Best Research Universities in Pennsylvania 2022

Interested in attending a STEM school in Pennsylvania? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

Best Research Universities 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 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 research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. We’ve identified 15 research universities in Pennsylvania. To be included in our ranking, schools must be a fully accredited universities and must must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

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Best Research Universities 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

    University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/30

    What is University of Pittsburgh known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Temple University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    33K

    What is Temple University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    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

  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. #8

    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. #9

    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. #10

    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
  10. Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    What is Indiana University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    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

  12. #13

    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
  13. #14

    Wilkes University

    Wilkes-Barre , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1119/23

    What is Wilkes University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Immaculata University

    Immaculata , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Immaculata University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

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Find the Best Research Universities 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. Carnegie Mellon University
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. University of Pittsburgh
  4. Chatham University
  5. Lehigh University
  6. Wilkes University
  7. Drexel University
  8. Pennsylvania State University
  9. Villanova University
  10. Thomas Jefferson University
  11. Temple University
  12. Widener University
  13. Duquesne University
  14. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  15. Gannon University