Pennsylvania offers some of the nation’s top college programs to help students launch in-demand, lucrative careers. For prospective students who want to juggle other commitments while studying, this guide to the best accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania can help with the decision of where, and what, to study.
This article on the top virtual schools in Pennsylvania highlights each school’s best programs, scholarships, and financial aid options they offer. Online schools in Pennsylvania will give students a flexible schedule and the opportunity to develop self-management skills. Read on to learn about the best online colleges in Pennsylvania.
Fully Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania: Two Types of Accreditation
There are government and non-government bodies that give accreditation status to higher education institutions that offer high-quality education. Colleges and universities that grant academic degrees follow a rigorous process for accreditation.
After being accredited, they must maintain and improve the quality of education in order to renew the accreditation every few years. There are two types of accreditations, and the one an institution receives depends on various factors.
Regionally Accredited Online Colleges
In the United States, six accrediting institutions grant regional accreditations to colleges and universities. Each of these institutions grants accreditation to traditional colleges and online colleges in their region and looks to improve education standards across various disciplines.
Nationally Accredited Online Colleges
National accreditation bodies overlook the accreditation process nationwide and often cover more technical programs and vocational schools. This accreditation can cover all types of degree programs but passes through less competitive criteria than regionally accredited programs.
Why Is Accreditation Important for College?
Accreditation is important for colleges because it ensures their dedication to academic quality. Their accredited programs raise the bar for higher academic standards. Students prefer to invest in accredited programs for their education as it increases their chances of a higher earning potential. This is why every school on our list is an accredited online university.
Students from accredited degree programs show better retention rates as these programs are continuously improved with in-demand subjects and industry skills. They also prepare students to sit for certifications and licenses in professional fields.
How to Find an Accredited Online College in Pennsylvania
You can find out whether an online college in Pennsylvania is accredited by looking into three key sources. These are the US Department of Education’s database, the regional accrediting agency’s website, and the school’s official website.
Check the US Department of Education’s Database
The US Department of Education publishes a database that shows the accreditation status of institutions at the postsecondary level. Users can search a school on the home page and do an advanced search to look for educational institutions with specific criteria.
The search will take you to a list of results linking individual schools with more detailed information. The advantage of the database is that it helps you to differentiate accreditations for institutions and programs.
Search for Colleges on the Regional Accrediting Agency’s Website
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the regional accrediting body that grants accreditations to colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. The official MSCHE website shares all of its accredited institutions under the Institutions Directory subsection of the Institutions tab in the upper-left corner of the main page.
Different searches and filters allow you to narrow down the list. Each institution has a link that opens up more specific details about the accreditations such as credential levels and their approval for distance learning.
Visit the School’s Official Website
Most school websites have a web page dedicated to institutional and programmatic accreditations information. Some schools also discuss the accreditation status, the renewal year, and the steps of the accreditation process.
Top 10 Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania: Overview
|Ranking||Online College||Accreditation||Graduation Rate|
|1||University of Pennsylvania||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||97%|
|2||University of Pittsburgh||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||81%|
|3||Penn State University||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||71%|
|4||Drexel University||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||68%|
|5||Millersville University||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||60%|
|6||Indiana University of Pennsylvania||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||58%|
|7||York College of Pennsylvania||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||58%|
|8||Clarion University of Pennsylvania||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||51%|
|9||Edinboro University||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||46%|
|10||Lackawanna College||Middle States Commission on Higher Education (regional)||29%|
How We Ranked the Best Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
We ranked the best accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania by looking at the graduation rates of various institutions that offer fully online degree programs. The information in the table above comes from the schools’ official websites, the US Department of Education’s database of accredited schools, and the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard tool.
Best Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania: Deep Dive
With the ever-evolving wave of technology, more and more students are considering online schools. Below, we deep dive into the best online colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Key details like student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates, and accreditations are covered to help you choose the right program and school for you.
What Is the Easiest Online College That Is Accredited in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania State University is perhaps the easiest online college that is accredited in Pennsylvania. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), PennState has a high graduation rate of 72%. This shows that students get the support and virtual environment to complete their education.
What Is the Cheapest Accredited Online College in Pennsylvania?
Indiana University of Pennsylvania is the cheapest accredited online college in Pennsylvania. According to the school’s website, online undergraduate students only pay $319 per credit and online graduate students pay $516. NCES states that the in-state tuition costs for an academic year come to $13,144.
Are There Free Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania?
No, there are no free accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania. However, a few institutions in Pennsylvania offer three free courses. For example, the University of Pittsburgh has a collaboration with Coursera, one of the most popular massive online open course (MOOC) platforms, while the University of Pennsylvania offers free online courses through MOOC platform edX.
Alternatively, some students can have a tuition-free semester through the Community College of Philadelphia’s special financial assistance program called Opportunity Now. Opportunity Now is available to chosen applicants that are workers who were recently out of work and are returning to study to hone their skills for employment opportunities.
Why Choose an Accredited Online College in Pennsylvania?
You should choose an accredited online college in Pennsylvania because they offer many online programs that cater to a variety of learning styles in diverse fields of study. Below are the top reasons why you should study online from a college in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is home to 10 prestigious universities that offer top-quality and affordable academic degrees. These schools also offer internship opportunities and chances to study abroad. Carnegie Mellon University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Swarthmore College are only a few examples.
Accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania offer flexible asynchronous programs. These programs are ideal for working professionals and students with prior time commitments. Students save time and money as they do not need to travel to school or worry about housing.
Organizations like Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) are dedicated to providing financial support for students on their educational journey in the form of loans and grants. Regardless of financial aid, online programs tend to be much cheaper than in-person programs.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
Below is a list of the most affordable accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania. You will find the below rate per credit to be all under $600 per credit.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $319/Credit. At Indiana University, The tuition rates for undergraduate and graduate out-of-state students are slightly lower than that of in-state students. It is a good choice for non-resident learners.
- Millersville University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $4,785/Semester (15 credits). The tuition rates are very affordable for in-state students. Out-of-state students can apply to a reduced tuition rate program.
- Clarion University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $322/Credit. Clarion offers a distinction for online students with residency status to make schooling even more affordable.
- Edinboro University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $322/Credit. The tuition rate is affordable for both non-resident and international students. Pennsylvania resident students get a slight discount per credit.
- Lackawanna College | Tuition: $575/Credit. There is a flat fee in tuition for all students taking between 12 to 18 credits each semester. You will only pay per credit if taking a total amount of credits outside of that range.
Best Online Accredited Colleges in Pennsylvania That Accept Financial Aid
If you are looking for affordable accredited colleges in Pennsylvania, below is a list of online colleges that also qualify for financial aid. There are different kinds of financial aid offered by the school to ease the financial burden for students.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $319/Credit. The university offers typical financial aid opportunities and supports students based on programs like culinary arts and police academy. One hundred percent of its students receive financial aid.
- York College of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $10,535/Semester. York College offers scholarships to international students up to $9,000. It provides scholarships for alumni and Jewish leaders in the community, a tuition exchange program, and a merit-based scholarship for transfer students. One hundred percent of students receive financial aid.
- Edinboro University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $322/Credit. In addition to applying for aid via FAFSA, students at Edinboro can apply for student employment like work-study programs and graduate assistantship opportunities. Up to 96 percent of students receive financial aid.
- Millersville University of Pennsylvania | Tuition: $319/Credit. Millersville offers loans, scholarships, and grants. Students can also enroll in a payment plan to distribute their monthly tuition and fee. Financial aid is offered to 86 percent of students.
- Penn State University | Tuition: $18,898/Year. The undergraduate and graduate students of the World Campus are eligible to apply for federal aid and scholarships through the FAFSA application. Up to 73 percent of students receive financial aid.
Best Online Schools in Pennsylvania by Popular Subjects
If you’re looking to study a particular subject but aren’t sure where to look, we have compiled the best online schools in Pennsylvania with accreditations in popular subjects. We highlight the colleges’ overall graduation rates and best programs to help you find a school that suits your interests and career goals.
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Associate Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
The best accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania offer undergraduate degrees for careers in business, education, healthcare, and petroleum. Below are the top colleges that offer distance learning courses at the associate level for entry-level jobs.
- Penn State University | Associate of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies. This 60-credit associate degree prepares graduates for work as sales managers, purchasing agents, or human resource assistants. Students can transfer credits to a bachelor’s degree.
- Clarion University | Associate of Science in Allied Health. The program introduces students to the allied health field for clinical education and training. Graduates of the program can transfer credits to the bachelor’s degree at Clarion for even better career prospects.
- Lackawanna College | Associate in Petroleum & Natural Gas Technology. This online degree will give you the knowledge for entry-level jobs in the field of petroleum. Students get skills to specialize in the production sector of petroleum and natural gas.
- Geneva College | Associate of Arts in General Studies. Core and elective courses are combined for a total of 60 credit hours. The courses at Geneva integrate faith into learning for a rich education and life impact.
- Strayer University-Pennsylvania | Associate of Arts in Accounting. This 20-course associate degree is delivered online. Students learn the foundations of accounting and business, accounting processes, and financial reporting. They improve their analytical skills and strategic thinking and learn from top-class faculty.
Best Online Associate Degrees
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
Many students want to pursue accredited online colleges in Pennsylvania to have the flexibility to work on the side or manage their life commitments. Below are the best online colleges with accredited bachelor’s degree programs for distance learners.
- Drexel University | Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. This program is for elementary classroom teachers and educators. They earn teaching skills and teacher certification. It is a 180-quarter-credit program.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania | Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science. This BS program has a comprehensive and hands-on curriculum to prepare professionals in health services roles. Graduates are equipped for roles as child counselors, mental health educators, or foster care specialists.
- Alvernia University | Bachelor of Arts in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment. This program is useful for those interested in pursuing a certified alcohol and drug counselor certificate. The curriculum covers topics in counseling techniques, crisis theory, ethical issues, mental health, and substance abuse treatment and prevention.
- Chatham University | Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The accredited online RN-BSN program teaches nursing skills for professional nursing care jobs. Students can choose to pursue a minor in psychology.
- La Roche University | Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The BA curriculum includes an internship, an independent study course, a skills component, language credits, and breadth courses. Major courses include juvenile delinquency, computer crime, data analysis, terrorism, and crisis management.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Master’s Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
You will find plenty of master’s degrees offered by the best online colleges in Pennsylvania. Online graduate degrees allow you to land jobs with more responsibilities. Below you will find the best programs offered by universities in Pennsylvania.
- University of Pittsburgh | Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a Construction Management Focus. This MS program has a non-thesis curriculum flexible for on-campus, online, or combined scheduling. It prepares graduates to meet the challenges of projects in construction and engineering. Students benefit from partnerships with corporations seeking skillful employees.
- Millersville University | Master of Science in Environmental Earth Systems Management. This program at Millersville covers in-demand research areas and applications of science and technology. Students acquire management skills to tackle environmental challenges. The program is connected to an Integrated Scientific Applications program.
- Carnegie Mellon University | Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services. This program is for innovators in product management to acquire professional skills and advance their careers. Students can take the program in a traditional format or take four certificates with a capstone project.
- Strayer University-Pennsylvania | Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance. The 10-course information security program teaches students to identify threats in information security systems, develop information policies, and investigate cyber security breaches.
- University of Scranton | Dual Master of Business Administration-Master of Health Administration. This dual degree will help professionals gain a competitive advantage in administrative and leadership roles in the healthcare system. In this program, students develop a well-rounded set of business skills.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Why You Should Attend an Accredited Online College in Pennsylvania
You should attend an accredited online college in Pennsylvania because you can get high-quality education in diverse areas of study from the comfort of your own home. By studying online, students save money they would normally spend on transportation and on-campus or near-campus housing.
Accredited Online Colleges in Pennsylvania FAQ
Yes, online colleges are credible when they have accreditations. Accredited online colleges have formal recognition and give the same high-level education and skills as in-person programs. Online college programs pass through the same accreditation process by professional and national bodies to confirm the high standards of education.
Yes, most employers take online college degrees seriously. Accredited online college degrees meet quality standards with carefully crafted curricula. Online programs are conducted by professionals and experienced faculty.
The pros of online college are being able to choose your schedule and saving the time and expense of commuting. The con is that online students do not get to network and build a community with fellow students.
You can find accreditation information on a school’s official website. If you want a general list of accredited schools based on a state or subject, you can use the college navigator available on the National Center for Education Statistics website.
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