Penn State and Happy Valley, Ranked


By Mary Elder

For more than 150 years, Penn State has been a leader in higher education. Penn State World Campus is no exception and has offered students a world-class education for 25 years. Penn State World Campus boats the #1 online Bachelor’s in Psychology program, the #3 online Bachelor in Business Program and the #15 Bachelor program for Veterans.

In 2023, Penn State rose ten places in the 2024 QS World University Rankings to #83 in the world and #24 in the United States due to its international research network, sustainability, and employment outcomes.

Penn State has been a leader in material sciences in engineering education and innovation since its inception. Its Engineering program is #4 in the country according to the National Science Foundation Rankings of Higher Education and Development (HERD), and, for the past four years, Materials Science has been #1 in the US with Materials Engineering following closely behind at #2.

Penn State’s successful athletic program was among the top 10 in the nation. The Nittany Lions ranked #9 among the nation’s 65 Autonomy Five programs for the second consecutive year, according to Yahoo! Sports. The Power Five encompasses 65 schools, those that make up the five largest and richest conferences in college athletics (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) plus Notre Dame.

Penn State can attribute this ranking to a variety of successes, such as:

  • Directors’ Cup top 15, 9 times in the past 10 years
  • 24 Big Ten Championships over the past 5 years in 12 different sports
  • 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men’s, 15 women’s
  • 8 NCAA titles since 2007, the highest total of any institution in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, or Midwest.

Penn State leaves a lasting impact on its students inside and outside of the classroom. A study from LinkedIn found that Penn State is the #2 university in the country most attended by CEOs. Penn State was one of only two public universities featured in the top 10. CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, hails from Penn State as well as CEOs of Merk and PPL. Penn State also has the #1 alumni network amongst public schools in the country which raises graduates and helps them embark on new challenges.

  • Penn State ranked at No. 21 out of 523 programs in “Best Undergraduate Business Programs.” The University also ranked well in a number of business specialty programs: supply chain management/logistics (8); production/operations management (11); management (17); marketing (24); and accounting (25).
  • Penn State ranked at No. 19 out of 208 schools in "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs," at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate. The University also ranked well in a number of engineering specialties: materials (9); industrial/manufacturing (9); biological/agricultural (10); civil (13); mechanical (15); aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical (15); environmental/environmental health (15); chemical (20); computer (25); and electrical/electronic/communications (27).
  • Penn State’s rankings also include No. 31 out of 656 institutions for "Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs,” and No. 40 out of 554 ranked for “Best Undergraduate Computer Science Programs.”
  • New for the 2024 edition are two rankings in “Best Undergraduate Psychology Programs,” in which Penn State is No. 34 out of 542; and “Best Undergraduate Economics Programs,” in which Penn State is No. 41 out of 309.


Penn State is currently ranked as the No. 23 school for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies in the United States, and No. 3 among schools in the Northeast, by The Princeton Review. In 2022, Penn State was ranked No. 21 on the national list.

The Princeton Review ratings are based on information provided directly by more than 300 schools on more than 40 unique entrepreneurship-focused data points, including:

  • course offerings
  • entrepreneurial course enrollment percentages
  • student and alumni ventures
  • business plan and pitch competition availability
  • and the availability of scholarships and financial aid.

With Penn State’s many accolades, it’s no surprise that people love to live in Happy Valley. From its charm to walkability and ingenuity, in 2022 State College was ranked as one of the top places to live in the United States, according to Livability. Coming in at #85, State College was praised for its diversified economy, vibrant arts scene, an eclectic ray of restaurants, and plenty of parks. All of which contribute to State College’s ranking from Psychology Today in 2018 as the #1 city with the lowest stress levels in the United States.

Centre County is often referred to as a slice of Silicon Valley in Happy Valley and is among the best cities in Pennsylvania for technology startups. Thanks to its proximity to Penn State, State College receives an endless supply of fresh energy and innovation. The Central PA region is supported by entrepreneurial-focused programs and subs like the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Ben Franklin TechCelerator, and Happy Valley Launchbox.

According to, State College’s promising unemployment and business growth rates contribute to its standing as one of the best U.S. cities for entrepreneurs to live and launch. State College fosters an environment where tech startups, like Minitab, a statistical software company, can impact its customers and the community.

Named among the 10 Best College Towns in the U.S. by YouTuber Geography King, State College meets his criteria with great walkability and bike-ability, access to public transportation, and big city amenities without the big city hassles. Other factors where State College scores high include:

  • The proximity of outdoor recreation and natural assets like forests, lakes, parks, trails and paths.
  • A low crime rate,
  • The perfect location for travel to East Coast metro areas like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC and New York City.

From education, to entrepreneurship to a thriving quality of life, Happy Valley has it all.

Checkout more reasons why Happy Valley is a great place to live and work! 


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