Penn State

Pennsylvania State University  Rankings & Profile

Overall Rank:

Ranked #14 in the 2022 Ranking of the Best Colleges. Scroll down for the detailed rankings.

Nittany Lion Shrine Statue at Penn State, its mascot.

Penn State is located at University Park in State College, PA and is the main campus of the Pennsylvania State University system. In college rankings it often ranks near the top, making it one of the so-called “public Ivy” universities. Using the “Ivy” label is meant to imply it has academic excellence, as other state colleges, like University of Texas, Colorado or Alabama. That of course is not an exhaustive list, and you can browse around the college rankings here to see other state universities that excel in different major fields. As far as Penn State goes, its academic offerings cover a wide range of majors, which takes it into the top ranks in many categories, and as a university as a whole.

When the campus was built, a location in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania was selected, and virtually the only reason its town – “State College” – exists now is as the home of the Penn State. The mascot is the “Nittany Lion,” which is a real species of lion, whose habitat is the wooded mountainous areas of central Pennsylvania. The illustration here is of the Nittany Lion “Shrine” statue, which is on campus at Penn State. College pranks have targeted the statue over the years. One time, some students from football rival Syracuse University painted the lion orange – the Syracuse school color. To this day, Penn State students guard the statue the day before football games against Syracuse!

Penn State has ranked high in a wide variety of academic disciplines, in our RealRank ratings. That academic breadth and other diversity indicators has made Penn State a welcoming environment for all kinds of academic and personal pursuits. The full listing of the rankings in which they have appeared can be found at the end of this profile.

The Basics

Location University Park / State College, Pennsylvania
Official Website Penn State
Nickname Nittany Lions
School Colors Navy Blue & White
Athletic Conference Big 10

RealRank Ranking Categories

Reputation Gold
Renown Platinum
Diversity Success Platinum
Sports Renown Platinum
Tuition Profile Public university with relatively low tuition for in-state residents and mid to low high for out of state residents.
Endowment Gold
Alumni Engagement Platinum

Key: Platinum: Elite Class; Gold: Very good; Silver: Successful, with room to improve;

Bronze: Mid to low range; NI: Needs improvement.

Academic Profile

Academic Range Broad, Full Academic Program
Professional Schools:
Architecture Yes
Business Yes
Dental No
Engineering Yes
Law Yes
Medical No (off-campus in Hershey, PA)
Nursing Yes
Core Science Breadth Yes
Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Breadth Yes
Human Sciences / Education Yes
Public Health / Urban Policy No

Renowned Alumni

Here are some of the famous Penn State alumni, who you may have heard of. Are there any others you would add to the list?

  • John Anniston – Actor and father of Jennifer Anniston.
  • Kelley Ayotte – U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.
  • Donald P. Bellisario – Film producer and screenwriter.
  • Paul Berg – Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry.
  • Robert Bruce Banner – “The Hulk” – A fictional character who studied physics at Penn State.
  • Dan Bongino – Political commentator and former Secret Service agent.
  • Ty Burrell – Actor.
  • John Cappelletti – Winner of Heisman Trophy, and NFL football running back.
  • Choi Jae Hyun  최재현 – Korean actor.
  • Jonathan Frakes – Actor best known for role of William Riker in Star Trek series.
  • Kenneth Carleton Frazier – CEO of Merk & Co.
  • Rosey Grier – NFL football player, actor.
  • Franco Harris – NFL Fullback with Pittsburgh Steelers; Super Bowl Champion and MVP.
  • Valerie Plame – Novelist and former CIA agent leaked in scandal to public by Robert Novak of Washington Post.
  • Francisco Sagasti (Francisco Rafael Sagasti Hochhausler) – Engineer and former interim President of Peru.
  • Rick Santorum – Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
  • Steven E. de Souza – Screenwriter of Die-Hard movie franchise, Knight Rider and Six Million Dollar Man television series.
  • Jigme Thinley – Former Prime Minister of Bhutan.
  • Patricia Woertz – Former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland.

Who else would you add to this list?

Most Popular Majors

The most popular majors at Penn State include the following programs:

  1. Engineering
  2. Business
  3. Computer and Information Sciences
  4. Social Sciences
  5. Communications
  6. Biology
  7. Health related professions.



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