The 10 Best College Towns In Pennsylvania For 2020

Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in Pennsylvania.
Swipe left for slideshow

Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Pennsylvania is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Pennsylvania are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Pennsylvania for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In Pennsylvania For 2020

  1. West Chester, PA (Photos | Homes)
  2. Millersville, PA (Photos | Homes)
  3. Easton, PA (Photos | Homes)
  4. Media, PA (Photos | Homes)
  5. Greensburg, PA (Photos | Homes)
  6. Bethlehem, PA (Photos | Homes)
  7. Huntingdon, PA (Photos | Homes)
  8. Swarthmore, PA (Photos | Homes)
  9. Middletown, PA (Photos | Homes)
  10. Hazleton, PA (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in West Chester, Millersville and Easton - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where West Chester ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Sharon, PA - it's officially the worst college town in Pennsylvania. Sorry, Sharon!

Read on to find out more or for more on Pennsylvania check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Pennsylvania For 2020

West Chester, PA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 19,888
% Undergrad Pop.: 51.9% (5th best)
Median Rent: $1,218 (48th best)
Unemployment Rate: 524.1% (10th best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on West Chester: Real Estate | Data | Photos

West Chester is a borough and the county seat of Chester County, Pennsylvania, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The population was 18,461 at the 2010 census.

Colleges: West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Millersville, PA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 8,344
% Undergrad Pop.: 77.9% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $1,190 (45th best)
Unemployment Rate: 572.2% (15th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Millersville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Millersville is a borough in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 7,774.

Colleges: Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Easton, PA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 27,100
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.4% (34th best)
Median Rent: $996 (36th best)
Unemployment Rate: 620.9% (20th best)
Crime Rank: 16th best
More on Easton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Easton is a city in and the seat of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city's population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. Easton is located at the confluence of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River, roughly 55 miles north of Philadelphia and 70 miles west of New York City.

Colleges: Lafayette College

Media, PA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 5,423
% Undergrad Pop.: 30.9% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,134 (43rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 672.1% (25th best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Media: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The borough of Media is the county seat of Delaware County, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and is located 13 miles west of Philadelphia. Media was incorporated in 1850 at the same time that it was named the county seat. The population was 5,327 at the 2010 census, down from 5,533 at the 2000 census. Its school district is the Rose Tree Media School District with Penncrest High School and Springton Lake Middle School. In June 2006, it became the first fair trade town in America. Media promotes itself by its motto: "Everybody's Hometown".

Colleges: Delaware County Community College, Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Brandywine, Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

Greensburg, PA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 14,377
% Undergrad Pop.: 18.9% (20th best)
Median Rent: $644 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 487.2% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 29th best
More on Greensburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Greensburg is a city in and the county seat of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States, and a part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area. The city lies within the Laurel Highlands and the ecoregion of the Western Allegheny Plateau. The city is named after Nathanael Greene, a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. The population was 14,892 at the 2010 census.

Colleges: University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, Seton Hill University, Triangle Tech Inc-Greensburg

Bethlehem, PA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 75,296
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.5% (32nd best)
Median Rent: $1,013 (40th best)
Unemployment Rate: 536.7% (12th best)
Crime Rank: 31st best
More on Bethlehem: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Bethlehem is a city in Lehigh and Northampton counties in the Lehigh Valley region of the eastern portion of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 74,982, making it the seventh largest city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allentown, Erie, Reading, and Scranton. Of this, 55,639 were in Northampton County, and 19,343 were in Lehigh County.

Colleges: Northampton County Area Community College, Lehigh University, Moravian College

Huntingdon, PA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 6,987
% Undergrad Pop.: 18.5% (21st best)
Median Rent: $562 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 784.6% (31st best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Huntingdon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Huntingdon is a borough in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is located along the Juniata River, approximately 32 miles east of Altoona and 98 miles west of Harrisburg. It is the largest population center near Raystown Lake, a winding, 28-mile-long flood-control reservoir managed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The borough is located on the main line of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, in an agricultural and outdoor recreational region with extensive forests and scattered deposits of ganister rock, coal, fire clay, and limestone. Historically, the region surrounding Huntingdon was dotted with iron furnaces and forges, consuming limestone, iron ore and wood throughout the 19th century. Dairy farms dominate the local agriculture. The town is a regular stop for the Amtrak passenger service which connects Harrisburg with Pittsburgh.

Colleges: Juniata College, Du Bois Business College-Huntingdon

Swarthmore, PA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 6,304
% Undergrad Pop.: 22.7% (16th best)
Median Rent: $1,169 (44th best)
Unemployment Rate: 580.9% (17th best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Swarthmore: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Swarthmore is a borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. Swarthmore was originally named "Westdale" in honor of noted painter Benjamin West, who was one of the early residents of the town. The name was changed to "Swarthmore" after the establishment of Swarthmore College. "Swarthmore" can be pronounced with the first "r" either vocalized or dropped due to differences in rhotic and non-rhotic accents, but locally it is usually pronounced without the first "r". The borough population was 6,194 as of the 2010 census.

Colleges: Swarthmore College

Middletown, PA
Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 7,386
% Undergrad Pop.: 25.3% (12th best)
Median Rent: $1,009 (39th best)
Unemployment Rate: 363.0% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Middletown: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Colleges: Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Harrisburg

Hazleton, PA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 24,812
% Undergrad Pop.: 5.5% (39th best)
Median Rent: $793 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 769.8% (30th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Hazleton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Hazleton is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 25,340 at the 2010 census. The population of Greater Hazleton was 77,187. Hazleton is the second largest city in Luzerne County and the seventeenth largest city in Pennsylvania. It was incorporated as a borough on January 5, 1857, and as a city on December 4, 1891.

Colleges: Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Hazleton, Jolie Hair and Beauty Academy-Hazleton

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Pennsylvania?

To crunch our data on Pennsylvania's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 46 places in Pennsylvania with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Pennsylvania For 2020".

And it looks like West Chester placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Pennsylvania, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

If you're curious, these are the worst college towns in Pennsylvania, starting with the absolute worst, Sharon:

  1. Sharon
  2. Bradford
  3. Washington
  4. Chester
  5. Allentown
  6. Chambersburg
  7. Dunmore
  8. Beaver Falls
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Reading

For more reading, check out:

46 Best College Towns In Pennsylvania

Rank City Population
1 West Chester, PA 19888
2 Millersville, PA 8344
3 Easton, PA 27100
4 Media, PA 5423
5 Greensburg, PA 14377
6 Bethlehem, PA 75296
7 Huntingdon, PA 6987
8 Swarthmore, PA 6304
9 Middletown, PA 7386
10 Hazleton, PA 24812
11 Indiana, PA 13512
12 Lock Haven, PA 9345
13 Clarion, PA 5436
14 Mechanicsburg, PA 8987
15 Dubois, PA 7530
16 Collegeville, PA 5170
17 Edinboro, PA 5964
18 Bloomsburg, PA 14275
19 Carlisle, PA 19116
20 Glenside, PA 7558
21 Altoona, PA 44372
22 Gettysburg, PA 7646
23 Schuylkill Haven, PA 5211
24 Lancaster, PA 59503
25 Harrisburg, PA 49230
26 East Stroudsburg, PA 10279
27 Phoenixville, PA 16815
28 Pittsburgh, PA 303587
29 Meadville, PA 12949
30 New Kensington, PA 12568
31 Williamsport, PA 28757
32 California, PA 6441
33 Mckeesport, PA 19365
34 Johnstown, PA 19812
35 Erie, PA 98156
36 Scranton, PA 76869
37 Reading, PA 88211
38 Philadelphia, PA 1575522
39 Beaver Falls, PA 8547
40 Dunmore, PA 13282
41 Chambersburg, PA 20734
42 Allentown, PA 120410
43 Chester, PA 33977
44 Washington, PA 13590
45 Bradford, PA 8424
46 Sharon, PA 13378

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?