Learn all about the eight fantastic colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that rank in the top 100 schools in America, from campus size and tuition to Greek life and sports.
Pennsylvania is home to some of the best colleges and universities in the country, and eight of them have made it into the US News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges rankings for 2024. If you’re a Pennsylvania student looking for a top-notch education, here are eight great options to consider:
- University of Pennsylvania (#6)
- Carnegie Mellon University (#24)
- Lehigh University (#47)
- The Pennsylvania State University–University Park (#60)
- University of Pittsburgh (#67)
- Villanova University (#67)
- Temple University (#89)
- Drexel University (#98)
These schools offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities, so you’re sure to find one that’s a good fit for your interests and goals. And because they’re all located in Pennsylvania, you’ll be able to stay close to home and family while you get your education.
Here’s a closer look at each of the eight schools:
University of Pennsylvania
- Tuition and Fees: $66,104
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,760
- National Ranking: #6
The University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield in 1740, is a prestigious private institution located in Philadelphia. It has a 299-acre urban campus and enrolls 9,760 undergraduates (as of fall 2022). The university operates on a semester-based calendar and is ranked #6 in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, with tuition and fees at $66,104.
Penn excels in athletics, with the Quakers boasting more than 25 NCAA Division I sports teams. The men’s lacrosse team is the highest point-earner for the school, followed by fencing and women’s rowing
Housing options include 10 College Houses, and Greek life involves about 20% of the student body. Diverse clubs and organizations further enrich the student experience.
The university comprises 12 schools, with five offering both undergraduate and graduate programs while seven focus solely on graduate studies. Top graduate programs include the Wharton School, School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Law School, and School of Medicine. Facilities like Hillel, Penn Newman Catholic Center, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship support religious life.
Penn promotes international exposure with over 2,500 students participating in study programs across 50+ countries. Distinguished alumni like John Legend, William Carlos Williams, and Donald Trump highlight Penn’s influential legacy.
Carnegie Mellon University
- Tuition and Fees: $63,829
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,509
- National Ranking: #24
Founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University is a private institution located in Pittsburgh. With a campus size of 157 acres and an undergraduate enrollment of 7,509 students in fall 2022, it operates on a semester-based academic calendar. The university is ranked #24 among National Universities in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, with tuition and fees at $63,829.
Pittsburgh offers dining, entertainment, and professional sports teams like the Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates. Freshmen are required to live on campus, but housing is guaranteed for all four years, and most students choose to stay. About 20% of students participate in Greek life, with over 20 fraternities and sororities. The Carnegie Mellon Tartans compete in NCAA Division III, and the Kiltie Band performs in Scottish regalia at home football games.
Carnegie Mellon is renowned for its science and technology programs, but it encompasses seven schools and colleges, including the College of Fine Arts and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Graduate programs include the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Institute of Technology, and School of Computer Science. Undergraduates have research opportunities with grants and summer fellowships. Notably, Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture,” was a professor at Carnegie Mellon.
- Tuition and Fees: $62,180
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,624
- National Ranking: #47
Founded in 1865, Lehigh University is a private institution in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a vast 2,355-acre campus and 5,624 undergraduates (as of fall 2022). It follows a semester-based academic calendar and ranks #47 among National Universities in the 2024 edition of Best Colleges, with tuition costing around $62,180.
Located 50 miles from Philadelphia and 75 miles from New York City, Lehigh hosts the Lehigh Mountain Hawks competing in 25 NCAA Division I sports, rivaling the nearby Lafayette College. Approximately one-third of students join fraternities and sororities. Freshmen must live on campus, and many sophomores opt for campus housing. Half of the campus is preserved as open space.
Lehigh has four colleges that offer various undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduate offerings include the College of Education and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. The university played a role in the creation of the Clery Act, mandating campus crime disclosure.
The school’s brown and white colors have a quirky origin story, and famous alumni include Jesse W. Reno (who invented the escalator), and the team behind iconic structures like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Panama Canal.
The Pennsylvania State University–University Park
- Tuition and Fees: $38,651 (out-of-state), $19,835 (in-state)
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 41,745
- National Ranking: #60
The Pennsylvania State University–University Park, a public institution since 1855, sprawls over 7,958 rural acres with 41,745 undergraduates (as of fall 2022). Operating on a semester system, it’s ranked #60 among National Universities in 2024. Tuition costs $19,835 in-state and $38,651 out-of-state.
Happy Valley, as it’s known, buzzes with 1,000+ clubs and 29 sports in the Big Ten Conference. Beaver Stadium hosts football games for 107,000 fans, but it’s the men’s wrestling team that has become one of the most dominant dynasties in college sports over the last 10 years. It boasts the most national titles of any men’s NCAA D1sporting program in the country.
Greek life also thrives with 70+ sororities and fraternities, and THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, raises funds for pediatric cancer through a 46-hour dance marathon.
Freshmen must live on campus, but the nearby State College offers student-friendly spots with many options for outdoor activities.
Penn State excels in graduate programs like Education and Engineering. Students contribute to the Daily Collegian, and the Newspaper Readership Program provides free papers. Well-known alumni include Heisman winner John Cappelletti and former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
University of Pittsburgh
- Tuition and Fees: $39,890 (out-of-state), $21,524 (in-state)
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,928
- National Ranking: #67
The University of Pittsburgh, which was founded in 1787, hosts 19,928 undergraduates on its 146-acre city campus. It ranks #67 among National Universities in 2024. Tuition costs $21,524 in-state and $39,890 out-of-state.
Because the Oakland school is just three miles from downtown Pittsburgh, students enjoy free museum admission and easy city access with a school ID. Freshmen aren’t required to live on campus, and there’s a thriving Greek community. Pitt competes in NCAA Division I sports, with passionate student support.
Strong programs include Medicine, Education, and Engineering. Pitt emphasizes sustainability through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation.
Famous alumni include Mike Ditka, Dan Marino, Andrew W. Mellon, and Roscoe Robinson Jr., the first African-American four-star U.S. Army general.
- Tuition and Fees: $64,906
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,989
- National Ranking: #67
Villanova University is a private Catholic university founded in 1842 that has 6,989 undergraduates on its 260-acre suburban campus. It’s ranked #67 among National Universities in the 2024 Best Colleges, with tuition costing $64,906. Incoming freshmen are guaranteed housing for their first three years.
Named after St. Thomas of Villanova, the university maintains an affiliation with the Augustinian Order. Located near Philadelphia, Villanova has six colleges, including the School of Business and the Charles Widger School of Law.
The university boasts 280+ student-run organizations, like the Blue Key Society and the world’s largest student-run Special Olympics event. Students contribute a quarter-million hours of community service annually and can join two dozen fraternities and sororities.
Villanova Wildcats compete in NCAA Division I’s Big East Conference and are renowned for their men’s basketball program.
- Tuition and Fees: $35,956 (out-of-state), $21,095 (in-state)
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 24,106
- National Ranking: #89
Founded in 1884, Temple University is a large urban college in Philadelphia with 24,106 undergraduates (as of fall 2022) on its 406-acre campus. It follows a semester-based academic calendar and ranks #89 among National Universities in the 2024 Best Colleges. Tuition is $21,095 for in-state students and $35,956 for out-of-state students.
Freshmen aren’t obligated to live on campus but can request room assignments online and find roommates via Facebook. Temple Owls sports teams compete in NCAA Division I’s American Athletic Conference, and there are about 300 student organizations. Center City Philadelphia is approximately two miles away, so there is plenty for students to do.
Temple houses several research centers, including the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, Center for Sustainable Communities, and Center for Asian Health. It’s home to the Richard J. Fox School of Business and Management, the James E. Beasley School of Law, and schools of medicine, engineering, and education. Graduate students can pursue degrees in dentistry, pharmacy, and podiatric medicine.
- Tuition and Fees: $60,663
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 12,482
- National Ranking: #98
Drexel University, which was founded in 1891, is a private institution in Philadelphia with 12,482 undergraduates (as of fall 2022) on its 96-acre campus. It operates on a quarter-based academic calendar and ranks #98 among National Universities in the 2024 Best Colleges. Tuition and fees amount to $60,663.
Drexel stands out for its cooperative education program, sending students to 1,600+ employers globally for paid six-month stints. Completing three co-ops typically extends graduation to five years, while those with one or no co-op experience can graduate in four.
The campus offers 300+ student clubs, including fraternities and sororities. Drexel Dragons compete in NCAA Division I’s Colonial Athletic Association. The area houses the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, with excellent public transportation accessibility. The 30th Street Station is just two blocks away and it’s only a 10-minute walk to Center City Philadelphia. Over 70% of Drexel students commute to school.
Drexel’s strengths include programs in the College of Engineering alongside its medical and law schools. Renowned alumni include Michael Anderson, a former professional basketball player, and Earle I. Mack, a former ambassador to Finland.
If you’re a Pennsylvania student looking for a top-notch education, be sure to consider one of these eight schools. They all offer excellent academic programs, extracurricular activities, and support services for students.
This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Keystone staff.