Pennsylvania’s Best Colleges and Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Pennsylvania’s Best Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

Prospective students hoping to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree have over 100 higher learning institutions to choose from. The largest public university is Pennsylvania State University, or Penn State, with a tuition of $18,000, and a student population of over 95,000 across its campuses. As a private institution, the University of Pennsylvania, or simply Penn, is known for its medical, nursing, social work, and business fields. Tuition is $56,000, and the school boasts a 95% graduation rate.

Students can also attend one of the more than 60 religiously affiliated schools, such as Villanova University or Lafayette College, each with a tuition of about $53,000. Some of the most affordable colleges in the state include the Curtis Institute of Music and the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, with tuitions set at $3,000 and $9,000, respectively. Though the average tuition for college in Pennsylvania comes in above the national average, those who practice medicine in underserved areas may qualify for up to $100,000 in loan forgiveness through the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program.

As the nation’s second state, Pennsylvania’s history runs deep. It’s here where Betsy Ross made the first American flag and where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Keystone State is also home to some culinary delights, including whoopie pies, soft pretzels, and the famous Philly cheesesteak. Students looking to earn their degree in Pennsylvania will undoubtedly enjoy what the state has to offer.

Check out the state’s top programs and learn more about earning your degree in Pennsylvania.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Pennsylvania's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. Finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge with an accurate, objective, and up-to-date ranking of the best colleges and universities in Pennsylvania for earning a bachelor’s degree.

We’ve identified a total of 115 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, 89 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the top 25 schools focuses on those that offer four-year undergraduate degrees, includes both public and private colleges and universities, and also meet the following two conditions:

  1. It must be fully accredited.
  2. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%, and the top 25 schools have graduation rates greater than 60%.

25 Best Colleges & Universities in Pennsylvania

  1. Swarthmore College
    #1

    Swarthmore College

    #128 institution's overall influence
    #22 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/32

    Swarthmore, PA

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    What is Swarthmore College known for?

    Swarthmore College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Carnegie Mellon University
    #2

    Carnegie Mellon University

    #46 institution's overall influence
    #35 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/34

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is Carnegie Mellon University known for?

    Carnegie Mellon University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. University of Pennsylvania
    #3

    University of Pennsylvania

    #17 institution's overall influence
    #10 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1485/33

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

    University of Pennsylvania's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Bryn Mawr College
    #4

    Bryn Mawr College

    #181 institution's overall influence
    #119 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    2K

    Bryn Mawr, PA

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    What is Bryn Mawr College known for?

    Bryn Mawr College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Haverford College
    #5

    Haverford College

    #319 institution's overall influence
    #73 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/33

    Haverford, PA

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    What is Haverford College known for?

    Haverford College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. University of Pittsburgh
    #6

    University of Pittsburgh

    #71 institution's overall influence
    #987 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/30

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is University of Pittsburgh known for?

    University of Pittsburgh's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Westminster College
    #7

    Westminster College

    #1565 institution's overall influence
    #350 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    New Wilmington, PA

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    What is Westminster College known for?

    Westminster College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Lehigh University
    #8

    Lehigh University

    #314 institution's overall influence
    #89 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1360/31

    Bethlehem, PA

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    What is Lehigh University known for?

    Lehigh University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Bucknell University
    #9

    Bucknell University

    #517 institution's overall influence
    #108 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/30

    Lewisburg, PA

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    What is Bucknell University known for?

    Bucknell University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Wilkes University
    #10

    Wilkes University

    #1028 institution's overall influence
    #386 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

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    What is Wilkes University known for?

    Wilkes University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Dickinson College
    #11

    Dickinson College

    #471 institution's overall influence
    #1095 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    Carlisle, PA

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    What is Dickinson College known for?

    Dickinson College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Education
    • History
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Drexel University
    #12

    Drexel University

    #264 institution's overall influence
    #54 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/27

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Drexel University known for?

    Drexel University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Franklin & Marshall College
    #13

    Franklin & Marshall College

    #826 institution's overall influence
    #147 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    3K

    Lancaster, PA

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    What is Franklin & Marshall College known for?

    Franklin & Marshall College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Pennsylvania State University
    #14

    Pennsylvania State University

    #108 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/27

    University Park, PA

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    What is Pennsylvania State University known for?

    Pennsylvania State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Saint Francis University
    #15

    Saint Francis University

    #1466 institution's overall influence
    #1108 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    Loretto, PA

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    What is Saint Francis University known for?

    Saint Francis University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Elizabethtown College
    #16

    Elizabethtown College

    #1482 institution's overall influence
    #713 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    Elizabethtown, PA

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    What is Elizabethtown College known for?

    Elizabethtown College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Villanova University
    #17

    Villanova University

    #480 institution's overall influence
    #198 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    29%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1385/31

    Villanova, PA

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    What is Villanova University known for?

    Villanova University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Law
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Lafayette College
    #18

    Lafayette College

    #545 institution's overall influence
    #112 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    29%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1342/29

    Easton, PA

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    What is Lafayette College known for?

    Lafayette College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Thomas Jefferson University
    #19

    Thomas Jefferson University

    #663 institution's overall influence
    #568 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/25

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Thomas Jefferson University known for?

    Thomas Jefferson University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Temple University
    #20

    Temple University

    #182 institution's overall influence
    #1402 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    34K

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Temple University known for?

    Temple University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. Allegheny College
    #21

    Allegheny College

    #559 institution's overall influence
    #283 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/27

    Meadville, PA

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    What is Allegheny College known for?

    Allegheny College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. Washington & Jefferson College
    #22

    Washington & Jefferson College

    #612 institution's overall influence
    #664 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    1K

    Washington, PA

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    What is Washington & Jefferson College known for?

    Washington & Jefferson College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. Ursinus College
    #23

    Ursinus College

    #1048 institution's overall influence
    #300 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/25

    Collegeville, PA

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    What is Ursinus College known for?

    Ursinus College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. Susquehanna University
    #24

    Susquehanna University

    #1836 institution's overall influence
    #347 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Selinsgrove, PA

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    What is Susquehanna University known for?

    Susquehanna University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. Gettysburg College
    #25

    Gettysburg College

    #969 institution's overall influence
    #227 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    3K

    Gettysburg, PA

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    What is Gettysburg College known for?

    Gettysburg College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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