Abstract Background Image Banner
#77 Overall Influence

Pennsylvania State University

Public university in State College and multiple campuses in Pennsylvania, United States
By James Barham, PhD

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.

In 1862, the school’s name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. In 1874 it was changed once again, this time to Pennsylvania State College, at which time a classical liberal arts curriculum was married to the agricultural training program.

In 1953, under the presidency of Milton S. Eisenhower—the brother of former US Army Supreme Commander and then–US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower—the college was upgraded to Pennsylvania State University.

With 23 campuses statewide in addition to the flagship University Park campus, Penn State is the first-tier public university system in Pennsylvania (the University of Pennsylvania being a private institution). With a total student population of more than 96,000, it is one of the largest universities in the US.

Prominent Penn State connected individuals include the following:

  • Poet, Theodore Roethke
  • Novelists, John Barth, Joseph Heller, Alan Furst & Richard Russo
  • Screenwriter, Steven E. de Souza
  • Computer scientists, Jef Raskin & John M. Carroll
  • Physicists, David Bohm, Roger Penrose & Lee Smolin
  • Nobel laureate in chemistry, Paul Berg
  • Climate scientist, Michael E. Mann
  • Plant geneticist, Nina Fedoroff
  • Population geneticist, Masatoshi Nei
  • Anthropologist, Nina Jablonski
  • Radical social critic and Catholic priest, Ivan Illich
  • Online education pioneer, Michael G. Moore
  • Former US Senators Richard Schweiker, Rick Santorum & Kelly Ayotte
  • Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley

From Wikipedia

The Pennsylvania State University is a public state-related land-grant research university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State became the state's only land-grant university in 1863. Today, Penn State is a major research university which conducts teaching, research, and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery. In addition to its land-grant designation, it also participates in the sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant research consortia; it is one of only four such universities . Its University Park campus, which is the largest and serves as the administrative hub, lies within the Borough of State College and College Township. It has two law schools: Penn State Law, on the school's University Park campus, and Dickinson Law, in Carlisle. The College of Medicine is in Hershey. Penn State is one university that is geographically distributed throughout Pennsylvania. There are 19 commonwealth campuses and 5 special mission campuses located across the state. The University Park campus has been labeled one of the "Public Ivies," a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.

Source: Wikipedia


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

The Campus

Where will you be attending?


201 Old Main, University Park PA 16802-1503

What is Pennsylvania State University known for?

#17 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#46 World Rank
#47 World Rank
#51 World Rank
#52 World Rank
Computer Science
#59 World Rank
#62 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#67 World Rank
#69 World Rank
#76 World Rank
#78 World Rank
#81 World Rank
#82 World Rank
#90 World Rank
#95 World Rank
#98 World Rank
Religious Studies
#104 World Rank
Social Work
#106 World Rank
#112 World Rank
Political Science
#118 World Rank
#122 World Rank
#128 World Rank
#130 World Rank
#133 World Rank

Influential People

Who are Pennsylvania State University's Most influential alumni?

Pennsylvania State University 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Education

Kevin Thomas

American journalist

Jimmy Adegoke

Climate scientist

John T. Biggers

John T. Biggers

African American artist

Bob Torres

American sociologist, author and podcaster

Shang-Jin Wei


Seth Baum

Seth Baum

Alan Schriesheim

Alan Schriesheim

American chemist

Samanth Subramanian

Indian writer and journalist

Lindsay Rosenwald

American businessman

Charles Bierbauer

American journalist and academic

Harold Ware

Harold Ware

American communist

Dale Brown

Dale Brown

American writer