U.S. News & World Report annually releases its list of the best universities in the country. It’s no surprise that the Keystone State consistently ranks highly due to its abundance of prestigious educational institutions.
Now that the 2022-2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings are out, 46 schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can proudly call themselves among the best in the nation. So, which institutions topped the list?
This ranking of the top universities in the United States has been published annually by U.S. News for nearly four decades. U.S. News’ editor and chief content officer, Kim Castro, is quoted in a press release as saying that research methods have developed over time to reflect shifts in higher education. Castro praised U.S. News for providing a ranking that provides “useful data and information to help with one of life’s biggest decisions” for the nation’s countless parents.
This year, U.S. News ranked over 1,500 schools based on 17 different criteria. U.S. News begins its ranking process by classifying each institution according to its mission and, in some cases, its location. Different types of colleges have their own separate lists. Research-intensive and home to multiple Ph.D. programs, national universities stand apart from liberal arts colleges, which are ranked elsewhere.
According to U.S. News, there are more than 100 four-year, degree-granting institutions in Pennsylvania. These institutions range in size from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges and even a few specialty schools. Pennsylvania is home to a number of specialized higher education institutions, including art schools, seminaries, and colleges of health sciences. The cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the latter of which is the fifth-largest in the United States, are home to many of the state’s colleges and universities. Pennsylvania is home to a number of excellent public universities, including Penn State University, University Park, which is home to more than 39,000 undergraduates and is one of the largest universities in the United States. Find out which universities and colleges in Pennsylvania made the cut below.
Best colleges in pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
Penn is a prestigious university that has been included in the Ivy League for many years. Elon Musk and Warren Buffett are just two of the notable people who attended the Wharton School of Business, one of the most prestigious departments at the university. Penn is known for its excellent academics, but its vibrant student body has also earned it the nickname “the social ivy.” Penn is situated in the heart of Philadelphia, providing its students with easy access to the city’s many cultural institutions and exciting nightlife. Some see Penn as a “safety ivy,” but the school also has a reputation for being innovative and encouraging students to strike a good work-life balance.
Haverford is another member of the Tri-College and Quaker Consortium and a small liberal arts college. Haverford and Bryn Mawr have a close relationship within the Consortium because they combine academic programs and share many resources (such as a newspaper and a radio station). There are 9 students for every faculty member at Haverford, and 60% of the faculty members actually live on campus. Haverford is also well-known for its Honor Code and its commitment to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of each and every admitted student.
When it comes to science, technology, engineering, and business, Lehigh University stands head and shoulders above the competition. Students have access to the same courses, advising, research, and other resources as those at large research universities, despite the school’s smaller enrollment. Thanks to the collaboration between Lehigh’s five colleges (Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering & Applied Science, Education & Health), students are able to easily pursue multiple areas of interest. When it comes to academics, Lehigh has you covered.
Bucknell University, located in beautiful central Pennsylvania, is a progressive liberal arts institution. The university’s three colleges, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Freeman College of Management, and the College of Engineering, allow it to shine not only in the humanities but also in the hard sciences. The average class size at Bucknell is 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. At Bucknell, freshmen can choose to live in one of several themed residential colleges, each of which is associated with a specific course. In this way, students can study and socialize with peers who share their passions. Around forty-one percent of Bucknell’s undergraduates are a part of one of the many Greek organizations that have a significant cultural impact on campus.
Carnegie Mellon University
If you choose Carnegie Mellon University, you’ll be joining a distinguished group of students. In 2023, we ranked it as the second-best university in Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus of this private, non-profit institution conferred 5,381 bachelor’s degrees in academic year 2020–2021.
With a student-to-teacher ratio of only 5 to 1, it’s possible that students will have more one-on-one time with their instructors than they would at other institutions. Carnegie Mellon University reports that the starting salary for a bachelor’s degree graduate is $99,998.
If you choose to enroll at Villanova University, you will be joining some of the most brilliant minds in the world. This year, the school’s overall quality ranking put it at #4 in Pennsylvania. In 2020-’21, 4,100 bachelor’s degrees were awarded by Villanova University, a large private, non-profit institution in Villanova, Pennsylvania.
The school does a great job of keeping its freshmen around, as evidenced by their 96% retention rate. Beginning salaries for recent Villanova bachelor’s degree holders average $90,613 annually.
In a recent ranking of the best universities in Pennsylvania, Lafayette College came in at number eight. Easton, Pennsylvania is home to Lafayette, a private, non-profit university. There are only about 720 students at the school, and they granted baccalaureate degrees in 2020–2021.
Those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will benefit from a higher faculty-to-student ratio of 9 to 1 at this school. In the beginning of their careers, Lafayette grads with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $84,939.
Saint Joseph’s University
On the 2023 list of the best universities in Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University was ranked tenth. In 2020-’21, the medium-sized private not-for-profit institution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania awarded 2,392 bachelor’s degrees.
The 2.5% default rate on student loans is encouraging because it suggests that students are having an easier time than they might at other schools paying off their debt. The default rate in the country as a whole is 10.1%. A St. Joe’s University bachelor’s degree holder can expect an average starting salary of $73,428.
Swarthmore College tops our list of the best colleges in Pennsylvania due to the exceptional performance of its students. Approximately one-third of Swarthmore’s alums hold or are pursuing a Ph.D.
The college takes great pride in its ability to provide personalized educational experiences. Swarthmore students have unrivaled access to their professors, as there are only eight students for every professor (and all professors at Swarthmore have doctorates).
Students at Swarthmore are encouraged to work with a faculty advisor to create a major that is tailored to their individual interests and career goals, in addition to choosing from one of the 40 pre-established majors offered by the university.
The requirements to enroll at Swarthmore are rigorous. The college looks at each applicant as a whole, taking into account their academic performance, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and potential contributions to campus life. All admitted students whose financial needs can be verified will have those needs met by Swarthmore.
Franklin and Marshall College
The mission of Franklin and Marshall College is to educate students to improve society by tackling intractable problems. With this goal in mind, the university provides excellent bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as business, environmental science, moral science, and public administration. An additional fifty percent of undergraduates pursue a self-designed major or independent study.
The college makes an effort to give all students access to research experiences. Students collaborate with professors on cutting-edge research projects in their fields of study through programs like Hackman Summer Scholars. Many students who take part in this 10-week program work with their faculty mentor to either publish their findings or use them as the basis for their senior theses.
Everyone applying needs to have completed at least 12 years of schooling. F&M is a test-optional school, so prospective students are free to forego submitting their ACT or SAT scores if they so choose. Additionally, all candidates are required to attend an in-person or virtual interview.
Bryn Mawr College
Two coed graduate schools at Bryn Mawr offer advanced education in fields like archaeology, chemistry, and social work to students of all genders. Bryn Mawr’s close relationships with Haverford and Swarthmore allow students to take advantage of their courses and extracurriculars.
As they shape their undergraduate education, students consistently receive help from faculty and staff. All freshmen take part in required seminars designed to introduce them to the liberal arts. Sophomore year planning provides students with advice as they create an individualized curriculum. Students in their final two years of school work closely with faculty advisors on research and analysis, gain practical experience through internships and field placements, and develop their professional identities.
A high school diploma is required for admission to Bryn Mawr. In addition to the application, they need to include a writing sample and three letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors. While ACT and SAT scores are not used in the admissions process, they are used for advising and course placement.
Philadelphia, one of the country’s most historic cities, is home to Temple University. The city is also conveniently located within driving distance of other major U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, D.C. Temple University is one of the largest providers of education in the fields of dentistry, law, medicine, pharmacy, and podiatry in the United States, and has held this position for many years. However, students are learning how to disrupt existing industries and bring new ideas to life with the help of resources like Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) in the Fox School of Business.
Duquesne University is a private, Roman Catholic institution that has been serving the Pittsburgh area since 1878. The 49-acre campus is managed according to a semester schedule, and classes are held only once a semester.
Duquesne University is ranked 148th among the best national universities by the Best Colleges guide for 2022.
This school competes at the highest level of college sports as a member of the NCAA’s Division I. Placement services, non-remedial tutoring, a daycare service, health insurance, and other services are also available to students at the University.
The good news is that despite the university’s Catholic ties, students of legal age are allowed to drink alcohol on campus. Nearly half of the student body possesses a vehicle.
Those looking to further their education in Pennsylvania have a lot of college options from which to choose. This list of Pennsylvania’s top ten universities, however, can help you narrow the field.
While each school has its own unique acceptance rate, it is important to remember that they are all extremely selective. As a result, you can determine your acceptance odds with the help of online Admission calculators.