Top Pennsylvania Colleges

Pennsylvania has some of the best colleges in the country. Students will find top-ranked liberal arts colleges, public universities, and private universities. The top colleges listed below vary so much in size and type of school that I have simply listed them alphabetically rather than force them into any sort of artificial ranking.

01
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Allegheny College

Allegheny College
Allen Grove
  • Location: Meadville, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,920 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 22; featured in Loren Pope's well-regarded Colleges That Change Lives; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences 
02
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Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College
thatpicturetaker / Flickr
  • Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,708 (1,381 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private women's liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 8 to 1 student/faculty ratio; one of the original "seven sisters" colleges; one of the top women's colleges in the U.S.; member of the Tri-College Consortium with Swarthmore and Haverford; many rich traditions
03
of 19

Bucknell University

Bucknell University
aurimasliutikas / Flickr
  • Location: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 3,626 (3,571 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: small comprehensive university
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio; feel of a small liberal arts college with academic offerings of a comprehensive university; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; participation in the NCAA Division I Patriot League
04
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Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museum and Library
Jimmy Lin / Flickr
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 13,258 (6,283 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: comprehensive research university
  • Distinctions: 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio; top-ranked science and engineering programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; membership in the American Association of Universities for strengths in research
05
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Dickinson College

Dickinson College
ravedelay / Flickr
  • Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,420 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 17; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; chartered in 1783 and named after a signer of the Constitution; member of the NCAA Division III Centennial Conference
06
of 19

Franklin and Marshall College

Franklin and Marshall College
The Pocket / Flickr
  • Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,255 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Test-optional admissions; 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio; hands-on approach to education (two-thirds of students engage in research under faculty guidance); chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences 
07
of 19

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College
fauxto digit / Flickr
  • Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,394 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio and average class size of 18; historic location; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; new athletic center; music conservatory and professional performing arts center
08
of 19

Grove City College

Grove City College
nyello8 / Flickr
  • Location: Grove City, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,336 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: One of the country's top conservative colleges; excellent value; impressive retention and graduation rates; chapel requirement for all students 
09
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Haverford College

Haverford College Path
edwinmalet / flickr
  • Location: Haverford, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,268 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 8 to 1 student/faculty ratio; one of the country's  top liberal arts colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; opportunities to take classes at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania
10
of 19

Juniata College

Juniata College - Halbritter Performing Arts Center
mjk4219 / Flickr
  • Location: Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,573 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 14; no traditional majors but "programs of emphasis"; 30% of students design their own majors; main campus is complemented by a large nature preserve and environmental studies field station
11
of 19

Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania
Retromoderns / Flickr
  • Location: Easton, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,550 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio; excellent value; several engineering programs as well as traditional liberal arts and sciences; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; member of the NCAA Division I Patriot League 
12
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Lehigh University

Lehigh University
conormac / Flickr
  • Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 7,059 (5,080 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: small comprehensive research university
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio; strong engineering and applied science programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division I Patriot League
13
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Muhlenberg College

Muhlenberg College
JlsElsewhere / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,408 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college with Lutheran affiliation
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; strengths in several pre-professional areas as well as a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; high retention and graduation rates
14
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Penn State University

Penn State University Football
nick knouse / Flickr
  • Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 47,789 (41,359 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: comprehensive public research university
  • Distinctions: Large school with wide-ranging academic offerings; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences, membership in the Association of American Universities for research strengths; athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference
15
of 19

Swarthmore University

Swarthmore Parrish Hall
EAWB / flickr
  • Location: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,543 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 8 to 1 student/faculty ratio; one of the country's  top liberal arts colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; opportunities to take classes at neighboring Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and the University of Pennsylvania
16
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University of Pennsylvania (Penn)

University of Pennsylvania
rubberpaw / Flickr
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 24,960 (11,716 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: comprehensive private research university
  • Distinctions: Member of the Ivy League; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; rich history (founded by Benjamin Franklin)
17
of 19

University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)

University of Pittsburgh
shadysidelantern / Flickr
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 28,664 (19,123 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: comprehensive public research university
  • Distinctions: Wide-ranging strengths including philosophy, medicine, engineering, and business; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference
18
of 19

Ursinus College

Ursinus College Tower
PennaBoy / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Collegeville, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 1,556 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; student-centered curriculum; 170-acre campus boasts an excellent art museum, observatory, and new performing arts facility; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences 
19
of 19

Villanova University

Villanova University
Lauren Murphy / Flickr
  • Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 10,842 (6,999 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: Oldest and largest Catholic university in Pennsylvania; one of the country's top Catholic universities; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference