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.

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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.

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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?

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. #1

    Carnegie Mellon University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    University of Pennsylvania

    #16 institution's historical influence
    #10 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    University of Pittsburgh

    #58 institution's historical influence
    #987 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    84%

    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:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Chatham University

    #1341 institution's historical influence
    #1163 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    62%

    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
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Earth Sciences
    • Social Work
  5. #5

    Lehigh University

    #294 institution's historical influence
    #89 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1365/31

    Bethlehem, PA

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    What is Lehigh University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Wilkes University

    #2455 institution's historical influence
    #386 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1119/23

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

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    What is Wilkes University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
  7. #7

    Drexel University

    #310 institution's historical influence
    #54 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/28

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Drexel University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Pennsylvania State University

    #77 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/26

    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:

    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Villanova University

    #451 institution's historical influence
    #198 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1395/32

    Villanova, PA

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    What is Villanova University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Thomas Jefferson University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    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
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Temple University

    #131 institution's historical influence
    #1402 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    33K

    Philadelphia, PA

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    What is Temple University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Widener University

    #1273 institution's historical influence
    #583 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    Chester, PA

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    What is Widener University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Duquesne University

    #550 institution's historical influence
    #1080 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    Pittsburgh, PA

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    What is Duquesne University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    #1397 institution's historical influence
    #334 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Gannon University

    #1768 institution's historical influence
    #301 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/22

    Erie, PA

    View profile

    What is Gannon University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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