Continuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Pennsylvania and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.
For this online college ranking, we have ranked each of the schools that are located in the State of Pennsylvania and that offer students a selection of online and asynchronous academic programs from which to choose. To rank these schools, we have used two paramount percentage rates as our ranking criteria. These two rates are the school’s Freshman Retention Rate and their Graduation Rate. We ranked the Top 20 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania to help students that want to obtain a degree from a Pennsylvania-based school but require the flexibility that an online and asynchronous program provides.
The State of Pennsylvania is one of the 13 original founding states of the United States, and the state came into being in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, a real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. William Penn named the state after his father, Sir William Penn. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the state’s public university system. PASSHE is comprised of 14 state-owned member-institutions. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is an organizing body of the four state-related schools that are operating in the state; these four schools are independent institutions that receive a comparatively small amount of state funding.
Pennsylvania was the site of many different “firsts” in the nation: the first university in the United States; the nation’s first medical school; the first art school; the first pharmacy; the first United States Mint; first zoo and; first business school, among many others. With this much experience in firsts, you can rest assured that your first steps towards obtaining a higher education will have the same level of positive impact on your life that the other firsts have had on the nation.
We have judged each of the schools located in Pennsylvania that provide students with a choice of enrolling in an online degree program based on the following criteria:
- 50%: Freshman Retention Rates and;
- 50%: Graduation Rates
To gather the information that was required to rank each school, we used each of the school’s websites whenever possible. In cases where a school did not directly provide the information needed, we used the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and of National Center for Education Statistics. In cases where two or more schools were tied for a spot in this article, we utilized the alphabetical ordering of their names as our designated tie-breaking criteria. We chose these two ranking criteria because when both rates are taken into account, they help to shed light on how well a school performs overall.
We also referred to our own top 100 ranking of the best online colleges when ranking these schools.
20: Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
As a public research university that is located in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and offers distance learning students a selection of various online and fully asynchronous academic programs, such as a Master of Arts (M.A.) in History degree program, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminal Justice degree program, a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Online Instruction degree program, a Security Studies certification program and a Applied Research, Statistics and Measurement certification program among others, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania–which is commonly referred to as The Rock or simply as SRU–makes obtaining a higher education online as convenient as possible.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania was originally established in 1889 as the Slippery Rock State Normal School, which was operated with the primary purpose of training teachers to better service the area’s local communities which did not have as many educators as was needed at the time. In 1926, the normal school was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After this purchase, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania turned the Slippery Rock State Normal School into a four-year teachers college which still provided training and education to teachers. To better reflect this status change, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania renamed the Slippery Rock State Normal School to the Slippery Rock State Teachers College. The Slippery Rock State Teachers College was granted university status in 1983, allowing the institute to confer upon eligible students a graduate degree upon their successful completion of a graduate program. After being granted university status, the Slippery Rock State Teachers College underwent a final name change, this time to its present-day name of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. SRU has since earned full institutional accreditation through the Middle State Commission on Higher Learning (MSCHE). Additionally, they have program endorsements through several specialty professional associations, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); the National Association for the Education of Young Children; the Council for Exceptional Children; the National Council of Teachers of English; the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; the National Science Teachers Association and; the National Council for the Social Studies.
The university also holds several programmatic accreditations through various accrediting bodies, such as: the National Recreation and Park Association; the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; the American Physical Therapy Association; the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs; the Council on Social Work Education; the National Association of Schools of Music; the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and; the National League for Nursing, Inc., among many others.
School’s Website: https://www.sru.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 68.0%
Final Score: 151.0/200
19: Drexel University
Drexel University is a private, not-for-profit research university operating three campuses in total: the University City Main Campus; the Queen Lane Campus in the East Falls neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia and; the Center City Hahnemann Campus which is located in Midtown Philadelphia. Drexel University was originally established in 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry by philanthropist and business magnate Anthony Joseph Drexel. Drexel was the first president of the Fairmount Park Art Association (which is now known as the Association for Public Art) and the founder of Drexel, Morgan & Co (which would later be renamed to J.P. Morgan & Co.) in New York in 1871 with J.P. Morgan as his junior partner. The original mission of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry was to provide equal educational opportunities in the areas of practical arts and the sciences to both women and men, regardless of their backgrounds. The institution would later become the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1936. In 1970 the Drexel Institute of Technology gained university status, and the name was changed to its present-day name of Drexel University to adequately reflect its ability to confer upon eligible students a variety of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and professional certifications.
Many of the university’s various academic programs are available to distance learning students via an online and asynchronous format. It has been nearly two decades since Drexel University first offered an online educational program and, today, the university offers more than 140 online degree and certificate programs. All of their online programs utilize the same accredited and highly comprehensive curriculum that is taught by the same dedicated and experienced academic faculty members as the on-campus program counterparts do. Some of these online programs include: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Behavioral Health Counseling degree program, Master of Science (M.S.) in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree program, Master of Laboratory Animal Science degree program, Cybersecurity and Information Privacy Compliance graduate certification program and Computer Science Post-Baccalaureate certification program, among others.
In their 2017 rankings, U.S. News and World Report ranked Drexel University as being tied for the 96th spot among all national universities in the United States. Also in 2017, the same publication ranked Drexel University as being tied for the 14th-best university in their Most Innovative Schools ranking and also proclaimed that Drexel University’s Library and Information Studies program was tied for the 10th-best such program in the entire nation.
18: Immaculata University
With online and asynchronous offerings which include an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Business Administration degree program, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Cybersecurity degree program, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Care Management degree program, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Emergency Planning and Management degree program and a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program in addition to various other available online academic programs, Immaculata University provides students (of which there are more than 3,500 total students enrolled at Immaculata University, which includes both their traditional on-campus students and their distance learning students) with a selection of highly flexible academic programs which span across numerous different areas-of-study.
Immaculata University’s online programs are very flexible, allowing enrolled students to complete their coursework in a time-frame which best works around their day-to-day schedule. Immaculata University is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic-affiliated coeducational liberal arts university which is located in Immaculata, Pennsylvania in the borough of Malvern.
Immaculata University was originally established in 1920 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is a Catholic religious congregation comprised of Catholic sisters. Immaculata University was originally named Villa Maria College, and it operated as a women’s only college. Villa Maria College was the first Catholic college for women in the Philadelphia area. The college’s name was changed to Immaculata College in 1929, and the name was changed yet again in 2002 to its present-day name of Immaculata University to accurately reflect the fact that the school was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education the ability to confer upon eligible students a graduate degree. Immaculata University would eventually become a coeducational university in 2005, after 85 years of only admitting women students.
One of the most well known Immaculata University alumni is arguably the Pottsville, Pennsylvania-native Megan Jane Brennan (born 1961; graduated from Immaculata University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History), who became the seventy-fourth Postmaster General in 2015, making her the first woman to hold that position.
School’s Website: https://www.immaculata.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 70.0%
Final Score: 153.0/200
17: Misericordia University
Misericordia University is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated four-year liberal arts university which is located in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Misericordia University was originally established in 1924 as the College Misericordia by the Religious Sisters of Mercy, which is a religious institute of pontifical right dedicated to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that was founded by the Venerable Catherine McAuley (29 September 1778 – 11 November 1841), an Irish nun. Members of the Religious Sisters of Mercy each profess the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in addition to a fourth vow of service. Despite the university’s religious affiliation, students of all faiths are welcome to enroll as the primary goal of the institute was, and still is, to teach those that wish to be taught.
The school’s name roughly translates from Spanish to English as the “Heart of Mercy,” which is an apparent reference to the religious group that founded the school. The name also clearly conveys one of the school’s core tenets; being merciful to those that need mercy. The school became coeducational in the 1970’s. College Misericordia name was changed to its present-day name of Misericordia University in 2007 when it was granted the authority to confer graduate degrees to eligible students upon their successful completion of one of the university’s graduate programs.
Today Misericordia University is organized into three different academic divisions, the College of Arts and Science; the College of Health Sciences and; the College of Professional Studies and Social Sciences. It is through these three academic departments that the university has more than 34 different Majors available from which the school’s more than 3,100 total enrolled students can choose. These majors are available at the undergraduate, graduate and professional certification levels; and many of the offered programs are available in an online and fully asynchronous format. A sampling of these online academic programs which are available include: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program, Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Government, Law and National Security degree program, Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) degree program, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration degree program, an Addictions Counseling certification program, a Patient Navigation certification program and a Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) Administration certification program among many others which span across various areas-of-study such as business, accounting, law, healthcare, nursing, information technology and education.
School’s Website: https://www.misericordia.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85.0%
Graduation Rate: 72.0%
Final Score: 157.0/200
16: Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic-affiliated four-year research university which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit (which is commonly shortened to Duquesne, and is also sometimes shortened to just Duq) was originally established in 1878 as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost. The Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost was founded by Father Joseph Strub, C.S.Sp. and by various members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Under the Protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), which is a Roman Catholic congregation of priests, lay brothers, and–ever since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council–lay associates. The Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost opened with an initial enrollment of 40 students and with a faculty of six employees. In 1911, the college became the first Catholic university located within the State of Pennsylvania when it was granted university status under the leadership of Father Martin Hehir. Due to this change in status, the college’s name was changed to its present-day name of the Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost. The newly renamed University was named after Ange Duquesne de Menneville, Marquis du Quesne, who was a French governor of New France and who first brought Catholic observances to the area of Pittsburgh.
Today Duquesne University is organized into nine academic divisions, the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts; the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences; the Duquesne School of Law; the A.J. Palumbo School of Business Administration; the Mylan School of Pharmacy; the Mary Pappert School of Music; the School of Education; the School of Nursing and; the Rangos School of Health Sciences. It is through these academic divisions that the university’s more than 10,000 total enrolled students can enroll in one of the many offered undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs.
Many of these programs are also available in a fully asynchronous and online format, such as the university’s Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, their Master of Science in Forensic Nursing degree program, a Ph.D. in Nursing Ethics degree program, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program, a Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certification program and a Nursing Education and Faculty Role Post-Master’s Certification program among many others. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Duq as being a Research University with a High Research Activity rating.
School’s Website: https://www.duq.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85.0%
Graduation Rate: 74.0%
Final Score: 159.0/200
15: Juniata College
Juniata College is a private, not-for-profit and Church of the Brethren-affiliated liberal arts college which is located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Juniata College was originally established in 1876 as a coeducational school.
Juniata College was the first college that was started by members of the Church of the Brethren (which is a Christian denominational group with origins in the German Baptist Brethren; the Schwarzenau Brethren). The college’s creation stemmed from their desire to create a place where both men and women could learn how to do many different useful occupations. The school that they created was named the Huntingdon Normal School. In 1877 the school changed its name to the Brethren Normal School. In 1894, the school would get another name change, this time to its present-day name of Juniata College, now named after the nearby Juniata River–which is one of the principal tributaries of the Susquehanna River–due to a ruling that was decided upon at one of the Brethren Church’s Annual Meeting against using the term “Brethren” in naming a school.
Today Juniata College has a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs available into which students can enroll. The college teaches the various available for-credit courses both in a traditional on-campus experiential format and in an online format. Online for-credit courses are taught either asynchronously or synchronously depending on the particular course. Both the on-campus course and the online courses are taught by the same academic faculty members, ensuring that there is as much possible consistency in the quality of the education that is being provided to the more than 1,600 enrolled students by the college.
In addition to the on-campus and online programs that are available, Juniata College students can enroll into one of the school’s various study-abroad programs, with 40% of the college’s total student body participating in a study-abroad program in the 2015 school year alone. Juniata offers 59 different study-abroad programs, with 24 countries on six continents being possible destinations. Some of the countries that students can visit through this program include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom and Vietnam among many others.
Juniata College operates the Beeghly Library which is open to all students and is home to an extensive collection of printed volumes, more than 200,000 e-books and more than 48,000 journals, magazines, and newspapers which are available in all formats.
School’s Website: https://www.juniata.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.0%
Final Score: 159.0/200
14: Saint Francis University–Loretto
Saint Francis University is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic-affiliated four-year liberal arts university which is located in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
Saint Francis University–which is commonly referred to as SFU–was originally established in 1847 by six Franciscan teaching Brothers from Mountbellew, Ireland, who had been given a tract of land in Loretto by Michael O’Connor (the first Bishop of Pittsburgh), for the Brothers to establish a school. The school that they developed was named the Saint Francis College. The college was (and the current university still is) operated under the tradition of the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, which means the school is dedicated to providing an education to those that wish to learn and to providing compassion to those that need it. In 2001 Saint Francis College was accredited with university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and it was renamed to Saint Francis University to reflect this change correctly. Saint Francis College was the first Franciscan college in the nation, and Saint Francis University was one of the very first Catholic universities in the United States. Although Saint Francis College initially only admitted male students, it would later become one of the first Catholic universities in the nation to become a coeducational institute.
Today the university offers its more than 23,000 total enrolled students a selection of 25 undergraduate majors and seven graduate fields of study in addition to a range of professional certification programs. Many of these programs of study are available in an online and asynchronous format, such as the university’s Associate of Science (A.S.) in Early Childhood Education (PreK-4) degree program, their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Behavioral Science degree program and their Master of Health Science (MHS) degree program, among many others. In addition to its main campus, Saint Francis University also runs a campus which is located in Ambialet, France in the Midi-PyrÈnÈes. Some of the offered classes are held at the Centre Universitaire de Formation et de Recherche Jean-FranÁois Champollion (English: the Jean-FranÁois Champollion University Center for Teaching and Research), which is a French university that is located in the Academy of Toulouse in the city of Albi. All of the classes that are available at the France locations are taught fully in English.
School’s Website: https://www.francis.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 87.0%
Graduation Rate: 72.0%
Final Score: 159.0/200
13: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Chester University of Pennsylvania–which is commonly referred to simply as WCUPA–is a Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited research university.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the University was originally established in 1871 as the West Chester Normal School. In 1913, West Chester Normal School became the first normal school to be owned outright by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Later, West Chester Normal School would have its name changed to West Chester State Teachers College in 1927 when the State of Pennsylvania initiated a four-year program for teacher education. West Chester would have its name changed again in 1960 to West Chester State College. Finally, following the passage of the State System of Higher Education bill, West Chester State College became one of the 14 universities that make up the member-institutions of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. This final name change occurred in 1983.
Today WCUPA offers students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs which span across numerous different areas-of-study. Many of the academic programs that are offered at WCUPA are also available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, their Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program, their Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education degree program and their Master of Science (M.S.) in Human Resource Management degree program, among various others. These online programs are taught by the same academic staff that teaches the university’s on-campus counterparts.
West Chester University participates in the National Student Exchange Program, through which WCUPA students can spend up to a year at any one of the more than 170 member universities and colleges which are located across the United States. Additionally, WCUPA offers a fairly comprehensive international study program, allowing students to participate in a study abroad program during the spring, summer and winter breaks.
School’s Website: https://www.wcupa.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 88.0%
Graduation Rate: 71.0%
Final Score: 159.0/200
12: Temple University at Philadelphia
Temple University is a public doctoral research university which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Temple University was originally established in 1884 by Russell Conwell, who was a philanthropist, lawyer, writer and Baptist minister. Russell Conwell originally came to to the state of Pennsylvania in 1882 to lead the Grace Baptist Church. It was during this time he began tutoring working class citizens late at night with a view to accommodate their busy work schedules. These students, who would later be affectionately dubbed as the “night owls,” were taught in the basement of Conwell’s Baptist Temple. This is what ultimately influenced the name of what would eventually be Temple University in addition to being the influence of the university’s mascot–Hooter T. Owl–and the nickname of the university’s various athletics teams, the Owls.
Temple University is currently designated as a Research University with a Very High Research Activity rating by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the University offers its nearly 40,000 total enrolled students a selection of more than 400 degree-granting programs through the schools and colleges into which the University is organized. These schools and colleges include: the Temple University School of Environmental Design; the Tyler School of Art; the Fox School of Business at Temple University; the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry; the Temple University College of Education; the Temple University College of Engineering; the College of Public Health; the Temple University Beasley School of Law; the Temple University College of Liberal Arts; the Temple University College of Science and Technology; the Temple University Katz School of Medicine; the Boyer College of Music and Dance; the Temple University School of Pharmacy; the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine; the Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and; the Temple University School of Media and Communication.
Some of the available online and asynchronous academic programs that Temple University offers includes: a Clinical Doctorate of Athletic Training (DAT) degree program, a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (DOT) degree program, a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (Transitional DPT) degree program, a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Social and Behavioral Sciences degree program and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program, among others.
School’s Website: https://www.temple.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 90.0%
Graduation Rate: 71.0%
Final Score: 161.0/200
11: Messiah College
Messiah College is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated four-year liberal arts and applied arts and sciences college which is located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
Messiah College was originally established in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church as the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home. The Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home was originally located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the home of the school’s first president, Samuel Rogers (S.R.) Smith, who was a local businessman and a leader in the Brethren in Christ Church. The school was later moved to the village of Grantham in 1911 following the construction of Old Main, the campus’ first building. Old Main was constructed on land which was donated by S.R. Smith, who had moved his home and his various business interests outside of the city limits. Initially, the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home only offered to its students a high school curriculum and a small selection of Bible-centric programs. Eventually, the school would start offering a broader curriculum and, in 1921, the school became a junior college (the second junior college in the State of Pennsylvania) and changed its name to Messiah Bible School. By the 1950’s, the school was offering various four-year college programs and, in 1951, it had its name changed to Messiah College. Messiah College would discontinue its high school program in 1959 but would add to its curriculum a liberal arts program during the same year. Messiah College was accredited as a four-year college in 1963.
Today the college offers a broad range of traditional, experiential on-campus academic programs and online and asynchronous academic programs–totaling more than 80 Majors and Pre-Professional Programs, which are offered through the college’s four schools–to the more than 3,300 total enrolled students. Some of the available online programs that distance learning students can enroll into are: a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program (with available concentrations in Digital Marketing; Social Entrepreneurship; Organizational and Strategical Communication; Strategic Leadership and; Management), a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling degree program (with available concentrations in Clinical Mental Health; Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling; and School Counseling) and a Master of Music (M.M.) in Conducting degree program (with available concentrations in Choral; Orchestral and; Wind Instruments), among others. The schools that offer the college’s various academic programs are the School of the Arts; the School of Business, Education and Social Sciences; the School of Science, Engineering, and Health; and the School of the Humanities.
School’s Website: https://www.messiah.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 88.0%
Graduation Rate: 77.0%
Final Score: 165.0/200
10: Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
Operating as an institute that offers various online and asynchronous academic programs, the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is a private, not-for-profit junior college and technical school which is located in Media, Pennsylvania.
A sampling of the myriad of online degree-granting programs that are offered through PIT–which is what the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is commonly referred to as–that were specifically crafted and tailored to suit the busy lives of the school’s many distance learning students include the following academic programs: an Associates in Criminal Justice degree program, an Associates in Behavioral Health degree program, an Associates in Health Science degree program, an Associate’s in Biomedical Equipment Engineering degree program, an Associate’s in Computer Science degree program, an Associate’s in Computer Support Engineering degree program, and an Associate’s in Business Management degree program, among many others which span across numerous different areas-of-study.
It is evident why the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology would make for an excellent choice for a distance learning student that is seeking to obtain an Associate’s degree in one (or more) of the areas-of-study of Information Technology, criminal justice, healthcare, engineering, and business. These online academic programs are additionally taught by the same dedicated staff that teaches the institute’s on-campus programs, ensuring that students will receive a uniform, comprehensive and quality PIT education regardless of when and where they obtain it.
The fact that PIT offers such a wide variety of complete Associate’s degree-granting programs in an online and asynchronous format further provides enrolled students with a greater amount of academic flexibility, which is always a highly positive bonus. Additionally, all of the institute’s online academic programs can be completed in a Blended (mix of face-to-face course and online courses) format for students that prefer on-campus coursework, but need a little added flexibility either due to work or due to other personal/professional obligations that they might have.
School’s Website: https://www.pit.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85.0%
Graduation Rate: 82.0%
Final Score: 167.0/200
9: University of Scranton
The University of Scranton is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated (Jesuit) coeducational four-year research university which is located in the historic Hill Section of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The University of Scranton was originally established in 1888 by the Most Revered William O’Hara, who was the first Bishop of Scranton. The school that was created was originally know as Saint Thomas College. Saint Thomas College was initially operated by the Diocese of Scranton from its founding until the year of 1897. In 1938, Saint Thomas College was given four-year university status and, due to this, the name was changed to reflect the school’s new status better. This name change was to its present-day name of the University of Scranton. In 1942, the Society of Jesus took ownership and control of the University from the Lasallian Christian Brothers (LCB). LCB is a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation which was founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle and is currently based in Rome; the congregation is also known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools; the French Christian Brothers and; the De La Salle Brothers, who had administered the college from 1888 to 1942. Finally, during the 1960s, the University of Scranton became an independent institution under the control and direction of a Board of Trustees which was comprised of laymen.
Today the University of Scranton is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and is served by the City of Scranton area’s strong Jesuit community. Presently, the university is composed of three different colleges–the College of Arts and Sciences; the Kania School of Management and; the Panuska College of Professional Studies–through which the University of Scranton offers more than 5,400 enrolled students a selection of 65 Bachelorís degree-granting programs, 29 Masterís degree-granting programs, and two Doctoral degree-granting programs (a Doctor of Physical Therapy program and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program). These programs include 43 Minors and 38 Undergraduate concentrations and the university also has a selection of professional certification programs which are available as well.
Many of the degree programs which are available are offered in an online and asynchronous format, such as their ever popular Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program and their fully comprehensive Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) degree program. Additionally, four of the university’s offered professional certification programs can also be completed online, these are: the Health Informatics certification program, the Health Administration Executive certification program, the Supply Chain Management certification and the Enterprise Resource Planning certification program. These certification programs can easily provide a professional upon successful program completion the edge that they might need to get an advantage over the competition in their chosen careers.
School’s Website: https://www.scranton.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 88.0%
Graduation Rate: 80.0%
Final Score: 168.0/200
8: Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Joseph’s University (which is commonly referred to informally as Saint Joe’s or simply as SJU) is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliate (Jesuit) coeducational research university which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and operates a satellite campus in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Saint Joseph’s University was originally established in 1851 as Saint Joseph’s College. Saint Joseph’s College was created by members of the Society of Jesus, which is a male religious congregation of the Catholic Church that originated in Spain and was set up by the Patron Saint of Educators; Education and the Society of Jesus, Saint Ignatius of Loyola (ÕÒigo LÛpez de Loyola). Saint Joseph’s College would later be renamed to its present-day name of Saint Joseph’s University to adequately reflect the fact that the institution was granted university status. This state change and subsequent name change both occurred in 1978.
Today Saint Joseph’s University is the seventh oldest Jesuit university in the United States and is one of the 28 member institutions that form the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). AJCU is a consortium headquartered in Washington D.C. which is committed to advancing academic excellence of the 28 Jesuit universities and colleges and its two theological centers in the United States that make up the consortium’s membership. The AJCU attempts to achieve this by promoting and coordinating: a myriad of collaborative activities between the members; the sharing of relevant resources and; by advocating and representing the various works of Jesuit higher education at both the national and the international levels. Saint Joseph’s University does its part of being an upstanding member institution of the AJCU by exemplifying the group’s religious virtues and by providing more than 9,000 total students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs, all of which span across a variety of different areas-of-study.
Many of the university’s programs are even available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, their Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) degree program, their Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology degree program and the world’s only Executive Food Marketing Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, which SJU has been offering for the past 25 years. Additionally, many certification programs can be completed online as well, such as a Criminal Justice – Behavior Analysis certification program, a Autism Studies certification program and a Business Administration certification program, among others.
School’s Website: https://www.sju.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 90.0%
Graduation Rate: 79.0%
Final Score: 169.0/200
7: University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh–which is commonly referred to as Pitt–offers distance learning students a variety of online and asynchronous academic programs which span across many different areas-of-study and are offered at all levels of study (undergraduate, graduate, professional certifications and even free non-credit personal growth courses). Some of the more notable distance learning academic programs are: a Master of Education in Elementary Education degree program, a Master of Science for the Clinical Nurse Leader (MSCNL) degree program, a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program, and a Master of Public Policy and Management (MPPM) degree program. Pitt also offers Health Care Compliance certificate program, Gerontology certificate program, a Security Assured Information Systems certificate program and a Post-Master of Science in Nursing / Post-Doctor of Nursing Practice Certificate in Nursing Informatics program, plus a staggering amount of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology, Disability Awareness and Support and Disaster Preparedness, among others.
The University of Pittsburgh is a public research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was originally established in 1787 by Hugh Henry Brackenridge (a writer, lawyer, and judge that would later serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania) and was formerly known as the Pittsburgh Academy. The name would change again in 1819 to the Western University of Pennsylvania and again in 1908 to its present-day name of the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to the main campus in Pittsburgh, Pitt also has four regional campuses: the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford; the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg; the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and; the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville. U.S. News and World Report in 2016 ranked Pitt as the 24th-best public university in the United States, and as being tied for the 66th spot among all national universities. The 2017 Wall Street Journal‘s Times Higher Education ranked Pitt as the 59th-best overall university in the nation and as being the 1st-best public college in the Northeast region of the United States.
School’s Website: https://www.pitt.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 92.0%
Graduation Rate: 82.0%
Final Score: 174.0/200
6: Muhlenberg College
Muhlenberg College is a private, not-for-profit Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-affiliated liberal arts college which is located in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Muhlenberg College was originally established in 1848 as the Allentown Seminary by Reverend Samuel K. Brobst, a Reformed Lutheran minister. Reverend Christian Rudolph Kessler served as the school’s first teacher and administrator. Between the years 1848 and 1867, the Seminary underwent two name changes, these names were: the Allentown Collegiate and Military Institute and the Allentown Collegiate Institute. Finally, in 1867, the Allentown Collegiate Institute moved into Trout Hall–the former mansion of William Allen’s son, James Allen–and was renamed a final time to its present-day name of Muhlenberg College.
The newly christened Muhlenberg College was named after Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg (September 6, 1711 – October 7, 1787), a German Lutheran pastor that–at the request of several Pennsylvanian colonists–was sent to North America to act as a missionary. Muhlenberg is considered by many to be the Father of the Lutheran Church in the United States as he played an integral role in establishing the first Lutheran church body in the nation. In 1905, Muhlenberg College was purchased, and the college’s campus was relocated to a 51-acre tract of land that is located in the West End area of Allentown. This location still serves as the college’s campus location to this day.
Muhlenberg College offers a variety of undergraduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs to its more than 2,200 enrolled students. For distance learning students, the colleges offers a selection of for-credit courses in an online and asynchronous format. These for-credit courses are additionally provided in a Blended format, which combines face-to-face coursework with separate online coursework for those students that wish to attend on-campus classes but still need a little added flexibility.
In their 2017 rankings, U.S. News and World Report ranked Muhlenberg College as the 65th-best college among all liberal arts colleges in the nation. For the same year, Forbes Magazine also ranked Muhlenberg College as being the 63rd-best college in their ranking of all the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. Additionally, in 2016, the Princeton Review listed Muhlenberg College as being one of the best colleges in the northeast region of the United States, out of a total of 218 colleges in the northeast that were ranked by the publication.
School’s Website: https://www.muhlenberg.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 93.0%
Graduation Rate: 85.0%
Final Score: 178.0/200
5: Pennsylvania State University at University Park
Originally established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University at University Park (which is commonly referred to as Penn State or simply as PSU) is a public, land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant and sun-grant research university which operates the main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania in addition to 18 other campus locations and numerous research centers. These other campus locations are: Penn State Abington (which is located in Abington), Penn State Altoona (Logan Township), Penn State Beaver (Monaca), Penn State Behrend (Erie), Penn State Berks (Spring Township), Penn State Brandywine (Media), Penn State DuBois (DuBois), Penn State Fayette (Uniontown), Penn State Greater Allegheny (McKeesport), Penn State Harrisburg, The Capital College (Middletown), Penn State Hazleton (Hazleton), Penn State Lehigh Valley (Center Valley), Penn State Mont Alto (Mont Alto), Penn State New Kensington (New Kensington), Penn State Schuylkill (Schuylkill Haven), Penn State Shenango (Sharon), Penn State Wilkes-Barre (Lehman), Penn State Worthington-Scranton (Dunmore) and Penn State York (York, Pennsylvania).
The University Park campus is organized into fourteen distinct colleges through which more than 46,000 total enrolled main campus students are able to get an undergraduate degree, graduate degree or professional certification program. Many of Penn State’s academic programs are available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Associate in Science in Human Development and Family Studies degree program, their Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program, their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program their Nanotechnology undergraduate certificate program their Information Sciences and Technology undergraduate certificate program their Organization Development and Change Consulting Skills graduate certificate program and their Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense graduate certificate program, among many others.
These online programs are offered through Penn State’s World Campus academic division. Penn State’s World Campus offers more than 125 fully accredited graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, certificates, and minors in total. This ensures that many different areas-of-study are represented and that the university’s distance learning students have an incredible amount of flexibility when it comes to their education.
In 2016, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked Pennsylvania State University as the 77th-best among universities internationally and 41st-best nationally. In their 2017 ranking, U.S. News and World Report ranks the university’s undergraduate program as the 50th-best in the United States, and as the 14th-best among top public colleges and universities in the United States. The university was additionally ranked as the 101st best university in the world by QS World University Rankings in 2015.
School’s Website: https://www.psu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 93.0%
Graduation Rate: 86.0%
Final Score: 179.0/200
4: Lehigh University
Lehigh University is a private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian research university which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Lehigh University was originally established in 1865 by Asa Packer (December 29, 1805 – May 17, 1879), a businessman who pioneered railroad construction, was active in Pennsylvania politics and who served two terms in the United States House of Representatives (1853-1857) as a Democrat. According to the 2010 book, The Hidden Ivies: 50 Top Colleges–from Amherst to Williams–That Rival the Ivy League by Howard Greene, Lehigh University is one of the twenty-four total “Hidden Ivy” league schools located in the Northeastern region of the United States. Lehigh University is organized into four colleges: the P.C. Rossin School of Engineering and Applied Science; the College of Business and Economics; the College of Arts and Sciences and; the College of Education.
It is through these four colleges that the University offers its more than 7,000 total enrolled students a myriad of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs from which to choose. Many of these various academic programs are available to distance learning students in an online and completely asynchronous format at the graduate degree and certification level, such as: Master’s in Biological Chemical Engineering degree program, Master’s in Healthcare Systems Engineering degree program, Master’s in Manufacturing Systems Engineering degree program, Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree program, Healthcare Systems Engineering graduate certificate program, Management in Science and Engineering graduate certificate program, Manufacturing Systems Engineering graduate certificate program and a Polymer Science and Engineering graduate certificate program, among others.
The successes of Lehigh’s alumni are greatly impressive. Graduates of Lehigh’s engineering programs invented the escalator, founded the Packard Motor Car Company and the companies that built the locks and lock-gates for the Panama Canal, for example. With that and the national and international recognition that Lehigh University is often showered with in mind, it is easy to say this is a university that knows how to produce excellence in its students. Lehigh ensures that they will have a greater chance to enact positive and dynamic changes in the world later on in their lives than the chance that they might have had if they had graduated elsewhere.
School’s Website: https://www1.lehigh.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 95.0%
Graduation Rate: 88.0%
Final Score: 183.0/200
3: Carnegie Mellon University
Organized into seven schools and colleges (the College of Engineering; the College of Fine Arts; the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the H. John Heinz III College of Information Systems and Public Policy; the Mellon College of Science; the School of Computer Science and; the Tepper School of Business) through which more than 13,100 total enrolled students are able to enroll into a variety of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certificate-granting programs which span across numerous different areas-of-study and many of which are available in an online and fully asynchronous format–such as a Master of Science in Information Technology (available in an Information Technology and Management option, an Information Security and Assurance option or a Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (BIDA) option) degree program, a Master of Software Engineering degree program, a Master of Science in Information Technology with a Software Engineering Focus (MSIT-SE) degree program, a Systems and Software Engineering (CSSE) certification program and a Software Engineering (CSE) certification program, which is but a small sample of what is available–Carnegie Mellon University truly has a lot to offer as not only a provider of a traditional and experiential face-to-face education but also as a provider of a comprehensive and flexible online education.
Carnegie Mellon University–which is commonly referred to as Carnegie Mellon or simply as CMU–is a private research university which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was originally established in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical Schools. The Carnegie Technical Schools was created by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist who led the expansion of the American steel industry during the late 19th century, and who is often cited as being one of the richest people in the history of the world. The Carnegie Technical Schools was renamed to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912 and was granted permission to confer four-year degrees. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (a not-for-profit and independent research center that was originally founded in 1913 by Andrew W. Mellon and Richard B. Mellon) to form Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon University consistently ranks in the Top 25 universities in the nation in U.S. News and World Report‘s rankings. Additionally, the university is home to the world’s first degree-granting Robotics and Drama programs as well as being home to one of the first Computer Science departments in the nation. Over the years, the university has been the site of many numerous groundbreaking discoveries and acts of innovation: the first wi-fi network using a local area network (LAN) was created on the Carnegie Mellon campus in 1993; the autonomous vehicles H1ghlander and Sandstorm were both developed at the University; the system programming language BLISS was developed at Carnegie and was possibly the most well-known programming language until C was developed a few years later. These and other innovations and a large amount of national and international recognition that the university has garnered are some of the reasons that Carnegie Mellon University is such a desirable university to attend for so many students worldwide.
School’s Website: https://www.cmu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 98.0%
Graduation Rate: 88.0%
Final Score: 186.0/200
2: Villanova University
Villanova University is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated (The Order of Saint Augustine) research university which is located in Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Villanova University was originally established by the Order of Saint Augustine–a Catholic Religious Order which, despite being much older, was formally created in the thirteenth century and combined several previous Augustinian eremitical Orders into one entity–in 1842 as the Augustinian College of Villanova. The Augustinian College of Villanova changed its name to Villanova College in 1845 and again to its present-day name in 1953 when the college was granted university status. Villanova University can trace its roots back to the old Saint Augustine’s Church which the Augustinian friars founded in 1796 and to its parish school (Saint Augustine’s Academy) which itself was established in 1811. Villanova was an all-male school until 1918 when the college began evening classes to educate nuns to teach in parochial schools. Villanova was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program during World War II.
Today Villanova University is organized into six schools and colleges: the Villanova School of Business; the College of Engineering; the School of Law; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Nursing and; the College of Professional Studies. Through these divisions, the University provides its more than 10,000 total enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs. Many of these academic programs are available to distance learning students in an online and fully asynchronous format, such as the university’s career enhancing Six Sigma Training master certificate program and their Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, which is offered through Villanova’s renowned College of Nursing, a designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (NLN).
For more than a decade, Villanova University had been ranked as the first best university by U.S. News and World Report in the publication’s Best Master’s Universities category for the Northern Region. The university’s Undergraduate Teaching program was ranked as the 4th-best in the Best Master’s Universities category for the Northern Region in the 2016 rankings. U.S. News and World Report have also ranked Villanova University as being tied for the 50th-best national university in the United States in their 2017 ranking. Additionally, in 2016, the same publication ranked Villanova University as the 2nd-best University in the “Best Value Schools” which ranked schools based on the return-on-investment (ROI) that they provide students. The Villanova School of Business is ranked as the best of its kind in the United States in Bloomberg Businessweek‘s 2016 rankings of undergraduate business schools and the school was previously ranked as the 29th-best in the Financial Times‘ ranking of the top executive MBA programs in the nation.
School’s Website: https://www1.villanova.edu/main.html
Freshman Retention Rate: 96.0%
Graduation Rate: 90.0%
Final Score: 186.0/200
1: University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is the absolute best school in Pennsylvania that offers online academic programs based on our ranking criteria.
The University of Pennsylvania has an astounding Freshman Retention Rate (98.0%) and an entirely enviable Graduation Rate (95.0%). How has the University of Pennsylvania been able to achieve and maintain these impressive rates? Will the university be able to obtain better rates in the future? We might be able to provide some insight on the answer to these questions by shedding some light on the university’s illustrious past and its progressive present; both of which when combined serve to form a long and storied history in which the university has continually striven to become a better educator.
The University of Pennsylvania (which is commonly referred to simply as UPenn) is a private, not-for-profit Ivy League research university which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in addition to operating numerous satellite and research institutions throughout the state. UPenn was originally established in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, making it one of the 14 founding members of the Association of American Universities. It is also the fifth-oldest member of the nine original Colonial Colleges; which are nine institutions of higher education that were chartered in the American Colonies before the United States of America became a sovereign nation unto itself at the end of the American Revolution.
UPenn was one of the first academic institutions to follow a multidisciplinary model which was pioneered by several European universities. This multidisciplinary design creates an institution of higher learning that places a concentration on offering many academic faculties through the organization as a whole, such as theology, the classics, medicine and law among others.
Today UPenn offers its more than 25,000 total enrolled Main Campus students a selection of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and professional certificates. UPenn also provides numerous for-credit courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in an online and asynchronous format. Some of the available MOOCs that are offered by UPenn through Coursera include: Accounting Analytics, Building High-Performing Teams, Robotics: Mobility, Robotics: Aerial Robotics and Single Variable Calculus among many others.
According to the U.S. News and World Report‘s 2017 rankings, UPenn is ranked as being tied for the position of the 8th-best university among all national universities in the United States. The same publication also includes UPenn in its Most Popular National Universities list, as does The Princeton Review in their comparable Dream Colleges list. In their 2016ó2017 academic year editions, UPenn was ranked 18th in the world by the QS World University Rankings, 18th in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and as being the 13th-best university worldwide by the Times‘ Higher Education World University Rankings. UPenn’s steady rate percentages for our ranking criteria and the university’s wide variety of MOOCs and for-credit courses which are available online are the reasons that the University of Pennsylvania is the top school in our Top 20 Best Online Schools in Pennsylvania ranking.
School’s Website: https://www.upenn.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 98.0%
Graduation Rate: 95.0%
Final Score: 193.0/200