PhD Programs in Pennsylvania with School Options

Pennsylvania is home to about 120 schools offering advanced studies, which often include Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) programs. Compare four of the schools in Pennsylvania to determine which might be right for you.

School Ranking Overview

This article profiles four of the largest and most well-known postsecondary institutions in Pennsylvania offering Ph.D. degrees. These include two private nonprofit universities and two public schools. Below, the top three of the four universities are ranked in each of the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

While many students interested in earning a Ph.D. degree know their intended specialization, it can help to attend a school with a wide variety of program options. More programs can translate to greater opportunities for enrichment activities, such as through teaching or research assistantships. The following schools are the top three in this category among the four schools profiled.

1. Carnegie Mellon University

This Pittsburgh-based university offers a total of nearly 300 different learning paths. Graduate degrees are offered through the university's schools and colleges in humanities and social sciences, business, information systems and management, public policy and management, science, computer science, engineering and fine arts. Ph.D. degrees are available in architecture, computational design, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, neural computation, rhetoric and machine learning, to name a few.

2. University of Pennsylvania

There are a total of 285 educational options at this renowned private institution in Philadelphia, and the university is replete with doctoral programs. Ph.D. seekers can choose from degrees in such areas as accounting, cancer biology, applied geosciences, epidemiology, genetics, pharmacology, nursing, criminology, applied economics, mathematics, management, communication and more.

3. Temple University

Not far behind is this alternate Philadelphia university, with more than 270 undergraduate and graduate program options. Students interested in a doctoral education can pursue a Ph.D. degree in African American studies, anthropology, business administration (various specializations), public health, school psychology, pharmaceutical sciences or music therapy. These are just a sampling of the more than 50 Ph.D. degrees available.


Another factor many Ph.D. seekers consider is the cost of tuition. The following schools offered the lowest average tuition costs for the 2013-2014 year among the four schools discussed in this article. The figures were taken from information compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1. Temple University

Graduate students eligible for in-state tuition rates at this university paid an average of $13,410. Out-of-state tuition averaged $18,774.

2. Pennsylvania State University

This University Park institution charged in-state graduate students an average of $18,270. Those categorized as non-residents paid $31,246.

3. University of Pennsylvania

In third place, this private school required the same tuition of all graduate students, which ran an average of $28,768. Additional university fees of $2,976 were also required.

Graduation Rate

Having an idea as to the percentage of students graduating on time is another consideration to take into account. While the NCES doesn't offer details about graduate student completion rates, it does provide figures specific to undergrads. The following graduation rates are based on full-time bachelor's degree seekers who began in 2007 and earned their degree in six years or less.

1. University of Pennsylvania

It's not surprising that this Ivy League institution boasted a 96% graduation rate. Even more impressive was the 98% retention rate for first-time bachelor's degree students attending full time in the 2012-2013 year.

2. Carnegie Mellon University

This university had an 88% graduation rate. Even higher was the undergraduate retention rate. Specifically, 94% of full-time bachelor's degree students who began in 2012 returned in 2013 for a second year of study.

3. Pennsylvania State University

Penn State came in close third place. It had an 85% graduation rate and a 92% retention rate.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

This category accounts for the average number of students per faculty member and is based on fall 2013 data gathered by the NCES. Schools offering a lower student-to-faculty ratio are often able to provide students with more personalized learning experiences.

1. University of Pennsylvania

Students at this institution benefited from an extremely low ratio of 6:1. This is even more notable considering more than 24,000 students were in attendance in 2013, of which roughly 13,100 were studying at the graduate level.

2. Carnegie Mellon University

On average, there were 10 students to every faculty member at this university, based on a total of approximately 1,400 instructional faculty and 12,367 students. Of all students, roughly 6,450 were graduate school attendees.

3. Temple University

For every one faculty member at this institution, there were 14 students on average. Additionally, in 2013, there were around 3,500 full- and part-time faculty members, all of whom held instructional positions, and the student population totaled 37,270.

Pennsylvania Schools with Ph.D. Programs: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool Type Ph.D. Programs OfferedArea Ranking
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA4-year, private nonprofitDoctoral degrees#1 Program Variety,
#2 Graduation Rate,
#2 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park, PA4-year, publicDoctoral degrees#2 Tuition,
#3 Graduation Rate
Temple UniversityPhiladelphia, PA4-year, publicDoctoral degrees#3 Program Variety,
#1 Tuition,
#3 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA4-year, private nonprofitDoctoral degrees#2 Program Variety,
#3 Tuition,
#1 Graduation Rate,
#1 Student-to-Faculty Ratio

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