Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Discover the best online colleges in Pennsylvania, along with fast-growing careers in the state and scholarships to pay for your degree.
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Updated July 17, 2024

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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.

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Pennsylvania blends charming nature and rural areas with bustling cities and proximity to major economic centers. You might attend a Pennsylvania college for its world-class academics, small student-to-faculty ratio, or high acceptance rate.

Online colleges in PA allow you to earn a degree on your terms. Choosing an online college can help you launch a lucrative professional career without sacrificing family or work obligations.

The best online colleges in PA have exceptional faculty, strong academics, diverse degree options, and low tuition.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

#1 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Seton Hill University

  • Greensburg, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A private institution located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Seton Hill University ranks among the best online schools. At the accredited school, distance learners can enroll in two online bachelor's programs. The institution's distance learning courses currently experience an online enrollment of 725 students.

Getting to complete coursework from anywhere is just one benefit of an online degree's virtual classroom environment. Programs often let students meet any in-person requirements, such as an internship or clinical practicum, in their local area, and the school may even help arrange it. Online learners benefit from student services such as academic advising, career counseling, and online tutoring. The institution provides graduates with many experiential learning opportunities in preparation for the workforce.

The school's students can earn their online degree at an affordable tuition rate. Qualified online students at the accredited institution may meet the criteria for financial aid, including federal aid programs and scholarships.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$36,306
Out-of-state
$36,306
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,652
Out-of-state
$14,652
Retention Rate
78%
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
2,073
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

  • Slippery Rock, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Distance learners at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania receive the same education as on-campus students. Enrollees at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, a public school, can earn one of 21 online degrees. Online learners can pursue some of the nation’s top-ranked programs at the institution. The school offers a comprehensive catalog of undergraduate and graduate programs. Students choose online learning for various reasons.

The benefits of online learning at the school include conveniently recorded lectures and financial aid options. Students transfer credits or an associate degree to accelerate degree completion. Degree-seekers strengthen their applications with optional test scores. One of the nation’s best schools for e-learning, the school has a 71% admission rate. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a third-party accrediting body.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

School Status: Public

Total Online Students Enrolled: 2,937

Programs Available Online: 21

Total Bachelor’s Degrees Online: 3

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,716/year in-state, $11,574/year out-of-state

Rate of Admission: 71%

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,716
Out-of-state
$11,574
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,288
Out-of-state
$13,932
Retention Rate
83%
Acceptance Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
8,778
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Penn State World Campus

  • University Park, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Penn State World Campus is a four-year public school located in Pennsylvania. The institution offers undergraduate and graduate programs on campus and online. Students enroll in 207 online programs. Students receive a comprehensive education in the liberal arts and professional studies. Students can pursue degrees in a variety of majors.

Professors blend theoretical learning and practical experience such as internships and fieldwork. Online learners may need to complete limited on-campus residencies. Students do not need to visit the campus for most online degrees. Faculty integrate real-world experiences in the curriculum. Online students receive assistance such as tutoring in various subjects. Prospective students can expect a 76% acceptance rate at Penn State World Campus. Enrollees afford their degrees with competitive tuition rates and financial aid. The school charges the same tuition rate for nonresidents and residents.

The school holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$13,484
Out-of-state
$13,484
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$21,682
Out-of-state
$21,682
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Cairn University

  • Langhorne, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Cairn University offers a catalog of 52 affordable online programs. Working professionals can continue their careers as they earn four bachelor's programs and 12 online degrees. Busy professionals like online schools for flexible learning. E-learners receive a rigorous education through top-ranked academics at the school. Nontraditional learners complete a four-year bachelor’s degree faster with transfer credits. Students can pursue master’s programs in a variety of fields. Graduate programs may require students complete practicum or field experience in the community.

Students attend the school for affordability. The admissions department requires school transcripts. Cairn University maintains accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Cairn University Statistics:

On-Campus and Online Programs: 52

Total Bachelor’s Degrees Online: 4

Master’s Available Online: 12

Price of Tuition for Undergraduates: $28,328

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$28,328
Out-of-state
$28,328
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,762
Out-of-state
$12,762
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
1,221
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

DeSales University

  • Center Valley, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can pursue affordable degrees at DeSales University. The school, located in Pennsylvania, offers a comprehensive catalog of programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Degree-seekers receive preparation for entry-level jobs and career advancement. The school offers enrollment flexibility. Programs feature asynchronous curricula and prioritize flexibility for students. Students complete hybrid degrees with a blend of online and traditional face-to-face instruction. Online sessions can offer personalized learning.

Students afford their education with affordable tuition and generous financial aid.

DeSales University Fast Facts:

Status of School: Private

Online Enrollment: 1,240

Programs Available Online: 46

Total Bachelor’s Degrees Online: 11

Percentage of Degree-Seekers Receiving Aid: 100%

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$37,200
Out-of-state
$37,200
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,520
Out-of-state
$20,520
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
3,460
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

At Affordable Colleges Online, we use a proprietary ranking system to help you find the best schools for your needs. Our most important metric, affordability, accounts for 60% of our weighted formula. We also consider academic quality, program offerings, online enrollment, and graduation rates.

You can learn more about our school ranking methodology here.

Price Check

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average four-year tuition and fees at public colleges in Pennsylvania was $16,217 as of the 2022-2023 academic year. That's nearly $6,500 higher than the national average.

10 Fast-Growing Jobs in Pennsylvania

The healthcare and engineering industries are two of Pennsylvania's fastest-growing sectors. Both sectors offer multiple fast-growing careers, including neurologists, marine engineers, and radiologists.

The state may require additional professionals in these industries due to the aging of baby boomers and state infrastructure. The chart below demonstrates the careers with the highest projected growth rate from 2020-2030.

Fast-Growing Jobs In Pennsylvania
Job Projected Growth (2020-2030) Annual Mean Wage in Pennsylvania (May 2023)
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects 45% $108,110
Neurologists 42% $152,600
Atmospheric and Space Scientists 35% $87,840
Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants 34% $68,120
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians 33% $64,690
Sound Engineering Technicians 32% $53,720
Special Education Teachers 31% $76,420
Radiologists 29% $347,590
Nurse Midwives 26% $121,410
Obstetricians and Gynecologists 26% $314,610
Source: BLS, Projections Central

Majors to Consider to Prepare for Pennsylvania's Job Market

Attendees can pursue popular Pennsylvania careers by studying relevant topics. The list of majors below may help teach students essential skills for fast-growing career paths.

  • Biology

    Biology majors explore topics like anatomy, chemistry, and immunology. Graduates can use their knowledge to pursue MD degrees. Medical experts can specialize in multiple healthcare careers, including neurologist and obstetrician.
  • Nursing

    Nursing programs may teach general education, chemistry, and healthcare courses. Graduates may qualify for licensing exams to become registered nurses (RNs). Qualified RNs pursue various certifications based on their personal and professional interests.
  • Aerospace Engineering

    Aerospace engineering programs cover various aircraft designs, including fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and spacecraft. Attendees study engineering and technology principles, including aerodynamics, structural mechanics, and energy propulsion.
  • Special Education

    Enrollees learn about human development, instructional strategies, and assessment techniques for special education students. Learners may pursue programs that include hands-on experience with local students. Graduates may qualify for licensure, depending on the program.

Cost of Living in Pennsylvania

"Cost of living" refers to expenses related to daily life, such as food, shelter, and transportation. The average adult in Pennsylvania spends over $2,400 monthly to sustain themselves. This cost does not include additional school fees. Online students can save money on housing and transportation by completing courses from home.

Average Cost of Living in Pennsylvania
Cost of Living Category Average Cost Per Month
Housing $1,000
Groceries & Food $370
Transportation $809
Medical Care $292
Source: MIT Living Wage Calculator, using data for 1 Adult without children

Scholarships & Cost Savings for Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

There are many specialized scholarships in Pennsylvania to consider. You can use scholarships to fund online education if the college is accredited and meets the scholarship's other requirements. Here are five scholarships to get you started.

This scholarship awards $500-$2,000 to undergraduate students in mining, metallurgical, petroleum engineering, or materials science. Enrollees must attend school in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Virginia to qualify.

Pennsylvania residents who enroll in land surveying majors can apply for this scholarship. The foundation chooses awardees based on their academic record, activities, and a statement. Qualified individuals must apply by April 30th.

Students at several eligible Pennsylvania colleges can use the Maguire Foundation's last-dollar scholarship for four years.

Chafee Grants is a federally funded program for Pennsylvania undergraduate students aging out of foster care and attending eligible postsecondary institutions. The award is $5,000 for the 2024-25 year.

This $5,000 scholarship is available for Pennsylvania college students enrolled in programs related to arboriculture or urban forestry at an accredited college or university. Candidates must apply before April 15th.

Tuition Reciprocity Benefits for Out-of-State Students in Pennsylvania

Tuition reciprocity allows out-of-state enrollees to pay discounted tuition rates in certain states. Reciprocity agreements and participating states vary by program. Pennsylvania, as one of the few states that does not participate in reciprocity agreements, does not offer statewide benefits to out-of-state attendees. Students can still apply for financial aid, including scholarships, loans, and grants.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online College in Pennsylvania


What is the cheapest online college in Pennsylvania?

According to the NCES, Peirce College is the cheapest online college in Pennsylvania, with an average annual net price of $9,621. The Philadelphia-based Peirce College offers over 30 degrees and certificates 100% online, including 13 bachelor's degrees.

What is the easiest online college to get into in Pennsylvania?

Peirce College ranks among the easiest colleges to get into in Pennsylvania. With a 100% acceptance rate, Peirce has several 100% online degree programs. You can choose from seven associate's, 13 bachelor's, and nine master's degrees online.

How much does online college cost in Pennsylvania?

As of the 2022-2023 academic year, the average undergraduate tuition and fees for a public university in Pennsylvania, regardless of delivery method, is $16,217. For out-of-state students, the average costs jump to $31,844. Research several online colleges in PA for a look into specific distance learning costs.

Is online college free in Pennsylvania?

Online college in Pennsylvania isn't free. However, there are many free online learning resources and tuition-free online college options in Pennsylvania. In addition, while attending online classes at an accredited college or university, you could be eligible for scholarships, grants, or government financial aid.

Do I need to be a resident of Pennsylvania to attend an online college in Pennsylvania?

No — you don't have to be a resident of Pennsylvania to attend online colleges in PA. However, many colleges charge higher out-of-state tuition, even for online students. You can compare tuition for online Pennsylvania colleges to find the best option.

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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.

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