Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the country, per the U.S. Census Bureau, so it’s no surprise that its colleges and universities offer an array of choices for higher education. Philadelphia residents have access to a revered Ivy League school, major public and private universities, smaller schools specializing in health sciences and artistic trades, opportunities for experiential learning, and flexible online learning programs.
Colleges in Philadelphia
According to City Data, nearly 29 percent of Philadelphia residents hold an associate degree or higher, and nearly 24 percent have obtained bachelor’s degrees or higher—all of which is slightly lower than Pennsylvania’s state averages. Yet Philadelphia is home to many students pursuing higher education, with 27 percent of the city’s population enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs, and more than 9 percent of residents studying for graduate degrees.
Philadelphia's Public Institutions of Higher Education
The Community College of Philadelphia is the primary school in the city for obtaining an associate degree, with more than 34,000 students enrolled in coursework there. This public college offers 70 associate degrees along with academic and proficiency certificate programs. Temple University, the city’s only public university, hosts the largest population of students in Philadelphia with an enrollment exceeding 35,000. One of the city's historic institutions, dating back to 1884, it hosts students from 111 countries.
Private Colleges and Universities in Philadelphia
University of Pennsylvania, or Penn, has the second largest student body in Philadelphia, and is a member of the elite group of Ivy League schools. This private nonprofit institution was born with the support of Benjamin Franklin. In addition to its traditional undergraduate program, professional degrees and Ph.D. programs, Penn operates a College of Liberal and Professional Studies, which grants bachelor’s and graduate degrees for adult learners who are often balancing school with full-time employment.
Drexel University rounds out the group of large university centers in the city. This private school blends the traditional and the modern: founded in 1891, it created online degree programs as early as 1996. Drexel features pre-professional studies, accelerated degree programs and co-ops, offering co-operative education with paid experience in real-world settings.
In addition, Philadelphia has eight smaller private nonprofit colleges and universities. Among these, The University of the Arts is one of the oldest and largest schools in the country solely dedicated to degrees in visual and performing arts. Moore College is the only art and design school for women in the United States. Thomas Jefferson University and University of the Sciences in Philadelphia focus on degrees in life sciences. Four other schools are affiliated with a variety of Christian faith denominations, including St. Joseph’s University.
Below is a glance at many of Philadelphia’s colleges and universities:
|Temple University||Public||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|University of Pennsylvania||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Drexel University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|The University of the Arts||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Moore College of Art and Design||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Philadelphia University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Peirce College||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|St. Joseph’s University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|LaSalle University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Holy Family University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Chestnut Hill College||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees|
|Thomas Jefferson University||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees in Health Sciences|
|University of the Sciences in Philadelphia||Private, not for profit||Bachelor’s and graduate degrees in Life Sciences|
|Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine||Private, not for profit||Graduate Degrees in Biomedical, Health Sciences, Psychology and Medical Business fields|
|Community College of Philadelphia||Public||Associate degrees, Professional certificates|
|Pennsylvania Institute of Technology||Private, not for profit||Associate degrees, Professional certificates, Professional programs in technical career fields|
Online Colleges in Philadelphia
Spotlight La Salle University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A private Catholic university with a liberal arts tradition, La Salle University offers online degrees and certificates as well as face-to-face instruction at campuses in Philadelphia, other locations in Pennsylvania and abroad. While the school has roots dating back to 1863, it embraces digital instruction and cutting-edge distance learning management systems. Online learners at La Salle can take advantage of asynchronous features such as discussion boards, blogs and journals, while synchronous technology facilitates real-time chat and web conferencing with faculty and peers.
Certain e-learning programs at La Salle use a hybrid model to deliver course content. For example, a master's degree in computer information science blends online coursework with residency requirements for exams and presentations. Another online program with specific requirements is the bachelor's program in nursing. In addition to a two-day on-campus orientation, specific courses have prerequisites: students need a background in statistics before enrolling in the nursing research component. This accelerated RN-to-BSN program admits registered nurses who hold a diploma or associate degree in nursing, and incoming students can apply to transfer up to 70 credits.
La Salle's other undergrad option leads to a bachelor's in organizational leadership through a fully online degree completion program. Students typically enter the program with about 30 transferable credits in subjects such as English composition, speech and introductory computing. Online graduate programs at La Salle outnumber undergrad options, with six potential degrees and five choices for certificates.
Further information about La Salle's online programs can be found at: http://www.lasalle.edu/online-programs-courses/.
|College Name||La Salle University|
|# of Online Programs||14|
|Subjects||Business and Management, Information Technology, Nursing|
|Levels||Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate|
Among Philadelphia’s many colleges and universities with online learning options, Community College of Philadelphia offers several degree programs delivered entirely—or almost completely—online. The school's wide range of online course work spans numerous academic subjects, from English to business, to computer studies, to nutrition.
The coursework of Temple University’s Distance Learning Program is generally taught by full-time faculty, and often fulfills undergraduate University Core courses. Also notable is the University of Pennsylvania's Arts & Sciences Online Learning Program, providing online coursework open to all of its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students. Find Online Programs Now »
Industries, Occupations and Employers
Despite the city's robust population, Pew Charitable Trusts estimated that Philadelphia’s total number of jobs fell 3 percent in the 2002-2012 period. The bright spots in the economy include the health and education sector and the leisure and hospitality industry.
Per the news organization Technically Philly, local economic leaders reflect those growth areas, particular in health and education, as well as a strong public sector. The largest ten employers in the city are:
- United States Federal Government
- City of Philadelphia
- Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
- School District of Philadelphia
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
- Temple University
- US Airways
- Albert Einstein Medical Center
The city is also home to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and four companies made Fortune Magazine’s 2012 Fortune 500 list: cable television and Internet provider Comcast; energy company Sunoco; and food services companies Aramark and Crown Holdings Incorporated.
Colleges & Universities in Philadelphia
Colleges & Universities in Philadelphia
|University of Pennsylvania||28,453||$37,620||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Drexel University||28,374||$32,500||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Saint Josephs University||10,788||$36,480||Not For Profit (Private)|
|La Salle University||7,972||$34,840||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Philadelphia University||4,072||$30,356||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Thomas Jefferson University||3,901||$31,499||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Holy Family University||3,829||$23,990||Not For Profit (Private)|
|University of the Sciences||3,029||$30,580||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Peirce College||2,722||$14,850||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Chestnut Hill College||2,691||$29,100||Not For Profit (Private)|
|The University of the Arts||2,533||$33,500||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine||2,489||N/A||Not For Profit (Private)|
|Moore College of Art and Design||608||$30,436||Not For Profit (Private)|
Community Colleges and Vocational Schools in Philadelphia
|Community College of Philadelphia||29,043||$8,280||Public|