As the sixth most populous state in the country, Pennsylvania is celebrated for its history, culture, and higher education systems. Pennsylvania’s public university system is known as the Commonwealth System of Higher Education, which consists of four institutions: Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh, and Lincoln University. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education encompasses 14 unconnected, state-funded, governed schools, many of which offer online degree programs, including West Chester University, Cheyney University, and Shippensburg University. The state of Pennsylvania’s State System offers over 60 degree programs offered entirely online. Colleges in Pennsylvania offer online degrees in business, education, health sciences, and social sciences at many degree levels. Some schools, such as Slippery Rock University, even offer foreign language minors online.
In addition to public institutions, Pennsylvania residents also have access to online courses and accredited degree programs offered by private colleges. Some of the private universities offering online programs in Pennsylvania are Drexel University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pennsylvania, which is an Ivy League member. Two Pennsylvania community colleges and technical schools with online courses are Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lackawanna College. Nationally-known online colleges in Pennsylvania include Strayer University, Everest Institute, and the University of Phoenix, which have campuses interspersed throughout this well-populated and diverse state.
Most Affordable 4-Year Online Programs in Pennsylvania
The costs associated with earning a bachelor's degree have been rapidly ballooning in the U.S., with the annual costs associated with four-year colleges rising from $9,554 to $23,066 between 1981 until 2011, according to data published by the National Center for Education Statistics. Before committing to an academic program, prospective students who wish to earn a bachelor's degree online should carefully examine the total cost of college and their financial aid options. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Pennsylvania's state and local appropriations for undergraduate students has been trending downward, with 13.7% less funding in 2011 than in 2010. In order to prevent a tuition increase, Pennsylvania legislators and academic administrators have been requesting increased state appropriations to fund state-run colleges.
The most affordable online, four-year degree programs available to Pennsylvania residents are listed below. All programs were selected based, in part, on their current Annual in-state tuition. The rankings start with the lowest annual tuition amount. Each listing describes the institutions available online degrees, accreditation, noteworthy awards and other distinguishing details to help students select an online degree program.
All schools on our list are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); some have additional accreditation, and several programs within each school have received accreditation from other organizations. Explore the schools further for more information.
Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania ― Clarks Summit, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $7,440
This institution provides several online degrees rooted in spiritual traditions, including bachelor's programs in Christian ministries and counseling ministries. To increase graduation rates, BBC uses a unique Degree Completion Program, which provides students with a wide breadth of elective course options and the opportunity to finish a degree online, even if they started a program on campus. To help low-income undergraduates receive a quality education, BBC created a Tuition Relief Program that allows qualifying students to earn their degree online for free or at a discounted price.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania ― Slippery Rock, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $7,924
An RN to BSN program is the singular, online bachelor's degree option at Slippery Rock. Prospective students must already have their registered nurse's license before applying. This program takes two years to complete, and students may enroll part-time or full-time. Slippery Rock has received institutional state accreditation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Accreditation for the RN to BSN degree is regulated by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
California University of Pennsylvania ― California, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $7,967
The Princeton Review hails Cal U as one of the best regional colleges in the Northeast and includes this academic institution on its list of Green Colleges. Cal U offers five bachelor's degrees online, including a BA in Arabic Language and Culture, a BA in Legal Studies and a BS in Wellness and Fitness. The school also provides resources and tools to help online students find financial aid, career and academic advising and practice tests for the major exams most undergraduate students will take.
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania ― Mansfield, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $8,206
Mansfield was ranked #46 by the U.S. News and World Report on its list of Top Public Schools. This college relies on the Desire2Learn digital environment and course management system to provide students access to online curricula. MU gives prospective distance learners a choice of three bachelor's degree options online: liberal studies, art history and an RN to BSN program. North Hall Library has made available resources that are specifically for online students.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus ― Indiana, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $8,397
Striving to meet "the changing needs of those it serves," IUP is currently developing two online undergraduate degree programs in business and communications. The degrees offered online at IUP are held to the same standards as those found on campus, and online students can find resources, assistance and tools through the Distance Education Student Resources page. On the institutional level, IUP has received several accolades, including being listed on U.S. News and World Report's list of Top Public Schools.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania ― Clarion, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $8,606
Prospective online students will find that this academic institution provides a comprehensive selection of 16 different bachelor's degrees and concentration options on topics such as business administration, nursing, allied health leadership and technology leadership. Online students gain access to several digital student services, including remote student orientations, career counseling, a writing center, tutoring and disability support. The school honors and supports veteran's benefits.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania ― Shippensburg, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $8,750
This public college offers a single degree completion program for students who wish to earn a Bachelors in Social Work (BSW). In order to participate in this remote degree completion program, prospective students must have at least 60 college credits and professional experience. The U.S. News and World Report ranks Shippensburg #87 on its list of top Regional Universities (North).
Point Park University ― Pittsburgh, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $9,600
Future organizational leaders will find that PPU offers a wide range of online bachelor's degrees that cater to their career interests. This nonprofit college offers three public administration academic tracks, an organizational leadership program and a business program. Staff in the financial aid office is available to help prospective find scholarships, grants and loans to help for for an education at PPU. The university is ranked #45 on the Best Colleges for Veterans list compiled by the U.S. News and World Report.
University of Valley Forge ― Phoenixville, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $9,760
This private Christian college offers a single online bachelor's degree program: a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Students who enroll in this program can choose from three degree concentrations: accounting, finance or marketing. The degree completion program is designed to help working students with some college experience earn their BS in as little as 18 months. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Valley Forge #44 on its Regional Colleges (North) list.
Lancaster Bible College ― Lancaster, PA
Annual in-state tuition:
The online Bachelor of Science in Bible is the sole bachelor's degree options provided by Lancaster Bible College online. Students who have not previously earned college credits in theology or biblical studies must first take this college's ministry, Bible and theology courses in order to complete this bachelor's degree program. This Christian academic institution is accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education
Cedar Crest College ― Allentown, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $11,964
This institution has three noteworthy U.S. News and World Report rankings; they're listed #5 on the Best Value Schools and Best Colleges for Veterans lists, along with a #16 ranking on the top Regional Colleges (North) list. While CCC is a private women's college, its School of Adult and Graduate Education is open to students of all genders. Prospective students can choose from six online bachelor's degree tracks, including criminal justice, RN to BSN or business administration.
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences ― Lancaster, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $12,594
Prospective students at this private institution can explore three online bachelor's degree programs: nursing, health sciences and healthcare administration. The latter two options are new and will begin during the Spring term. This college is an institutional member of the Sloan Online Learning Consortium, an organization that provides schools with online educational quality scorecards and practitioner resources. Online classes are delivered through Blackboard, and they are held to the same quality standards as those found on-campus.
Geneva College ― Beaver Falls, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $13,200
This small, private college holds the #6 rank among colleges with the best value in the nation and #14 among regional colleges in northern states, according to the U.S News and World Report. Geneva offers two online degree options, organizational leadership and human resources, which are delivered over the Blackboard e-Education platform. This college is also an institutional member of 14 different academic organizations, including the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Council on Education.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus ― College, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $13,516
Penn State offers the most diverse range of online degree programs, with 23 different undergraduate majors to select from, including a highly-customizable liberal arts degree that allows students to design their own program. This college uses a blend of Skype meetings, forums and the Blackboard online platform to create a virtual learning environment. The U.S News and World Report has ranked Penn State #2 among the best colleges for veterans and #14 as one of the top public schools in the nation.
Peirce College ― Philadelphia, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $13,920
Students who wish to earn an online bachelor's degree should take note of Peirce College; this private academic institution was featured on the U.S. News and World Report's list of Best Online Bachelor's Programs. Peirce provides six online undergraduate degrees in fields such as information technology, healthcare and criminal justice. Peirce has built extensive inroads with national corporate communities, including AETNA, Subaru, UPS and Cigna. In an effort to help students succeed, all student services offered by Peirce College are available to online students.
Robert Morris University ― Moon Township, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $16,923
RMU offers 10 online bachelor's degree tracks, including cyber forensics, health services administration and psychology. This college divides its online department across two teams: an Instructional Design Team that helps faculty members tailor courses to meet online students' needs and an Online Student Services Team that is dedicated to registration and degree completion support. The U.S. News and World Report ranked RMU #34 among the top colleges for veterans.
Temple University ― Philadelphia, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $18,114
The Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) is the solitary degree option offered in an online format at Temple University, though the program allows students to choose from four majors: accounting, business management, legal studies and marketing. Prospective students can immerse themselves in sample video lectures to see if this degree track is a right fit. The Fox School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Temple has been ranked among the top 20 colleges in the nation by the Financial Times.
Lock Haven University ― Lock Haven, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $18,552
The only online undergraduate degree option at Lock Haven University, a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, is open to licensed RNs who want to deepen their knowledge of the healthcare field. Part-time and full-time students will cover topics like critical care, nursing research and informatics during the BSN program, which can be completed in two to five years. This program, which strives to meet the needs of students and the professional standards of the state, is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN).
Gannon University ― Erie, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $18,552
This college offers a single online undergraduate option: the RN to BSN degree. Enrolled students might be able to earn class credits for certain work experiences as RNs. This Catholic institution was ranked #9 on U.S. News and World Report's list of Best Value Schools. The online faculty for the RN to BSN program are all professionals who hold at least a master's degree in nursing. The RN to BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Mount Aloysius College ― Cresson, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $20,930
The online bachelor's degree programs ― the RN to BSN degree and the business administration degree completion ― offered at Mount Aloysius College are designed for individuals who already have some college experience (at least 60 credits) or are registered nurses. The smaller student to faculty ratio of thirteen to one makes it easier for students to get individualized attention from their professors. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked this private college #38 on its list of top Regional Colleges (North).
Keystone College ― La Plume Township, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $22,400
Keystone offers two undergraduate degree programs completely online: business and accounting. Established in 1868, this co-ed, private school prides itself for being the oldest college in Northeast Pennsylvania. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Keystone College as #13 on its list of Best Colleges for Veterans and #38 on its Regional Colleges (North) list. Keystone provides several resources specifically for the success of the school's online students, including links to academic advising, tutoring services and school counselors who are available to speak with students over the phone.
Eastern University ― St. Davids, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $23,361
Prospective students of this Christian academic institution have a choice of three online bachelor's degree programs: youth ministry leadership, organizational leadership and business administration. The degree in youth ministries has four required courses in which students must participate in person, making this a blended program, though the majority of courses are fully online. This college has appeared on the U.S. News and World Report list for Best Online Bachelor's Programs. EU's undergraduate programs have also been praised by the Examples of Excelencia Awards hosted by Esperanza College.
La Roche College ― Pittsburgh, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $25,500
Students enrolled at La Roche have the opportunity to pursue four online undergraduate degree programs in the fields of criminal justice, nursing, medical imaging and administrative development using the Blackboard digital learning environment. Online students have access to their own dedicated student services resources, such as registration procedures, a digital bookstore, a help desk and a staff of student advisors. The U.S. News and World Report distinguishes La Roche as #33 on its list Regional Colleges (North) and #10 on its Best Colleges for Veterans list.
Pennsylvania College of Technology ― Williamsport, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $33,700
There are over 870 students enrolled annually in distance learning programs at this academic institution, which is an affiliate of Penn State. Penn College offers six undergraduate programs online, covering subjects such as dental hygiene, applied management and applied health studies. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Penn College as #8 on a list of Top Public Schools and #9 on a list of Best Colleges for Veterans.
Chatham University ― Pittsburgh, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $35,208
Students interested in this extremely small private college have three options for online undergraduate degrees: two completion programs (psychology and business administration) and an RN-to-BSN track. The degree completion programs require students to have at least 30 credits of postsecondary work before applying. Chatham appeared on The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for three years in a row due to its dedication to civic assistance. Chatham appears on the best Regional University (North) and the Best Online Bachelor's Programs lists compiled by the U.S. News and World Report.
Most Affordable 2-Year Online Programs in Pennsylvania
Two-year colleges haven't been exempt from the drastic rise in tuition costs impacting the U.S. Data published by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that tuition at two-year institutions rose from $5,986 to $9,308 annually between 1981 and 2011. While these annual costs are significantly lower than the tuition you might find at a four-year institution, prospective students should carefully consider associate degree and certificate expenses, especially if they plan to transfer into a bachelor's degree program at a later date or to take out student loans at some point.
The institutions listed below have been selected because they offer the lowest tuition rates to Pennsylvania residents. Each listing is accompanied with details regarding two-year online degrees these schools provide, along with noteworthy rankings, awards, amenities, accreditation or student services. Unless otherwise noted, the schools on our list are accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Community College of Philadelphia ― Philadelphia, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $4,440
As the most inexpensive college on this list, CCP charges Philadelphia residents just $153 per credit hour. Students can choose from six associate degree programs that are offered exclusively online, including liberal arts, business administration, justice or accounting. CCP also offers a hybrid nursing degree program in which students participate in supervised learning experiences at hospitals and community health facilities. CCP is a recipient of the Charles Kennedy Equity Award for promoting academic and employment opportunities for diverse populations.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College ― Johnstown, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $4,798
The online associate degree options at PHCC are limited to two fields of academic study: general studies and business management. Courses are delivered through e-Racer, a digital system where students can find their assignments, course reading materials, quizzes and class discussion boards. The faculty, staff and administration at PHCC want their students to succeed, and they provide resources specific to online students to ensure this happens. Through the college's library, online students have access to the books and articles they need for their classes, as well as a 24-hour tutoring service.
Luzerne County Community College ― Nanticoke, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $4,920
Prospective students have six majors to choose from via LCCC's blended-format distance learning program, which delivers curricula that is 80% online. Associate degree tracks include criminal justice, accounting and office information technology. Through LCCC's Tackle program, qualifying students may present portfolios to demonstrate how their lifetime experiences fulfill the curricular requirements for their general education courses. Enrolled students also gain access to 44 academic publication databases, which can be viewed online through this community college's library system.
Harrisburg Area Community College ― Harrisburg, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $6,000
This community college has provided students with online learning opportunities for over a decade, a significant amount of history for this relatively new learning format. HACC offers transfer and career degrees that can be completed 100% online in subject areas such as business studies, philosophy and marketing. The schools provides an FAQ and resources specifically for online students to help them connect to the online interface, buy books and schedule their exams.
Community College of Allegheny County ― Pittsburgh, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $6,597
This community college is extremely well funded, raising over $40 million during its Imagine and Achieve campaign. According to CCAC, this is the highest amount of funds ever raised for a two-year college in the United States. This institution uses the Blackboard digital system to provide eight associate degree programs completely online, including computer forensics, software development and business management. CCAC notes when Blackboard will be down for scheduled maintenance and provides a way for students to receive alerts in their email when the system is not working outside of any predetermined dates.
Lehigh Carbon Community College ― North Whitehall Township, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $6,780
Prospective students who wish to obtain a two-year degree completely online have eight majors to choose from, including early childhood education, special education and accounting. LCCC also offers five mixed-format degree options, with 80% or more of the classes hosted online. Through the school's FAQ of online education and its Distance Education Office, students interested in LCCC are given the assistance and resources needed to be successful. There is also a list of software and programs often required by online classes.
Montgomery County Community College ― Whitpain Township, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $6,888
This two-year college is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Leah Meyer Austin Award, which recognizes institutional improvements and its fourth consecutive Military Friendly School Award. Prospective MCCC virtual campus students can choose from three online associate degree tracks: business administration, liberal studies or criminal justice. The community college provides a number of resources for those interested in their online degrees, including academic advising, financial aid information, tutoring services and a career coach tool to help students find employment after graduation.
Bucks County Community College ― Newtown, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $7,394
Compared to other community colleges on this list, Bucks County provides one of the most extensive selections of associate programs available completely online. The array of 15 degree options includes academic topics such as occupational studies, mathematics and computer science. In its efforts to help students succeed, BCCC provides support services that can be accessed online; several of these services, including the library and the tutoring center, can be used 24-hours per day, every day.
Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science Inc. ― Pittsburgh, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $7,440
Future funeral service providers can earn a professional diploma or associate degree through mixed-format distance programs. Due to various states' embalming requirements, students may need to complete some assignments at the PIMS Pittsburgh campus. In order to complete required clinical assignments, students can elect to work at a local funeral home or at the PIMS campus. To help prospective students determine if this school is right for them, PIMS put together an FAQ to address common concerns. PIMS is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).
Northampton Community College ― Bethlehem, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $8,400
According to Northampton, 90% of their graduates report they have gained employment in a relevant or desired field within a year of completing school. Ten associate degree programs can be completed purely online, and eight degrees can be earned in a blended format that combines online and campus-based learning. Online students at NCC have access to several resources and services, including the library, career services and academic advising. It is also possible for prospective students to take tutorials to familiarize themselves with Blackboard before they enroll in an online program.
Pennsylvania State World Campus ― College, PA
Annual in-state tuition: $13,516
Penn State is one of the most well-known and highly ranked institutions in the world. Job recruiters in a Wall Street Journal survey put it at the top of the list of schools, and the college ranked #14 among the top public schools in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Penn State's World Campus provides prospective students with an exhaustive selection of over 100 online undergraduate and graduate programs, including five associate degrees.