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:

Institution Type Training/Degrees Offered
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:

College Name La Salle University
Sub-Location Philadelphia
# 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.

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

Temple University 42,688 $13,006 Public
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

Online Colleges in Philadelphia