Pennsylvania State University
#108 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


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


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

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


201 Old Main, University Park PA 16802-1503

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

9 per 100k

Violent Crime

1 per 100k

What is Pennsylvania State University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#59 World Rank #22 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#85 World Rank #30 USA Rank
#95 World Rank #37 USA Rank
#58 World Rank #39 USA Rank
#111 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#59 World Rank #43 USA Rank
#76 World Rank #47 USA Rank
Computer Science
#137 World Rank #49 USA Rank
#91 World Rank #53 USA Rank
#105 World Rank #57 USA Rank
#67 World Rank #59 USA Rank
#118 World Rank #65 USA Rank
#92 World Rank #70 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#173 World Rank #71 USA Rank
#125 World Rank #72 USA Rank
#141 World Rank #72 USA Rank
#163 World Rank #79 USA Rank
#114 World Rank #85 USA Rank
#152 World Rank #90 USA Rank
Political Science
#123 World Rank #94 USA Rank
#220 World Rank #97 USA Rank
#219 World Rank #119 USA Rank
#277 World Rank #132 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#313 World Rank #180 USA Rank
Social Work

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 Education, Engineering, and Earth Sciences. Pennsylvania State University’s most academically influential people include Paul Berg, Valerie Plame, and Steven Levy.

Paul Berg
Paul Berg

American biochemist, Professor emeritus at Stanford University & Nobel laureate in Chemistry

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Valerie Plame
Valerie Plame

American writer, spy novelist and former officer who worked at the CIA

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Steven Levy
Steven Levy

American journalist

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Jacob Rubinovitz
Jacob Rubinovitz

Israeli engineer

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Ian Waitz

American aeronautic engineer

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Agha Shahid Ali
Agha Shahid Ali


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Benjamin Bloom
Benjamin Bloom

American psychologist

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Richard Bruce Silverman
Richard Bruce Silverman

American chemist

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Donald Bellisario
Donald Bellisario

American television producer and screenwriter

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William Hultz Walker

American chemical engineer

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Jerry Sandusky

American criminal

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Vance Packard

American journalist

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