Online colleges in Pennsylvania offer students flexibility and opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
Pennsylvania has a rich history, from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the Battle of Gettysburg and Valley Forge, but it’s focused on the future when it comes to higher education.
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Students at the state’s top-notch colleges and universities have access to a wide variety of online learning opportunities, as well as a host of grants and scholarships to help make programs more affordable. Indeed, Pennsylvania is forging ahead to become a national leader in postsecondary education.
Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that 17.3% of postsecondary students in Pennsylvania were enrolled in online college courses exclusively, and another 27.5% of students were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses.
In Pennsylvania, there are various resources for online education to help you choose the right program for your goals. Universities throughout the state offer more than 2300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Students may narrow down their choices of the university by delivery format or degree level to find the program or course they’re interested in.
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The Pennsylvania Distance Learning Association (PADLA) provides a networking platform for online education professionals, instructors, and students at all levels. PADLA is a regional chapter (serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey) of a national organization dedicated to the free exchange of ideas and information among the distance learning community.
Some of the colleges throughout the state offer more than 150 accredited graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, certificates, and minors. Some of the most popular programs include Registered Nursing, Business/Commerce, Psychology, Information Studies, and Criminal Justice, but there are many more available.
Online students receive the same degree or certificate as traditional students and are taught by the same faculty.
Common Online Degrees in Pennsylvania
There is a multitude of degree options you may choose to pursue in Pennsylvania, but here are a few of the most common ones.
- Organizational Leadership: You’ll learn about how to manage and structure a business, and how to motivate other managers to execute their responsibilities.
- Biology: This degree teaches students about how plants, animals, bacteria, and other living organisms function.
- Human Resources Management: You’ll learn how to manage a human resources team and oversee employees that hire, train, compensate, and more.
- Business Administration and Management: This degree teaches students all aspects of how to run a business, including leadership, finance, marketing, human resources, and more.
- Engineering: You’ll learn how to build things in a variety of sectors, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Other popular degrees in the state of Pennsylvania include nursing, accounting, and marketing, although you may be able to find programs in almost any field you’re interested in.
Overview of Higher Education in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are 187 degree-granting institutions, according to the NCES. The breakdown is as follows: 39 public schools, 113 non-profit private schools, and 35 for-profit private schools. These numbers include community colleges in Pennsylvania.
To attend one of Pennsylvania’s 4-year public institutions, residents will pay approximately $12,382 for tuition and fees, according to data from the NCES. Out-of-state students will pay around $27,567 for tuition and fees living on campus. Both are thousands of dollars above the national average.
Choosing to pursue higher education and earn online degrees in PA can cut down on your extra costs like travel and room and board as you will be able to attend from the comfort of your own home.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Pennsylvania
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5.5 million people are employed in Pennsylvania. The unemployment rate has remained fairly steady and low through recent years, hovering at around 4.4%.
Industries with an increase in their workforce include information, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. The number of mining and logging professionals in the state has also increased during that timeframe. If you’re interested in working in administrative support, transportation, or sales-related role, it may be a strategic move to pursue jobs in Pennsylvania. These sectors all had high employment in the state.
Careers & Salaries in Pennsylvania
When looking for online universities in PA, it may be useful to have an understanding of the popular careers in the state. Job searching after graduation may be an easier process if you are targeting a role that is commonly found in Pennsylvania.
Healthcare is a major industry there, and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are one of the most employed groups in the state. Examples of these types of roles include registered nurses, nursing assistants, and home health and personal care aides.
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Jobs that help a business run, such as software developers, general and operations managers, and office clerks, are also common in Pennsylvania. Customer service representatives and accountants are also roles with high employment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, below are several popular careers in the state of Pennsylvania.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|General and Operations Managers||$97,930|
|Accountants and Auditors||$73,490|
|Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses||$48,210|
|Office Clerks, General||$37,460|
|Customer Service Representatives||$37,090|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||$28,390|
There is a high concentration of administrative support and transportation and material moving occupations in Pennsylvania. Many popular roles in the state, such as home health and personal care aides, are projected to grow faster than average over the next ten years.
Online Colleges in PA Admissions Requirements
The admissions requirements for PA online degrees vary, but here are a few common ones you may come across.
- High school diploma
- High school transcripts
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
- Personal statement
Some schools may have a minimum high school GPA requirement, which they may want to verify with a high school transcript. Others may accept a GED in place of a high school diploma, and some may want to see the completion of specific high school coursework.
Online PA Colleges Accreditation
When looking at Pennsylvania online degrees, it may behoove you to look at schools that are regionally accredited. When a school has this status, it has met a series of academic quality standards that were determined by an accrediting organization.
You can find more information about regional accreditation on the U.S. Department of Education website. Attending this type of school may help open job prospects after graduation, as employers may check to see it listed on your resume.
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If you are interested in applying for federal financial aid, attending a regionally accredited school may also be helpful for qualifying students.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re interested in one of the online universities in Pennsylvania, consider completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opens up the door to local, state, and federal aid.
Students in Pennsylvania also have access to one of the nation’s leading student aid organizations, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). PHEAA serves millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing, outreach, and other student aid programs.
Some of the financial aid programs available to students attending Pennsylvania online colleges include:
- Postsecondary Education Gratuity Program (PEGP): This program is for high school seniors whose parent died while performing duties as Pennsylvania police officers, firefighters, rescue or ambulance squad members, correctional facility employees, or National Guard members after 1/1/1976, or as sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and certain other individuals on active duty military who have died on duty since 9/11/2001. This award covers tuition, room and board, books, and fees.
- Grant for Veterans: This is designed for veterans of any military branch and awards up to $2700.
- Grant for POW/MIA Dependents: This program is for dependents of members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been declared a prisoner of war or missing in action. It awards up to $1,200.
- Grant for National Guard Members: This program is intended for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the amount varies.
- Kids Chance of Pennsylvania: This program is for students ages 16-25 with financial need due to the death or severe injury of a parent at work.
Many of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities offer financial aid programs of their own, both need-based and merit-based. To find out more about these opportunities, check with the financial aid office at the school(s) you’re considering.
Private scholarships are another helpful source of financial assistance. Here are a few available to Pennsylvanians:
- Clarkston Scholars Program: $10,000
- Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship: Varies
- The Hellenic University Club Undergraduate Scholarships: Varies
- The Sue Wiseman Scholarship: $1000
You may be able to find more scholarship opportunities through your chosen school’s admissions office as well.
Pennsylvania Online Education Resources
Organizations like the ones below may provide information to guide you through your educational journey in Pennsylvania.
- Pennsylvania Adult Education Resources: This website offers helpful resources for students looking into career coaching and other types of professional development.
- Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency: This agency may help you find information on financial aid opportunities and how to apply for them.
- Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: This website offers information about all of the Pennsylvania State colleges, including their program and degree options.
For more information, visit each organization’s website.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Pennsylvania?
The cost of attending Pennsylvania online universities varies by school. Private four-year universities have the highest tuition on average, at $43,926.
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The most affordable option for college in Pennsylvania may be attending a public, two-year university as an in-state student. On average, tuition for these colleges is $5,441 for the same timeframe. If you’re interested in a four-year public school, in-state tuition runs at $14,532, and out-of-state is $25,697 on average.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Attending the best online colleges in Pennsylvania may be cheaper if you are an in-state student, but there are more affordable ways to enroll as an out-of-state student too. Certain states partner up to offer students in their sister states cheaper tuition.
Pennsylvania is part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, in which participating schools can grant more affordable tuition to students. It may be beneficial to check whether the school you’re interested in is part of this agreement.
There are a variety of regional agreements that offer tuition breaks through state reciprocity, and while Pennsylvania is not currently part of them, it may behoove you to research any available options like these.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in Pennsylvania?
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, the following careers are in high demand in Pennsylvania over the next ten years.
- Financial Managers
- Gaming Managers
- Medical and Health Services Managers
- Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
Other careers in high demand in Pennsylvania include financial examiners, information security analysts, and computer and information research scientists. Mathematical scientists and cooks and food preparation workers are also expected to see high job growth in the next few years.
What Are the High Paying Jobs in Pennsylvania?
Although any role’s salary depends on a variety of factors, including education, experience, and more, many of the highest paying jobs in Pennsylvania are in the healthcare field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, family medicine physicians are the highest-paying job in the state, with a median annual salary of $205,525. Nurse anesthetists and orthopedic surgeons (except pediatric) follow, making $195,512 and $193,086.
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Dentist specialists and architectural and engineering managers are also lucrative careers, making $153,504 and $141,086, respectively.
List of Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Carnegie Mellon University offers an online program for a Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services. Students may be able to stack graduate certificates they’ve earned and apply them towards the degree.
Courses are offered in full-time, accelerated, and extended formats. The program can potentially be finished in 12 months. The completion of a senior capstone project is required to graduate.
Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Cedar Crest College’s School of Adult and Graduate Education offers a select number of master’s degrees and graduate certificates that can be earned entirely online.
Cedar Crest has a generous transfer credit policy. Courses are offered in an 8 week, accelerated format and in a traditional semester schedule. Fields of study offered include business, healthcare management, and human resources management.
Cedar Crest College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Central Penn College offers flexible online programs for associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Many of these programs are fully online. Day and evening classes are also available. Topics of study offered include accounting, health science, and homeland security. Central Penn continues to help alumni after graduation.
Central Penn College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Chatham University offers online programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Most of these programs may be completed fully online. Students who work for certain employers may be eligible for tuition discounts.
Online courses are offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats, and each one is 7.5 weeks long. Fields of study offered include business administration, nursing, occupational therapy, and interior architecture.
Chatham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Clarks Summit University offers fully online programs for associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The programs are taught from a Christian worldview.
Coursework is completed asynchronously, and classes are conducted in an accelerated, 8 week format. CSU offers five start dates each year. Areas of study offered include addictions counseling, criminal justice, and systematic theology.
Clarks Summit University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
DeSales University offers evening and online classes for nontraditional learners seeking bachelor’s degrees. Students may take CLEP tests to earn credit for prior learning.
DeSales offers a mix of synchronous and asynchronous courses. Many programs are fully online, and some offer hybrid options. Many programs are also accelerated. Fields of study offered include homeland security and pharmaceutical marketing.
DeSales University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Drexel University offers online programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. These programs are designed to provide the same quality education and degrees as their on-campus counterparts.
Online courses feature asynchronous learning methods and are taken in a 10 week, accelerated format. Areas of study offered include behavioral health counseling, health science, and arts administration and museum leadership.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Duquesne University offers a bachelor’s degree completion program and several graduate programs for online students. Some programs are fully online, while others provide a hybrid experience.
Most online courses are asynchronous, but some have a few synchronous components. Online courses are 8 weeks long, and there are five start dates offered each year. Fields of study offered include organizational leadership and nursing.
Duquesne University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lehigh University offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates that can be earned online. Lehigh’s Flex MBA program allows students to attend part-time and offers the potential to earn an accelerated degree. Other fields of study offered include chemical energy engineering and molecular biology.
Lehigh University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Mercyhurst University is dedicated to providing its students with a high-quality education rooted in the principles of the Catholic faith. The school offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates that can be earned online. Online courses follow a traditional semester schedule, with most programs starting in the fall or spring. Areas of study offered include applied intelligence and integrative nursing leadership.
Mercyhurst University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Misericordia University strives to provide its online students with the same quality education and attention as is given to its on-campus students. The school offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Many programs are fully online, while others are in a hybrid format. Fields of study offered include healthcare management, occupational therapy, reading specialist, and nursing.
Misericordia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences offers online degree programs designed for working students who want to advance in their careers. Many programs are fully online, while others are offered in a hybrid format. Some programs require a visit to campus. Online courses are asynchronous with set due dates. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields such as health sciences and nursing.
PA College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pennsylvania College of Technology offers many online degree programs designed for nontraditional students. All these programs are fully online and require no campus visits.
Most courses are delivered asynchronously, while some have synchronous components. Students have the option of part-time or full-time attendance. The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as automotive technology management and nursing education.
Pennsylvania College of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pennsylvania State University offers over 175 fully online programs for professional certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and doctoral degrees.
The online courses follow a regular semester schedule in the spring and fall. Classes during the summer may be taken in 6 or 12 week sessions. Fields of study offered include political science, geodesign, and nurse practitioner.
Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pennsylvania Western University—California’s Global Online offers online programs designed with busy students in mind. The programs’ aim to offer the same education and services to online students that on-campus students can receive.
Online courses are conducted in an asynchronous format with regular due dates. The school offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields such as allied health leadership and legal studies.
Pennsylvania Western University – California is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Pennsylvania Western University—Clarion among the best schools in the country for an online bachelor’s degree. The school offers online programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Online classes may be taken in a 7 week, accelerated format or in a 15 week, semester format. Fields of study offered include accounting and counseling.
PennWest Clarion is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pennsylvania Western University—Edinboro offers several fully online master’s degree programs and one fully online bachelor’s degree program.
The online programs are taught by the same instructors and are designed to provide the same quality education as their on-campus counterparts. Fields of study offered include applied technical leadership, art education, and social work.
Pennsylvania Western University – Edinboro is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pittsburgh Technical College offers fully online associate and bachelor’s degree programs designed with busy students in mind.
The online courses are asynchronous, and PTC uses innovative methods for classes to interact. All students must complete a capstone project in a real-world setting. Fields of study offered include graphic design, criminal justice, and information systems and technology.
Pittsburgh Technical College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Robert Morris University strives to ensure that its online students get the same attention and quality of education as its on-campus students. The school offers online programs for certificates and undergraduate and graduate degrees. Online courses are offered in an 8 week, accelerated format and a 15 week, semester format. Degree fields offered include cybersecurity, instructional leadership, and nursing informatics.
Robert Morris University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Saint Francis University offers online degree programs designed for busy adults through its Worldwide School of Continuing Studies. This school offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Degree fields offered include accounting and cancer care. Saint Francis provides free transfer credit assessment, and students may be able to earn credits for prior learning or work experience.
Saint Francis University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Saint Joseph’s University among the best online colleges in the country. The school offers online programs for certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Most of these programs are fully online and accessible from most devices with internet capabilities. Online courses are mostly asynchronous, but some do require check-ins with professors. Fields of study offered include business and education.
Saint Joseph’s University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Slippery Rock University is committed to providing affordable and high-quality education to its online students. The school’s online programs are designed to provide the same support and services as their on-campus counterparts.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree may choose from five online degree completion programs. SRU also offers several master’s and doctorate programs. Degree fields offered include history and nursing.
Slippery Rock University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Temple University is committed to providing all students with a high-quality and affordable education. Adult learners may earn a degree through one of the school’s fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. Many of these programs are offered in an accelerated format. Degree fields offered include business administration, occupational therapy, social work, and travel and tourism.
Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Pittsburgh offers flexible online degree programs. Most of these programs are fully online and asynchronous. Some programs have synchronous components. Most courses follow a traditional semester schedule for fall and spring. Summer courses are offered in a shorter format. Fields of study offered include law and gerontology.
The University of Pittsburgh is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report named the University of Scranton #5 in the Top Regional Universities in the North. The school offers fully online graduate and certificate programs rooted in the Catholic and Jesuit faiths. The school’s online courses are asynchronous. Fields of study offered include health informatics and speech-language pathology.
The University of Scranton is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Valley Forge offers online undergraduate degree programs designed for students with work and life commitments. The school offers a Christian-based education.
Students may choose between accelerated programs with 7 week courses and traditional format degree programs with 15 week programs. There are four available fields of study: business administration, psychology, ministry leadership, and intercultural studies.
The University of Valley Forge is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Villanova University offers online associate and bachelor’s degree programs through its College of Professional Studies. All programs are available fully online, but many are also available in a hybrid format. Online courses either follow a 15 week semester schedule or a 7 week, accelerated schedule. Fields of study offered include public service and administration, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Villanova University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Kiplinger and U.S. News & World Report named West Chester University one of the best value schools in the country. The school is committed to keeping tuition low without sacrificing quality. West Chester offers online bachelor’s degree completion programs in over 20 fields, including nursing and public administration. It also offers master’s and doctorate degrees that can be earned online.
West Chester University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Guide to Online Schools named Widener University #6 among the best online schools in Pennsylvania. Widener offers bachelor’s degree completion programs and graduate programs. All are fully online. Courses follow a semester schedule, with programs starting in the fall, spring, and summer. Fields of study offered include allied health education, instructional technology, and social work.
Widener University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Wilkes University offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs designed for working professionals and students with family commitments. Wilkes also offers graduate certificates that are stackable toward a master’s degree. Most programs are fully online, and a few have low residency requirements. Fields of study offered include creative writing and business administration.
Wilkes University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Getting Your Online Degree in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is packed with impressive schools, most with robust online programs. And students have access to generous financial aid programs to help ease the financial burden.
This northeastern state is focused on providing excellent higher education opportunities, which makes it an excellent place to earn your degree. When you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, you may start researching accredited PA online colleges that offer your chosen degree program.