2017 Best Colleges in Pennsylvania

The Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares more than 1,000 top colleges and universities in the U.S.
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Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    University of Pennsylvania

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 1,105 reviews
    Graduate Student:Like any colleges, Penn has both pros and cons. As a graduate student in the School of Social Policy and Practice at Penn (Master's of Social Work), I find that the biggest strength of Penn is its wide reach of professional network, research, etc.

    The amount of resources/networking opportunities available for developing insight, experience, and others is unimaginable here at Penn. Having deep connections with all three sectors of the non-profit, for-profit, and governmental world brings its students enormous opportunities and information/knowledge to learn and grow from.

    The cons, however, is that Penn as a whole seems a bit lacking in terms of student activism and engagement. There are clubs to join. But, I rarely see them out in the quad or the walkway outreaching or being vocal about a variety of issues students are concerned with in this age and time.
    More about University of Pennsylvania
  2. 2

    Haverford College

    • Haverford, PA
    • 194 reviews
    Sophomore:I loved the campus and its proximity to Philadelphia. Haverford has a lot to offer, so long as you make an effort to use your resources. The fact that the school is so small makes it a bit limiting not just socially but also professionally, seeing as big recruiters generally don't come her. However, it has the reputation for being academically excellent, and the curriculum is rigorous enough to exercise your critical thinking, creativity, and work ethic.
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  3. 3

    Carnegie Mellon University

    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • 1,299 reviews
    Alum:Carnegie Mellon is tough, no doubt about it. But it's also a place where you'll be pushed and surrounded by other talented and passionate people working hard too. You bond over that and I made awesome friends who will always be close no matter the years and distance. It can be very stressful, but making it through did convince me that I could persevere through anything, something that has benefitted me a lot out in the working world. I'll always prefer to hire CMU graduates because I of this.

    Sports? Nah. Don't go there for sports. Campus? A lot better now then when I was there! Dorms? They're OK but moved off campus after 1st year. Parties? Well my group of friends had a lot of house parties but this was more Art, Design, Drama and random stragglers group ;) Pittsburgh? Wasn't convinced at the time (wanted to be in NYC) but it's a good place to go to school - enough to do, fairly safe, pretty cheap to live, plenty of arts and culture if you want it, decent food, etc.
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  4. 4

    Swarthmore College

    • Swarthmore, PA
    • 380 reviews
    Freshman:One semester into Swarthmore and I feel as if I am a completely different person. I have just grown so much here and been forced to think in ways that are much different than the ways high school necessitated from me. I discovered that I am actually more of an extrovert and less of an introvert; This epiphany dawned upon me after the realization that I could, at Swarthmore, engage in deep and lengthy conversations with other students. While individual achievement was emphasized at my High School, I've managed to develop new networking skills with the principle of never working alone and achieving together. Another thing that stands out about my experience at Swarthmore is that I haven't had the chance yet to operate once again under a cynical mindset, everybody is so nice here. I've learned to trust people again!
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  5. 5

    Lehigh University

    • Bethlehem, PA
    • 780 reviews
    Junior:I really have been enjoying my time here at Lehigh. The campus is beautiful! I am in the engineering school here and I have really enjoyed my classes. Lehigh is a great school for research. In fact, in the engineering school every professor is carrying out some sort of research. The downside of all the research here at Lehigh is that some of the professors are not the greatest teachers.
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  6. 6

    Bucknell University

    • Lewisburg, PA
    • 695 reviews
    Alum:An idyllic setting, close knit student body and small classes! I really enjoyed having attending the University.
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  7. 7

    Lafayette College

    • Easton, PA
    • 572 reviews
    College Freshman:Lafayette is amazing. Small enough to get personalized attention from your professors, big enough to have a vibrant social scene and plenty of research opportunities. Additionally, Lafayette students strike the perfect balance of socially active and academically devoted. Wouldn't have done anything differently.
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  8. 8

    Penn State

    • University Park, PA
    • 6,163 reviews
    Junior:Penn State is a great place to learn at. Typically, students can choose to go the 2+2 route which allows them to start at another campus for two years and then transfer up to University Park campus for graduation. Penn state is well known as a research school and provides students with endless resources to further their education. The professors are all professional and are passionate about what they teach. Campus life is amazing as long as you put in the effort to get involved. There are plenty of resources to get you in the zone and allow you to socialize with others, and most importantly future employers. They offer many career fairs throughout the year that is great for getting interview experience, or even internships and employment after graduation. Great place to be! We are PENN STATE!
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  9. 9

    Bryn Mawr College

    • Bryn Mawr, PA
    • 390 reviews
    Freshman:I came to Bryn Mawr fearful, nervous, and alone. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming kindness and support from my peers. At Bryn Mawr College, the success of few quickly turns into the success of the many. The party scene isn't phenomenal, but everyone finds their people at this school and everyone's emotional well-being is prioritized. We have tons of traditions that help to unify us as a campus and to foster long lasting friendships. We are a very liberal campus, full of boisterous young activists and individuals who genuinely love learning. At Bryn Mawr, everyone is treated with respect and tolerance. Racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, etc. are not tolerated, and hateful individuals quickly realize that this is not the campus for them. We are made of wisdom. We are made of love. We are Bryn Mawr.
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  10. 10

    Franklin & Marshall College

    • Lancaster, PA
    • 772 reviews
    College Freshman:Our school is incredibly diverse and has a very inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is incredibly friendly and looks out for their peers. The school offers a wide range of extracurricular and club activities that get the greater majority of the school's undergraduate population involved in campus activities. All of the teachers are easily accessible outside of class and are active in getting the most out of their students. There are so many different resources for studying, receiving extra help or asking questions outside of class. All of the students and Professors have a lot of school spirit - everyone goes to games, performances and everything in between. All in all, Franklin & Marshall is a very positive environment that fosters educational growth and promotes students ability to think critically for the rest of their lives.
    More about Franklin & Marshall College
  11. 11

    Villanova University

    • Villanova, PA
    • 1,367 reviews
    Freshman:My first year here as an international student is not lonely as I expected. I got into the Learning Community Program that the university offers and it has been a meaningful experience, and also an easy way for me to connect and get to know the other freshmen coming here. This program is about first-year students choosing the same learning community in which they can live next to each other, go to the same classes, and that has made life in university much more comfortable and fun! The professors are great and kind, they always offer help when you have trouble understanding materials. The campus is beautiful, and there are many places you can stop by near Villanova. The spirit here is also fundamentally strong, can be manifested by the passion for basketball here, maybe because the school's team won the NCAA last year. Overall: Nova Nation!
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  12. 12

    Gettysburg College

    • Gettysburg, PA
    • 519 reviews
    Freshman:Gettysburg is a beautiful campus. The academics are rigorous but not unmanageable. You will find some people who are very competitive and others who are more relaxed about grades. The professors are all dedicated to their students and willing to go the extra mile. Diversity on campus is ok, we have socioeconomic and racial diversity but less international diversity. We have a great gym and intramural/club sports program. We're division 3 so our collegiate sports programs are only okay (not a lot of fans watch the games). Depending on what dorm you live in, it can either be really nice or subpar. For freshmen the best dorms are Huber and Hanson. There's a great party scene thanks to the fraternities. However, if you don't participate you can still have fun. The local area is cute and we get lots of tourists but overall there's not much on offer. Campus food is better than most places but it gets repetitive. There's lots of fun clubs on campus and things to do, never a dull moment!
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  13. 13

    University of Pittsburgh

    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • 3,628 reviews
    Sophomore:This is a pretty great college. There are numerous classes that anyone can choose from depending on their interests and their major. Their medical part of the college is outstanding! Many of the professors are wonderful, but you will get some of the awful ones. The campus is gorgeous, especially Cathy (the Cathedral of Learning). No matter how difficult the classes are you will forever be in love with the University of Pittsburgh.
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  14. 14

    University of Scranton

    • Scranton, PA
    • 568 reviews
    Junior:I am now a Junior at the University of Scranton, and I am proud to call it my home. When I made my decision to attend the University, I applied to be a member of their Wellness Program; it was the best decision I have ever made. The people I met from the program are now my closest friends, and they make my experiences at the University all the better. In addition to the friendships I have made, I have had ample opportunities at the school to challenge myself. The classes really made me think, and I grew to have close relationships with numerous professors.
    However, no place is perfect. One thing I would suggest to make the University of Scranton better would be to communicate more with students about internships. At the school it is very hard to find advice on how to enter the job world. If that issue is approached, the school would be absolutely fantastic.
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  15. 15

    Dickinson College

    • Carlisle, PA
    • 505 reviews
    College Freshman:I chose Dickinson as my ED school. Everyone was super friendly on campus when I came to visit, and I knew I wanted to apply right away. Like all freshmen, it's been a transition, but I've been able to quickly find people who I can spend time with and rely on for support. My classes have been challenging and engaging, and the professors do truly care about student success. My advice to anyone applying this year/in the future would be to consider how small of a town Carlisle is. It's a cute town, but for a lot of people I have come across, not having immediate access to a major city has been a real culture shock. Number two, if parties are your thing, they can be limited and occasionally hard to get into, especially for freshmen. But, if parties aren't your thing, don't worry. There are plenty of other ways to get involved and fun activities and trips to try. Lastly, don't expect football games to be huge social events. Not only does our team not have the best record, but we're also a small(ish) D3 school. Overall, it is a lively, motivated student body, and already I have created positive memories! Just remember to take all of the small-liberal arts factors into your decision. :)
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  16. 16

    Temple University

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 4,759 reviews
    Freshman:This was my first semester at Temple University. The classes that I took were mostly general education courses but all of my professors were extremely down to earth and enjoyable to work with. Unlike many other colleges I feel that the professors at Temple care about the students in there classes.
    Temple is an extremely diverse college also. It is very involved in the surrounding community and students from all nationalities and walks of life can be found here. There are multiple events held every semester that help to ensure that diversity is encouraged. The many food trucks throughout campus also add to this as food from many different cultures are represented.
    Overall from my experiences on campus between professors, students, athletics and night life, I love my college. Plus there is always something amazing going on in the Liacouras center!
    More about Temple University
  17. 17

    Drexel University

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 2,609 reviews
    Junior:Drexel University is not your typical university. It is not a university that is known for their quality education nor their extracurricular activities. It is not a school with much school spirit nor a school that students would want to go to for the "party" life. It is a school that has been structured in such a way that it prepares the student for a life after college, and it exceeds greatly in this area. With the university's co-op program, a program which allows half of their education to be working in the field real-time, it gives a practical application to all that the student has learned from their classes. While not the top university, because of this program, Drexel alumni are made equal, if not more, with other graduates from more "prestigious" colleges and universities during their job searches after graduation as they have real-world experience from a job-perspective, and they are able to practically apply the knowledge learned from classes.
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  18. 18

    Muhlenberg College

    • Allentown, PA
    • 407 reviews
    College Junior:The English department is brilliant. The Theatre & Dance department is well-funded, to say the least—just be careful to take classes with a professor who suits you. One of the theatre professors is the worst teacher I've had in my life; I retook the same class with a different professor (Larry Singer), and he's one of the best I've had in my life. Take risks! If something looks interesting, give it a shot—I signed up for a film class on a whim; it fulfilled one of my graduation requirements, and it was my favorite class of the semester. The professor (Tom Cartelli) also was extremely supportive when I was going through personal stuff. I took dance classes and hated it, but I took Movement Workshop for Dancers & Actors, and it changed my life! However, if you're not doing well in a class, you should withdraw right away. I tried to push through, and because I put so much effort into it, my coursework for my other classes suffered as well—NOT worth it. The classes are small, which is great, although the downside is that you will be heavily penalized for missing class, which can be a problem if (e.g.) you get sick.
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  19. 19

    Juniata College

    • Huntingdon, PA
    • 796 reviews
    College Junior:For the most part, I love Juniata; the academics are great, and the campus is gorgeous. The party scene isn't bad if you want a party you can find one on Saturday nights, but it's not going to be as great as Penn State. Side note: the school is chill about underage drinking. Although Huntingdon is a bit of a letdown, Altoona and State College are about 45 minutes away, and both have plenty to do. Juniata is also very good at getting presenters or concerts on campus, which surprised me since the school is unknown. One of my favorite parts is the tradition we have Madrigal, tenting, Lobsterfest, Storming the Arch, Pig Roast and Mountain Day. There isn't a lazy teacher at Juniata; they are very educated in their field, and I haven't had one that isn't compassionate about their subject. They are also very easy to talk to! The administration is the same way, a lot of people give them a lot of troubles, and they are a bit disorganized sometimes, but I honestly love them. President Troha is very approachable and knows most students by name; you can see him eating in the cafetiria with students and at sports events. Juniata College is a very safe area; I have often left my computer laying around and don't even have to worry about it being taken. It's a small school, and you will see everyone you know, but overall the students are all very nice, they are all generally from the PA area, but I never felt left out being from a far away state. The worst part of Juniata is the food, which I hear is being upgraded as we speak. However, the people who serve the food are probably the nicest people you'll ever meet. Up until college, I was a vegetarian. However, I found that very difficult at Juniata. It's pretty hard to eat healthy, but you won't gain the freshman 15 since the food is so bad you'll probably find yourself skipping meals. The hours are weird too, and there are no late night options included in the meal plan. But, most of the dorms have kitchens!
    More about Juniata College
  20. 20

    Allegheny College

    • Meadville, PA
    • 827 reviews
    Alum:Allegheny is a hidden gem to American private liberal arts colleges. It has truly changed the ways that I interact with academics, people, and view the world. You'll build connections across disciplines while adding new, challenging, and diverse experiences from faculty, clubs, sports, music, the outdoors, art, and finding your own path. It's easy to run with a passion that you hold and just as easy to tap into the passions of others with more than 120 clubs represented on a campus of ~2000 students. Prepare to be amazed and changed!
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  21. 21

    Duquesne University

    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • 1,264 reviews
    College Freshman:Move in for freshman is earlier than most schools, but that's because they dedicate a whole week to orientation. Orientation is super fun and allows you to get comfortable with the school environment and the people. It will feel like home by the end of that week, and you'll feel at least a little ready for the first day of classes. I've been here for a week now, and I know already that i chose the right school! I chose this school for its reputation in nursing. In addition to its great reputation, the food is great(lots of options too), bathrooms are clean, showers/sinks arent crowded, people are generally approachable and pleasant(although i can sniff the fakeness of some from a mile away), and the campus/city is very attractive and admirable. My professors are also pretty nice and very qualified.
    More about Duquesne University
  22. 22

    University of the Sciences

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 512 reviews
    Graduate Student:Since coming here in 2013 (and expecting to graduate 2017 and in 2019), the university has really made the effort to improve and does not look like what it did 4 years ago. They have renovated the dining hall, have plans to create a new freshman/sophomore living space, more educational space, and has a new marketing campaign. Even the landlords around the area have been doing new construction to modernize the living space for students once they move off campus. While I agree that greek life wasn't what it was back in 2014 when I joined, it still has a lively spirit on our campus. Going through one of their accelerated programs, it felt disjointed at first (possibly due to my impatience to "get to the real stuff already"). It was a matter of taking further classes and seeing the material continuously integrate itself. I can say I proudly see myself growing into being as a strong, entry level practitioner.
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  23. 23

    Susquehanna University

    • Selinsgrove, PA
    • 693 reviews
    Senior:The university does a good job of drawing students in to apply, but once students are accepted and begin, the school does not pay much attention to students. The university has also made many significant changes since I entered as a student in the Fall of 2013, most changes were not for the better. Very few changes that I have seen have been beneficial; however, programs that have stayed consistent and have not made unnecessary changes have been very successful. For example, the main reason I chose to study at Susquehanna was due to the study abroad program. Susquehanna helps students significantly with financial aid, especially for studying abroad, and my dreams of spending a semester in another country came true.
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  24. 24

    Elizabethtown College

    • Elizabethtown, PA
    • 606 reviews
    Freshman:I love how beautiful the campus is. The campus is well taken care of and so are the buildings. This makes you feel more at home. In the dorms, they try to include everyone and work with them to make sure everyone feels at home, especially the first year students. Professors are not just the people you see in class because they want you to visit them during office hours and you see them walking around campus all the time, sometimes you'll even see the president! The academics are challenging yet understanding and they push you to work your hardest. The community present at Elizabethtown helps student's come out of their shells and make friends faster and with more ease than they thought was possible.
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  25. 25

    Ursinus College

    • Collegeville, PA
    • 415 reviews
    Freshman:Ursinus was a school that I applied at last minute to and wasn't entirely sure about my decision. However, I have been pleasantly surprised over and over again here. The professors are extremely qualified in their fields and the small class size makes it super easy to get a more personal and engaging learning experience. The student body is diverse not only in their ethnic background but also socioeconomically, politically and their interest. I am a member of the swimming and track team along with balancing a double major and a radio show. The passion among the students here, especially the studnet-atheletes is contagious, and it wasn't long before I found myself passionate not only about my course but also my studies.
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