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2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania

117 Colleges
$70,950 Avg Salary*
71% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

It's not easy to decide which college to attend when you have so many options available. One of our goals at College Factual is to give you as much information as we can - such as our Top Pennsylvania Colleges ranking - to help you make that decision.

After analyzing 117 schools in Pennsylvania, we came up with our list of those that offered the highest quality education. Our ranking is based on over 20 objective factors, including post graduate earnings, freshman retention, and graduation rate. We steer clear of subjective measures since they don't give a clear picture when determining how one school compares to another.

Get more details on our ranking methodology.

Custom Rankings

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as value or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges in Pennsylvania

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania tops this year’s ranking as the best school in Pennsylvania for overall quality. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the large private not-for-profit school handed out 9,822 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 95%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UPenn go into careers with an average salary of $103,246 during the early years of their career.

Full University of Pennsylvania Report

#2

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Carnegie Mellon University helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in Pennsylvania. Carnegie Mellon is a fairly large private not-for-profit school situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It awarded 5,381 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The impressive student-to-faculty rate of 5 to 1 means that students may have more opportunities to work more closely with their professors than they would at other schools. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon go into careers with an average salary of $99,998 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Carnegie Mellon University

#3

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Out of the 117 schools in Pennsylvania that were part of this year’s ranking, Lehigh University landed the #3 spot on the list. Lehigh University is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that handed out 2,158 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 0.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh go into careers with an average salary of $95,033 during the early years of their career.

Full Lehigh University Report

#4

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Villanova University. The school came in at #4 in Pennsylvania on this year’s overall quality ranking. Villanova is a private not-for-profit institution located in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 4,100 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 0.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Villanova is $90,613 during the early years of their career.

Full Villanova University Report

#5

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

A rank of #5 on our Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list means Swarthmore College is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Swarthmore is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. It awarded 481 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 86%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore go into careers with an average salary of $72,637 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#6

Bucknell University

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

With a ranking of #6, Bucknell University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. Bucknell is located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 1,093 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 92%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell go into careers with an average salary of $88,154 during the early years of their career.

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#7

Haverford College

Haverford, Pennsylvania

Haverford College landed the #7 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. Haverford is a private not-for-profit institution located in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The school has a small population, and it awarded 365 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one. During the early years of their career, graduates from Haverford make an average of $69,192 a year.

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#8

Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania

Lafayette College did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking, coming in at #8. Located in Easton, Pennsylvania, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 720 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The school boasts an average 4-year graduation rate of 83%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 33%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette is $84,939 during the early years of their career.

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University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking, coming in at #9. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the large public school handed out 9,832 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 2.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Pitt make an average of $57,961 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus

#10

Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Saint Joseph’s University ranked #10 on this year’s Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. St. Joe’s is a private not-for-profit institution located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 2,392 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 89%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from St. Joe’s go into careers with an average salary of $73,428 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#11

Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thomas Jefferson University ranked #11 on this year’s Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. Thomas Jefferson University is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that handed out 2,771 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.1%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. During the early years of their career, graduates from Thomas Jefferson University make an average of $67,807 a year.

Full Thomas Jefferson University Report

#12

Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University landed the #12 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. This large private not-for-profit school is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 6,793 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Drexel is $76,378 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Drexel University

#13

Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Temple University landed the #13 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. Temple is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has a large student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 10,225 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 87%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Temple make an average of $56,800 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Temple University Report

#14

Dickinson College

Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Dickinson College ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 627 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $69,562 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Dickinson College

#15

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg College landed the #15 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. Gettysburg is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It awarded 717 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% During the early years of their career, graduates from Gettysburg make an average of $65,926 a year.

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#16

Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Muhlenberg College landed the #16 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 662 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school boasts an average 4-year graduation rate of 77%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 33%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $68,629 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Muhlenberg College

#17

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Bryn Mawr College came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. Bryn Mawr College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania that handed out 475 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 79%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $65,774 during the early years of their career..

Full Bryn Mawr College Report

#18

University of Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania

University of Scranton ranked #18 on this year’s Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list.Scranton, Pennsylvania is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,496 students in 2020-2021.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 77%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from University of Scranton make an average of $69,236 per year during the early years of their career.

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#19

Franklin and Marshall College

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Franklin and Marshall College landed the #19 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. Franklin and Marshall is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 699 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 78%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall go into careers with an average salary of $72,227 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Franklin and Marshall College

#20

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

With a ranking of #20, Duquesne University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 2,751 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 86%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne is $66,207 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#21

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

With a ranking of #21, West Chester University of Pennsylvania did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the fairly large public school awarded 4,936 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from WCUPA is $53,418 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on West Chester University of Pennsylvania

#22

Arcadia University

Glenside, Pennsylvania

With a ranking of #22, Arcadia University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. Arcadia is a private not-for-profit institution located in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The school has a small population, and it awarded 1,119 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 3.0% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $52,008 during the early years of their career..

Full Arcadia University Report

#23

Messiah University

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

With a ranking of #23, Messiah University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 959 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 2.3% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Messiah is $48,883 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Messiah University

#24

Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster Bible College landed the #24 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 515 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Lancaster Bible College make an average of $39,435 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Lancaster Bible College

#25

Ursinus College

Collegeville, Pennsylvania

Ursinus College landed the #25 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania ranking.Collegeville, Pennsylvania is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 385 students in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Ursinus is $66,257 during the early years of their career.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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