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The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvaniamarker and a large public university system in the United Statesmarker. It is the tenth-largest university system in the United States and 43rd largest in the world. The system comprises 14 state-owned schools, all of which are NCAA Division II members.


The Normal School Act of 1857 was passed on the last day of session on 20 May 1857. Its passage created 12 normal school districts in the state in which to establish private corporations answerable to the State Superintendent of Common Schools. Afterward, the School Code of 1911 mandated that the Commonwealth purchase all the normal schools. The normal schools evolved from state normal schools, to state teacher's colleges, to state colleges. Act 188, which was signed into law on November 12, 1982 and came into effect on July 1, 1983, established the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and converted those state colleges into universities.

Universities and Locations

The system is a composition of the following 14 universities in Pennsylvania:

PASSHE universities also operate four branch campuses. The Office of the Chancellor is situated in the capital city of Harrisburgmarker at the Dixon University Centermarker.

Rankings for the Universities

Campus US News and World Report Ranking
Bloomsburg 81st in Universities-Master's (North)
California Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Cheyney Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Clarion Tier 3 in Universities-Master's (North)
East Stroudsburg Tier 3 in Universities-Master's (North)
Edinboro Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Indiana Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Kutztown Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Lock Haven Tier 4 in Universities-Master's (North)
Mansfield Tier 3 in Universities-Master's (North)
Millersville 58th in Universities-Master's (North)
Shippensburg 58th in Universities-Master's (North)
Slippery Rock Tier 3 in Universities-Master's (North)
West Chester 69th in Universities-Master's (North)

  • Rankings according to US News and World Report Rankings 2009. For the Master's (North) category schools are split up into four regions, and thus these schools are ranked only against those in the North region.


As established by the founding legislation, Act 188 of 1982, the primary mission of the State System of Higher Education "is the provision of instruction for undergraduate and graduate students to and beyond the Master's degree in the liberal arts and sciences, and in the applied fields, including the teaching profession." Additionally, the purpose of PASSHE is "to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students."


A 20-member Board of Governors oversees the system. Additional power is vested in the Councils of Trustees at the constituent universities.

Board of Governor's membership includes: four state legislators, three students, the Governor of the Commonwealth (or a designee), the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education (or a designee), and 11 citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.

The Board of Governors sets general policy for PASSHE. It also appoints the chancellor, who serves as the system's chief executive officer, and the university presidents. The chancellor is an ex-officio member of each university's Council of Trustees.


Roll of Chancellors

Board of Governors

  • Chairman Kenneth M. Jarin, J.D.
  • Vice Chairman Aaron A. Walton, M.S.
  • Vice Chairman C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni, M.S.
  • Rep. Matthew E. Baker
  • Nick Barcio
  • Marie Conley Lammando
  • Paul S. Dlugolecki
  • Rep. Michael K. Hanna
  • Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
  • Richard Kneedler
  • Jamie Lutz
  • Jonathan B. Mack
  • Joseph F. McGinn
  • Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola
  • Gov. Edward G. Rendell J.D.
  • Harold C. Shields
  • Thomas M. Sweitzer
  • Christin J. Toretti
  • Mackenzie Marie Wrobel
  • Hon. Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak, Secretary of Education

Current enrollment and alumni

Almost 117,000 undergraduate and graduate, part-time and full-time, students attend PASSHE universities. Nearly 90 percent are Pennsylvania residents and 64 percent remain in Pennsylvania after graduation. Minority enrollment also is at an all-time high. A record total of 13,860 minority students—nearly 12 percent of the total student population—are taking classes at PASSHE universities. There are more than 617,000 PASSHE alumni, including more than 454,000 who live and work in Pennsylvania.

Facilities and employees

The total university campus comprises approximately 4,700 acres (19 km²). A total of 862 buildings with nearly 25 million square feet (2.3 km²) house classrooms, residences, administrative offices, and student support services. PASSHE employs more than 12,169 professional and support staff, most covered by collective bargaining agreements, making it the 16th largest employer in the commonwealth. The various libraries are connected through the cooperative Keystone Library Network.


Tuition at System universities is $5,554 per year for Pennsylvanian undergraduate students and from $8,332 to $13,886 per year for nonresident students. The graduate student tuition is $6,666 per year for Pennsylvanians, and $10,666 per year for out-of-commonwealth students. Pennsylvanian students also pay a $206 annual instructional technology fee, which is $310 for nonresidents. Board and room charges vary, as do local fees. Students may apply for a variety of commonwealth and federal financial assistance programs and campus scholarships, as well as grants and loans.


  1. John Edward Merryman, The Indiana Story 1875-1975: Pennsylvania's first state university... Clearfield, Pennsylvania: Kurtz Brothers, 1976(p. 18).
  2. Merryman, pp. 18-20
  3. Best Colleges - Education - US News and World Report
  4. PASSHE Board of Governors, Leading the Way, Jul 2004.
  5. Pennsylvania General Assembly, "Act 188 of 1982." Available at:

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