Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

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By 2020, analysts project that 64% of in-state jobs will require postsecondary education in Pennsylvania, and 22% of jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree. These growing demands led state institutions to establish initiatives to educate more students in Pennsylvania and attract more educated professionals from around the world. Between 2012 and 2016, nearly 30% of Pennsylvanians over the age of 25 secured a bachelor’s degree or higher.

To help you choose an online program that is right for you, we’ve created a list of online colleges in Pennsylvania ranked by affordability and quality, and provided information on start dates, financial aid, and transfer credits.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Rank School Location
1 Cairn University-Langhorne Langhorne, PA
2 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
3 Clarks Summit University South Abington Township, PA
4 La Roche University Pittsburgh, PA
5 Wilson College Chambersburg, PA
6 University of Valley Forge Phoenixville, PA
7 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
8 Peirce College Philadelphia, PA
9 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
10 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
Advertisement AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Accredited Online College Programs

Pennsylvania’s Top Affordable Online Colleges

Below is a list of the best accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania. Each school is ranked based on metrics including average tuition price, graduation rates, availability of student services, and breadth of online programs. These metrics highlight the most affordable online colleges in Pennsylvania with the highest quality programs, services, and faculty. Read on to discover the right program for you.

Methodology


  • Minimum Qualifications

    Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution
    At least 1 online associate degree or certificate program in subject area (2-year schools)
    At least 1 online bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area (4-year schools)
    Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)
    Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

  • Ranking Metrics

    Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

    Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates
    Count and breadth of online programs available
    Student-teacher ratio
    6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)
    % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college
    Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college
    Availability of academic/career counseling services
    Availability of job placement services for students and graduates
    3-year loan default rate
    AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

    *PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

  • Data Sources

    Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

    Most recent “Final Release” data available to date

  1. Cairn University-Langhorne
    Location

    Langhorne, PA

    Anyone interested in attending a Catholic university may find their community at Cairn University. At this college,there are six schools of education: Business, Divinity, Education, Liberal Arts & Sciences, Music, and Social Work. Students can earn a master's degree while they also earn their undergraduate degree through Cairn's dual-level degree program, which will allow them to graduate with a higher-level degree in as few as five years. There is an emphasis on the biblical perspective in all undergraduate majors, and graduate students study the Bible and theology in addition to pursuing their professional development. For students who want to complete a degree in Bible studies, Christian ministry, counseling, or liberal studies, there are degree completion programs for these specific fields. Students looking to earn online degrees in Pennsylvania can enroll in Cairn's nbsp;online graduate and degree-completion programs, which also provide a strong emphasis on Catholic values. At Cairn, on-campus and online students alike will learn to apply their beliefs to everyday life, their education, and their careers.

  2. Temple University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Temple University is a great choice for students seeking undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees in Pennsylvania, and students who are interested in exploring international education opportunities. With 17 schools and colleges across seven different campuses located in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Rome, and Tokyo, students can find their place within the larger Temple student body. Temple also offers online, distance, and blended courses for students seeking to earn a graduate degree through online colleges in Pennsylvania.Accelerated degree programs allow students to earn both a bachelor's and advanced degree in a shorter amount of time—between five and seven years, depending on the program. Several of Temple's colleges offer dual degrees as well, which have a deeper focus on aspects of law, medicine, theater and media, public health, and business. Adult learners and professional development-seekers are also welcome to take continuing education courses at Temple.

  3. Clarks Summit University
    Location

    South Abington Township, PA

    Previously known as the Baptist Bible College and Seminary of Pennsylvania,;Clarks Summit University;is a Baptist college for undergraduate, graduate, and seminary students in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Clarks Summit offers online and on-campus programs that focus on ministries, Bible and theology studies, and counseling, in addition to traditional majors like business and literature. Students seeking online degree programs in Pennsylvania with a curriculum based in the Bible will find that Clarks Summit offers associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree programs through;distance learning.;There are also;a range of study abroad experiences;to explore through this university. Students can develop an understanding of other cultures while exploring different ministries around the world in places like Germany, South Africa, Italy, and Peru. Ten percent of students at Clarks Summit come from;homeschool backgrounds,;and the college works to create a community environment that supports these students. Undergraduate students;live on-campus;in one of seven residence halls, sharing a three-bedroom suite with up to five other students. Graduate and seminary students can also;stay in dorms on-campus or visit campus dorms;during the course of their studies.

  4. La Roche University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, La Roche College is a private, Catholic institution that offers over 50 majors in the fields of education and nursing, management, natural and behavioral sciences, the humanities, and design. The design program at La Roche provides internship opportunities and potential minors in visual communications or sustainable interdisciplinary studies, which provide deeper attention to creative problem solving and environmental concerns. Ministry opportunities at this college focus on service to Pennsylvania communities as well as global service, and there is a strong international studies program committed to peace and justice. Students seeking to complete degrees through online colleges in Pennsylvania will find that La Roche offers several business, nursing, and criminal justice degree completion programs for remote learners. There are also individual courses available online for students who would like to combine on-campus classwork with online learning. On-campus students may live in the apartment-style dorms, or commute from the nearby area.

  5. Wilson College
    Location

    Chambersburg, PA

    While Wilson College offers a range of undergraduate majors, they have specialized programs for students interested in working with horses. They have several equine-based courses of study, including Equine Facilitated Therapeutics, which also reflects Wilson's emphasis on educational training. Students in this major learn therapy techniques that use horses, encouraging physical improvement and emotional development in people with special needs. Graduate students can choose to earn a master's in business, education, the arts and humanities, or nursing. Adult learners are welcome to enroll in any of Wilson's programs, including adult learners who wish to earn a degree through online colleges in Pennsylvania; there are hybrid programs available as well as entirely online degree programs. Wilson offers a Masters of Education online and several online nursing programs. Students who choose to attend classes on-campus exclusively wil ;live on-campus for all four years in several different housing options: with roommates, in a single, or in a suite-style dorm.

  6. University of Valley Forge
    Location

    Phoenixville, PA

    The University of Valley Forge is a private Christian and interdenominational college that offers undergraduate, graduate, and associate degrees in the arts, sciences, and various professions, including ministry leadership and theology. The are accelerated online programs for both undergraduate and graduate degrees, which work well for students looking to attend online colleges in Pennsylvania and quickly earn their degree. There are also traditional degree programs available online for students. All Valley Forge students, whether they take classes online or in-person, complete the equivalent of a dual degree program; Biblical World View is a required course of study, and then students choose from over 50 other majors. The college has a very strong Department of Intercultural Studies program, including courses for Deaf students and students who wish to minster in the Deaf community. High school juniors and seniors can also take college courses online for credit through Valley Forge's Dual Enrollment program, getting a jump-start on college credits. This can save students a lot of money, whether they choose to attend Valley Forge for their undergraduate degree or attend a different college with these early credits out of the way.

  7. University of Pittsburgh
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    The second-largest city in Pennsylvania hosts the main campus of University of Pittsburgh, which offers over 100 different undergraduate majors. Students can earn a degree in the liberal arts, a professional degree program, STEM fields, medicine, or take one of 20 distance learning courses that allow students to earn a certificate or degree from a nationally ranked online college in Pennsylvania. Most of the University of Pittsburgh's online courses are graduate certificates or graduate degrees, but the college's school of nursing also offers both undergraduate and doctoral degree programs to online students. High school students and graduate students who have clear professional goals can apply for the University of Pittsburgh's Guaranteed Admissions program, which ensures students are admitted to the specific program that will help them achieve their intended career path. The college also offers personal growth and development experiences to on-campus students through the Outside the Classroom Curriculum. This curriculum incorporates classes, experiences, and self-reflection to help students gain skills to prepare them for employment or graduate school.

  8. Peirce College
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    At Peirce College, students can earn an undergraduate or master's degree in business, healthcare, legal studies, or technology. Peirce values students' life experiences and previous educational milestones, offering transfer credits for passing exams, previous certifications or credits, and military and work experience. Adult learners who want to earn their degree faster can also enroll in an intensive program that allows students to take additional course credit during weekends, the college's winter break, or through an online class. Students can earn online degrees in Pennsylvania through Pierce's online learning programs, which have the same level of high-quality instruction as their on-campus programs. Because Peirce's degree programs are structured in the same ways, students can earn their degree online, on-campus in Philadelphia, or in a hybrid program. Peirce also offers competency-based education, which is self-paced and fully online. This program is ideal for students with previous experience who only want to learn and pay for what they need to know to progress and earn a degree in their field.

  9. California University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    California, PA

    California University of Pennsylvania encourages students to get the most out of their education with over 100 undergraduate programs, 95 graduate programs, and additional certificate programs that offer even more experiences to students earning undergraduate or master's degrees. The college's Four-Year Graduation Plan ensures undergraduate students feel supported and succeed with advising, counseling, and individual attention. Members of the U.S. military and their families interested in earning further degrees will find scholarships and discounts along with flexible education opportunities at this college. California University offers over 75 distance learning programs for students looking to earn online degrees in Pennsylvania. Adult learners seeking continuing education on-campus or online are also welcome, as are high school students and visiting undergraduate students from other universities who want to earn college credits. On-campus students can enjoy SAI Farm, a repurposed beef and dairy farm adjacent to campus that now hosts a garden, an environmental studies habitat, various recreation areas, and an open-air amphitheater.

  10. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Pennsylvania State University's World Campus offers the same degrees and programs that an on-campus student attending Pennsylvania State University would have access to. Students can earn certificates, undergraduate and graduate degrees, or doctoral degrees, all through online self-study, peer interaction, and instruction from top professors. The World Campus Military Team works with active service members and veterans to incorporate individual educational goals with military responsibilities and benefits, and there are a range of scholarships and services available to students in the military and their spouses. Students who previously attended Pennsylvania State University, either on-campus or online, can easily apply their previous credits to a World Campus program.International students with English language proficiency are also welcome to enroll and earn an online degree in Pennsylvania through this program.

2-Year Best College Ranking

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Accredited Online College Programs

Why Choose Pennsylvania for Online Higher Education?

To help meet the economic demands of educated professionals and the educational demand for accessible programs, the online college landscape in Pennsylvania is expanding and improving. While Pennsylvania’s in-state tuition exceeds the national average, increased access to online degrees in Pennsylvania bodes well for students in the state, particularly those working full-time. Furthermore, initiatives to improve educational pathways for economically disadvantaged students, like single parents and underserved populations, should improve opportunities for those who need them most.

  • Number of programs offered completely online in Pennsylvania 307
  • Undergraduate students enrolled exclusively online in Pennsylvania30,045
  • Graduate students enrolled exclusively online in Pennsylvania 31,490
  • Total international students enrolled exclusively online in Pennsylvania 822

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost of Attending an Online College in Pennsylvania

Many institutions in Pennsylvania offer reduced tuition rates for in-state residents. Average in-state tuition of $13,416 is substantially less than the average out-of-state four-year tuition of $25,367. Two-year institutions in Pennsylvania charge an average tuition of $4,791 for in-state applicants and $11,801 for out-of-state applicants.

In Pennsylvania, many institutions offer the same tuition rates for all students, regardless of location. The same tuition enables students from all over the world to attend online college programs in Pennsylvania without the need to relocate or pay substantially higher fees. Moreover, some online universities in Pennsylvania honor reciprocity agreements with neighboring states, giving students access to reduced or in-state tuition prices.In-state tuition$13,516 – public, four-year institution $4,791 – public, two-year institution Out-of-state tuition:$25,367 – public, four-year institution $11,801 – public, two-year institution

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2017

Compared to the national average for four-year tuition fees, Pennsylvania institutions charge approximately 54% higher tuition fees for in-state students. The state’s out-of-state tuition fees, however, are only 5% more than the national average.

The differences in cost per credit between two-year colleges, public universities, and private universities can prove substantial. Below you’ll find examples of tuition costs students should expect to find in Pennsylvania from different higher learning institutions.

Considering a Pennsylvania School as an Out-of-State Student

When searching for online colleges in Pennsylvania, out-of-state students should consider the number of students studying exclusively online in the state. Students should also explore any reciprocity agreements their chosen schools offer. Out-of-state students must verify that the school of their choice does not hold any state restrictions or unmanageable residency requirements.

Tuition Discounts

While some online schools in Pennsylvania may offer tuition breaks for students from specific states, the state itself does not offer a reciprocity agreement for residents of other states. Since Pennsylvania represents one of the few states not connected to a regional interstate compact, students wishing to receive in-state tuition rates while studying on-campus in Pennsylvania must prove residency.

State Authorizations for Online Learning

Pennsylvania may not offer out-of-state tuition discounts for on-campus students, but out-of-state students attending an online school in Pennsylvania can benefit from an online reciprocity agreement. Established by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, NC-SARA enhances the quality of online instruction and access to online programs. It also reduces costs associated with distance learning. Additionally, many Pennsylvania institutions offer reduced tuition rates for out-of-state online students because of the lower overhead and material costs associated with distance learning.Check with an admissions or financial officer.

Tuition rates are ultimately program- and institution-based. Ask someone from a prospective program about what rates apply to you specifically as a potential member of a specific program.

One-Stop College Research Resources for Pennsylvania Online Schools

Still have questions about how online learning works in Pennsylvania? Check out the frequently asked questions below to find answers.

Do online credits cost more or less in Pennsylvania?

Online credits typically cost the same or less than on-campus credits for Pennsylvania residents. Online programs can cost less than on-campus programs since they require fewer physical materials; however, the cost of online credits varies depending on the school and the program. In Pennsylvania, schools that charge more often provide additional student services, greater program choices, and superior faculties. Residency will impact costs as well.

For out-of-state students, online credits often cost less than on-campus credits because many online universities in Pennsylvania charge a single flat rate, regardless of residency. While the average tuition in Pennsylvania costs more than the average tuition across the country, online students can still find affordable high-quality options in Pennsylvania that meet their budgets.

Which Pennsylvania schools accept the most transfer credits?

Many Pennsylvania schools offer accommodating transfer credit policies. Some Pennsylvania schools permit students to transfer in a maximum of 90 credits. These Pennsylvania schools, like Chatham University, typically only accept transfer credits from an accredited university that hold a grade of “C” or better.

While almost all Pennsylvania schools welcome transfer students, most schools require transfer students complete a specific number of credits at the graduating institution. Pennsylvania State University, for example, requires students to complete 36 of their last 60 credits at the school. This requirement ensures graduates receive a Penn State education. Similarly, some schools, like the University of Pennsylvania, require students to complete at least half of the credits in their major at the institution. Some schools also offer transfer credits for work experience, military experience, or College Level Examination Programs.

Will any online colleges in Pennsylvania accept a GED?

Many online colleges in Pennsylvania accept students with a GED. Typically, schools require students to send in GED transcripts and high school transcripts for all completed classes. The school then reviews the applicant’s file and decides if the student meets the admission requirements. Schools may require additional documentation, like recommendation letters.

At Penn State, the admissions office accepts standard applicants and adult learners with GEDs, permitted the student sends all high school transcripts as well. Students who do not meet traditional application requirements may receive acceptance as provisional students if they meet the institution’s provisional requirements. Some schools offer academic forgiveness for students with GEDs who provide acceptable reasoning for poor prior academic performance and/or conditional admissions to students who do not possess program prerequisites.

How many academic terms per year do online colleges in Pennsylvania offer?

Start dates for online programs in Pennsylvania depend on the program and school. Some online colleges in Pennsylvania offer monthly or near-monthly start dates, which allow students to start their education without waiting for a new semester. However, some online schools in Pennsylvania structure online programs like on-campus programs, meaning courses start every fall, winter, and summer. Typically, though, online colleges in Pennsylvania provide students with more start dates than on-campus programs.

Since many online programs in Pennsylvania feature an asynchronous format, program calendars require less structure, which allows students to take courses at different times and in different orders. These programs feature eight-week sessions with start dates every 2-3 months. Some schools provide inter sessions as well, courses that start in the middle of fall or winter. Synchronous online programs feature less-frequent start dates because of schedule demands on faculty and students.

Which online colleges in Pennsylvania will accept the FAFSA?

In Pennsylvania, all online colleges accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and approved by the state Department of Education accept the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To check the status of a program, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides a search directory for institutions, programs, and accreditors. Even private licensed schools allow FAFSA, granted MSCHE accredited the institution and the Department of Education licensed it.

In addition to FAFSA, accredited and approved Pennsylvania schools also provide access to the State Higher Education Grant Program. For eligibility, students must enroll in, at minimum, a two-year, 60-credit program with at least 1800 hours of instruction. While still eligible, students enrolled in distance education programs with more than 50% online instruction may receive reduced grant allowances. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency requires students to complete the state grant application and the FAFSA application to determine eligibility for the state grant.

Are there any free online classes I can take from Pennsylvania colleges?

Students will find most free online courses, including those from Pennsylvania colleges, in the form of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Many institutions across the country and the world contribute MOOCs to different online providers and hosts. These courses, in addition to providing cost-effective education for Pennsylvania students, also provide greater access to Pennsylvania programs for students from around the world.

Coursera and edX, two of the most common MOOC hosts, offer courses from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, PennX, the latter school’s MOOC site through edX, provides courses and certificates to students. While MOOCs may not provide credit toward a degree, students can use them as refreshers and supplemental learning. With minimal or no costs associated with the courses, students can take as many as their schedules allow.

How can I find the online program options at Pennsylvania colleges?

While students can find many online programs and courses on different Pennsylvania college websites, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education provides one of the best resources available to students for searching through the available online programs. The search directory allows users to search through all online programs offered by the 14 member universities of the state system.

With over 300 degrees and certificates available, the directory is a good place to start your search. The state system also provides resources for locating financial aid, finding the right program, and learning about faculties.

Pennsylvania Scholarships and Grants

Each student should fill out the FAFSA as their first step in applying for financial aid. Pell Grants provide a substantial portion of the higher learning population with funding. Students who are ineligible for federal funding should explore state-specific scholarships. The following scholarships are specific to those attending Pennsylvania schools.

  1. The Foundation for Enhancing Communities Scholarship TFEC provides scholarships to students residing in various Pennsylvania counties. The organization offers more than 120 scholarships to Pennsylvania residents pursuing academic interests. Many of the scholarships require community involvement and residency in a specific Pennsylvania county. Scholarship Amount: Varies

The Philadelphia City Scholarship Program

Funded by the Philadelphia Education Fund, this scholarship program is awarded to high school students from Philadelphia with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree and apply to an accredited college in specific Pennsylvania counties.

Scholarship Amount: $1,000 per year

Pennsylvania Society Scholarship Program

Awarded to students pursuing postsecondary degrees in Pennsylvania, the Maguire Foundation and Pennsylvania Society scholarship is presented to students demonstrating financial need, community leadership, and academic performance. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and take a minimum of nine credits in government, American history, and/or political science.

Scholarship Amount: $8,000

Horatio Alger State Scholarship

The Horatio Alger State Scholarship awards future leaders across the country from each of the fifty states. Students applying for the Pennsylvania award must reside in Pennsylvania, demonstrate financial aid, and plan to enter college the same year they graduate high school. Applicants must maintain a 2.0 GPA, display community leadership and involvement, and show the ability to overcome adversity.

Scholarship Amount: Up to $10,000

Pennsylvania State Grant Program

The state grant program offers aid to eligible Pennsylvania students to help them fund their education. Funded primarily by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency provides funding to students based on financial need.

Scholarship Amount: Varies

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