Best Private Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Pennsylvania.

Best Private 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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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How do we determine Pennsylvania's best private 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.

This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 76 private universities in Pennsylvania. To be included in the list below of the 30 best private universities in Pennsylvania, schools must be fully accredited, private, non-profit institution, and must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

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Best Private Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

  1. #1

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    What is Carnegie Mellon University known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    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
  4. #4

    Lehigh University

    Bethlehem , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1365/31

    What is Lehigh University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    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
  6. #7

    Villanova University

    Villanova , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1395/32

    What is Villanova University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #9

    Duquesne University

    Pittsburgh , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    What is Duquesne University known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Education
    • History
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #10

    Thomas Jefferson University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    What is Thomas Jefferson University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #11

    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
  10. #13

    Lafayette College

    Easton , PA
    Other Rankings

    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

  11. #14

    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

  12. #15

    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

  13. #16

    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
  14. #17

    Gannon University

    Erie , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/22

    What is Gannon University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #18

    La Salle University

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    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

  16. #19

    Widener University

    Chester , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    What is Widener University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #20

    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
  18. #21

    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
  19. #22

    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

  20. #23

    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

  21. #24

    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

  22. #25

    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
  23. #26

    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

  24. #27

    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

  25. #28

    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
  26. #29

    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
  27. #30

    Robert Morris University

    Moon Township , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/24

    What is Robert Morris University known for?

    Robert Morris University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Economics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
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Pennsylvania’s Best Private Colleges in Your Area Interest

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. Carnegie Mellon University
  3. University of Pennsylvania
  4. Bryn Mawr College
  5. Haverford College
  6. Westminster College
  7. Lehigh University
  8. Bucknell University
  9. Wilkes University
  10. Dickinson College
  11. Drexel University
  12. Franklin & Marshall College
  13. Saint Francis University
  14. Elizabethtown College
  15. Villanova University
  16. Lafayette College
  17. Thomas Jefferson University
  18. Allegheny College
  19. Washington & Jefferson College
  20. Ursinus College
  21. Susquehanna University
  22. Gettysburg College
  23. University of Scranton
  24. Duquesne University
  25. La Salle University