Pennsylvania’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Pennsylvania’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges 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.

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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.


What are Pennsylvania’s Colleges & Universities?

Pennsylvania’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified a total of 97 liberal arts colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, 71 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 25 best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

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

Methodology

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.

25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #5

    Bucknell University

    Lewisburg , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1342/30

    What is Bucknell University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #6

    Dickinson College

    Carlisle , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Dickinson College known for?

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

    • Law
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Franklin & Marshall College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  5. Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/23

    What is Saint Francis University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #9

    Elizabethtown College

    Elizabethtown , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/24

    What is Elizabethtown College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #10

    Lafayette College

    Easton , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is Lafayette College known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #11

    Allegheny College

    Meadville , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/27

    What is Allegheny College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    REQUEST INFO
  9. Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Washington & Jefferson College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #13

    Ursinus College

    Collegeville , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/27

    What is Ursinus College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #14

    Susquehanna University

    Selinsgrove , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Susquehanna University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Law
    • Political Science
    REQUEST INFO
  12. #15

    Gettysburg College

    Gettysburg , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Gettysburg College known for?

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

    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #16

    University of Scranton

    Scranton , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/26

    What is University of Scranton known for?

    University of Scranton’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #17

    La Salle University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    What is La Salle University known for?

    La Salle University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #18

    Grove City College

    Grove City , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1257/26

    What is Grove City College known for?

    Grove City College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  16. #19

    Arcadia University

    Glenside , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    What is Arcadia University known for?

    Arcadia University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #20

    Eastern University

    Saint Davids , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is Eastern University known for?

    Eastern University ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #21

    Saint Joseph's University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    What is Saint Joseph's University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    REQUEST INFO
  19. #22

    Point Park University

    Pittsburgh , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    What is Point Park University known for?

    Point Park University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #23

    Muhlenberg College

    Allentown , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/28

    What is Muhlenberg College known for?

    Muhlenberg College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Business
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. #24

    Lycoming College

    Williamsport , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/21

    What is Lycoming College known for?

    Lycoming College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #25

    Albright College

    Reading , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Albright College known for?

    Albright College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO

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