Many colleges in Pennsylvania offer online programs, which can be smart options for anyone with work, family, or life obligations that may get in the way of in-person classes. Distance learning can help you obtain a degree at an affordable price while working full time or tending to other obligations, and there are plenty of degree options to choose from in this state. Online programs typically offer flexible class options, whether it’s live, remote lectures in the evening or on demand lectures pre-recorded by your professor. Plus, many courses will allow you to complete coursework at your convenience in order to accommodate busy schedules.
Earning a degree online can help you advance your career or give you the ability to switch to a new field. Plus, online degrees can lead to careers in growing fields. For example, students who earn an online master’s in education can become education and childcare administrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), education and childcare administrators at the kindergarten through secondary level earned a median annual salary of $102,980 in Pennsylvania in 2020.
If you’re interested in attending a college program to further your career or education goals, you may want to check out the best online schools in Pennsylvania. These schools offer a ton of benefits for distance learners in the state.
The 5 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania
|#1||Saint Francis University Loretto, PA|
|#2||Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA|
|#3||Point Park University Pittsburgh, PA|
|#4||Temple University Philadelphia, PA|
|#5||Misericordia University Dallas, PA|
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
|Academic Quality||Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates||25%|
|Affordability||Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid||35%|
|Reputation||Admission and enrollment rates||15%|
|Program Offerings||Number of program options||10%|
|Online Enrollment Score||Portion of learners taking at least one online course||15%|
How long do you have to live in Pennsylvania to get in-state tuition?
How fast can you earn a bachelor’s degree online?
Are online degrees credible?
Can you get your master’s online?
In-State Tuition Cost in Pennsylvania
According to Pennsylvania’s State System for Higher Education, typical in-state public tuition averaged about $7,716 for the 2020-2021 academic year for just tuition and fees related to classes. For students who chose to live on campus, the average fees for the 2020-2021 school year were about $21,959, including housing.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2017-2018, students in Pennsylvania paid, on average, about $40,068 per year in tuition at private schools. During that same time frame, housing fees at private colleges ran about $7,271 on average, while private board fees cost about $5,900 for in-state students on average.
Out-of-State Tuition Cost in Pennsylvania
Out-of-state tuition at public colleges or universities tends to be a lot more costly than in-state tuition anywhere in the nation, and the same is true for Pennsylvania. Out-of-state private tuition and fees in Pennsylvania averaged about $40,068 per year for the 2017-2018 school year, while out-of-state students attending public school in Pennsylvania paid about $27,129 during the same time frame, according to the NCES.
What Are the Requirements for an Online College in Pennsylvania?
Requirements to earn an online degree in Pennsylvania vary by program. Admission requirements for online undergraduate programs often include SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts. If you are a prospective graduate student, you may need to submit a writing sample or work portfolio. Many graduate programs also require applicants to demonstrate work experience.
An online program may also require you to complete a capstone project or thesis. These culminating experiences allow you to demonstrate proficiency in a specialization area. For example, if you are pursuing a master’s in English literature, you may write a thesis on 18th century poetry.
Accreditation for Online Schools in Pennsylvania
If you’re thinking of getting an online degree, you should confirm the accreditation status of each online university in Pennsylvania and program before applying. Employers typically only approve accredited institutions for tuition assistance programs, and only students at accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid. Accreditation confirms that a school offers consistently high-quality educational programming. Independent organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation evaluate schools and programs and award accreditation.
Schools in the U.S. can receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, academically oriented schools. National accrediting agencies often evaluate for-profit and vocational institutions. Regionally accredited schools usually only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited institutions. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) awards accreditation to schools that offer online programs. DEAC ensures all distance education programs meet the same academic standards as their on-campus counterparts. You can verify the accreditation status of any school or program using the searchable database from the U.S. Department of Education.
Certifications and Licensure for Students in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania regulates certain fields through licensing and certification requirements. After graduating from an online college in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania residents may obtain licensure or certification to demonstrate expertise in their field. The following list provides examples of licenses and certifications Pennsylvania professionals may need to practice, depending on their field and position.
Reading Specialist Certification
Reading specialists who work in schools must obtain certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The certification requires a master's degree in education and qualifies reading specialists to provide services to K-12 students. Candidates for the reading specialist certification must pass an exam.
Nurses need a license to practice in Pennsylvania. Candidates for nursing licensure must pass an exam to demonstrate competency in their practice. Licensure candidates need a nursing degree from an accredited school and must pay a licensing fee. Nurses in Pennsylvania renew their license every two years.
Social Work Licensure
Social workers must obtain state licensure to practice in Pennsylvania. A social work license demonstrates that the professional meets standards of practice. Candidates need at least a master's in social work and must pass the relevant exam from the Association of Social Work Boards.
Professional Organizations for Students in Pennsylvania
Joining a professional organization can help you network with current professionals in your field. If you live in Pennsylvania, you can join local organizations focused on your area of study. These organizations also provide resources and educational opportunities to help you prepare for your career. If you’re attending college in Pennsylvania, you can explore the professional organizations below.
The PSPA connects and supports physician assistants and students in Pennsylvania. The organization helps members find job opportunities and offers local professional development courses. Members can also take advantage of organization events. Membership applicants must provide information about their workplace or school.
A state branch of the American Counseling Association, the PCA advocates for counselors in Pennsylvania. Professionals and students can join this organization, and members can receive a consultation from a counseling professional. The PCA also offers continuing education courses and access to its journal. Members pay annual dues.
PennAEYC serves early childhood educators in Pennsylvania, with nine chapters in the state. Members can network with other professionals through social media and at professional development events and conferences. Teachers and students can apply for membership.
PASA advocates for school administrators and provides professional development and networking opportunities. School administrators and supporters of public education qualify for membership. PASA delivers current information and field-related news. Members can access professional development programs including virtual seminars and conferences, along with employment advice.
Scholarships are an ideal way for students to finance their education. Many distance learners apply for scholarships to minimize their student debt. Students may qualify for scholarships based on their field of study or their personal background. The following list includes a few of the scholarships available to students in Pennsylvania online programs.
Who Can Apply: Pennsylvania residents can qualify for this scholarship. Applicants must be graduating seniors of a Pennsylvania high school and must plan to attend a four-year college. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a history of community leadership. Applicants must also submit an essay.
Deadline: March 1
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports learners from Lebanon County in Pennsylvania. Applicants must be pursuing higher education in social sciences or human services. Approved fields include nursing, social work, and therapy services. Applicants must submit a resume and a personal essay describing career goals.
Deadline: March 30
Who Can Apply: Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in social work can apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA, must be a junior or senior in college, and must demonstrate financial need. This scholarship aims to advance the field by recruiting students who will promote high standards.
Deadline: June 1
Who Can Apply: Graduates of Pennsylvania schools in Cumberland, Dauphin, or Perry County may apply. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and must plan to attend a college or university. Applicants must submit a resume and a personal essay about their college plans.
Deadline: May 31
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students who live in Dauphin, Cumberland, or Perry County. Applicants must plan to pursue a degree in dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, or engineering. The scholarship committee may select multiple recipients. Applicants must demonstrate community service experience and must submit a personal essay describing their interest in their chosen field.
Deadline: March 15
The 5 Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania for 2021
Pennsylvania regulates certain fields through licensing and certification requirements. After graduating from an online college, Pennsylvania residents may obtain licensure or certification to demonstrate expertise in their field. The following list provides examples of licenses and certifications Pennsylvania professionals may need to practice, depending on their field and position.
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