Accredited Schools & Colleges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania College Guide – What You Need to Know

Best Colleges & Universities in Pennsylvania

The East Coast is full of great schools, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Some of the best colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are also at the top of most national lists. University of Pennsylvania, for instance, is home to a top business school and tops most national lists. The state is packed with great public schools, as well.

Penn State is home to eighteen different colleges that offer a comprehensive list of graduate and undergraduate degrees. You can study Agricultural Sciences, Nursing, Technology, or Law, among many others. While Penn State's home campus in University Park educates a running population of about 40,000 students, other schools in the Penn State University system are a bit smaller. Slippery Rock University, for example, has a campus population of around 8,000 and still manages to offer a comprehensive slate of degree programs. SRU offers students a foundation in Arts, Communications, Business programs, and Wellness/Fitness, among many more.

What are the most popular bachelor's degrees offered in Pennsylvania?

If you are a student seeking one of the bachelor's degrees offered in Pennsylvania, you will have a lot to choose from. You can study pretty much any topic you choose without leaving the state. While there are many obscure fields you could pursue and thrive in, there are naturally a few select bachelor's degrees that are more popular. Pennsylvanians tend to be involved in many of the same majors that are popular nationwide, such as Business Administration, Health Sciences, and Psychology, to name three. The Liberal Arts seem more popular in Pennsylvania than other states, and Information Science is less commonly found in a state's top five most popular majors.

Regardless of what the most popular majors are, you should seek out the major that speaks most to you. Whether that happens to be Business, Philosophy, or Nursing, if you seek personal success and achievement over what you think others expect then you will graduate with an education that you can be proud of.

The top degrees in Pennsylvania include:

How Much Can You Make by Having a Degree in Pennsylvania

$27,040* $37,024* $43,472* $60,996* $72,852* $90,636*

Cost of Pennsylvania College Education & Salaries

Education is not free, at least not yet. In the meantime, we need to analyze our financial situation to ensure that college costs are covered, contained, or at least manageable. After all, the news is full of stories detailing how people struggle with student loans. While loans are essentially inevitable in our current climate, there are ways to reduce how much we borrow and how we repay the loans.

To cover costs, you can try a few routes. Your college might have a work-study program that allow you to work on campus as a way to offset some of your financial burden. Many students don't get much out of their jobs, but they can sometimes lead to real careers. For instance, you might land a job helping in the business office, which could inform your work in accounting, or you could work in the library, a job that some have used to springboard a career as a librarian.

You could also seek out employers that offer tuition reimbursement. These programs are most often offered to first-time college students in a degree program. If you are currently working, see if your employer offers a program like this.

Other cost-containment efforts can include: attending an in-state public university, taking core courses at a community college, and applying for private grants and scholarships. In Pennsylvania, there is a great diversity in the State University system, and you should be able to study anything you want. Plus, if you go out-of-state, you might spend upwards of three times your in-state tuition.

Finally, if you do end up taking on a large debt load, consider loan deferral programs. President Obama enacted a program that lets you work off your loan debt by working for a non-profit or government organization. While your paychecks might be a bit smaller than those of your peers, you'll be gaining experience without paying off bank interest and/or fees.

College Cost Analysis - Pennsylvania vs National

Average Pennsylvania Tuition & Fees at 4 Year Public Schools

In-State Tuition - $12,200

National – $10,000

Out-of-State – $19,100

National – $25,600

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

Pennsylvania tracks well against national Financial Aid averages. The state is less than 3% shy of the national average for federal grant receipts and less than five-hundred dollars over the average aid received. If you are seeking financial aid to help pay for college, Pennsylvania is a great place to be. However, after you complete your FAFSA, look for private grants and scholarships to find extra, interest-free assistance.

Financial Aid Pennsylvania Nationally
Received Federal Grants 35% 37.7%
Average $ per Recipient $11,398 $10,927

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Pennsylvania College Tuition Costs Vs Salary Potential

Helping You Maximize Your Education Earnings

Pennsylvania Colleges Tuition & Fees In State Tuition & Fees Out Of state Books & Supplies Room & Board Campus Room & Board Off Campus Graduation Rate Grads Median Salary
University of Pennsylvania $53,534 $53,534 $1,300 $15,066 $15,066 95% $85,900
Carnegie Mellon University $53,900 $53,900 $1,000 $13,800 n/a 89% $83,600
Villanova University $51,300 $52,300 $1,100 $13,500 $13,500 90% $77,900
Bucknell University $54,000 $54,000 $900 $13,200 $13,200 89% $70,800
Swarthmore College $50,800 $50,800 $1,300 $15,000 n/a 94% $56,700
Penn State - Wilkes-Barre $13,600 $21,200 $1,800 n/a $11,300 49% $50,100
Penn State - York $14,500 $22,400 $1,800 n/a $11,300 50% $50,100
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania $10,500 $22,000 $1,200 $9,400 $9,400 62% $44,500
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania $10,000 $14,000 $1,700 $11,300 $11,300 54% $41,600
Lock Haven University $10,600 $20,100 $1,700 $10,000 $10,000 49% $41,500

**Salary after attending is a median salary, your degree and field can affect your median salary.

Best Scholarships for Pennsylvania

A scholarship or grant can make a huge difference in your college financial plan. While some scholarships offer to cover your entire educational bill, others only cover a small percentage. Nevertheless, it's always worthwhile to apply to even the smallest scholarships. Though they may only cover a portion of your book bill, for instance, you can put the award on your resume forever. Further, if you do a massive canvassing for those small scholarships, you might win enough to make a real difference.

  • PCS
  • AAUW
  • NFB
  • HSF
  • JBF
  • APCS
  • ASEC


Penn College Scholarships
Amount: Varies
Deadline: March 1
Students at the Pennsylvania College of Technology can apply once per year to be considered for approximately 250 scholarships. Each year submit your Penn College Scholarship Application to be automatically considered for all of the awards. Some of these scholarships renew each year and if you win one year then you'll have first dibs on the next year's award. All you need to do is maintain a 2.5 GPA and apply in a timely fashion.



American Association of University Women
Amount: $1,000- $2,500 (4 Awards)
Deadline: October 31
The AAUW sponsors a series of scholarships that are available to women college students. To qualify for most of them you must be attending college, with between 15-60 credits already under your belt. Most are general scholarships that don't require any specific major or career aspirations. However, there is a STEM scholarship (Ronald D. and Kathleen A. Krausse STEM Scholarship) that requires a cumulative GPA of 3.25. Further, applicants must be attending a Pennsylvania college or university, be a resident of Dauphin or Cumberland County, and prove academic achievement plus financial need. Note that the Krausse and Beverly J. Smith Memorial Scholarship are also open to residents of Perry County.



National Federation of the Blind – Scholarship Program
Amount: $3,000-$12,000
Deadline: March 31
Blind scholars from all 50 states and Puerto Rico are invited to apply for the NFB scholarship program. They offer up to 30 merit-based scholarships. If you qualify as a finalist, you will then attend the national convention in July, where the winners are selected. This is a very prestigious scholarship and recipients have gone on to stellar careers in computer science, engineering, and law. Even being a finalist is a huge achievement that you should put on your resume.



Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Amount: $500-$5,000
Deadline: February 15
The HSF provides awards to students at every level. Whether you're a high school senior headed to a four-year institution, a current undergraduate of any year, a community college student headed to a University, or a graduate student poised for greatness, you can apply to this scholarship fund. To qualify, high school students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, college and graduate students should have a minimum GPA of 2.5. While all majors are encouraged to apply, special emphasis is given to students working in STEM fields.



James Beard Foundation
Amount: $20,000
Deadline: Sign up for updates and deadlines
If you are attending, or plan to attend culinary school, the James Beard Foundation has monies to help you foot the bill. There are three general awards:

  • Friends of James Beard: Helps with tuition and even post-school expenses.
  • James Beard School Scholarships: Covers tuition costs. Some scholarships are renewable.
  • Grants: If you are a working chef but wish to visit farms, fisheries, wineries, or other food producing areas or companies, you can win an award that makes this possible.

Sign up on the James Beard website to receive information on upcoming application deadlines and more.


Annual Pool Cleaner Scholarship
Amount: $1,500
Deadline: Varies
You don't need to be a pool cleaner to win this scholarship, but you should be a good writer. This is essentially an essay contest that asks you to write about one of five topics. Your writing will be judged on the basis of creativity, expressive ability, writing skill, essay organization/structure, and your ability to demonstrate consistent logic.


Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
Amount: $25,000 (1st Place - 1); $2,500 (2nd Place - 3); $500 (3rd Place - 5); $100 (Finalists - 50)
Deadline: Varies
This essay contest asks that you read and analyze Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. The Ayn Rand Institute offers three topics to choose from. They will ask you to delve rather deep into the novel, so be sure to read it carefully and engage in discussions with others who are fans. For extra background you can read Rand's essays, "Faith and Force" and "Of Living Death."