Pennsylvania’s Best Research Universities of 2021

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.

Pennsylvania’s Best Research Universities 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.

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.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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

The best colleges pound for pound!

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.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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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. There are 18 research universities in Pennsylvania. The list below of the 15 best research universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

15 Best Research Universities in Pennsylvania

  1. Carnegie Mellon University
    #1

    Carnegie Mellon University

    #46 institution's overall influence
    #35 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/34

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is Carnegie Mellon University known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. University of Pennsylvania
    #2

    University of Pennsylvania

    #17 institution's overall influence
    #10 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1485/33

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. University of Pittsburgh
    #3

    University of Pittsburgh

    #71 institution's overall influence
    #987 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/30

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is University of Pittsburgh known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Chatham University
    #4

    Chatham University

    #626 institution's overall influence
    #1163 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is Chatham University known for?

    Chatham University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Lehigh University
    #5

    Lehigh University

    #314 institution's overall influence
    #89 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1360/31

    Bethlehem, PA

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    What is Lehigh University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Wilkes University
    #6

    Wilkes University

    #1028 institution's overall influence
    #386 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

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    What is Wilkes University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Drexel University
    #7

    Drexel University

    #264 institution's overall influence
    #54 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/27

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Drexel University known for?

    Drexel University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Pennsylvania State University
    #8

    Pennsylvania State University

    #108 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/27

    University Park, PA

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    What is Pennsylvania State University known for?

    Pennsylvania State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Villanova University
    #9

    Villanova University

    #480 institution's overall influence
    #198 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    29%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1385/31

    Villanova, PA

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    What is Villanova University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Thomas Jefferson University
    #10

    Thomas Jefferson University

    #663 institution's overall influence
    #568 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/25

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Thomas Jefferson University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Temple University
    #11

    Temple University

    #182 institution's overall influence
    #1402 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    34K

    Philadelphia, PA

    View profile

    What is Temple University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Widener University
    #12

    Widener University

    #879 institution's overall influence
    #583 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    Chester, PA

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    What is Widener University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Anthropology
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Duquesne University
    #13

    Duquesne University

    #785 institution's overall influence
    #1080 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Pittsburgh, PA

    View profile

    What is Duquesne University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    #14

    Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    #1185 institution's overall influence
    #334 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/20

    Indiana, PA

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    What is Indiana University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Gannon University
    #15

    Gannon University

    #3486 institution's overall influence
    #301 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Erie, PA

    View profile

    What is Gannon University known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Research Universities in Pennsylvania for your Major

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

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