Online Degrees in Pennsylvania (PA)


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Methodology

To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:

  1. Be an accredited U.S. institution
  2. Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
  3. Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
  4. Be active in the 2015-16 school year
  5. Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology

We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
  • Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Offers credit for military training

Sources:

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Colleges and Universities, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.education.pa.gov/Postsecondary-Adult/College%20and%20Career%20Education/Pages/College-and-Universities.aspx
  • Distance Education, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.education.pa.gov/Postsecondary-Adult/College%20and%20Career%20Education/Pages/State-Authority-of-Distance-Education.aspx
  • Funding Opportunities, accessed April 2018, Philadelphia Higher Education Funding Agency, https://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/index.shtml
  • Governor Wolf to Reaffirm Commitment to Public Education, Skills Training in 2018-19 Budget, February 2, 2018, Pennsylvania Government, https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wolf-reaffirm-commitment-public-education-skills-training-2018-19-budget/
  • National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, accessed April 2018, http://nc-sara.org/
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education, accessed April 2018, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, http://sheeo.org/sheeo_surveys/user/68
  • Pennsylvania’s Economic Outlook: June 2017, June 28, 2017, Wells Fargo Securities Economics Group, https://www08.wellsfargomedia.com/assets/pdf/commercial/insights/economics/regional-reports/pa-economic-outlook-20170628.pdf
  • Pennsylvania’s Workforce Characteristics Report, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, http://www.passhe.edu/inside/bog/Workforce%20Gap%20Analysis/Pennsylvania%20WCR%20Briefing%20Paper.pdf
  • Placement Testing, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, http://www.pennhighlands.edu/admissions/admissions/placement-testing/
  • Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020 State Report, accessed April 2018, Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, https://cew-7632.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/StateProjections_6.1.15_agc_v2.pdf
  • State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.education.pa.gov/Postsecondary-Adult/College%20and%20Career%20Education/Pages/State-Authorization-Reciprocity-Agreement-(SARA).aspx
  • Strategic Plan 2020: Rising to the Challenge, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, http://www.passhe.edu/inside/bog/Documents/Strategic%20Plan%202020%20Rising%20to%20the%20Challenge_dh.pdf
  • State grant funding available to Penn State students taking online courses, February 16, 2018, Pennsylvania State University, http://news.psu.edu/story/505854/2018/02/16/academics/state-grant-funding-available-penn-state-students-taking-online
  • Taking Required Tests, accessed April, 2018, Federal Student Aid, https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/tests
  • Temple Option FAQ, accessed April 2018, Temple University, https://admissions.temple.edu/node/441#overlay-context=node/441
  • The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, accessed April 2018, U.S. Department of Education, https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/agencies.aspx
  • The State System: About Us, accessed April 2018, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, http://www.passhe.edu/inside/Pages/About.aspx
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Pennsylvania online degrees _icon

Pennsylvania’s high school graduates and professionals can expect more jobs to open up in the coming years as high-skilled sectors like health and education services are set to grow, according to a study on Pennsylvania’s economic outlook by Wells Fargo. Earning a college credential at this opportune time could put you in the candidacy for higher-paying jobs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to well-known colleges like the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State University. Many of the state’s colleges and universities – including private institutions – offer online degree programs that may be a convenient option for those who want to pursue a college degree while maintaining a work-study-life balance.

In the next few years, Pennsylvania is likely to require more workers with postsecondary education to fill in-demand jobs. A 2013 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce showed that by 2020, in Pennsylvania, 63 percent of jobs in the state arelikely require a postsecondary credential.Further,

  • 29 percent of jobs will need an associate degree, or a postsecondary vocational certificate
  • 22 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree
  • 11 percent of jobs will need a master’s degree or higher

The Georgetown University study also showed that more than one-third of the projected 2,154,000 job openings in Pennsylvania through 2020 likely require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

According to the 2016 Workforce Characteristics Report, Pennsylvania has 347,000 business establishments, and an estimated 536, 213 jobs will likely be added through 2024 as a result of industry growth

The report also showed significant growth in Pennsylvania’s service-based sectors such as information technology, financial services, education and healthcare, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. Most of these sectors can be aligned to occupations that require a postsecondary education

We used a methodology that has considered factors that are most likely to be important to prospective online students. This includes accreditation, enrollment numbers in online education, graduation rates, financial aid options and whether the college offers placement services. Those seeking to earn their degree online may find this list of online colleges and universities to be some of the best choices for achieving academic and career goals.

1
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
University Park, PA
Average in-state tuition
$16,952
No of online programs
80
% of students in distance education
33%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,101
Admissions Rate
56%
Graduation Rate
86%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Saint Joseph's University
Philadelphia, PA
Average in-state tuition
$42,840
No of online programs
20
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$19,743
Admissions Rate
78%
Graduation Rate
80%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA
Average in-state tuition
$48,660
No of online programs
54
% of students in distance education
39%
Avg. amount of Aid
$21,061
Admissions Rate
75%
Graduation Rate
70%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Wilkes University
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Average in-state tuition
$31,946
No of online programs
13
% of students in distance education
55%
Avg. amount of Aid
$19,514
Admissions Rate
76%
Graduation Rate
62%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
California University of Pennsylvania
California, PA
Average in-state tuition
$7,238
No of online programs
30
% of students in distance education
66%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,483
Admissions Rate
96%
Graduation Rate
50%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Clarion, PA
Average in-state tuition
$7,238
No of online programs
26
% of students in distance education
48%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,969
Admissions Rate
94%
Graduation Rate
49%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Misericordia University
Dallas, PA
Average in-state tuition
$29,150
No of online programs
13
% of students in distance education
38%
Avg. amount of Aid
$14,521
Admissions Rate
74%
Graduation Rate
74%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Carlow University
Pittsburgh, PA
Average in-state tuition
$27,136
No of online programs
11
% of students in distance education
53%
Avg. amount of Aid
$13,932
Admissions Rate
86%
Graduation Rate
57%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Robert Morris University
Moon Township, PA
Average in-state tuition
$27,320
No of online programs
22
% of students in distance education
33%
Avg. amount of Aid
$16,150
Admissions Rate
80%
Graduation Rate
61%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
Point Park University
Pittsburgh, PA
Average in-state tuition
$27,780
No of online programs
24
% of students in distance education
34%
Avg. amount of Aid
$15,502
Admissions Rate
71%
Graduation Rate
58%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes

When choosing an online degree program, you may want to know which online programs are the most popular – and could be the most marketable – ones in the state.Using data obtained from the NCES, this list of the top online degree programs in Pennsylvania may serve as an indication of the state’s need for more graduates holding degrees in these fields

Program Name
No. of online programs
Business Administration and Management, General
71
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
53
Business/Commerce, General
42
Information Science/Studies
37
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
29
Human Development and Family Studies, General
23
Psychology, General
18
Organizational Leadership
14
Educational Leadership and Administration, General
12
Accounting
12

Recognizing that Pennsylvania’s economic growth is connected to a more-educated workforce, Governor Tom Wolf has been focusing on initiatives to boost higher education quality and outcomes. Expressing his commitment, he said, “As a business owner, I know that companies only want to locate and grow in a state that has strong schools and makes the commitment to ensuring our workforce has 21st century skills.” In order to achieve this, the state government has prioritized maintaining a sizeable budget toward funding institutional support and financial aid grants with an aim to make quality postsecondary education affordable for all students.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), which is the largest provider of online education in the Commonwealth, has adopted a performance-based model for funding its educational institutes. Since this model was initiated in 2000, PASSHE colleges have seen:

  • Gains in student retention
  • Increase in graduation rates
  • Improvement in program quality

Recognizing the needs of future employers for a workforce that has a broad skill set, the higher education system in the state of Pennsylvania seeks to include educational experiences for all students across degree course content that include:

  • Building knowledge and judgment
  • Learning how to solve problems with people whose views are different from their own
  • Instilling a commitment to communities
  • Broadening their worldview by learning about societies and cultures from outside the United States

Another way Pennsylvania aims to serve students is through its membership of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), an organization that establishes national standards for distance education across the country. Enrolling in a SARA-approved college can assure you of a quality online education. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires all out-of-state distance education providers be accredited by an agency that has been approved by the United States Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Students may want to look fornationally or regionally accredited colleges or programs. Some accrediting bodies include:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)

Expanding Online Education Opportunities in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), initiated in 1983, has outlined strategic goals for 2020 to ensure that college students, both online and on campus, have a good chance at succeeding in achieving their academic and career goals. Some of the expected outcomes by 2020 include:

  • Increase in the number of programs and courses available to distance learners
  • Increase in the number of online and blended courses to 53,000
  • Increase in the number of degrees and certificates awarded each year to at least 31,500, and the number of STEM and health-related degrees to 7,500
  • Increase in the number of adult learners over the age of 25 to at least 11,000, and Pennsylvania community college transfer students to at least 4,000

Students who are able to take advantage of online education in Pennsylvania can find themselves in a particularly powerful position when it comes to the management of their own time, says Dr. Scott Hammond, an online educator that works for Utah State University, an institution that offers online education in Pennsylvania. That's because students can spend less time dealing with the logistics of their learning experience and use it to learn something instead.

"You don't need to circle campus looking for a parking place, or run through crowded halls," says Hammond. "You don't need to find a front row seat, because online, all rows are front rows."

However, as Hammond points out, that shouldn't be the main reason students choose an online degree program, nor will it work for everyone. Each student has his or her own needs and learning style to take into consideration and online learning is certainly not "one size fits all."

"Students should NOT pick online degree programs for convenience," Hammond warns. "Learning style is very important, and if social interaction stimulates your learning then online might not work for you."

It is important to also consider availability of quality student support services, according to Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). “Don’t go in with the expectation that you’re supposed to get less than because its online,” Eaton said

Helpful Resources

Those who seek out distance learning in Pennsylvania can access a whole host of resources via PA Universities Online. PA Universities Online connects you to academic programs and individual courses offered by the 14 state universities that make up the state's higher education system.

The Pennsylvania Career Guide is designed to help prospective students and job seekers evaluate their career options. Higher Priority Occupations lists occupations that have higher skills needs and can give prospective students a realistic picture of Pennsylvania's actual workforce needs.

Working toward earning a college degree is a significant investment of time and money. This list of the fastest-growing occupations in Pennsylvania can give you an idea of jobs that are in demand, their projections through 2026 and average salaries

Occupation
Number of Workers
(2016)
Average Salary
(2016)
Office and Administrative Support Occupations940,270$37,220
Sales and Related Occupations553,440$41,000
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations501,670$23,380
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations451,170$36,250
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations397,810$75,210
Production Occupations378,000$39,010
Education, Training, and Library Occupations341,440$58,430
Business and Financial Operations Occupations279,180$73,290
Personal Care and Service Occupations248,200$25,710
Management Occupations240,670$123,380
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations232,020$46,960
Construction and Extraction Occupations217,180$50,840
Healthcare Support Occupations182,260$31,380
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations170,530$28,530
Retail Salespersons167,480$27,010
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Since 1963, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has been offering grants, loans and work-study opportunities to qualifying students to help pay for college education. The Pennsylvania State Grant Program, a need-based financial aid program funded through the PHEAA, is approved to include distance education students. To meet the eligibility requirements for this program, students must be Pennsylvania residents, enroll in a minimum of six credits in a degree program, and fulfill other state grant stipulations.

Otherstate-specific financial aid options include:

Several private institutions also offer need-based and merit-based scholarships to students. Below is a list of grants and scholarships offered by business organizations to students pursuing higher education in Pennsylvania:

It is important to spend time looking at all the financial aid options and eligibility criteria before beginning the application process. Please check with your prospective school’s financial aid office for more information

Scholarship Listing

C.H. Burgess Scholarship
No. of Awards
20
Deadline
February 16 (FAFSA deadline); March 1 (nomination form)
Max. Award Amount
1,500
Renewable
N/A
Criteria
Applicant must be an incoming freshman student with financial need. Preference given to applicants who reside in Luzerne County.
More
Joseph Mowad Scholarship
No. of Awards
14
Deadline
February 16 (FAFSA deadline); March 1 (nomination form)
Max. Award Amount
1,690
Renewable
N/A
Criteria
Applicant must be a full-time incoming freshman student from Northumberland, Snyder, or Union Counties. Financial need required.
More
Jonathan Lax Scholarship for Gay Men
No. of Awards
10
Deadline
February 1
Max. Award Amount
20,000
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be an out gay man who is from the five county Philadelphia region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties) or Camden County, or who is attending an accredited college, or graduate or professional school anywhere within the Philadelphia region. Purpose of award is to encourage gay men to obtain additional education, aspire to positions in which they contribute to society, be open about their sexual orientation, and act as role models for other gay men with similar potential.
More
Philadelphia Partnership Collaborative Scholarship
No. of Awards
7
Deadline
Not Available
Max. Award Amount
2,000
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be nominated by participating Philadelphia high schools. Contact guidance office.
More
Pennsylvania State Bowling Association Scholarship Program
No. of Awards
4
Deadline
March 15
Max. Award Amount
1,500
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Students must be a graduating senior or have recently graduated with the intent to begin collegiate studies. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Selection is based on academic achievements, involvement in bowling and non-bowling activities and financial need.
More

Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.

Earning a spot at a college in Pennsylvania may require you to take one or more standardized tests. While SATs and ACTs are the most common ones, some schools may also accept the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Some prospective students may additionally need to share TOEFL/IELTS scores to determine English language efficiency. And some institutions use the ACCUPLACER test to determine a prospective student’s strength and knowledge in math, reading, and writing.

Some Pennsylvania colleges may not require SAT/ACT scores, and some institutions may design their own in-campus placement tests to help determine a student’s eligibility for their degree programs. Pennsylvania’s Temple University has a “Temple Option” that students can choose to take instead of SAT/ACT tests. This option offers short, introspective, and open-ended questions for eligible freshman candidates seeking admission to the university’s degree programs.

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