Pennsylvania is home to many industries experiencing strong job growth, including energy, technology, advanced metals and materials manufacturing, agribusiness, life sciences and tourism. 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 Pennsylvania are regulated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education's Council of Higher Education.
Highlighted Careers in Pennsylvania
With a population exceeding 12.8 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania clearly has need of a large health care 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 2015 numbers from the BLS, of some of the featured careers in Pennsylvania in terms of total in-state employment and 2015 mean annual salary:
|Career||In-state employment||2015 mean annual salary|
|Health care practitioners and technicians||377,580||$73,250|
|Business and financial operations workers||278,660||$70,850|
|Computer and mathematical workers||149,780||$78,880|
|Architectural and engineering occupations||95,550||$76,240|
Popular 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 most popular five majors for Pennsylvania students for the 2014-15 academic year:
|Major||Number of graduates|
|Health and related professions||30,825|
|Business management and marketing||29,253|
Spotlight on 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 Pennsylvania. 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 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that during the fall of 2015 there were 706,201 students enrolled at colleges, universities and Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania for the 2015-2016 school year:
- Two-year in-state public schools: $4,927
- Four-year universities: $13,395
- Four-year private institutions: $32,405 (national average)
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 173,856 students for the 2014-2015 academic year averaged $2,922 per student. The state is also in the midst of a five-year pilot program to provide grants to students enrolled in online programs. As of June 2015, more than 8,000 students have received grants from the $10 million earmarked for the program.
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
- Current Term Enrollment Overview, Fall 2015, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/CurrentTermEnrollment-Fall2015.pdf
- Pennsylvania QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, July 2016, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/42000.html
- May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Pennsylvania, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm
- College Navigator -- Pennsylvania, National Center for Education Statistics, 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