What qualifies a school to be among the best colleges and universities in Philadelphia? The criteria for everyone is different, of course. But we couldn’t let that stop us from at least trying to come up with an unofficial list.
We’ve gathered reviews from all the most reputable sources, combined that with our own first-hand, hometown knowledge from residents in our luxury Philadelphia apartments, and here is our list of the best Philadelphia colleges and universities.
Also known as UPenn or Penn, University of Pennsylvania is America’s first university. It was established in 1740 and is deeply woven into the fabric of the City of Brotherly Love. Part of the Ivy League, it’s a private research institution that boasts Benjamin Franklin as its president and founder.
UPenn is comprised of sixteen different schools, including School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Nursing, Perelman School of Medicine, Wharton School and Carey Law School (a.k.a. Penn Law).
University of Pennsylvania is situated on more than 1,000 urban acres, participates in NCAA Division I athletics and educates more than 20,000 students every year.
Situated in the midst of Philadelphia’s city streets, Drexel is a private research university offering over 70 undergraduate degrees, in addition to its 100 post-graduate programs.
More than 24,000 students are enrolled across three campuses: University City Campus (main), Center City Campus and Queen Lane College of Medicine Campus.
The Dragons participate in NCAA Division I athletics, while others participate in student radio, student government, Jewish life, club sports, performing arts and countless other activities.
A Pennsylvania state school, Temple is a public research university with approximately 40,000 students in attendance. Some of the most popular fields of study offered by Temple are medicine, pharmacy, engineering, law, podiatry, dentistry, architecture…with more than 500 degree programs across 20 locations.
Athletes at Temple play Division I NCAA sports, intramurals or club sports, while other students participate in a campus life rich with tradition and activities.
There are six Temple campuses across Pennsylvania (with the main campus in North Philadelphia, 1.5 miles from Center City), along with campuses in Japan and Rome.
Private, Jesuit, 60 undergraduate programs, 53 graduate programs and so much more describes St Joe’s, a university in Philadelphia that operates under the mantra “care for the whole person.”
Jesuit ideals that are exercised in all programs include ethics, service learning and social justice…while core curriculum includes subjects like philosophy, mathematics, religious studies, world languages, social studies and more.
City Avenue runs through the 114-acre main campus, where roughly 8,000 graduates and undergraduates are educated, and 20 NCAA sports teams participate in Division I athletics.
This private, Catholic research university is nestled on 254 suburban arboreal acres, just 15 minutes from the city of Philadelphia. The majority of its students are Catholic, priests lead the administration, and its campus is rich with reminders of its Order of Saint Augustine heritage.
Villanova has earned the distinction of #1 Best Masters University (Northern Region) by U.S. News and World Report. It has also received awards for its MBA program, engineering school, The Villanova School of Business and Villanova University School of Law.
The Wildcats compete in NCAA Division I athletics, and 96% of student-athletes graduate. Students also enjoy an active Greek life (with 30% of the student body belonging to a fraternity or sorority), a vibrant student government, and involvement in charity and community service.
This private school specializes in health-related studies and holds the distinction of being the first pharmacy college in The United States. It now offers more than 30 programs through the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, and Samson College of Health Sciences.
Its West Philadelphia, University City, 24-acre urban campus is surrounded by greenery, bike trails, The Woodlands and Clark Park.
Just three miles northwest of the city, Haverford College can be found on 216 suburban acres, within the affluent Haverford community. 99% of students live on campus, amid more than 50 Quaker-inspired stone buildings and Haverford’s own arboretum.
Haverford College is an undergraduate liberal arts school, founded in 1833 by Quakers. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled, earning BA and BS degrees in social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and 28 other majors. Students may also enroll in classes at Swarthmore College and Bryn Mawr College.
This small, private college is just half an hour away from Center City Philadelphia. Despite its liberal-arts status, it also offers an engineering program—along with studies in cognitive science, interpretation theory, peace and conflict studies…and 36 more. Its academic program is unique in that Honors students may take double-credit seminars (starting junior year).
Its small student population (1,600) enjoys an 8:1 student-instructor ratio, and 90% of those students go on to graduate school. Students also take advantage of a consortium that allows them to register for classes at University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College.
Just a short drive southwest from Philadelphia along the Delaware River, past the airport, you’ll find Widener University’s 106-acre urban main campus. With a history as a military school, Widener educates nearly 7,000 students every year (half undergrad, half graduates), across its four campuses. Those students earn associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in a liberal arts curriculum.
Widener is one of only fourteen universities in the U.S. to receive the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Presidential award. Students enjoy more than 100 clubs, an active fraternity and sorority scene, and involvement with Project Pericles, an organization addressing civic apathy.
Bryn Mawr College is part of the Tri-College Consortium, meaning students may also register for classes at Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges. This all-female, private, liberal arts learning institution is home to under 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
“Bryn Mawr” means “large hill” in Welsh. The campus was designed by landscapers, is designated as an arboretum and has been named one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses by Travel & Leisure magazine.
Most students at Bryn Maw are enrolled in the Arts and Sciences Program, seeking bachelor’s degrees.
Philadelphia has the Best Colleges and Universities
Secondary education opportunities in the Philadelphia area are not only abundant, they are of the highest quality and widest selection. Research colleges, private universities, religious institutions, state schools, consortiums…the list goes on and on.
The ten colleges and universities we’ve presented here are by no means all you have to choose from. There’s also Neumann University, Jefferson, La Salle, University of the Arts and so many more.
No matter where you choose to earn your degree, when you decide to attend a college or university in Philadelphia, you will also get the history, culture, arts, social life, entertainment, shopping, dining and diversity that Philly’s known for. You can choose to immerse yourself in metropolitan life. Or, maybe a quieter, suburban campus is more your style. Either way, Philadelphia has a college or university that’s perfect for you!