Pennsylvania Colleges & Universities

The colleges in Pennsylvania are some of the most respected in America.

History and Prestige: Watchwords of the Pennsylvania Schools: From its days as the unofficial headquarters of early American development to its present role as economic and educational powerhouse, Pennsylvania has long brought up the average for life in the United States. This mid-Atlantic state may only take up 46,055 square miles of space, but judging by its opportunities for higher education--over 130 four-year colleges--you'd never guess as much. Read on to discover a small sampling of excellent Pennsylvania schools.

Pennsylvania Colleges Offer Challenging Academics:

  • University of Pittsburgh (public): Pennsylvania's third-largest school by number of undergraduates (18,031 in total) is also a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a special distinction given to leading research institutions. Its admission rate is 59%, and the most popular majors include business, social sciences, and English. Tuition here costs the native Pennsylvanian $14,936, and out-of-state students pay $24,592.
  • University of Pennsylvania (private): Located in the City of Brotherly Love, Pennsylvania's Ivy League school makes an ideal choice for the ambitious student who wants a blend of world-class academics and athletics in an urban setting. Likewise a member of the AAU, UPenn features an extremely diverse undergraduate class of 9,768 students who represent the top 18% of all applicants to this selective college. Tuition and fees cost $40,514 for both in-state and out-of-state students.
  • Pennsylvania State University (public): One of a group of Pennsylvania schools with membership in the AAU, Penn State is often referred to as a "Public Ivy" thanks to its selectivity (52% admittance), rigorous academics, and Division I athletics. Its undergraduate body is 38,630 strong, many of whom major in business, engineering, and journalism. Tuition at PSU costs $15,250 for in-state students and $27,114 for out-of-state students.
  • Carnegie Mellon University (private): Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University is a prestigious private research school that also bears the AAU distinction. Over a quarter of Carnegie's 6,023 undergraduates pursue engineering degrees; business, computer/information sciences, and visual & performing arts are other popular majors. The combined cost of tuition and fees is $41,940 for both Pennsylvania natives and out-of-state students.

Where a Degree from Pennsylvania Colleges Can Help Take You: Pennsylvania's economy is both diverse and dichotomous: most of the state is rural and agricultural, but its urban centers serve as huge manufacturing hubs. Other major industries for the state include finance, insurance, and gambling. The state is also home to fifty Fortune 500 companies.

Quite possibly due to the research-heavy bent characterizing some of the best of Pennsylvania schools, Pennsylvania residents employed in high technology jobs are often very well paid. Pennsylvania leads the nation in terms of wages earned by biochemists and biophysicists: as of May 2009, that group's mean annual wage was $105,320. Marine engineers and naval architects employed in Pennsylvania rank almost as highly, earning a mean annual wage of $95,760.

Pennsylvania's unemployment was reported as 9.3% in July 2010, neither terrible nor especially encouraging relative to the rest of the economically recovering country. Whatever your chosen field, earning a degree from one of the fantastic schools in Pennsylvania is an excellent way to maximize your career opportunities.

The writer Karin Hansen holds a degree in English from San Francisco State University.

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