Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

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.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

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

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

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! 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 in their fields of study.

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

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

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 80 liberal arts universities in Pennsylvania. To be ranked among the 30 best liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #4

    Dickinson College

    Carlisle , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Dickinson College known for?

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

    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #5

    Bucknell University

    Lewisburg , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #6

    Lafayette College

    Easton , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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:

    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Washington & Jefferson College

    Washington , PA

    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:

    • Medical
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    Franklin & Marshall College

    Lancaster , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    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:

    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Gettysburg College

    Gettysburg , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Gettysburg College known for?

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

    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #10

    La Salle University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    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:

    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    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:

    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #12

    Lincoln University

    Lincoln University , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/17

    What is Lincoln University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    University of Scranton

    Scranton , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #14

    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:

    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Elizabethtown College

    Elizabethtown , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    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
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #16

    West Chester University

    West Chester , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    What is West Chester University known for?

    West Chester University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #17

    Ursinus College

    Collegeville , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Economics
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #18

    Eastern University

    Saint Davids , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    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:

    • Anthropology
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #19

    Chestnut Hill College

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Chestnut Hill College known for?

    Chestnut Hill College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #20

    Muhlenberg College

    Allentown , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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:

    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #21

    Allegheny College

    Meadville , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    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:

    • Communications
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/21

    What is Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania known for?

    Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  22. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/20

    What is California University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Law
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #24

    Arcadia University

    Glenside , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    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:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • History
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #25

    DeSales University

    Center Valley , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/25

    What is DeSales University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    What is University of Pittsburgh at Bradford known for?

    University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  26. #27

    Juniata College

    Huntingdon , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Juniata College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  27. #28

    Lycoming College

    Williamsport , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  28. #29

    Albright College

    Reading , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Albright College known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  29. #30

    Carlow University

    Pittsburgh , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1066/21

    What is Carlow University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Medical
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  30. #31

    Neumann University

    Aston , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/18

    What is Neumann University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
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Find the Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Pennsylvania for Your Area of Interest

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put 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.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Swarthmore College
  2. Bryn Mawr College
  3. Haverford College
  4. Westminster College
  5. Bucknell University
  6. Dickinson College
  7. Franklin & Marshall College
  8. Saint Francis University
  9. Elizabethtown College
  10. Lafayette College
  11. Allegheny College
  12. Washington & Jefferson College
  13. Ursinus College
  14. Susquehanna University
  15. Gettysburg College
  16. University of Scranton
  17. La Salle University
  18. Grove City College
  19. Arcadia University
  20. Eastern University
  21. Saint Joseph's University
  22. Point Park University
  23. Muhlenberg College
  24. Lycoming College
  25. Albright College