Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Most Affordable Online Colleges

COLLEGE FINDER

Article Sources

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  • Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  • At least 1 percent of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  • "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources :

  1. A Stronger Pennsylvania Through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, 2014, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/downloads/pdfs/pennsylvania-brief-2014.pdf
  2. Best Online Programs, U.S. News & World Report, 2014, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education
  3. California University of Pennsylvania, http://www.calu.edu/academics/online-programs/
  4. Cynthia Golden, Director Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education, University of Pittsburgh, Interview with the author March 2015.
  5. Distance Education Providers, Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/distance_education_providers/21555
  6. Educational Attainment, 2012 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau, 2012, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_S1501&prodType=table
  7. High-Priority Occupations, Department of Labor & Industry, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2014, https://cew.georgetown.edu/jobs2018
  8. Lehigh Carbon Community College, http://www.lccc.edu/academics/lccc-onlineTuition/year
  9. Lock Haven University, http://www.ecampus.lhup.edu/news.html
  10. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_37964.htm
  11. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Division, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38300.htm
  12. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Division, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_10900.htm
  13. May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Pennsylvania, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm#00-0000
  14. Middle States Commission on Higher Education, http://www.msche.org/
  15. Online & Blended Courses, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, http://www.ship.edu/Online/
  16. Online Campus, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, http://www.pennhighlands.edu/programs-services/online-programs
  17. Online classes and distance learning, Westmoreland County Community College, https://wccc.edu/pages/future-students/admissions/online-classes-and-distance-learning/
  18. Online Learning, Northampton County Area Community College, https://www.northampton.edu/early-childhood-education/program-options/online-learning.htm
  19. Online Programs and Courses, Clarion University, http://www.clarion.edu/locations/clarion-online/programs-and-courses-offered/index.html
  20. Search Educational Entities, Education Names and Addresses (EDNA), Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.edna.ed.state.pa.us/Screens/wfSearchEntity.aspx
  21. Stanley Braverman, Esq., MBA, Assistant Provost, La Salle University Online, Interview with the author March 2015
  22. What is online learning?, Butler Community College, http://www.butlercc.edu/info/200978/butler-online/301/online-course-format
  23. Martha M Dohner Memorial Scholarship, AAUW Harrisburg, Accessed September 2016, http://harrisburg-pa.aauw.net/scholarships
  24. PATH Program Grant, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/other-educational-aid/path.shtml
  25. The Pennsylvania National Guard Education Assistance Program, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/aid-for-military-national-guard/national-guard-eap.shtml
  26. Pennsylvania State Grant Program, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/state-grant-program/
  27. PHEAA-AES, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/tools-resources/account-access/
  28. The Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship, Accessed September 2016, http://pittsburghpromise.org/
  29. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/loan-forgiveness/index.shtml
  30. Ready to Succeed Scholarship (RTSS), Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Accessed September 2016, http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/rtss/index.shtml
  31. Saint Joseph's University, accessed April 27, 2018, https://www.sju.edu/
  32. Robert Morris University, accessed April 27, 2018, http://www.rmu.edu/
  33. Wilkes University, accessed April 27, 2018, https://www.wilkes.edu/
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Pennsylvania is a state of firsts: the first baseball stadium was built at Hershey in 1909, and the State of Pennsylvania was the first to list the URL for its state web site on license plates. Pennsylvania's first college, The University of Pennsylvania, predates the Declaration of Independence, and many of the notable colleges and universities in Pennsylvania were among the first in the country to offer online degree programs as well for distance learners.

Considering how quickly Pennsylvania recognized the value of distance education, it's probably no surprise to learn that online learners have many different options for online study in Pennsylvania:

  • The Penn State system has 24 campuses located throughout the state, and it serves its many distance learners through Penn State World Campus. The World Campus opened in 1998 and offers more than 125 online degree programs.
  • The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education comprises 14 universities and serves more than 105,000 students each year.
  • The largest system of higher education in the state is the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Pennsylvania. This organization represents 89 private colleges and universities, including some of the most respected institutions in the state, such as Carnegie Mellon University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and many more.

But with so many colleges and universities available, how are students supposed to decide which one is best for them? As it happens, we may be able to help with that.

Best Online Colleges in Pennsylvania for 2018-19

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Using a wide range of data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, we have created a ranking of the best online colleges in Pennsylvania to help students narrow down their choices. We analyzed that data using our proprietary methodology (more details on that at the bottom of this page) and now we present to you our list of the best online colleges in Pennsylvania, as well as a Top Colleges Tool you can use to create your own online college rankings.

1

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$17,900
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
33%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
80
School Type
4-year

As of 2018, the main University Park campus is the largest campus in the Penn State system -- and yet, Pennsylvania State University manages to teach even more students than can fit on its campuses, by utilizing online learning. Through Penn State World Campus, PSU students have a plethora of online graduate and undergraduate degree programs at their fingertips, as well as multiple online certificate programs and optional minors.

The university also has a dedicated student services department for World Campus students to help them through their academic journey. Student support services include advising, career counseling, writing help, and mathematics tutoring. Online technical and advising staff work extended hours to meet the variable needs of online students.

2

Drexel University, Philadelphia

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$51,030
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
39%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
54
School Type
4-year

Drexel University is a large private university that has been offering online programs for its students' convenience since 1996. Students who study through Drexel University Online are known as "Digital Dragons," after the university's team mascot. Working adults considering going back to school should check to see if their workplace is partnered with Drexel U; employees of partnered organizations may be eligible for a reduced rate on their tuition and fees.

Drexel University Online offers a variety of bachelor's degree programs and dozens of master's degree programs. These range from programs in education, nursing or criminal justice to more specialized programs in biomedicine and law, television management or sport coaching leadership.

3

California University of Pennsylvania

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,339
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
66%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30
School Type
4-year

Despite its name, California University of Pennsylvania is a state-run university located about a half-hour south of Pittsburgh. Cal U Global Online offers a wide selection of fully online associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Subjects include performance enhancement and injury prevention, homeland security, and cybersecurity, among many others.

Online student services at Cal U range from academic advising, to internship placement, to career advising. The school is particularly receptive to veterans: military members who enroll in 100 percent online classes may be eligible for reduced tuition, and the university has dedicated personnel to help military members transfer their college credits.

4

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,287
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
26
School Type
4-year

At the state-run Clarion University's main campus in the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania, Clarion Online offers many degree paths for distance learners. Several of the university's online bachelor's and master's degree programs feature options for specializations and minors; a series of certificate programs and specialty programs present further options.

The university has numerous tools to help online students with their education, including online orientation, online library access for research, career services and health and wellness resources. In addition, Clarion Online offers technological support, tutoring sessions (offered either as one-on-one instruction or small group format) and an online writing center.

5

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,862
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
28%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
11
School Type
4-year

Slippery Rock University opened its doors in 1889 as a school for teachers, dedicated to helping students shape their own "Rock Solid Future." Having evolved into a public university, SRU offers online degree-completion programs, as well as online master's and doctoral programs designed for working professionals. Online students enjoy the same student services as on-campus students, including assistance with registration, academic advising, technical guidance, and career education.

SRU Online has some fascinating programs to its name, including leadership studies, philanthropy and non-profit management, park and resource management, and data analytics. However, its main focus is on its bevy of master's degree options in education and special education.

6

Saint Joseph's University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$43,020
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
43%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
20
School Type
4-year

Formed as Saint Joseph's College in 1851, this institution was elevated to the level of university in 1978, allowing it to expand its academic offerings to include graduate-level programs. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Saint Joseph's University began to attract more students from outside Pennsylvania, which encouraged the school to begin offering online programs.

Online undergraduate students can diversify their studies with the Bachelor of Liberal Studies in general studies degree program, while graduate students can pursue various online master's degree programs in criminal justice, education, health care and more. SJU's students are able to schedule career counseling appointments with the Saint Joseph's Career Development Center, and can also use their school email to sign up for the online job search database Handshake.

Accreditation:

  • Accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

5600 City Ave.,
Philadelphia, PA 19131
 
7

Robert Morris University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$28,250
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
33%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
22
School Type
4-year

Robert Morris University, the official higher education partner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, is a private, suburban university that prides itself on the experiential learning, internship and networking offerings it creates for its students, be they on- or off-campus.

Online students at RMU receive the same level of support that on-campus students enjoy, with access to student counselors, career advisers, wellness counselors, financial aid counselors and 24-hour technology support. The university's online offerings include bachelor's, master's and certificate programs in a variety of subjects, as well as a small handful of online doctoral degree programs, such as the Ph.D. program in instructional management and leadership or the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation:

  • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

6001 University Blvd.,
Moon Township, PA 15108
 
8

Duquesne University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$35,062
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17
School Type
4-year

Duquesne University is a private Catholic university founded in 1878 by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. As of August 2018, Duquesne is the only Spiritan-based institution of higher education in the U.S.

Students enrolled in the Duquesne Online Campus can access a range of student support services, including academic advising, technical help, the University Writing Center and Michael J. Weber Learning Skills Center, and more. Upon enrollment, online Duquesne students are assigned an academic adviser who can help with programs, registration and other questions.

9

Clarks Summit University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$22,510
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
50%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
15
School Type
4-year

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania near Scranton, Clarks Summit University is a small private Baptist institute made up of the university and the Baptist Bible Seminary. Most online classes at the university run in eight-week sessions and have five starting dates each year: August, October, January, March and May.

CSU focuses on Bible-centered programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as degree-completion programs. The university offers an online associate degree program in integrated studies with a few different concentrations, such as addictions counseling and Christian ministries; multiple bachelor's degree and bachelor's degree-completion programs; and master's degree programs, with other graduate degree programs available from Baptist Bible Seminary.

10

Wilkes University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$33,568
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
55%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13
School Type
4-year

In 1933, Bucknell University established a junior college in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 1947, this junior college achieved independence from Bucknell, becoming an independent, nondenominational four-year institution, and it took on its own name -- Wilkes University -- in 1990.

Wilkes offers online programs in several fields of study -- i.e. education, nursing, business and creative writing -- and at multiple degree levels, from an accelerated bachelor's program in business administration to a series of post-graduate certificate programs in nursing. Prospective students who are curious about Wilkes may wish to attend an online Wilkes University Information Session, where students can discuss academic programs, student services and financial aid with faculty and staff.

Accreditation:

  • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

84 West South St.,
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
 

Affordable Online Colleges in Pennsylvania for 2018

The following list names schools in Pennsylvania that offer low tuition costs. The schools were chosen based on their affordability by comparing the in-state, campus-based tuition they reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

If you would like to see a list of Pennsylvania schools ranked by quality, as well as other factors, see the Top Colleges Tool.

Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

For money-conscious students, a community college can be a good option. These schools can allow students the opportunity to earn an associate degree or earn credits to transfer to a four-year university. The schools below are a few of the most affordable two-year colleges in the state of Pennsylvania.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
Lehigh Carbon Community College$7,17029%172-year
Community College of Allegheny County$7,52033%232-year
Butler County Community College$7,71025%42-year
Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg$7,78534%272-year
Bucks County Community College$7,89830%192-year

Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

The following five schools are some of the most affordable four-year schools out of the 115 four-year schools in Pennsylvania ranked in this study.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
West Chester University of Pennsylvania$9,72012%74-year
University of Phoenix-Pennsylvania$9,84043%174-year
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania$9,86228%114-year
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania$9,96811%34-year
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania$10,07430%134-year

College Accreditation in Pennsylvania

It's vital that students choose a college that has been accredited by an organization recognized by the Department of Education. Accreditation means students' degrees meet common educational standards and therefore are valid.

Students attending online colleges in Pennsylvania want to ensure their school is accredited by the main accrediting body for the state's major schools systems:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

The MSCHE accredits prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, as well as the Penn State system and the state's many smaller community and technical colleges. Students can check with the Department of Education to see how their university is accredited.

School Interviews

Colleges around the country are improving their delivery of online programs by making distance education more interactive and integrating new technologies. Below we’ve interviewed some online educators and distance education coordinators in Pennsylvania to learn more about how online education is changing in the state. Read on to hear their advice for online students.

Cynthia Golden
If I had to give advice to a student interested in an online program, I'd say that you will succeed if you are organized, disciplined and motivated.

Cynthia Golden

Director Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education

University of Pittsburgh

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at The University of Pittsburgh?

The University of Pittsburgh's online programs offer graduate professional programs of the same quality, taught by the same faculty, with the same level of support services as their counterparts offered to resident students enrolled on the Pittsburgh campus. Right now, there are graduate programs offered or planned in Education, Nursing, Gerontology, Information Sciences, Engineering, Public and International Affairs, and Law. More are in the works. In 2013, The U.S. News & World Report ranked Pitt ninth in graduate online nursing education. This year, our MLIS program was ranked No. 8 by TheBestSchools.Org. In addition, Pitt Online programs have received the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award four times.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

There are many advantages to studying in an online degree program. Students often pursue this path for convenience and ease of scheduling, or to be able to take advantage of an outstanding institution that is not in proximity to their home. If I had to give advice to a student interested in an online program, I'd say that you will succeed if you are organized, disciplined and motivated. Comfort with technology is a must. And don't be afraid to reach out to your professors and fellow students and initiate conversations and contact. There will be many opportunities and mechanisms available to do so, but it is up to you. If you want the after-class contact that you might have on a campus, you have to initiate it. You won't bump into people in the halls. That being said, everyone is in the same situation, and the interaction is an important part of the learning experience, so people are usually willing and eager to engage online.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

I think that we will continue to see the world of online learning evolve and more and more lifelong learners take advantage of the convenience afforded by online learning environments. The rapid rise of the MOOCs is evidence that there is interest in high-quality online education. Online degree programs, particularly at the master's level, will continue to grow as people balance work and family life while continuing their professional development and education.

I also think we will see more "blended" learning taking place — combining the best practices of both the online and face-to-face environments. Colleges and universities are designing more and more courses that take advantage of sophisticated multimedia and learning technologies to supplement the time that the faculty and the learners spend together.


 Stanley Braverman, Esq., MBA
Online courses are especially well suited for working adults wishing to complete an undergraduate degree or earn a graduate degree on their own time.

Stanley Braverman, Esq., MBA

Assistant Provost

La Salle University Online

Q. Can you describe the types of online programs offered at LaSalle.

La Salle has increased its online presence from its initial offerings of Pre-Speech Language Pathology and Instructional Technology Management. We now have over a dozen high-quality online certificate and degree programs, such as Economic Crime Forensics, Human Capital Development and Nonprofit Leadership. Several new innovative graduate-level programs coming out next year will expand our online brand. We are very selective in launching new online programming to be certain it meets our mission of reaching under-served communities and is within our academic expertise. Most of our programs target working adults with demanding family and professional responsibilities. Our largest fully online program is the Nursing RN to BSN.

Q. What advice do you give students thinking about an online degree program?

Once you have decided what type of program best suits your interests, explore several different colleges offering the same program to find what works for you. Online offerings vary significantly among colleges. Is the program presented asynchronously any time or any place, or synchronously, with required virtual classroom attendance? Review a course syllabus to get a true understanding of the time commitment needed to successfully complete an online course. Do not expect the course to be less challenging than a traditional face-to-face course.

Q. What changes are we likely to see in online classes in coming years?

One of the biggest online issues for colleges is the State Authorization of Out-of-State Institutions. States may have the ability to regulate non-state institutions from offering courses in their state. This will likely result in many smaller and mid-sized colleges deciding not to offer online courses in certain states, making online programming regional instead of national. It is easy to anticipate that the average age of the online learner will increase. Online courses are especially well suited for working adults wishing to complete an undergraduate degree or earn a graduate degree on their own time. As technology continues to advance, course administration and learner participation also continue to improve, making enhanced online courses less costly to produce. Online participation will grow well beyond the current estimate of one in four college students having completed at least one online course.

Financial Aid Resources in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is the organization that provides student financial aid assistance to millions of Pennsylvanians. Services include loan guaranty, loan servicing and financial aid processing. You can see a list of some of the scholarships, grants and loans offered in Pennsylvania below:

Pennsylvania Scholarships

Most of the Pennsylvania organizations that offer scholarships do so on a regional basis. PHEAA offers a list of organizations that offer scholarship opportunities, organized by county. Here are three scholarship opportunities, one that is not geographically-specific and two that are:

1.C.H. Burgess Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicant must be an incoming freshman student with financial need. Preference given to applicants who reside in Luzerne County.
Award Amount
$1,500
Application Deadline
February 16 (FAFSA deadline); March 1 (nomination form)
Renewable
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
2.Joseph Mowad Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicant must be a full-time incoming freshman student from Northumberland, Snyder, or Union Counties. Financial need required.
Award Amount
$1,690
Application Deadline
February 16 (FAFSA deadline); March 1 (nomination form)
Renewable
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
3.Jonathan Lax Scholarship for Gay Men
Type : Scholarship
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.
Award Amount
$20,000
Application Deadline
February 1
Renewable
$5,000 recipient may re-apply; $20,000 recipient may only apply once.
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
4.Philadelphia Partnership Collaborative Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicant must be nominated by participating Philadelphia high schools. Contact guidance office.
Award Amount
$2,000
Application Deadline
None
Renewable
Recipient must maintain good academic standing and full-time status on the undergraduate level to retain award.
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL

Want to learn more about grant opportunities? Read through the Ultimate Guide to Grants.

Pennsylvania Loans

PHEAA conducts its own loan servicing operations under the name American Education Services (AES). PHEAA created an Account Access website through AES to help students better manage their loans online. Students can also borrow money for college through the federal government; more information on these opportunities is available through the PHEAA site.

For more on loans, go to the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Pennsylvania

  • PHEAA provides a list of funding opportunities in Pennsylvania, including information on state grant programs, work-study opportunities and funding for military members.

Featured Cities in Pennsylvania

Many online students live and work near large cities. Here are some of the largest cities or metro areas in Pennsylvania, as well as important facts on each. These data points, sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov), will help students know what they might expect to pay for rent or what salary they may earn depending on their highest-earned degree.

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area

Total Population

6,047,721

Median salary for high school grads

$31,683

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$55,930

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

29.1%

Median rent

$1,040

Fun Facts about Philadelphia

You need not be a history buff to know that Philadelphia played a significant role in the nation's history, both before and after its independence from England. Resident and visiting students can tour a number of historical sites and cathedrals, including the famous Liberty Bell. It also offers a myriad of cultural highlights, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a thriving zoo.

Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area

Total Population

2,354,926

Median salary for high school grads

$29,054

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$50,386

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

29.4%

Median rent

$749

Fun Facts about Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may be historically synonymous with steel, but the city actually holds a number of claims to fame. Known as the "City of Bridges," Pittsburgh is home to nearly 450 bridges, more than the city of Venice. It is also home to a number of world-famous art venues, including the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Phipps Conservatory.

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area

Total Population

830,737

Median salary for high school grads

$31,277

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$52,623

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

26.9%

Median rent

$961

Fun Facts about Allentown

Allentown is green, but not with envy: The region maintains over 2,000 acres of parkland, which, according to the city's official web site, is well above the national average. It also features a bustling, renovated downtown complete with two symphony orchestras, an opera house, an art museum and two theater companies. Visitors should be sure to visit Hamilton Street in particular, which serves as a cultural and business center.

 
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