Pennsylvania is the eastern seaboard’s gateway to the Midwest. Its proximity to New York City, Washington, and other national and international hubs makes it appealing choice for students going to grad school. The state’s rich, varied countryside and culture-rich cities provide many backdrops and opportunities from which to pursue a graduate degree. The range of both public and private universities is astonishing – it’s like a smorgasbord of favorite foods. In the east, Philadelphia is the state’s cultural corner – historical attractions, a world-class collection of museums, performing arts, and an intoxicating stew of neighborhoods. Scenic Pittsburg unfolds with understated beauty and culture, with a diverse arts scene, stunning architecture, and those beautiful rivers that flow through the city. Allentown sparkles with ethnic variety and a college scene, while Lancaster shows off its varied community—especially its Amish culture. Between all this are easygoing rural hamlets and the varied countryside that provides plenty of opportunities for inspiration and outdoor pleasures.
is simply loaded with historical sites, some of the best art museums in the country, an awesome array of universities, culture-rich cities Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and a rural green tapestry of small towns and growing cities stretching from its New Jersey eastern border to its western Ohio border. Pennsylvania – a promised land that could be an inspirational choice for going to grad school.
Living and Learning in Pennsylvania
An exhilarating urban stew simmers in the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the former serving as part of the urban chain that connects Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C. Around the state are smaller cities, relaxing rural hamlets, and rolling farmlands, forests, and Allegheny Mountain vistas. The state’s diverse topography presents a varied climate, depending on the altitude and proximity to Lake Erie. Generally, the state experiences cold, dry winters and hot humid summers with a mix of rain/snow, cloudy/sunny days. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are both international and national gateways for air travel, while Amtrak trains connect to Washington D.C., New York City, and Boston via Philadelphia. Bus lines provide service throughout the state, but a car is essential should you want to live outside the urban areas.
Like the hearty hemp used to weave the first red-white-and-blue flag of the United States, American history is woven into the fabric of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia—America’s birthplace—is the point of entry. Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, the Liberty Bell, and the African American Museum are just the starters here. Throughout the state—in cities, towns, and the countryside—U.S. history unfolds. Robert Fulton Birthplace, Valley Forge, George Washington’s Crossing, the Gettysburg Battlefield, and some 100 more. Wherever you roam in PA, you’ll find a landmark to guide your path through history.
Music, museums, landmark neighborhoods, sports, Amish culture, and historical landmarks showcase the cultural happenings and highlights in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh draws for its numerous museums – art museums, railroad museums, history museums, and more – performing arts, and cultural events. Pennsylvania loves its sports! NFL’s Eagles and Steelers are always exciting, as are MLB’s Phillies and Pirates. College teams are also big part of the sports party – Penn State Nittany Lions, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, Saint Joseph Hawks, Villanova Wildcats, to name a few.
Pennsylvania stretches far and has a varied topography, making it a perfect spot to pursue a variety of outdoor activities outside of the urban centers. Go hiking, cross-country skiing, or horseback riding in the Allegheny National Forest; hike past the massive boulders and take in panoramic views in Clear Creek State Forest; or head northeast for a bounty of outdoor excursions in The Poconos – a mountainous region filled with forests, valleys, crystal clear lakes, and wildlife. Should you choose to stay in the city, you’ll find plenty of green spaces and parks for easy recreation and inspiration. Fairmount Park in Downtown Philly is the city’s largest municipal park and often hosts events such as musical performances by famous headliners.
Major Pennsylvania Industries
Students going to grad school in Pennsylvania can pursue a variety of post-graduate opportunities including the arts, banking, academics, and much more. Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are major hubs for business, and both hold a number of Fortune 500 companies.
Graduate students will find much to explore in these urban centers, especially in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Stately American historic monuments and attractions, world-class museums, cuisine of all ethnic varieties, professional sports, performing arts, and much more. These four cities are worth checking out.
Consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the nation, the City of Bridges
has come a long way from it’s tough, steel-industry shouldered past. Still Pittsburgh’s progressive spirit remains intact, and the city proudly showcases its stunning modern and turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, culinary culture, and an astonishing array of museums. It’s also a magnet for tech startups and strongholds – Google, Facebook, and Uber all have opened offices here. This is the City of Champions, after all – NFL’s Steelers, MLB’s Pirates, and NHL’s Penguins have all brought championship trophies to the city. Endless adventures abound in Pittsburgh – wander through comprehensive exhibits at Andy Warhol Museum or take in the stellar classical collections at the Carnegie Museum of Art; drive through the Oakland neighborhood for a tour of the stately Victorian homes; or stroll through the gardens and along the lakes of Highland Park. The restaurant scene is diverse as the city’s neighborhoods, and you’ll find a tasty collection of culinary gems around the city. A busy calendar of art, film, book, and music events, live music, bars of all kinds, cool clubs, and plenty of green spaces and parks round out the intoxicating mix.
The unassuming third largest city in Pennsylvania, Allentown is newly reborn and revitalized for the 21st century. New industries, new culinary scene, and a wave of new cultural scenes have given this Civil War historical town a newfound energy. It’s a buzz to be here, especially for the nightlife scene – top DJs and bands from around the country come to lay down their groove in Allentown. Craft brewpubs, cool bars, and hip clubs add to the mix. Take in a performance of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra at Allentown Symphony Hall, check out a play at the Nineteenth Street Theater, or wander through the 13,000-piece-strong collection at the Allentown Art Museum. Civil War and Revolutionary War monuments and structures serve as showcases for Allentown’s rich history. The cuisine scene shines with plenty of ethnic restaurants as well as local staples like cheesesteaks and shoofly pie. It’s proximity to Blue Mountain invites a plethora of outdoor adventures – skiing, hiking, and more – not to mention the numerous city parks that keep the city green. While in the neighborhood, check out the former Bethlehem Steel Mill, now a full-service casino with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Steel Stacks offers music festivals, summer classes for children, art exhibits, and more.
The City of Brotherly Love. Cheesesteaks. Rocky. America’s Birthplace. The city of Philadelphia is simply a showcase of cultural riches. As for American history, Philadelphia rivals D.C. – birthplace of the Constitution, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), the Liberty Bell, not to mention dozens of historical monuments and structures throughout the city. Another big draw is its collection of museums: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, and the Barnes Foundation, not to mention such cool outdoor art spaces like Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Inspiration is endless. Stroll Philadelphia’s Old City, browse the wares at Reading Terminal Market, shop the boutiques at Center City. Green spaces, parks, and squares draw the active, the thinkers, the creators, and everyone in between. Want sports? NFL’s Eagles, NBA’s 76ers, MLB’s Phillies, college sports of all kinds – there’s plenty to cheer for. Are you hungry? The culinary scene here is incredible, from star-chef turns to cool cafes. And then there are those local signature specialties: the famous cheesesteak, the hoagie, stromboli, and tomato pie. Street vendors serving up a smorgasbord of ethnic flavors also keep this food-obsessed city satisfied. The nightlife scene – hip clubs, live music spots, brewpubs, wine bars, sports hangs – buzzes with something every night of the week. And if you want something a bit more relaxed, check out a performance at the Theatre of Living Arts or the Walnut Street Theater. Sure, you can head out of town for the weekend for some rural pleasure – if you really need to. Places of note are the Brandywine Valley wine region, which is home to the Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Longwood Gardens, and an impressive collection of N.C. Wyeth’s paintings hel by the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art.
In the south-central part of the state, the mid-size city of Lancaster is the center of Pennsylvania’s famous Dutch Country. An easy living and agricultural vibe prevails here, most evident in the Amish people, who prefer a simple life – they do not use electricity and rely on horse and buggy as their form of transport. But they blend seamlessly into the vibe here, and infuse the town with their unique culture. Learn about their culture at The People’s Place Quilt Museum and Amish Country Tours. Other cultural highlights include The Ephrata Cloister, with its collection of 18th-century buildings, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The food scene is rich with local specialties, and Downtown’s Central Market is a fantastic place to buy local goods. For beer-thirsty grad students, the town also holds a number of craft brewpubs, and the rolling landscape provides superb opportunities for cyclists who want to take a scenic ride.
DID YOU KNOW? Pennsylvania is a state of U.S. “firsts”: home to the first computer (1964); home to the first auto service station (1913); first daily newspaper published (1784); first zoological garden (1874); first baseball stadium built (1909).
Explore Graduate Schools in Pennsylvania
Prospective graduate students can find a variety of schools in Pennsylvania, both public and private. You may find one that suits not only your area of study but also one that has an environment that fits your lifestyle. The following are a few highlights:
- Pennsylvania State University
- Bryn Mawr College
- University of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Pennsylvania offers an array of graduate school opportunities all around the state, many of which are in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. However, Allentown, Lancaster and other smaller communities such as Bethlehem, York, and Kutztown offer myriad opportunities to pursue a graduate degree in Pennsylvania, as well. Here are some of the top options to study at the graduate level.
The Finance graduate program at the University of Scranton provides a program that is concentrated on the combination of ethics, technologies, and financial analysis and rooted to the rigor of the Jesuit tradition. For students pursuing a masters in Finance at Pennsylvania State University, the curriculum reflects a balanced combination of practical business application and advanced financial theory so that students can apply what they are learning to their current role and also gain the theoretical knowledge needed to address future challenges in the ever-changing financial marketplace. Temple University’s Financial Engineering graduate program has students explore the technology and motivation behind today’s financial transactions through course work in financial economics, mathematical modeling, global markets, computational methods, and product engineering. The goal of the Financial Services program at Saint Joseph’s University is to provide graduate students with educational background to engage successfully in professional financial planning services and financial analysis, either in a corporate setting or as an entrepreneur.
Fine Arts & Design
At Drexel University, the Interior Design graduate program offers a curriculum that seeks to teach students to design interiors that answer aesthetic, social, physical and psychological needs in a range of public, commercial, residential and institutional spaces. The curriculum for a master’s degree in Fine Arts at Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts focuses on studio practice and individual artistic development; through seminars, studio classes, critiques, and visiting artist lectures, students are exposed to diverse viewpoints and approaches to art making. At Pennsylvania State University, the Music graduate program provides five majors: Performance, Composition/Theory, Conducting, Piano Pedagogy and Performance, and Voice Performance, and Pedagogy; a recital, a composition project, or a conducting project is required. The Graphic and Interactive Design graduate program at Temple University focuses on large-scale design projects students create the content of their work in seminar and thesis classes.
The Master of Arts in Psychology at Chatham University emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills, self-awareness, attention to socio-cultural diversity, application of knowledge, and both collaborative and independent work. At Temple University, the Psychology graduate program’s focus varies depending on the area of specialization that the student enters; graduates go on to positions as research scientists, teachers, and applied specialists. The graduate Psychology program at Saint Joseph’s University offers students curriculum of study emphasizing experimental psychology with a focus on behavioral neuroscience, conditioning and learning, developmental psychology, health psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, or social psychology. At the University of Pittsburgh, the Biological and Health Psychology graduate program gives students the opportunity to engage in research in any of three general areas of concentration: psychoneuroimmunology (including cancer), cardiovascular behavioral medicine, and addictions and psychopharmacology.
At the University of Pittsburgh, the English graduate program focuses on poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. The English graduate program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers opportunities for the study of language, literature, rhetoric, composition, pedagogy, creative writing, and literacy and cultural critical theory. At the University of Scranton, the English graduate program is designed to prepare individuals either for further study, enrichment, or for entry into careers in museums, libraries, and research institutions. The English graduate program at Lehigh University offers a specialization in American, English and Anglophone literatures and cultures, rhetoric/composition, and film and popular culture.
Find a Graduate School in Pennsylvania
Pick directly from a variety of schools and programs below or use the filter to the left to narrow down your selection.