,256 95% 2,299
DeSales University 3,101 $29,104 77% 3,662
Dickinson College 2,186 $37,610 35% 8,261
Drexel University 23,216 $39,267 80% 37,040
Duquesne University 8,300 $33,919 87% 12,376
Eastern University 4,429 $26,669 63% 2,994
Elizabethtown College 1,933 $26,723 81% 2,977
Franklin and Marshall College 2,145 $31,135 36% 8,923
Gannon University 4,596 $22,200 81% 6,678
Geneva College 1,315 $20,999 79% 1,575
Gettysburg College 2,401 $33,882 56% 5,796
Grove City College 2,317 $23,538 71% 2,174
Gwynedd Mercy University 2,521 $28,122 58% 1,063
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology 3,206 $10,022 84% 1,160
Haverford College 1,420 $23,476 14% 5,657
Holy Family University 3,011 $12,379 77% 1,986
Immaculata University 2,478 $29,188 70% 2,188
Juniata College 1,290 $29,926 76% 2,563
Keystone College 1,244 $15,559 81% 1,572
King's College 2,130 $25,869 96% 3,216
La Roche University 1,235 $24,233 97% 3,222
La Salle University 4,043 $17,552 94% 5,214
Lafayette College 2,725 $37,186 34% 10,500
Lancaster Bible College 1,967 $21,415 97% 351
Lebanon Valley College 2,041 $26,743 77% 3,130
Lehigh University 7,263 $30,453 37% 15,163
Lycoming College 1,089 $19,697 75% 3,039
Marywood University 2,647 $22,504 81% 2,645
Mercyhurst University 3,041 $24,935 81% 3,625
Messiah University 3,276 $24,120 79% 2,438
Misericordia University 2,239 $27,033 89% 2,196
Moravian University 2,560 $31,168 67% 3,284
Mount Aloysius College 2,706 $20,564 86% 1,865
Muhlenberg College 2,095 $32,926 66% 4,329
Neumann University 2,212 $28,707 85% 3,501
Peirce College 875 $9,621 100% NA
Point Park University 3,505 $24,702 82% 6,033
Robert Morris University 3,764 $23,572 94% 4,684
Saint Francis University 3,034 $27,459 73% 2,167
Saint Joseph's University 6,464 $33,777 89% 9,708
Saint Vincent College 1,592 $23,121 73% 2,163
Seton Hill University 2,012 $24,576 78% 2,668
Susquehanna University 2,202 $28,605 77% 6,375
Swarthmore College 1,651 $20,715 7% 14,707
The University of the Arts 1,557 $42,467 80% 1,086
Thiel College 845 $22,732 82% 1,878
Thomas Jefferson University 8,270 $28,110 89% 5,723
University of Pennsylvania 28,038 $26,123 7% 54,588
University of Scranton 4,692 $35,526 84% 9,530
University of Valley Forge 583 $25,825 82% 370
Ursinus College 1,556 $33,546 82% 3,237
Villanova University 10,870 $34,837 23% 23,835
Washington & Jefferson College 1,157 $25,636 88% 3,414
Waynesburg University 1,470 $22,281 76% 2,157
Westminster College 1,225 $22,645 75% 2,225
Widener University 5,875 $32,185 88% 5,961
Wilkes University 5,276 $27,918 94% 4,798
Wilson College 1,405 $23,923 94% 739
York College of Pennsylvania 3,852 $20,916 96% 4,529
Source: NCES

How Much Do Private Colleges in Pennsylvania Cost?

In general, private universities in Pennsylvania cost significantly more than public universities, regardless of whether you're an in-state or out-of-state student.

According to NCES, four-year private universities in Pennsylvania cost an average of $43,926 in tuition and fees in 2021 — that's roughly $18,000 more than the average cost for out-of-state students at public colleges in the state.

Cost of College in Pennsylvania in 2021
Institution Type Average Tuition & Required Fees
Public 4-Year (in-state) $14,532
Public 4-Year (out-of-state) $25,697
Private 4-Year $43,926
Source: NCES

Benefits of Studying in Pennsylvania

The many top private universities in Pennsylvania make up just one of the reasons you should consider studying in the Keystone State.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Pennsylvania experienced a low 4% unemployment rate in May 2023. This figure suggests a good economy with open positions for recent college graduates.

Private colleges in Pennsylvania can prepare you for a career with one of the state's top employers, such as Amazon, UPS, and Comcast. These and other companies require a college education for many entry-level positions. Living in Pennsylvania also places you near New York City and other major metropolitan areas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Private Universities in Pennsylvania

How many private universities are in Pennsylvania?

There are over 100 four-year nonprofit private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, according to NCES. These include secular and religious institutions, and most have an acceptance rate above 50%. Student body size also varies greatly, giving you many options to find the right educational experience.

Start your research of private colleges in Pennsylvania by comparing their majors with your academic interests. Also, check whether schools and programs hold proper accreditation. These two steps can help you narrow your college search significantly.

What Ivy League colleges are in Pennsylvania?

The only Ivy League college in Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania features a distinguished faculty and students who often become leaders in their fields. Penn and the other seven Ivy League schools date back over 200 years and rank as some of the world's best institutions of higher learning.

Keep in mind that prestige isn't everything. Academic offerings, graduate outcomes, and support services may make a greater impact on your life after graduation.

Is it expensive to go to college in Pennsylvania?

Private four-year colleges in Pennsylvania charge considerably more than the state's public schools. Even out-of-state students tend to save money at a Pennsylvania public colleges compared to those attending private schools.

Your cost of attendance (COA) includes tuition and fees, in addition to expenses like housing, meals, fees, and personal expenses. You can lower your COA by applying for institutional and private scholarships. 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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