The Best Colleges & Universities in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia area is known for its vibrant, active, and thriving student population. Students from across the Northeast, and the entire country, flock to the “City of Brotherly Love” in the fall, ready to attend one of the area’s award-winning academic institutions.
These stats contribute to Philadelphia’s standing as the fifth-most populated college town in the world, surpassed only by New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.
And it’s not just about sheer size. Philadelphia offers exceptional opportunities, activities, and amenities for students, including Philly Tech Week, The Franklin Institute, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 54 free public libraries located throughout the city, and 14 Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in the area.
There’s no question that attending one of the many highly-regarded Philadelphia area colleges is an intelligent choice. The challenge, however, comes when students must narrow down their options and select one institution in which to enroll.
To assist parents and potential students with this difficult decision, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the top Philadelphia colleges and discussing the unique, high-profile features each school has to offer.
Of all the colleges in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania (referred to as “Penn” by staff and students) is arguably the most well-known. Approximately 22,000 students attended Penn in 2018, a marginal number when you consider that the university typically received around 50,000 enrollment applications per year. But don’t be discouraged, those who are accepted benefit from 300+ campus clubs, a world-class recreation facility, and a 94 percent post-graduate employment rate. Oh, and last but not least, Penn has served as a launching point for some of America’s most prominent innovators and academic achievers, including Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Leonard Lauder, Naom Chomsky, and Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Swarthmore College is a smaller, private institute with a far-reaching reputation. It is one of the leading liberal arts colleges in Philadelphia and has received much acclaim for its communal, collaborative approach to education. Students are also drawn to Swarthmore for its widely-respected Honors Program, where students think through ideas together in seminars, pursue a wide range of special projects, and are then evaluated via written and oral exams administered by external examiners. This method provides students with real-world, individualized feedback on their performance from esteemed professionals.
If you are interested in Philadelphia colleges and university programs where class sizes are small, where you’ll be taught by actual academic scholars who have obtained the highest degree in their field, and where you’ll gain a better chance of being accepted into law school, medical school, or other Ivy League programs, Haverford College is for you. Haverford is another of the most prominent liberal arts colleges in Philadelphia, and the faculty there go above and beyond to ensure students find meaningful work upon graduation. Check out their Center for Career and Professional Learning for more information about how they support and empower students seeking employment. If you’re interested in real estate near the college, be sure to visit our page featuring homes for sale in Haverford.
Temple stands out from other universities in Philadelphia due to the fact that it is a public research institute — meaning research is a core component of Temple’s mission. In fact, Temple University received the R1 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and it is one of the most active research universities in the nation. Still not impressed? What if we told you that Companies formed based on Temple discoveries account for $397 million in investments, 106 active jobs, and 39 startup companies? Or that two Nobel Prize winners attended Temple University? These are just a few of the achievements Temple has to its name.
If you’re open to colleges near Philadelphia, PA that aren’t located directly in the heart of the city, Bryn Mawr College (BMC) is an excellent choice. Founded in 1885, this historic institute played a pivotal role in the academic advancement of women. And the college hasn’t deviated from its original mission — it is still a women’s college today, although a small portion of the student population is male (less than 5 percent). Employment rates are also impressive for BMC students — 86 percent of the 2016 class went on to find relevant employment or continue their education in a Master’s program. The area in general is also considered an excellent place to live and homes for sale in Bryn Mawr are always in high demand.
There is a long list of reasons why Villanova is consistently named one of the best colleges in Philadelphia. To start, the Villanova School of Business was placed at #1 on Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2016 list of best undergraduate business schools. Then there’s the fact that it has a 96.9 percent career outcomes rate— making it one of the valuable education Pennsylvania has to offer. And, of course, the school’s nationally-acclaimed basketball team has won 21 NCAA team national championships and 109 conference championships. But if you ask us, what really sets Villanova apart from the rest of the Philadelphia colleges and universities on this list is how they encourage their students to use their knowledge, skills and compassion to better the world around them.
Drexel is known for being one of the few colleges around Philadelphia that focuses heavily on cooperative education. Through the school’s co-op program, students can choose from more than 1,500 employers in 31 states and 38 countries (or find a potential employer on their own). This unique approach allows students to gain hands-on experience in their field of choice. Drexel is also home to the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship—the nation's first independent school of entrepreneurship to offer degrees, with more than 20 entrepreneurship courses for students to choose from. If you want to gain employment after graduation at an even higher salary, Drexel is likely the choice for you.
Are you interested in moving to the Main Line area so your children can eventually attend one of these prestigious colleges in Philadelphia? Our agents have extensive local knowledge and can help you find your ideal property. Contact us today to learn more!
Janis Peterson, REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP
Main Line Homes Luxury Real Estate Agent