Online Colleges in Pennsylvania 2021

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Online Schools in PA

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The best colleges in Pennsylvania cater to students looking to advance their education and career. Both in-state and out-of-state students benefit from attending online colleges in Pennsylvania. The state provides out-of-state degree-seekers with educational opportunities that may not exist where they live. 

Students in Pennsylvania can pay in-state tuition at public schools if they live in the state for 12 consecutive months before enrolling. However, the state waives this requirement for select groups, including active-study service members, veterans, and U.S. Department of Defense contractors. Additionally, many online programs allow students to pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

Accredited Online College Programs

Choosing a school represents one of the biggest decisions any aspiring college student can make. Some students may emphasize affordability while others may weigh program flexibility and graduation rates more heavily. Our rankings are based on a series of qualifications and metrics, all focused on quality and affordability. Scroll down to see the list of top online schools in Pennsylvania.

Top 5 Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Rank School Location
1 Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA
2 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
3 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
4 Cairn University-Langhorne Langhorne, PA
5 DeSales University Center Valley, PA

What to Know About Colleges in Pennsylvania?


  • Q. Do online credits cost more or less in Pennsylvania?

    Pennsylvania ranks as one of the top 10 most expensive states for college tuition. However, online students often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur.


  • Q. What is the most affordable college in Pennsylvania?

    Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania ties for the most affordable college in Pennsylvania with nine other postsecondary institutions.


  • Q. How long do you have to live in Pennsylvania to get in-state tuition?

    Prospective students must live in Pennsylvania for 12 consecutive months to qualify for in-state tuition. However, some schools allow all online students to pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.


Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania 2021

See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. Seton Hill University
    Location

    Greensburg, PA

    A private Catholic university located in Greensburg, Seton Hill ranks among the top Pennsylvania colleges with online degrees. The liberal arts university offers fully online programs that allow learners to earn a new degree or complete a degree started at another college.

    Students can earn their bachelor's degree in accounting, allied health leadership, behavioral health, or healthcare leadership. The business administration program offers concentrations in marketing, human resources, and entrepreneurial studies. Distance learners can also design their own degree with the online general studies option.

    Seton Hill reports a 95% career or graduate school placement rate for its online programs. The school offers six start dates each year. Distance learners qualify for tuition discounts and scholarships. Online students can also access all campus amenities at Seton Hill, a major perk for local students considering online colleges in Pennsylvania.

  2. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Slippery Rock, PA

    A public university founded in 1889, SRU promotes intellectual development, civic responsibility, and leadership. The school offers online degree-completion programs that help learners finish a bachelor's degree in a flexible, convenient format.

    SRU's online degree-completion programs let learners balance coursework with their career or personal responsibilities. SRU offers several undergraduate options, including accounting, healthcare administration, management, and nursing. Many of these programs encourage an interdisciplinary approach, giving students the most credit possible for their prior college experience.

    SRU also offers online graduate degrees. Professionals can pursue a doctorate in education, a master's in criminal justice, or a master's in data analytics. Other online master's options include special education, English, history, and park and resource management.

  3. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    A branch of Pennsylvania's public university system, Penn State World Campus specializes in online degrees. The World Campus branch opened in 1998 as the online campus for Penn State. Students can choose from over 150 undergraduate majors, graduate degrees, certificates, and minors.

    Penn State World Campus offers degrees in business, education, engineering, healthcare, nursing, and technology. Students can also choose from geospatial programs, liberal arts majors, and energy and sustainability programs. The school offers regionally accredited online degrees that prepare graduates for career advancement or a new profession.

    Penn State World Campus enrollees complete the same courses as on-campus students and receive the same degree as on-campus learners. Many of the same instructors teach online and on-campus courses. Penn State World Campus awards scholarships to support online learners.

  4. Cairn University-Langhorne
    Location

    Langhorne, PA

    Originally the Philadelphia Bible Institute, today Cairn operates as a Christ-centered institute of higher education. Cairn offers a small student-to-faculty ratio and a student body of around 1,500 students. Undergraduates seeking a flexible learning option can enroll in Cairn Online to earn a bachelor's degree.

    The online programs incorporate a biblical approach while preparing graduates for professional careers. Cairn offers online degrees in business majors like accounting, finance, marketing, and healthcare management. Students can also choose a criminal justice, liberal arts, or psychology major. Cairn's faith-centered majors include an associate or bachelor's degree in biblical studies, a Christian studies major, and a pastoral ministries major.

    The university also offers dual-enrollment bachelor's and master's options and online graduate programs in religion, education, nonprofit leadership, and social work. Cairn Online charges a flat per-credit tuition rate with no extra fees.

  5. DeSales University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    A Catholic university located in Lehigh Valley, DeSales encourages a positive approach to community and learning. At DeSales, about one in three students enrolls in an online program. The ACCESS program offers online and evening classes for undergrads seeking a bachelor's degree or certificate.

    Designed for nontraditional learners, the ACCESS program uses an accelerated format. Fully online courses use an accelerated session (6-8 weeks) or a 15-week semester schedule. DeSales offers bachelor's degrees in high-demand areas like business administration, criminal justice, and management. Undergraduates can also choose accelerated programs in accounting, finance, or marketing.

    DeSales' unique program offerings include specialized degrees in homeland security, financial planning, and pharmaceutical marketing. The school also offers a theology degree. Enrollees can complete online prerequisite courses for healthcare programs. Admission and financial aid advisors walk incoming students through the process of registering for classes and funding their degree.

Why Choose Pennsylvania for Online Higher Education?

The best colleges in Pennsylvania feature undergraduate and graduate programs aligning with the state’s key industries, such as natural gas, life sciences, and plastics. Prospective students can visit the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development website to learn more about the state’s many employment opportunities. 

Students can also explore different Pennsylvania careers by speaking with their college or university’s career counselors. These counselors can provide learners with information on growing fields throughout the state.

Common Online Bachelor’s Programs in Pennsylvania



Pennsylvania online colleges offer many programs that set students up for career success. The following list outlines several common online bachelor’s programs in Pennsylvania.

Biology
Pennsylvania’s growing agribusiness sector requires highly trained biologists to maintain the state’s forests and farms. Undergraduate biology students analyze life’s origins, function, and diversity. They also gain hands-on skills in laboratory settings.
Business
Tourism accounts for nearly 500,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, which graduates with a business degree can capitalize on. Business degree-seekers study topics like microeconomics analysis and policy, accounting, and marketing.
Engineering
Pennsylvania engineers often use the latest technologies to create cutting-edge medical devices and advanced materials. Students can prepare for an engineering career by earning a degree in areas like electrical, nuclear, or software engineering.
Finance
Bachelor’s in finance programs cover topics like corporate finance, effective business communication, and investment and portfolio analysis. Some programs allow students to complete an internship.
Marketing
Online bachelor’s in marketing programs train students to advertise and promote Pennsylvania’s many goods and services. Learners study topics like business strategy, corporation finance, and the principles of marketing.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

Cost of Attending an Online College in Pennsylvania



Students may choose to learn online for multiple reasons, such as financial benefits. Some public online colleges charge in-state tuition to all online students, regardless of residency. Online students also save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs.

The following table outlines the average tuition price for different types of Pennsylvania colleges.

Average Undergraduate Tuition in Pennsylvania
Public Four-Year College Private Four-Year College Public Two-Year College
In-State $14,812 $41,703 $5,284
Out-of-State $28,527 N/A $14,111

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Career and Salary Outlook for Students in Pennsylvania



A college degree plus professional experience prepares professionals for managerial roles. Managers in most fields oversee and train new hires, make decisions affecting their employer’s long-term success, and earn more than less senior employees. The following list outlines several management-related careers.


  • Financial Managers

    Financial managers prepare financial reports, advise senior managers, and develop new ways to increase profits. They also develop plans for long-term financial success. Many financial managers possess a bachelor’s degree and an MBA.


  • Sales Managers

    Companies selling goods or services hire sales managers to oversee one or more sales teams. These professionals research consumer preferences and set sales quotas. They may also collaborate with human resources to hire and train new employees.


  • Marketing Managers

    Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers develop online, television, radio, and print advertisements. They work with clients to create advertising campaigns and negotiate contracts. These managers often attain this position after gaining many years of professional experience.


  • Computer and Information Systems Managers

    Computer and information systems managers determine their employer’s technology requirements, purchase new hardware and software, and set goals for other workers. Some managers specialize in IT security, protecting data and investigating breaches when they occur. Many of these professionals possess a graduate degree in computer science.


  • General and Operations Managers

    Also known as top executives, general and operations managers create policies affecting their company or organization. They appoint middle managers and department heads, collaborate with other executives, and approve contracts. The profession also involves cutting costs and creating initiatives to improve efficiency.


Highest Paying Careers With a Bachelor’s Degrees in Pennsylvania
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028)
Financial Managers $153,350 16%
Sales Managers $150,210 5.1%
Marketing Managers $148,610 8.1%
Computer and Information Systems Managers $144,390 11.3%
General and Operations Managers $132,110 6.9%

Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

Pennsylvania Scholarships and Grants



Learners attending online colleges in Pennsylvania can take advantage of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of a degree. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines scholarship and grant opportunities for learners studying at online colleges in Pennsylvania.

  • National Independent Automobile Dealers Association Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The NIADA Foundation Scholarships support academically gifted high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall. Application materials include a 1,200-word essay and up to five recommendation letters.
    Amount: $3,500

    Apply

  • Northern Tier Hardwood Association Community Forest Scholarship for High School Seniors

    Who Can Apply: High school seniors living in select Pennsylvania counties can apply to this competitive scholarship. Application requirements include three recommendation letters and a commitment to major in forestry or a related topic.
    Amount: $1,500

    Apply

  • Pennsylvania State Grant Program

    Who Can Apply: The Pennsylvania State Grant Program supports Pennsylvania residents with financial need. Applicants must submit FAFSA results. Other eligibility requirements include maintaining satisfactory academic progress and taking at least six credits per semester.
    Amount: $500-$800

    Apply

  • Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship program offers several awards to students enrolled in public Pennsylvania universities. Application requirements vary by scholarship.
    Amount: Varies

    Apply

  • Road to Safety Scholarship Contest

    Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania high school seniors can apply to the Road to Safety Scholarship Contest. Applicants must submit a poster, painting, video, or other advertisement detailing the risks involved with drunk or distracted driving.
    Amount: $500-$1,000

    Apply

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