best colleges in philadelphia

Editor’s PicksBrandRating
Best OverallUniversity of Pennsylvania4
Runner UpHaverford College4
Best ValueTemple University3.5
Best Student LifeSaint Joseph’s University3.5
Best AthleticsVillanova University3.5

Our Top Pick: University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania has a staggering graduation rate of 96 percent, but admittedly it’s difficult to get into. It’s a large school – which says even more about its graduation rate – but has a 6:1 student-faculty ratio. It has four undergraduate schools and 12 graduate schools, including dental medicine, engineering, law, education, nursing, veterinary, and design. U.S. News & World Report rank this university as No. 1 in the country for business programs.

Alongside academics is an equally impressive athletics and sports recreation department, providing students with competitive team sports, intramural sports, yoga and fitness classes, and sports clubs like cricket, ice skating, ping pong, and curling. The university has its own ice rink and state-of-the-art training centers.

The University of Pennsylvania has a long, deep history, but aims to be innovative and progressive. It offers numerous clubs and organizations, including an extensive Greek life. Whether you’re into politics or multicultural activities, the university is steeped in art, culture, and the community. Campus life includes the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, an art gallery, museum, arboretum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Benjamin Franklin founded the library, and recent upgrades have digitized content.

The University of Pennsylvania is roughly $57,750 per year for tuition and fees. However, with financial aid, the average cost is $24,000.

University of Pennsylvania Key Features:

  • Ranked No. 1 in business programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • Ivy League school
  • Division I athletics
  • Undergraduate enrollment is just over 10,000 students
  • Prolific Greek life with more than 50 fraternities and sororities

Haverford College is our runner up choice. Though it is a much smaller school than our top choice, Haverford also boasts a high graduation rate. But even though it’s small, students have the opportunity to take classes at neighboring colleges, as part of the four-college exchange program with Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania.

A smaller school means smaller class sizes and a more involved student-teacher experience. More than half of the faculty live on campus in order to work more closely with their students. Haverford College has numerous areas of study available, as well as accelerated graduate degree programs. Forbes ranked this college No. 7 for the happiest and most successful alumni.

Campus life offers an array of clubs and organizations to join, with 98 percent of students living on campus. Choose from intellectual gatherings, recreational sports, student government, art, culture, games, and nonprofits to fill out your calendar. Haverford College also has a myriad of events scheduled throughout the school year.

Yearly tuition and fees for this college are about $56,700, but after financial aid, the average is $26,600.

Haverford College Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 1,350 students
  • Campus is located on 200 acres
  • Four-college exchange participation
  • Division III athletics
  • Happy and successful alumni

Best Value College: Temple University

Best Value

Temple University

With a tuition less than half than that of other top colleges, Temple University has a large campus, hundreds of organizations, and Division I athletics.

The best value college in Philadelphia is Temple University. Though tuition is much less than our top two choices, Temple University does not lack in academics, student life, or athletics. The university is large and has 17 different schools to choose from. They also offer accelerated programs so you can earn your Bachelor’s and Master’s in a shorter amount of time. Likewise, if you’re a go-getter, they have dual degree programs.

Temple University is top rated for online MBA programs. They also offer many other graduate programs online. But if you’re looking for the campus life, choose from art, business, dentistry, education, engineering, law, medicine, pharmacy, or music and dance schools. You also have the opportunity to study abroad.

Student activities are abundant and include clubs, organizations, and events for those interested in art, education, politics, athletics, culture, religion, communication, and more. The school is involved in Division I for competitive team sports. There is no shortage of things to do, especially since Temple University is situated smack dab in the center of Philadelphia. But with all the campus has, you may never leave. The university even has its own food trucks.

Tuition and fees for a year at Temple University are around $19,750 for in-state students. After financial aid, however, the average price is $10,750.

Temple University Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment is roughly 30,000 students
  • Located in the center of Philadelphia
  • Top rated college for online MBA programs
  • Offers evening degree programs
  • 400-acre campus

Best College for Student Life: Saint Joseph’s University

Best Student Life

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University offers students a bustling campus life with sororities, fraternities, and 90 other student organizations on 115 acres.

Campus life at Saint Joseph’s University surpasses just academics. That’s why this school is our choice for the best college in Philadelphia for student life. Students at Saint Joseph’s get involved in the community, either through volunteering, Greek life, or ministry. It is also a Division I school for competitive team sports, and offers a wide selection of recreation, clubs, and activities.

If the Greek life is for you, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters make up 22 percent of the student population. Many of the men and women of Greek life are also Resident Assistants, Summer Scholars, APEX leaders, Collegiate Challenge Leaders, and athletes. And if the Greek life isn’t for you, there are numerous clubs and organizations to check out, including intramural and club sports. Apart from all things athletic, other organizations include improv, languages, music, nonprofits, and campus ministry.

But even though there are many things to do on campus, and it’s a short trip to downtown Philly, Saint Joseph’s is no slouch in the academics department. Earn a dual degree at what U.S. News & World Report has ranked No. 10 for the best regional university. Classes are on the small size and the student-teacher ratio is 11:1. With a few different schools to choose from, there is an opportunity for a wide range of classes.

Saint Joseph’s costs roughly $46,550 per year for tuition and fees, and about $34,000 after financial aid.

Saint Joseph’s University Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment is roughly 4,500 students
  • Private Catholic institution
  • Graduation rate is 82 percent
  • Division I athletics
  • Ranked No. 4 by U.S. News & World Report for best colleges for veterans