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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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.

More see more Less see less

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%.

Pennsylvania's Best Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

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

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 “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.

More see more Less see less

25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    #142 institution's historical influence
    #22 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    Swarthmore, PA

    View profile

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Bryn Mawr College

    #251 institution's historical influence
    #119 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Bryn Mawr, PA

    View profile

    What is Bryn Mawr College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Haverford College

    #325 institution's historical influence
    #73 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    Haverford, PA

    View profile

    What is Haverford College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Westminster College

    #2462 institution's historical influence
    #350 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1077/22

    New Wilmington, PA

    View profile

    What is Westminster College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Business
    • History
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Bucknell University

    #666 institution's historical influence
    #108 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1342/30

    Lewisburg, PA

    View profile

    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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Dickinson College

    #587 institution's historical influence
    #1095 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    Carlisle, PA

    View profile

    What is Dickinson College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Franklin & Marshall College

    #967 institution's historical influence
    #147 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    3K

    Lancaster, PA

    View profile

    What is Franklin & Marshall College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Saint Francis University

    #1869 institution's historical influence
    #1108 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/23

    Loretto, PA

    View profile

    What is Saint Francis University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Elizabethtown College

    #1508 institution's historical influence
    #713 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/24

    Elizabethtown, PA

    View profile

    What is Elizabethtown College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Lafayette College

    #548 institution's historical influence
    #112 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Easton, PA

    View profile

    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
    • Economics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Allegheny College

    #807 institution's historical influence
    #283 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/27

    Meadville, PA

    View profile

    What is Allegheny College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    Washington & Jefferson College

    #751 institution's historical influence
    #664 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    1K

    Washington, PA

    View profile

    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
    • Economics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Ursinus College

    #1512 institution's historical influence
    #300 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/27

    Collegeville, PA

    View profile

    What is Ursinus College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Susquehanna University

    #2333 institution's historical influence
    #347 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    2K

    Selinsgrove, PA

    View profile

    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
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    Gettysburg College

    #994 institution's historical influence
    #227 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    Gettysburg, PA

    View profile

    What is Gettysburg College known for?

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

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

    University of Scranton

    #1260 institution's historical influence
    #567 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/26

    Scranton, PA

    View profile

    What is University of Scranton known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    La Salle University

    #1219 institution's historical influence
    #361 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    5K

    Philadelphia, PA

    View profile

    What is La Salle University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    Grove City College

    #1673 institution's historical influence
    #988 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1257/26

    Grove City, PA

    View profile

    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
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    Arcadia University

    #2081 institution's historical influence
    #812 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    Glenside, PA

    View profile

    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
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    Eastern University

    #2137 institution's historical influence
    #1415 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Saint Davids, PA

    View profile

    What is Eastern University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. #21

    Saint Joseph's University

    #1166 institution's historical influence
    #266 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Philadelphia, PA

    View profile

    What is Saint Joseph's University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  22. #22

    Point Park University

    #3039 institution's historical influence
    #439 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Pittsburgh, PA

    View profile

    What is Point Park University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #23

    Muhlenberg College

    #970 institution's historical influence
    #1247 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/28

    Allentown, PA

    View profile

    What is Muhlenberg College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Lycoming College

    #3025 institution's historical influence
    #935 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/21

    Williamsport, PA

    View profile

    What is Lycoming College known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #25

    Albright College

    #3589 institution's historical influence
    #289 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Reading, PA

    View profile

    What is Albright College known for?

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

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

Find the Best Schools in Pennsylvania for your Major


Resources for College-Bound Students