20 Best Deals on Small Colleges in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania is the center of some of the best and brightest academic opportunities, both on a national and global scale. Whether your preference is urban, rural, or somewhere in between, PA has a wealth of options to select from as you begin your higher education journey.

For those prospective students looking for a smaller student body and class sizes at a lower tuition cost, Pennsylvania’s top small college deals provide affordability without sacrificing quality in their offerings.

The following list is a ranking of the best small college deals in Texas. This selection of schools results from in-depth research on the most desirable features in an investment-worthy degree.


In ranking the top small colleges in Pennsylvania, points were given based on their affordability, faculty expertise, tuition return on investment, awards and published accolades, student-to-faculty ratio, alumni networking opportunities, and any additional distinctions that added additional value to the degree options.

These top 20 Pennsylvania colleges scored highest among approximately 100 schools; this initial pool had a net price of under $34,000 USD and a total student enrollment of below 8,000. The primary sources for this data included College Navigator, Niche, and Payscale.

The schools profiled below are ranked in order of points earned. In the event of a tie in points, the schools with the lower net price are ranked higher.

#20 – Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Lancaster Bible College

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 1,913
Net Price: $21,300

A Christ-centered liberal arts school, Lancaster Bible College combines challenging academics with an appreciation of a Christian identity. LBC grants degrees in over 30 undergraduate programs, some of which include arts and sciences, counseling and social work, health and physical education, Bible and theology, church and ministry leadership, and education. Should bachelor’s degree-holders want to advance their knowledge, graduate programs exist in divinity, Christian counseling and discipleship, and ministry, among others. Lancaster Bible College is one of the best college deals in Pennsylvania due to its low tuition and committed employment services as needed.

#19 – Cedar Crest College

Allentown, Pennsylvania


Cedar Crest College

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 1,591
Net Price: $18,500

Located in the quaint city of Allentown, Cedar Crest College is a highly affordable women’s liberal arts college. Academic opportunities at CCC span over fifty majors, some of which include fine arts, nursing science, business administration, communications, and environmental biology, among others. Additionally, Cedar Crest offers pre-professional programs in law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. One of the best small college deals in Pennsylvania, 98% of incoming students receive customized financial aid packages to meet individual need; recent surveys have determined a tuition return on investment of $167,000.

#18 – Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Millersville, Pennsylvania


Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 7,959
Net Price: $17,950

Millersville University is an enriching liberal arts opportunity and a top college deal in Pennsylvania. MU prides itself on individualized learning, well-rounded curriculum, and truly maximizing each student’s career potential. Millersville has both undergraduate and graduate programs in science and technology, arts and humanities, teaching, and more. This college has earned top rankings by the best in academic publications; these awards have been given for MU’s high return on investment, military-friendly practices, campus diversity, and community service outreach. The majority of Millersville graduates praise the college’s faculty expertise and availability of employment counseling services.

#17 – Albright College

Reading, Pennsylvania


Albright College

Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 2,267
Net Price: $24,971

Recently named one of the Northeast’s “Best Colleges” by the Princeton Review, Albright College has degree options for a broad spectrum of promising field interests. Among this institution’s most popular majors are business, biology, psychology, social sciences, visual art, and computer science. Albright has a consistent 78% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, and 100% of incoming students receive tailored financial aid packages. Graduates of this top Pennsylvania small college have shared positive ratings regarding the college’s campus camaraderie and faculty knowledgeability.

#16 – Chatham University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Chatham University

Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 2,224
Net Price: $21,066

Named one of the top 20 “Cool Schools” by Sierra Magazine, Chatham University has pioneered initiatives in academics and sustainable green campus living. One of the top small colleges in Pennsylvania, this institution has over 60 degree programs in business and communications, arts and humanities, health and lab sciences, and environmental sustainability. In an effort to maintain tuition affordability, Chatham offers a wide range of scholarships for first year, transfer, and international students. Additionally, CU has worked with the Department of Veteran Affairs in developing the “Yellow Ribbon Program” which provides tuition and fee coverage for post-9/11 servicemen and women.

#15 – Geneva College

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania


Geneva College

Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 1,714
Net Price: $21,018

Nationally recognized for its affordability and high-quality academics, Geneva College is a great choice for students seeking a Christ-centered education. GC’s undergraduate and graduate degrees include student ministry, engineering, education, biology, business, psychology, counseling, and more. This college celebrates hands-on learning opportunities, and student satisfaction surveys have indicated that this is one of the biggest attractions of the Geneva experience. According to recent statistics, Geneva graduates have a $211,000 tuition return on investment, keeping it among the best small college deals in Pennsylvania.

#14 – Susquehanna University

Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania


Susquehanna University

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 2,199
Net Price: $27,783

A private liberal arts school in central Pennsylvania, Susquehanna University welcomes a diverse student body from 35 states and seventeen countries. SU bases its academic curriculum on five primary components: richness of thought, intellectual skills, connection, the natural world, and human interactions. Susquehanna has a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, with 92% of professors holding the highest degrees in their fields. Widely considered a top Pennsylvania college deal, SU’s satisfaction surveys have shown high marks regarding alumni network, career service programs, manageability of workload, and stress-free financial aid assistance.

#13 – Allegheny College

Meadville, Pennsylvania


Allegheny College

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,931
Net Price: $26,312

For over 200 years, Allegheny College has been a leading college in developing graduates who are creative, analytical thinkers. U.S. News & World Report has recently ranked Allegheny as a top “Up-and-Comer” for its innovative approach to education and campus community. In order to optimize one’s degree potential, AC encourages students to design their own major and minor combinations. According to recent statistics, Allegheny degree-holders are accepted to top graduate schools at a rate twice the national average. Allegheny College has an 89% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, 80% overall graduation rate, and 80% of surveyed students expressed high satisfaction with career placement services.

#12 – York College

York, Pennsylvania


York College

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 4,739
Net Price: $21,770

Founded in 1787, York College is an affordable, top-notch education with an average class size of less than 20 students. Among its over 50 degree options, York has proven especially popular for those seeking careers in health sciences, law enforcement, sports management, education, or communications-related professions. 86% of York graduates find employment in their career of choice, and a reported $294,000 tuition return on investment makes this school one of Pennsylvania’s best small college deals. York College has an expansive academic services center that assists those seeking advisement in various capacities.

#11 – Ursinus College

Collegeville, Pennsylvania


Ursinus College

Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 1,643
Net Price: $29,205

A liberal arts college with a distinguished history, Ursinus College has been named among Loren Pope’s Colleges that Change Lives and U.S. News & World Report’s “Up and Coming” schools. This college emphasizes interdisciplinary, personalized degree tracks that ensure a bright future for its graduates. Ursinus has over 60 available majors, the most popular of which include business, biology, English, and economics. This college boasts a $255,000 return on investment and 78% overall graduation rate, placing it among the top small colleges in Pennsylvania.

#10 – Washington and Jefferson College

Washington, Pennsylvania


Washington and Jefferson College

Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 1,350
Net Price: $27,315

Just south of Pittsburgh, Washington & Jefferson College is a private liberal arts school with unique academic offerings. This institution attracts scholar-level faculty, with 98% of tenure-track professors holding doctorate degrees in their respective fields. W&J has a particularly strong science program, along with non-traditional degrees in conflict and resolution studies, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and professional writing. A top Pennsylvania college, Washington & Jefferson is able to offer extensive financial aid assistance to 98% of its students. W&J college has high overall student satisfaction ratings and an average 83% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate.

#9 – Gannon University

Erie, Pennsylvania


Gannon University

Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 4,416
Net Price: $21,314

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as an “America’s Best College,” Gannon University is Catholic-based college that strives to turn its students into ethical global citizens. This institution’s academic offerings are divided into three primary divisions that include education and social sciences, business administration, health professions and sciences, and humanities. GU has an 84% freshman to sophomore retention rate and $292,000 tuition return on investment. Gannon awards over $31 million in financial aid annually, making it one of the best college deals in Pennsylvania.

#8 – La Salle University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


La Salle University

Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 5,683
Net Price: $25,890

A private, Roman Catholic university in central Philadelphia, La Salle University has a rich history of practical and ethical higher education. LSU encourages its students to become service-oriented citizens with strong roots in faith. La Salle has a wide spectrum of degree options in over 60 academic field areas; some of these concentrations include business administration, nursing and health sciences, arts and sciences, and communications. In order to maintain tuition affordability, this college offers generous financial aid packages to nearly 98% of its students. La Salle’s reported $276,000 return on investment additionally makes it one of the top small college deals in Pennsylvania.

#7 – Haverford College

Haverford, Pennsylvania


Haverford College

Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 1,233
Net Price: $21,056

Settled on 200 beautiful acres just outside Philadelphia, Haverford College is considered one of the most prestigious educational opportunities in the nation. Haverford admits a select 25% of applicants, ensuring an unwavering academic standard of excellence. HC maintains a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 98% of the full-time faculty have the highest possible degrees in their field. The most popular majors at Haverford are economics, biology, chemistry, political science, and psychology. Through a uniquely generous financial aid policy, Haverford is committed to remaining a top affordable college in Pennsylvania.

#6 – Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania


Swarthmore College

Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 1,581
Net Price: $21,580

Since 1864, Swarthmore College has remained a competitive liberal arts school with a proud academic history. This college has received accolades from respected publications including U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Greene’s Guides, Wall Street Journal, and Money Magazine. Among its over 40 possible majors, the majority of undergraduates seek their degrees in social sciences, biology, psychology, foreign languages, or visual arts. Swarthmore has partnered with nearby colleges Bryn Mawr and Haverford to create the “Tri-College Consortium”; through this expansive partnership, students may cross-register for courses at these schools or at the University of Pennsylvania.

#5 – Grove City College

Grove City, Pennsylvania


Grove City College

Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 1,913
Net Price: $21,300

Founded in 1876, Grove City College is a diverse, engaging campus community just north of Pittsburgh. Considered one of the best college deals in Pennsylvania, this college offers affordable degrees that are based in Christian values. GCC’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs are considered particularly competitive, along with undergraduate curriculum in psychology, social sciences, modern languages, and more. In addition to its impressive $453,000 return on investment, Grove City College is known to have a career counseling center that goes above and beyond to prepare students for life after graduation.

#4 – Seton Hill University

Greensburg, Pennsylvania


Seton Hill University

Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 2,359
Net Price: $22,784

Just outside of Pittsburgh, Seton Hill University is a Catholic-based liberal arts school that switched from women’s to co-ed in 2002. This top Pennsylvania college bases its academics in six specialized divisions; these field areas include education, humanities, business, visual and performing arts, natural health and sciences, and education. In addition to a $467,000 tuition return on investment, Seton Hill degree-holders demonstrate an average 95% career or graduate school placement rate. Recent student satisfaction surveys have shown especially high marks in faculty expertise and career counseling.

#3 – Lehigh University

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania


Lehigh University

Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 7,054
Net Price: $21,715

A globally respected research institution, Lehigh University is among the most selective private colleges in the nation. LU’s 2,300-acre campus welcomes over 7,000 students from around the world; this vibrant, diverse academic community is further encouraged through extracurricular opportunities. Lehigh’s 521 professors are known experts in their fields, and over 95% of them hold terminal degrees. According to recent alumni surveys, 96% have found career-related employment or enrolled in graduate school. A top college deal of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University has a $1.2 billion endowment that allows for extensive financial aid to its students.

#2 – Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania


Bryn Mawr College

Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 1,692
Net Price: $32,630

A leading women’s college for over 130 years, Bryn Mawr prides itself on academic excellence and community engagement. This suburban college is conveniently located just outside of Philadelphia; the campus welcomes students from over 60 countries and 45 states, making it one of the most diverse schools in the state. BM offers 37 majors and 48 minors, the most popular of which include psychology, biomedical sciences, and social sciences. Bryn Mawr has a highly impressive 94% first-year retention rate, and student satisfaction surveys indicate positive feedback regarding career counseling before and after graduation.

#1 – Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania

WebsiteLafayette College

Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 2,533
Net Price: $24,993

Founded in 1826, Lafayette College is known for its state-of-the-art facilities, highly selective admissions process, and culturally diverse campus community. LC has 37 bachelor of arts and 14 bachelor of science degrees to select from, primarily in the field areas of engineering, biology, English, psychology, and social sciences. This institution values the benefits of a mentor-based education, with 50% of its students doing one-on-one research with a faculty member by the senior year. Lafayette College has a highly impressive $573,000 calculated tuition return on investment, making it one of the top small college deals in Pennsylvania.

The ranked list above represents the 20 best deals on small colleges in Pennsylvania.

GCD Staff
November 2016