Online Schools in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania is home to many industries experiencing strong job growth, including energy, technology, advanced metals and materials manufacturing, agribusiness, life sciences and tourism. In 2013, private equity investors added $44.4 billion in funding to Pennsylvania businesses and its economy, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Pennsylvania also operates the second-busiest inland port in the U.S. at Pittsburgh. With its rapid growth across many industries, Pennsylvania offers students a great place to begin their education. Colleges, universities and online schools in PA are regulated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education's Council of Higher Education.

Highlight Careers in Pennsylvania

With a population approaching 12.8 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania clearly has need of a large healthcare workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the sector is one of the leading professions in the state as measured by employment and median salary.

Here's a breakdown, using 2013 numbers from the BLS, of some of the highlight careers in Pennsylvania in terms of total in-state employment and 2013 median annual salary:

Career In-state employment 2013 median annual salary
Healthcare practitioners and technicians 357,000 $58,820
Business and financial operations workers 274,000 $61,830
Managers 217,870 More than $100,000
Computer and mathematical workers 138,640 $72,210
Architectural and engineering occupations 90,540 $70,000

Top Programs and Degrees in Pennsylvania

The most widely pursued degrees from students attending colleges, universities and online schools in Pennsylvania reflect a number of the state's leading employment sectors. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database lists the top five degrees awarded to Pennsylvania students for the 2012-2013 academic year:

Degree Number of degrees awarded
Health and related professions 57,572
Business management and marketing 56,098
Education 31,068
Engineering 16,008
Social sciences 15,706

Spotlight Schools and Cities in Pennsylvania for Education

Pennsylvania is home to some of the most well-known public and private institutions for higher education, including prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, a global research university with strong arts and technology programs. Other well-known colleges in the commonwealth include the Universities of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, Drexel University, Temple University, Lehigh University, Bucknell University, Villanova University and Bryn Mawr College, to name a few of the largest.

NCES reported that there are 421 colleges, universities or online schools in PA. Philadelphia, far and away the largest city in the state, has more than 108 places for students to study within 20 miles of the downtown core. There are 55 universities, colleges or online schools within a 20-mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh, and another 21 located within a similar distance from downtown Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania.

Erie, located on the banks of Lake Erie, has 12 public and private institutions of higher education within a 25-mile radius, while Reading offers 18 places to study from a similar distance from its downtown.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education found that during the fall of 2010 there were 329,655 female and 428,188 male students enrolled at colleges, universities and PA online schools.

Educational Costs in Pennsylvania

The College Board's annual survey of colleges reports the following educational cost for students attending higher education institutions in PA for the 2014-2015 school year:

  • Two-year in-state public schools: $4,695
  • Four-year universities: $13,246
  • Four-year private institutions: $37,198

Pennsylvania students have a variety of options to help pay for college, including federal Pell grants and federal student loans. Students can find ways to help pay for higher education by contacting the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which works with students and universities to provide loan guaranty and servicing, financial aid processing and administer a variety of student aid programs.

According to the PHEAA, state grants to 135,134 full-time students for the 2013-2014 academic year averaged $3,194 per student. There were 29,119 part-time students who averaged grants of $1,300, and 2,750 veteran students who averaged $3,496 in grants.

College Accreditation in Pennsylvania

Public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are accredited through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Career and vocational schools, meanwhile, are accredited through the Pennsylvania State Board for Vocational Technical Education.

The state board of education states that the accreditation process helps verify the internal processes and procedures of higher education institutions, while the board's accreditation standards promote more efficient educational programs for Pennsylvania students. Students should verify their choice of college has been accredited to ensure the quality of their education and ensure their diploma or degree is accepted by the state's governing bodies.


"Key Industries," Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, December 2014, http://newpa.com/business/key-industries

"Pennsylvania State Board of Education," Pennsylvania Department of Education, December 2014, www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/about_the_board/19678/overview/529077

"Pennsylvania QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, December 2014,http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/42000.html

"May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Pennsylvania," Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm

"Higher education data and statistics," Pennsylvania Department of Education, June 2011, www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/higher_education/8684

"College Navigator -- Pennsylvania," National Center for Education Statistics, December 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=PA

"Trends in Higher Education, Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time," College Board, 2014-15, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time

"2013-14 Pennsylvania State Grant Program," Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, 2013-2014, www.pheaa.org/about/reports-statistics/index.shtml

"Accreditation System for Public Postsecondary Vocational Education," Pennsylvania Department of Education, December 2014, www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/accreditation/7351

Trends in Higher Education, Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time

2013-14 Pennsylvania State Grant Program, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, www.pheaa.org/about/reports-statistics/index.shtml

Accreditation System for Public Postsecondary Vocational Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education, www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/accreditation/7351

Online Schools in Pennsylvania