2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public colleges and universities also rank highly among the best institutions in many states, Pennsylvania included.

Public institutions receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

This site 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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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Graduation Rate

    84%

    Enrollment

    32,277

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $18628

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32656

    University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers 488 programs for students. Degree-seekers enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The school reports a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. At the institution, 78% of the students receive some form of financial aid. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 84%. Job seekers often benefit from hands-on experience, which makes them more competitive job candidates. The school offers experiential learning in the form of internships, research opportunities, and practicums. The admission rate is 64% for hopeful students. Some programs no longer require standardized tests for admission.

    #2

    Temple University

    Philadelphia, PA

    Graduation Rate

    75%

    Enrollment

    37,236

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $16080

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $28992

    From its campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Temple University educates college students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps students reach their professional goals. Undergraduates complete lower-division and upper-division coursework to earn a bachelor's degree. The 120-credit bachelor's programs also include general education credits. Upper-division courses typically focus on advanced concepts within a major. Learners receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. The accredited institution qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Temple University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #3

    Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

    Slippery Rock, PA

    Graduation Rate

    69%

    Enrollment

    8,860

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11574

    Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, which enrolls students in programs from its Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania campus. The college enrolls students in high-value programs and courses. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Typically, it takes students two years to complete an associate degree, four years to earn a bachelor's degree, 1-2 years for a master's degree, or 3-7 years for a doctoral degree. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. Admission advisors can provide additional information on submitting an application. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The school holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #4

    West Chester University of Pennsylvania

    West Chester, PA

    Graduation Rate

    75%

    Enrollment

    17,719

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19290

    West Chester University of Pennsylvania, located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, offers 171 programs for degree-seekers. Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. According to the institution, the student-to-faculty ratio stands at 20-to-1. According to the school, 85% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a 75% graduation rate. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. Learners benefit from internships, research opportunities, and other forms of service learning. The admission rate is 86% for hopeful students. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions.

    #5

    Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

    Lancaster, PA

    Graduation Rate

    55%

    Enrollment

    1,227

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $8400

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8400

    A public institution, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology enrolls students from its campus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. Students who complete an academic or technical program enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, enrollees qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. According to the institution, 90% of students receive aid and 60% receive loans. The public school reports a graduation rate of 55%. The admission rate for incoming students is 86%. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #6

    Bucks County Community College

    Newtown, PA

    Graduation Rate

    25%

    Enrollment

    6,988

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7920

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11880

    From its Newtown, Pennsylvania campus, Bucks County Community College offers 110 program options for students. Students enjoy rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 15-to-1. At the institution, 51% of the students receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 25%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps students enter the workforce. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements.

    #7

    Butler County Community College

    Butler, PA

    Graduation Rate

    29%

    Enrollment

    2,984

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6690

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9690

    From its campus in Butler, Pennsylvania, Butler County Community College enrolls learners in 85 programs. Students enjoy rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1. A total of 84% of the students at this institution offest some of their education-related expenses with financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 29%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying.

    #8

    Montgomery County Community College

    Blue Bell, PA

    Graduation Rate

    25%

    Enrollment

    9,827

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $8640

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12960

    Montgomery County Community College, located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, enrolls students as a public institution. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. The accredited institution meets the requirements for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. At the institution, 62% of students receive financial aid and 25% take out loans. The public school reports a graduation rate of 25%. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Prospective applicants can contact the admission department for more information about applying. Montgomery County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #9

    Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

    Bloomsburg, PA

    Graduation Rate

    58%

    Enrollment

    8,427

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19290

    Located in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps students reach their educational goals. Learners pursuing a bachelor's degree complete lower- and upper-division coursework. Students also complete general education credits. Degree-seekers learn advanced concepts in their major during upper-division courses. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. The accredited institution qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #10

    Millersville University of Pennsylvania

    Millersville, PA

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    7,456

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $9570

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19290

    Millersville University of Pennsylvania, located in Millersville, Pennsylvania, enrolls students as a public institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. A total of 91% of students receive financial aid and 60% take out loans at the school. The public school reports a 56% graduation rate. The admission rate is 85% for new students. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. Millersville University of Pennsylvania holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #11

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

    Johnstown, PA

    Graduation Rate

    32%

    Enrollment

    2,456

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6540

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9960

    Located in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College offers 40 programs for students. Students choose from rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The student-to-faculty ratio at the school is 18-to-1. According to the institution, 96% of enrollees receive some form of financial aid. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 32%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates on the job market. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants. Applicants can reach out to the admission department to learn more about enrolling.

    #12

    Pennsylvania College of Technology

    Williamsport, PA

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    4,565

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $15120

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $22680

    A public institution located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania College of Technology offers multiple programs. The school offers programs that prepare graduates for careers and professional advancement. The programs offer an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $7491, making the average tuition cost after aid $22973. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Pennsylvania College of Technology has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #13

    Westmoreland County Community College

    Youngwood, PA

    Graduation Rate

    19%

    Enrollment

    4,369

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7980

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11970

    From its campus in Youngwood, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County Community College offers programs as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. The institution offers coursework that gives students the chance to gain relevant knowledge and skills. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The school supports enrollees with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Westmoreland County Community College holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #14

    University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

    Johnstown, PA

    Graduation Rate

    55%

    Enrollment

    2,356

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13198

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $24666

    University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown ranks as a top school from its campus in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The institution's faculty brings expertise in multiple fields. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. The admissions department can help prospective students determine the next steps. Degree-seekers at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. The school holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #15

    Northampton County Area Community College

    Bethlehem, PA

    Graduation Rate

    22%

    Enrollment

    8,951

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6720

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10080

    Northampton County Area Community College, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, enrolls students as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution offers coursework that gives students the chance to gain relevant knowledge and skills. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The school provides support such as tutoring and career services. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #16

    Delaware County Community College

    Media, PA

    Graduation Rate

    21%

    Enrollment

    9,989

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7500

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11250

    Located in Pennsylvania, Delaware County Community College offers 103 programs for students. Students benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 26-to-1. The institution reports that 71% of students receive some form of financial aid. Students in the school's programs graduate at a rate of 21%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates become more competitive in the job market. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

    #17

    Community College of Allegheny County

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Graduation Rate

    16%

    Enrollment

    13,217

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7080

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10620

    From its Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus, Community College of Allegheny County enrolls learners in 208 programs. Learners enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1. A total of 74% of students receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 16%. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs offer test-optional admission policies. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying.

    #18

    Community College of Beaver County

    Monaca, PA

    Graduation Rate

    20%

    Enrollment

    1,713

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10020

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $15030

    A public institution, Community College of Beaver County grants degrees from its campus in Monaca, Pennsylvania. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that prepares learners for a career in their field. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. These policies make it easier to apply. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs. Community College of Beaver County holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #19

    Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

    Edinboro, PA

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    4,319

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11574

    From its campus in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania awards degrees as a public institution. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The institution reports that 95% of students receive aid, and 69% receive loans. Students earn their bachelor's degree from the school at a rate of 43%. The admission rate is 85% for incoming students. Prospective applicants can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #20

    Reading Area Community College

    Reading, PA

    Graduation Rate

    23%

    Enrollment

    3,924

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $8220

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9240

    From its campus in Reading, Pennsylvania, Reading Area Community College grants college degrees as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students complete coursework to prepare them for advanced roles. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The cost per credit is unknown. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Reading Area Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #21

    Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

    Shippensburg, PA

    Graduation Rate

    51%

    Enrollment

    6,130

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $9570

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10048

    Located in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania grants degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps students reach their educational goals. During a bachelor's degree, learners take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Undergraduates also complete general education credits. Degree-seekers study advanced concepts in their major during upper-division courses. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The school's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, learners qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #22

    Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

    Cheyney, PA

    Graduation Rate

    27%

    Enrollment

    623

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12723

    A public institution, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania grants degrees from its campus in Cheyney, Pennsylvania. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #23

    Community College of Philadelphia

    Philadelphia, PA

    Graduation Rate

    16%

    Enrollment

    13,672

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7632

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11448

    Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia offers multiple programs as a public institution. Students leave the school with credentials that prepare them for the workplace. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school boasts several programs that appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Current students receive an average aid award of $6076, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $12712. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Community College of Philadelphia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #24

    Luzerne County Community College

    Nanticoke, PA

    Graduation Rate

    20%

    Enrollment

    4,454

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $8040

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12060

    Located in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, Luzerne County Community College offers multiple programs as a public institution. Graduates leave the school prepared for the workforce. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $5009, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $8009. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #25

    Lehigh Carbon Community College

    Schnecksville, PA

    Graduation Rate

    20%

    Enrollment

    6,205

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6720

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10080

    Located in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Carbon Community College enrolls students as a public institution. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. According to the institution, 86% of students receive aid and 54% receive loans. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 20%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #26

    California University of Pennsylvania

    California, PA

    Graduation Rate

    51%

    Enrollment

    6,885

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11574

    A public institution located in California, Pennsylvania, California University of Pennsylvania offers multiple programs. Students earn an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The institution reports that students receive an average aid award of $ 6612, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $ 19116. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. California University of Pennsylvania holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #27

    Clarion University of Pennsylvania

    Clarion, PA

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    4,465

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11574

    From its campus in Clarion, Pennsylvania, Clarion University of Pennsylvania enrolls students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps students reach their educational goals. Learners complete lower-division and upper-division coursework to earn a bachelor's degree. Students also take general education coursework during their bachelor's degree. Upper-division credits typically focus on advanced concepts within a major. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. The accredited institution qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Clarion University of Pennsylvania has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #28

    Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

    Kutztown, PA

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    7,890

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7716

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11574

    From its campus in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania educates college students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the institution helps students reach their professional goals. Bachelor's programs incorporate lower-division and upper-division requirements. Undergraduates also complete general education credits. Upper-division credits typically focus on advanced concepts within a major. The school provides support such as tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. The accredited institution qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    #29

    East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

    East Stroudsburg, PA

    Graduation Rate

    50%

    Enrollment

    5,835

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $8288

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16576

    From its campus in Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania enrolls students in 114 programs. The institution's rigorous programs rank among the best in the nation. The student-to-faculty ratio at the institution is 22-to-1. According to the school, 87% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 50%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The school incorporates internships, research opportunities, and service learning. Hopeful learners can expect admission rates of 91%. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions.

    #30

    Harrisburg Area Community College

    Harrisburg, PA

    Graduation Rate

    16%

    Enrollment

    15,376

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6660

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8010

    A public institution located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg Area Community College enrolls students in several programs. Graduates leave the school prepared for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Current students receive an average aid award of $3809, making the average tuition cost after aid $12315. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements depending on their program. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    Why Choose a Public College or University in Pennsylvania?

    Public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania offer access to a relatively affordable education and leading research centers and facilities.

    The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator shows that Pennsylvania has 101 public colleges and universities. These include four-year and two-year institutions, as well as schools offering programs that can be completed in less than two years.

    Four-year public colleges include The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University.

    Prospective students may think cost matters most when deciding on the right college — and it does. However, they must also weigh other factors, such as which schools offer courses in the field they want to study.

    Penn State, for example, ranks 22nd for its research, according to the National Science Foundation rankings of Higher Education Research and Development research expenditures. The university boasted 12 fields of research that ranked in the top 10, including material science (which ranked first), psychology, sociology, and engineering.

    The cost of attending private colleges in the Keystone State, such as the University of Pennsylvania, can be nearly three times as much as attending Pennsylvania’s public schools.

    Out-of-state students also typically pay more to attend college in Pennsylvania, especially since Pennsylvania does not maintain regional reciprocity agreements with other states. Online programs often offer flat tuition rates for students no matter where they live.

    This guide details the most and least expensive public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, what they cost, and how to choose the right college for you.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Pennsylvania

    Pros

    • Check Circle
      Cheaper tuition
    • Check Circle
      Wide selection of majors, minors, and professional certificates
    • Check Circle
      Larger campuses with plenty of activities, social clubs, programs, and events
    • Check Circle
      Greater diversity in the classroom and on campus
    • Check Circle
      Prominent faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities
    • Check Circle
      Greater exposure to world views

    Cons

    • X Circle
      Students at public college often still borrow money, which they must repay with interest when they graduate
    • X Circle
      Bigger public colleges may not offer the tight-knit communities some students seek
    • X Circle
      Students may feel overshadowed by the campus size and enrollment
    • X Circle
      Public schools may not attract as many international students
    • X Circle
      Admissions at leading public colleges can be competitive
    • X Circle
      Instructors may not provide personalized attention available at smaller, private colleges

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Universities in Pennsylvania

    There has been a lot of attention on for-profit colleges. Any profits these schools make is distributed among their shareholders. The shareholders’ roles and the priority to make profits have been scrutinized.

    For-profit schools are often viewed as providing a less rigorous education than nonprofit colleges. However, this is not always the case.

    Pennsylvania has 106 private for-profit schools. Many provide specialized vocational training. These schools can offer flexible programs where students can quickly learn skills and get training in fields like cosmetology, automotive services, and aviation.

    Nonprofit colleges, which include public and private schools, earn accreditation, a voluntary process that assures students that the school and its curriculum have been examined by an independent agency.

    Nonprofit public universities and colleges in Pennsylvania get funding from the federal government as well as from tuition, donations, and endowments. Profits get reinvested into the schools. The funds are used to improve students’ educational experience, pay instructors and professors, and fund research.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in Pennsylvania?

    According to NCES, in-state undergraduates at Pennsylvania public four-year colleges paid, on average, $15,656 for tuition and required fees, plus $11,838 for room and board, in 2019-2020. Private four-year colleges in Pennsylvania charged students an average of $42,812 for tuition and required fees during that same academic year.

    Pennsylvania does not have regional reciprocity agreements with other states, which means nonresident students may pay double, if not more, for tuition.

    NCES reports that Pennsylvania four-year public colleges charged out-of-state students $30,222 for tuition and required fees in 2019-2020. At two-year colleges in Pennsylvania, students paid $5,348 for in-state tuition and fees and $13,480 for out-of-state tuition and fees.

    Colleges commonly add additional fees to pay for such things as campus activities, technology services, distance learning, and more.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

    How many public colleges and universities are there in Pennsylvania?

    In Pennsylvania, there are 45 four-year and 26 two-year public colleges and universities, where students can pursue their educational goals.

    These schools offer a wide variety of classes. So students can develop their current interests and form new ones that encourage them to engage with the world around them.

    Some people may think public schools are not as academically challenging as private schools. This, however, is untrue.

    Public colleges and universities are staffed with instructors and professors who are passionate about the subjects they teach and ignite this same enthusiasm to learn in their students. At any of the public institutions in Pennsylvania, students have the opportunity to thrive.

    What is the most expensive public university in Pennsylvania?

    The University of Pittsburgh ranks among the most expensive public colleges in Pennsylvania. For the 2021-2022 academic year, its undergraduate tuition rates were $19,092 for full-time, in-state students and $34,124 for out-of-state degree-seekers.

    Nationwide, college tuition has increased over 170% over the last 40 years. To date, over 43 million Americans have $1.75 trillion in student loan debt.

    What is the least expensive public university in Pennsylvania?

    Bloomsburg University (BU) of Pennsylvania — with a full-time undergraduate tuition rate of $7,792 in 2022-2023 — ranks among the least expensive public universities in the state.

    Other public universities in Pennsylvania with the least expensive tuition rates include California University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, and Millersville University.

    Tuition at Pennsylvania’s public universities fluctuates, and a student’s residency status or their degree choice can make the final cost of college more expensive. Graduate students may also pay more for their education than undergraduate students.

    What is the biggest public university in Pennsylvania?

    Penn State is the biggest public university in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855, the school has 24 campuses with 22,000 acres. Penn State boasts a total enrollment of 88,914 as of 2021 and more than 707,000 alumni worldwide. The enrollment includes 15,438 graduate students and 73,476 undergraduate students.

    In 2021, Penn State received more than 168,000 applications.

    Students choose from more than 160 bachelor’s degree programs, as well as more than 90 associate degree and 190 graduate degree programs.

    Penn State reported $993 million in research expenditures in 2021.

    Is a public college or university right for me?

    No one can truly answer this question but you. There are pros and cons to attending a public institution — what suits one student might not suit the next.

    Public colleges typically cost less than private schools. Public colleges and universities provide a robust catalog of programs and research opportunities.

    With a larger enrollment, the campus life at public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania can offer more social activities, volunteer and civic opportunities, clubs, and networking.

    Private colleges also come with benefits such as prestige and generous scholarships and grants, thanks to funding from endowments.