The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

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Updated June 5, 2023

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Online colleges in Pennsylvania prepare students for in-demand careers in business, healthcare, technology, and the life sciences.

The Keystone State provides several benefits for college students. The Pennsylvania State Grant Program offers financial aid for undergraduates, including students attending online colleges in PA. Many of the state's online colleges also offer tuition discounts for fully online learners and in-state students, making a college degree more affordable.

Online learners can pursue degrees in many fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The state's online program options include nursing degrees and online MBA programs. With a college degree, graduates can qualify for opportunities in many of Pennsylvania's key industries, including the life sciences, business, and technology.

Our list ranks the best colleges in Pennsylvania with online programs, including public and private colleges and universities. We only include regionally accredited schools in our rankings to ensure the highest educational quality. Prospective applicants can use this list to find the right program for their budget, interests, and career goals.

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

#1 The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Drexel University provides one of the best online college experiences available. Remote degrees at graduate and undergraduate levels are available to enrollees at this private school. Distance learners often choose this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for its academic strength.

Online learners can work with academic and career services professionals located at the Philadelphia campus. Virtual career fairs, academic advising, and other programs invest in the long-term success of degree-seekers. The school's internship program helps many students prepare for their future careers. Program graduates obtain a degree with full accreditation.

Ask the school directly for more information about online degree options and how to apply.

Drexel University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,300

Online Bachelor's Programs: 8

Online Master's Programs: 39

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 25%

Admission Rate: 75%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$52,146
Out-of-state
$52,146
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$35,181
Out-of-state
$35,181
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
24,205
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Saint Joseph's University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider Saint Joseph's University. Learners can choose from 21 remote programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level at this private institution. Distance learners appreciate the way the school brings its reputation for academic success to its online programming.

Online learners can benefit from the academic advisors and career services professionals at the Philadelphia campus. Academic advisors and virtual job fairs help set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. An accredited degree is awarded to graduates upon completing the program.

Contact the school directly to receive more information about online program opportunities and application procedures.

Saint Joseph's University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,408

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 16

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 15%

Admission Rate: 75%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$46,350
Out-of-state
$46,350
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$17,334
Out-of-state
$17,334
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
7,362
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Villanova University

  • Villanova, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Villanova University is a popular choice among those seeking a degree online. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have 41 online degrees to choose from at both graduate and undergraduate levels. These remote programs benefit from the school's reputation for strong academics and track record in online course offerings.

The school offers additional support to online learners through the academic and career services offices at its Villanova campus. Programs like academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for their academic and professional futures. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. Program graduates are awarded a degree with full accreditation upon completing all requirements.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

Villanova University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,485

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 17

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 25%

Admission Rate: 28%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$54,550
Out-of-state
$54,550
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,506
Out-of-state
$20,506
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
28%
Students Enrolled
10,848
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Geneva College

  • Beaver Falls, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider Geneva College. Remote students at both the undergraduate and graduate level have 10 options through this private institution. These remote programs benefit from the school's reputation for strong academics and track record in online course offerings.

All learners, including those online, can take advantage of the academic and career services professionals hosted at the school's Beaver Falls campus. Degree-seekers can connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs, helping set them up for scholastic and professional success. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. Upon completing the program, the college gives graduates an accredited degree.

School representatives can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

Geneva College at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 202

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 12%

Admission Rate: 53%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$27,670
Out-of-state
$27,670
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,042
Out-of-state
$12,042
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
1,432
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 The Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Saint Francis University

  • Loretto, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider Saint Francis University. The school, a private institution, hosts seven programs for remote learners at both graduate and undergraduate levels. The school has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for strong academics, making it a popular choice for distance learners.

The academic and career advisors located at the Loretto campus are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers can connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs and other career-planning events. Hands-on learning through internship programs help many students prepare for work in the field. Program graduates receive a degree with full accreditation upon completing all requirements.

Those interested in applying to these online programs should contact the school directly for more information.

Saint Francis University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 982

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Online Master's Programs: 6

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 7%

Admission Rate: 75%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$36,970
Out-of-state
$36,970
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$25,000
Out-of-state
$25,000
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
2,930
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in Pennsylvania Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Employment in Pennsylvania

College graduates benefit from a strong economic outlook in Pennsylvania. The state's below-average cost of living makes PA an attractive place for businesses and workers. Pennsylvania's major industries include energy, manufacturing, life sciences, and plastics. Jobs in many of the state's most common careers require a college degree.

Currently, fewer than 1 in 3 Pennsylvanians have a bachelor's degree or higher. Many of Pennsylvania's highest-paying jobs require a bachelor's degree, including careers like financial manager, construction manager, nurse practitioner, or information security analyst. All of these occupations pay average salaries of over $100,000 in Pennsylvania. Earning a college degree is a good way for Pennsylvanians to increase their earning potential and qualify for more jobs.

The highest-paying, fastest-growing careers in Pennsylvania include opportunities in healthcare, management, tech, and criminal justice. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate slightly exceeds the national average, while the average annual wage sits just above the national average.

The following information covers some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in Pennsylvania. Salary information refers specifically to Pennsylvania, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Highest-Paying Careers
Career Annual Mean Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
General Internal Medicine Physicians $251,540 -1% Doctoral
Chief Executives $227,250 -1% Bachelor's
Family Medicine Physicians $218,310 6% Doctoral
Psychiatrists $214,410 12% Doctoral
Nurse Anesthetists $185,090 14% Master's
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The following data reflects some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 15,000 professionals in Pennsylvania. Salary figures apply specifically to Pennsylvania, while job growth data refers to the entire United States.

Most Common Careers in Pennsylvania
Career Annual Mean Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Physicians $202,340 4% Doctoral
Financial Managers $153,730 15% Bachelor's
Computer and Information Systems Managers $145,460 10% Bachelor's
Lawyers $139,120 4% Doctoral
General and Operations Managers $131,060 6% Bachelor's
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Online Associate and Graduate Degrees

In addition to bachelor's programs, colleges in PA offer online associate and graduate programs. The switch to online-only education during the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded online options and led to more distance learning opportunities. Online learners at accredited Pennsylvania colleges receive the same high-quality education as those attending on-campus programs.

At the associate level, undergrads can earn degrees in business, engineering, and applied technology. These programs prepare graduates for the workforce or offer transfer credits that can be applied toward a bachelor's degree. Pennsylvania's statewide pathway program allows graduates with associate degrees to apply their credits directly to four-year degrees at other Pennsylvania schools.

At the graduate level, degree-seekers can choose from online options in fields like business, education, and nursing. For example, Penn State offers an online MBA program, and Cal U offers several online master's programs in nursing.

Online learning appeals to busy students and professionals who are seeking career advancement or changes. Working professionals may prefer the flexibility of an asynchronous learning schedule over attending in-person classes.

Some programs include in-person components, offer hybrid options, or require learners to complete practicum requirements in their local areas. For example, online nursing students and education majors often must meet practicum requirements through nearby hospitals or schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Online College Cheaper in Pennsylvania?

Many online colleges in Pennsylvania offer tuition discounts for fully online students and in-state learners, though the after-fees cost can vary. Choosing an online learning format can sometimes save students money, though not always.

What Are the 14 Pennsylvania State Colleges?

  • BLOOMSBURG UNIVERSITY
  • CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY
  • CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY
  • CLARION UNIVERSITY
  • EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY
  • EDINBORO UNIVERSITY
  • INDIANA UNIVERSITY
  • KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY
  • LOCK HAVEN UNIVERSITY
  • MANSFIELD UNIVERSITY
  • MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY
  • SHIPPENSBURG UNIVERSITY
  • SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY
  • WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY

What Is the Hardest College To Get Into in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania colleges with the lowest acceptance rates include University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Carnegie Mellon University.

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