Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
Pennsylvania has nearly 250 institutions of higher education, including 14 state-run universities and 92 private universities and colleges. The state system of higher education enrolled 102,301 students in fall of 2017, a 9 percent drop from a decade earlier. This decline has pushed colleges across the state to adopt more diverse degree program delivery, with blended and online learning options on the rise. With just 7.8 percent of Pennsylvania college students taking an online class in 2012, Penn State World Campus, the state’s largest distance learning provider, has 150 online degrees and certificates available. But how does a student find the right online college in Pennsylvania? Which have the right accreditation and affordability to make a difference? Get answers to these questions and more below.
Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania 2020
|#1||Pennsylvania State University-Worldwide University Park, PA|
|#2||Temple University Philadelphia, PA|
|#3||West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, PA|
|#4||Robert Morris University Moon Township, PA|
|#5||Misericordia University Dallas, PA|
|#6||Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA|
|#7||California University of Pennsylvania California, PA|
|#8||Cairn University Langhorne, PA|
|#9||DeSales University Center Valley, PA|
|#10||Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA|
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Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania 2020
Pennsylvania has nearly 250 higher education institutions, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, including 14 state universities and 92 private schools. Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education enrolled about 107,000 students in the fall of 2017, a 9% decrease from 2007 enrollment.
Due in part to this decline in enrollment, many colleges throughout the state are offering more diverse learning options, including blended and online programs. For example, Penn State World Campus offers 150 online degree and certificate programs. This guide explores online learning in the state, including program options, accreditation, and tuition rates.
With over 18,000 students studying online, Pennsylvania State's online school is among one of the largest in the nation. On top of their impressive class size, Penn State offers 35 different undergraduate degree options, all of which can be completed entirely online. The length and cost of the online program will vary depending on how many credits the student has earned prior to enrollment. Penn State accepts transfer credits as well as some credit-by-examination. The requirements for transfer credits vary, so students should reach out to the school to see whether their credits will be accepted. As far as tuition goes, the cost of the program typically decreases the more credits a student already has. Also, more credits means a reduced amount of time to earn a degree, resulting in lower cost overall. Anyone who does not have credits entering the online program should be able to earn their bachelor's degree in the traditional 4 years.
Temple University's distance education program gives students the flexibility to study at their own pace. Students studying toward an undergraduate degree online have two options to fit their schedule: a traditional 15-week semester or a dual accelerated 7-week session. If students choose to study full time, they can easily complete an undergraduate program in four years - however, many students do choose to study part-time. For students that want to get ahead, Temple also offers dual accelerated 6-week sessions in the summer. Currently, the only online undergraduate program offered by Temple is a bachelor's in business administration (BBA). This fully online program can be specialized through one of 6 majors and/or 9 minors. While attending Temple Online, students will also get access to immersion opportunities, giving them professional experience in the business field they choose. All online students also get the financial benefit of in-state tuition per credit, regardless of where they live.
West Chester University's distance education program lets students choose when and where they want to attend class. Online offerings include an MBA, a Master of Public Administration and master's degrees in education, community nutrition and human resources. The school offers Doctor of Public Administration and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. For students who don't need full degrees, West Chester offers graduate certificates in a number of fields, including public administration, physical education, industrial and organizational psychology, education technology and special education. Some programs, such as the MBA track, offer hybrid options that allow for in-person sessions.
Robert Morris University offers a wide variety of fully online degrees and certificates. Undergraduate degrees including business, criminal justice, health services administration, hospitality/tourism management, nursing and organizational leadership. Graduate programs include data analytics, engineering management, health services administration and human resources management. In addition, Robert Morris allows students to complete a number of non-degree certificates virtually, including land management, labor relations, logistics and supply chain management and project management. Online classes at RMU are designed and taught by the same faculty that teach the university's traditional courses. For individual attention, RMU Online Division has specific counselors to help students navigate the unique challenges of completing coursework and pursuing a degree remotely.
The online offerings at Misericordia University focuses on the unique needs of adult students. The school works with students to transfer credits from other institutions, and it gives credit for life experiences. Degree offerings are career-focused. Among the online undergraduate majors available are accounting, addictions counseling, business administration, information technology, nursing and social work. In addition to bachelor's degrees, Misericordia offers certificate programs in such areas as patient navigation and diagnostic medical sonography. Graduate programs include an MBA degree and post-graduate degrees in organizational management. Misericordia also offers a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. In addition to fully online courses, Misericordia offers hybrid classes that combine virtual participation with in-person instruction allowing students to evaluate how well cyberlearning works for them.
Duquesne University offers online Bachelor of Arts programs in computer systems technology and organizational leadership, and a degree in nursing for current registered nurses who would like to earn their bachelor's degree in nursing. Graduate degrees in areas of business, nursing, education and leadership are also available in a hybrid format or entirely online. Individual programs accept some transfer credits. Duquesne provides the widest range of online degrees in their nursing program. Online nursing students can earn a master's degree in nursing with specializations in forensic nursing, nursing education and faculty role, or as a family nurse practitioner. There are also online doctorate degree programs in nursing, nursing ethics and nursing practice. Accepted online nursing program students are assigned a faculty mentor to help develop a plan for degree completion. All online students have access to writing center resources, student advisers and career support. Online courses last 8 weeks and while some are synchronous, most allow students to self-direct their education based on their own schedule. So, students can earn a bachelor's in under 4 years or a master's degree in under 2 years.
California University of Pennsylvania offers over 75 online associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree programs. Areas of study available through Cal U Global Online include business, law, health care, engineering and technology, education, human services or computers. Cal U online students can also study Arabic language and culture at the undergraduate or graduate level. The college provides an online master's degree program in exercise science with specializations in nutrition, group fitness, health promotion, sports, injury prevention, fitness, management, rehabilitation, sport psychology or wellness coaching. Most online undergraduate degrees can be completed in under 4 years, depending on the number of transfer credits a student applies toward the program. International applicants are welcome to enroll in online degree programs. Cal U supports online students with career counseling and financial aid. Veterans and active service members receive tuition assistance, as well. The online degree programs at Cal U meet Pennsylvania's requirements for recommending candidates for certification, but distance learning students who will seek certification in their state after earning an online degree from Cal U should verify their state's requirements.
Students can complete their Christian theology-based undergraduate degree through online programs at Cairn University-Langhorne, or work to earn a graduate degree in a fully online format. Cairn offers online degree completion programs for bachelor's degrees in Bible studies and liberal studies, and their Bible degree program can be combined with a master's degree in religion. They also offer master's programs in education and special education, nonprofit leadership and business that are designed to be completed in 2-3 years of full-time study. Students who earn a master's in special education in applied behavior analysis also fulfill requirements to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Online student tuition is charged by credit hour and in-state students pay the same rate as out-of-state students. If a student receives support to attend Cairn from the student's church, the college will match up to $1,000 for the fall semester only. There are also tuition discounts for spouses enrolling at Cairn together, and scholarships for employees at Christian schools. a master's in special education in applied behavior analysis also fulfill requirements to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Online student tuition is charged by credit hour and in-state students pay the same rate as out-of-state students. If a student receives support to attend Cairn from the student's church, the college will match up to $1,000 for the fall semester only. There are also tuition discounts for spouses enrolling at Cairn together, and scholarships for employees at Christian schools.
DeSales University is a private, 4-year institution affiliated with the Catholic Church. Through its ACCESS program, students can choose from among 13 bachelor's degrees that can be earned 100% online and another 19 that are presented in an online/in-class format. Major subjects include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Human Resource Management, Pharmaceutical Marketing and Theology. In-person classes can be attended on DeSales' Bethlehem Area, Lansdale Area and Central Valley campuses. Both full-time and part-time study options are available, and students can begin their degree work on any of 11 start dates offered annually. A high school diploma or GED - and a desire to learn - are the only requirements for admission into an ACCESS degree program. Students can apply up to 75 previously earned college credits to their degree program. DeSales also awards college credit for qualifying work experience and military and non-traditional training, as well as through College Level Examination Program (CLEP) testing and DSU challenge examinations.
Slippery Rock's 5 online bachelor's degree completion programs are designed for busy working adults with associate degrees or at least 60 completed college credits who are seeking to expand their career opportunities by earning a bachelor's degree. Majors available include Management, Philanthropy & Nonprofit Management, Nursing and Leadership Studies. Also available is an Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts that allows students to work with a faculty adviser to design an individualized curriculum that suits the student's specific interests and goals, while building on previously earned college credits. All undergraduate degree programs are presented in a fully online format. Admissions requirements vary slightly by program. Details can be found online with each individual program's description. With the exception of the BSN, all degree programs require applicants to have an associate degree earned with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and meet certain course prerequisites for English and math proficiency and computer competency. BSN applicants must have an RN diploma or associate degree earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA along with possession of a currently valid RN license.
Rosemont College a small, private school affiliated with the Catholic Church, offers 1 bachelor's degree - Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - that can be earned 100% through online study. The BS in Criminal Justice is designed for both students interested in entering the criminal justice profession and those currently working in the profession who want to advance into leadership positions. Graduates are prepared for careers in a wide range of fields, including the judicial system and court administration, private security, corrections and, of course, law enforcement. This 120-credit program is presented in an accelerated (5-week course) format. Students can transfer in up to 84 previously earned college-level credits allowing them to complete their degrees in as little as 2 years. Admission requirements include a high school diploma and submittal of SAT or ACT scores. The school doesn't publicize a minimum GPA or standardized test score, but first-year students admitted to Rosemont College enter with an average overall GPA of 3.2 and SAT scores of 950-1250 or ACT scores of 18-21. Transfer students with 12 or more college credits enter with an average overall GPA of 3.0.
The University of Scranton, a Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution, offers master's degrees and certificates covering a wide of range of business and health care-related subjects, all featuring fully online coursework with no on-campus residency requirements. At the heart of the online business offerings is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, available in a general MBA form and with 6 specialization options. Other business programs include master's degrees in accountancy, finance and human resources management, and certificates in enterprise resource planning and supply chain management. Health care programs include both master's degrees and certificates in health administration and health informatics. A dual MBA-MHA program is additionally available. Most US master's programs are designed to be completed in 2 years at a pace of 1 course per 8-week term, but students are permitted up to 6 years to complete their programs. Admissions requirements for online degrees and certificates vary from program to program. All applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university (or international equivalent) earned with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. International students must additionally provide proof of proficiency in English by submitting TOEFL, IELTS or STEP scores.
Jefferson Online is the distance learning program operated by the recently merged Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson Universities. There are currently 9 bachelor's degrees offered through Jefferson Online. Majors include Accounting, Business Management, Information Technology Management and Law Enforcement Leadership. Reflecting Thomas Jefferson University's long preeminence in the health care field, Jefferson Online also offers bachelor's degrees in Health Services Management and Behavioral and Health Services. All Jefferson Online bachelor's degrees require 120 credit hours of study and can be completed in 2 to 3 years, depending on the student's schedule and the number of college credits transferred in. All coursework can be completed 100% online with no visits to the Jefferson campus needed. Admission requirements include a high school diploma and minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA on all previous high school or college coursework. Students with a GPA below 2.5 may still be admitted with submission of a letter of intent. Transfer credits are permitted for previously completed college-level coursework applicable to the individual degree curriculum and earned with a C- grade or better.
Catholic-affiliated Saint Joseph's University currently offers 4 bachelor's degrees that can be earned fully online. Majors include Business Administration, Organizational Development and Leadership, Psychology and a General Studies option with 2 available concentrations (Autism Studies and Professional Studies). All bachelor's degrees are offered strictly as degree completion programs and require 120 total credit hours for graduation, which includes credits transferred in from Saint Joseph or other accredited colleges and universities. In most cases, degree work can be completed in 3 years or less. However, degree completion times vary for each student depending on the specific program, number of transfer credits and whether the student attends on a full-time or part-time basis. Admissions requirements for bachelor's degree programs include a minimum 2.5 GPA on all previous coursework. Applicants with a GPA below 2.5 may be admitted by submitting both a letter of recommendation and personal statement explaining why they are pursuing their degree and what they hope to gain from their education.
Clarion University, a mid-size public institution, is home to an impressively large distance learning program with 11 bachelor's degrees that can be earned either fully or partially online. Fields of study include accounting, education, nursing and health, business and business administration, psychology, technology, criminal justice and English. Of particular note is Clarion's Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with 11 concentration and minor options in subjects such as history, communication, women and gender studies, community service, data analytics and library science. Most degrees can be earned entirely through online study. However, some degree programs, such as the RN to BSN and BS in Medical Imaging, include in-person clinical components. Admission into Clarion's online bachelor's degree programs is determined through an assessment of a number of factors, including the applicant's high school class rank, GPA, curriculum and extra-curricular activities, as well as an SAT test score of 1030 to 1070 (combined reading and math). Certain programs have additional requirements for admission, details of which can be found on each program's webpage. Students of Clarion's online degree programs pay lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. For example, a full-time student (12-18 credits per semester) will save over $1,000 on tuition and fees compared to the same student studying on-campus.
Serving nearly 30,000 students, the University of Pittsburgh is one of the largest public universities in Pennsylvania. Through Pitt Online, the university offers 2 undergraduate degree programs in an online format, both providing current registered nurses the opportunity to advance their career opportunities by earning a fully accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The RN Options program allows RNs the choice of earning a BSN or obtaining a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing. All coursework for both programs can be done online, but students must complete an in-person clinical component at an approved facility near them. Additionally, some courses require proctored exams conducted at an approved test site in the student's local area. Admission requirements are the same for both degree programs. Applicants must possess a nursing diploma or nursing associate degree from a properly accredited program earned with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better, and must have completed all prerequisite courses.
Cedar Crest College, a private, liberal arts women's institution, offers 2 bachelor's degree programs that feature online coursework through its School of Adult and Graduate Education (SAGE). The fully online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree is available with 2 concentrations: Health Care Management and Human Resources Management. Cedar Crest's RN to BSN provides registered nurses the opportunity to expand their career options by earning their bachelor's degree. SAGE online degrees are open to all adult learners who have graduated from high school at least 4 years prior to starting work on their degrees. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. Additionally, the RN to BSN requires graduation from an accredited nursing program with a 2.5 overall GPA, a current RN license and either graduation from their nursing program or 1,000 hours of professional work experience within 3 years of applying for admission. Degree completion times vary depending on individual student workloads and available qualifying transfer credits.
Point Park University, a private, 4-year liberal arts institution serving over 4,000 full-time and part-time students, offers online degree programs that feature small class sizes, affordable tuitions and scheduling flexibility for working students. There are 10 bachelor's degree programs available featuring 100% online coursework. Majors include Accounting, Criminal Justice, Organizational Leadership, Information Technology, Business Management (with 2 concentration options) and Public Administration (with 3 concentrations). Of special note is Park Point's Bachelor of Arts in Writing for Screen and Media, 1 of a very small number of such programs available online in the nation. Courses are offered in an accelerated 8-week format. Degrees require between 120 and 126 credit hours of study and can typically be completed in 4 years. However, students may take more or less time depending on their personal schedules and number of transfer credits applied. Admission requirements can be found on Park Point's Admission webpage.
Geneva College is a 4-year private liberal arts institution affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Geared primarily toward working adults, Geneva's online degrees are presented in an accelerated format that's designed to accommodate students' busy work and life schedules. Geneva currently offers 7 online bachelor's degrees that can be earned entirely through online study. Examples of program offerings include Aging Services, Child and Family Services, and Criminal Justice, to name a few. All bachelor's programs require a minimum of 120 credit hours or coursework which is normally completed with 4 years of study. Degree completion times may vary, however, depending on the individual student's non-educational commitments and the number of qualifying transfer credits. Admission requirements for all online degrees include an overall 2.0 GPA on all prior college-level coursework. Applicants with an overall GPA below 2.0 may still be admitted upon successful completion of a writing assignment. Applicants with less than 12 previously earned college credits must submit official transcripts of their high school work and may also be required to complete a writing assignment as a condition of acceptance.
Edinboro University's undergraduate degree program offers traditional on-campus learning along with a variety of courses offered online. This hybrid opportunity provides students the flexibility to complete degree requirements in the convenience of their own home. While undergraduate students are offered a wide selection of available online courses, they should expect to spend their first semester on campus. Students should speak to their academic advisers to work out the maximum number of courses they can take online as well as the availability of the courses needed for each upcoming semester. Edinboro University takes into account SAT/ACT scores, official high school records, choice of major, recommendations and interviews when determining admission. Certain majors at Edinboro University have additional minimum GPA and/or test score requirements along with a thorough look at the applicant's high school transcript. Graduation requirements vary for each major selected, including certain GPA minimums, but all students must maintain a strong academic standing in order to graduate.
Carlow University is a private liberal arts university rooted in the history of the Sisters of Mercy. The university offers both online and hybrid options for completing undergraduate degrees. Fully online degrees include a BS in Business Management and a BS in Health Management. The RN-BSN Bachelor of Science is offered fully online as well or in a hybrid format. Students enrolled in hybrid programs should expect to attend required scheduled campus meetings. Distance students are able to communicate with professors, work with peers, and access various resources all online. Support is offered through career development, research opportunities, tutoring and academic coaches. Interested students must submit past transcripts, an application and SAT and/or ACT scores. It is strongly encouraged, and in some cases required, that students schedule an on-campus visit, personal interview, essay and/or submit a recommendation from their secondary school principal, teacher or guidance counselor. Graduation requirements vary depending on degree pursued. Students applying to the RN-BSN nursing program must be graduates of an accredited nursing program.
Drexel University's online degrees are taught by the same professors and offer the same accredited curricula as their on-campus equivalents. Online bachelor's degrees are offered in a range of subject areas, for example, business administration, communication, criminology and justice studies, and psychology, to name a few. Admission requirements, graduation requirements and tuition vary based on the specific program. In addition to the convenience and flexibility of online courses, Drexel University's online courses have reduced tuition rates. The school also offers reduced rates for alumni, those in the military and partner organizations. Library and career resources are available to students pursuing an online degree as well as an Online Test Drive. The Online Test Drive allows students to experience and explore what taking an online course will be like at Drexel. Students are able to participate and collaborate with fellow students, learn how to utilize online campus resources, submit a sample assignment and interact with faculty, staff and alumni.
Offering online bachelor's degrees in elementary and early childhood education as well as an Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program, Wilkes University's online programs are structured to serve working professionals in advancing or changing their careers. The elementary and early childhood education degree prepares students to teach prekindergarten through 4th grade. Scholarships and financial aid are available to online students, including the T.E.A.C.H scholarship (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps), which provides financial assistance to early childcare professionals in Keystone STARS facilities. Scholarships are available that may cover nearly all tuition costs, application university fees and paid time off to complete field experience. Students must complete certain fieldwork requirements and a minimum of 124 credits. Composed of 18 courses (54 credits) and offered completely online, the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program is designed for working professionals and transfer students. Students can take up to 36 credits a year, allowing them to complete the degree at an accelerated pace. Interested students should submit secondary school recommendations, SAT or ACT scores as well as past transcripts and an application.
Founded in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church, Messiah College today includes students and faculty from a variety of denominations and Christian traditions. Those pursuing an undergraduate degree on campus have the opportunity to take online summer courses in order to accelerate their education and obtain required credits. While Messiah College does not provide financial aid for these summer courses, the tuition is greatly reduced (as much as 50%) for these classes. Alternative student loan options may also be available. Interested applicants to Messiah College should have graduated from an accredited high school with a variety of courses. They should submit their application form, high school transcript, standardized test results and personal statement. Extracurricular activities are also taken into consideration. As admissions are processed on a rolling basis, there is no deadline for applications. Students can consult with academic advisers to ensure they complete all major requirements prior to graduation, which vary by degree, and to investigate which courses are available online during the summer.
Immaculata University is a faith-based university founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). A variety of bachelor's degrees are offered that can be obtained entirely online, including a BS in Allied Health for Clinical Professionals, BS in Business Leadership, BS in Business Management, BS in Nursing and BS in Human Resources Management. Immaculata fosters a supportive online environment by providing students with academic and career advisers as well as an online writing center. A Student Success seminar is also available to help familiarize students with the logistics of how to actively participate in online courses. Application requirements may vary slightly for each program. In general, students applying to Immaculata University must complete the admission application and submit official secondary school transcripts, official SAT or ACT scores (depending on the program), an essay and recommendations. Test scores must be submitted to be considered for Immaculata University's full-tuition presidential scholarship and for its Honors Program. Students should check with their program of interest for any degree-specific requirements.
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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania maintains some of the largest distance education schools in the world. In fact, Pennsylvania's public and private institutions offer so many online options, future students can find it confusing to sort through them all to pick the right one. To help, the Open Education Database and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education both provide lists of the state's online schools.
How Much More Do College Grads in Pennsylvania Make?
Generally, higher educational attainment leads to higher earning potential for professionals across industries. The table below illustrates how higher education correlates with increased salaries nationwide. According to PayScale, the median annual salary of a Pennsylvania worker is $62,000 annually, much higher than the national median. Pennsylvania professionals benefit from the state's large telecommunications, healthcare, and construction industries, along with a robust manufacturing sector.
|Less Than a High School Diploma||High School Diploma||Associate Degree|
|Bachelor's Degree||Master's Degree||Doctoral Degree|
Paying for Online College in Pennsylvania: Tuition and Financial Aid
Pennsylvania ranks among the most expensive states in which to attend college. The average cost of in-state tuition at public institutions in Pennsylvania is more than $5,000 per year higher than the national average. However, the state government does offer generous financial aid packages.
The chart below compares Pennsylvania's average tuition rates to the national averages. This information can help learners decide whether online schools and colleges in Pennsylvania school fit their budget.
|In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
|$14,534||$27,129||$9,037 (In-State) $25,657 (Out-of-State)|
|Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Pennsylvania
The figures above do not include additional costs, such as room and board. When budgeting for college, learners should consider all expenses. Below are some cost considerations for students attending online schools and colleges in Pennsylvania.
- Required Travel: Some online programs require campus visits, which may last days or weeks. Learners must typically cover costs associated with housing, food, and transportation.
- Tuition Agreements: While 43 states maintain reciprocity agreements that provide tuition breaks for regional students, Pennsylvnia does not. Students from neighboring states do not receive discounted tuition rates at Pennsylvania schools.
- Cost Differences Among Schools: Each school charges different fees and tuition rates. Additionally, some community colleges offer significant discounts for county residents.
- Recurring Technology Costs: Many schools charge distance learners one-time or per-semester technology fees. These fees typically cover costs such as tech support and online learning platforms.
- Class Material Costs: Online students must pay for physical or digital textbooks, software, and additional class materials. Some schools charge a flat fee to cover access to materials for each course.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Pennsylvania
Qualifying residents can receive substantial discounts on tuition at public schools. To qualify for in-state tuition rates, learners must typically have resided in Pennsylvania for non-academic purposes for at least one year prior to enrolling.
Recent high school graduates can demonstrate residency through the location of their high school. Adult learners can prove their residency status by submitting their lease or mortgage, state income tax returns, or Pennsylvania driver's license.
Paying for College in Pennsylvania: Scholarships and Financial Aid
In addition to federal grants and loans, students at online schools and colleges in Pennsylvania can fund their education through public and private scholarships. Below are some grants and scholarships that can help Pennsylvania students cover the cost of earning a degree.
Scholarships for Pennsylvania College Students
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports learners who are 24 years old or younger. Applicants must reside in Allegheny County and must have experienced homelessness while attending school. Applicants must be pursuing higher education for the first time.
Who Can Apply: The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania awards this scholarship to graduating high school seniors from Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Beaver, Fayette, Washington, or Westmoreland Counties. Applicants must plan to study an environment-related subject.
Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania residents in their first semester at an ABET-accredited engineering school in the state can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must have SAT math and EBRW scores of at least 700 and 600, respectively, and a minimum 3.6 GPA.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students pursuing a career in an environment-related field and attending an eligible school can apply for this award. Applicants must submit a one-page essay discussing their interest in an environmental field.
Who Can Apply: Learners with a minimum 3.5 GPA and whose family's annual income does not exceed $110,00 can apply for this grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Amount: Up to $2,000 for full-time students and $1,000 for part-time students
Grants for Pennsylvania College Students
Who Can Apply: This grant supports spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard members who have entered into an additional six-year service commitment. Applicants must be studying at an approved Pennsylvania institution.
Amount: Up to full tuition plus technology fee
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be the child of a soldier designated as MIA or POW who served on active duty after January 31, 1955. The applicant's parent must not have deserted or defected and must have been a Pennsylvania resident for at least 12 months before serving on active duty.
Amount: Up to $1,200
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a Pennsylvania National Guard member who is enrolled in a degree- or certificate-granting program at an approved Pennsylvania institution.
Amount: Up to full tuition plus technology fee
Who Can Apply: This grant supports U.S. citizens and qualifying noncitizens who are Pennsylvania residents and who hold a high school diploma. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
Amount: Up to $4,123 or 75% of the student's total direct educational costs after aid
Who Can Apply: High school graduates who are Pennsylvania residents of good character can apply for this grant. Applicants must be studying at least part time at an approved school.
Amount: Varies, with reduced amounts for students taking 50% or more of their courses
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania
U.S. institutions establish credibility through a voluntary evaluation process. Many financial aid opportunities are only available to students at accredited schools, and most graduate schools and employers only recognize degrees earned from accredited institutions.
Online schools and colleges in Pennsylvania can hold multiple types of accreditation. The sections below include information to help students identify properly accredited institutions.
Regional and National Accreditation
The two main types of institutional accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national accreditation. Liberal arts colleges and universities typically seek regional accreditation, which six agencies offer based on geographic location. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education awards regional accreditation to Pennsylvania institutions. Vocational and career schools often pursue national accreditation from agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the \Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Specialized accreditation demonstrates that a program helps students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the field. Learners pursuing certain fields of study, such as nursing and engineering, should choose a program that holds subject-specific accreditation.
How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited
Accredited schools typically feature their accreditation status on their website. Schools that do not display their accreditation status online or that maintain lax program requirements may not be reputable institutions. Prospective students can search the directory from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to identity or verify the accreditation status of any U.S. school or program.
Online College and Adult Education in Pennsylvania
Online learning can be ideal for adult learners with busy schedules and personal responsibilities. In addition to higher education programs, adult learners in Pennsylvania can access high school equivalency programs, literacy courses, and career development resources. The sections below include information and statistics about adult learning in the state.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Pennsylvania
In 2015, 85,178 students in Pennsylvania were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses.
In 2015, 88.7% of the total student enrollment in Pennsylvania enrolled in both on-campus and distance courses.
Adult learners comprised 19% of Pennsylvania's student enrollment in 2015.
Adult Education Programs for Pennsylvania Students
Pennsylvania residents can access English as a second language courses and GED preparation classes. The state government also funds initiatives to improve access to career training and life skills education. Below are some adult education programs in Pennsylvania.
- Adult Basic and Family Literacy Education: The Pennsylvania Department of Education's Division of Adult Education helps residents pass high school equivalency exams, participate in their children's education, and secure and maintain employment.
- Philadelphia Office of Adult Education: The Office of Adult Education provides classes in adult basic education, GED and high school equivalency exam preparation, and English for speakers of other languages.
- Pennsylvania Adult Education Resources: This website is a hub for adult education resources in Pennsylvania, including high school equivalency programs, English as a second language courses, family literacy programs, and career resources. The website also features professional learning opportunities.
Online College Resources for Pennsylvania Students
Pursuing a college degree requires significant time and financial investments. Prospective learners should carefully research options to make the best choice for themselves, their families, and their futures. The following resources provide information about online schools and colleges in Pennsylvania, transfer credits, financial aid, and the transition into the workforce.
Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of PennsylvaniaThis organization comprises 88 private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Students can learn about member schools and explore higher education research.
Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation CenterThis center provides details about which courses and degrees transfer between participating schools, which include community colleges, private institutions, and state universities.
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic DevelopmentThis department offers information about the transition between education and employment. Students can sign up for the department's newsletter.
Pennsylvania State System of Higher EducationThis website provides information about the 14 universities that comprise the Pennsylvania state system. Students can learn about each institution and its programs.
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance AgencyThis state-supported student aid organization provides information about grants, loans, scholarships, loan forgiveness programs, and work-study options. The agency also offers college planning tools and manages several aid programs.