First opened as the West Chester Normal School with 160 students, West Chester University of Pennsylvania has grown into a mid-sized comprehensive public state-supported teaching institution. It’s one of 14 universities operated by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). WCUPA is situated on a main 388-acre suburban campus in the borough of Valley Forge within just 25 miles west of Philadelphia. Each year, West Chester enrolls around 13,700 undergraduates and 1,900 post-graduates in its five colleges. WCUPA participates in the National Student Exchange Program with 170 schools across America.
The U.S. News and World Report has honored West Chester University of Pennsylvania as the 71st best regional college, 18th top public school, and 53rd best university for veterans nationwide. In particular, WCUPA has nationally ranked programs in social work and speech-language pathology. Forbes magazine named West Chester the 167th best college in the Northeast. WCUPA is one of the state’s three schools listed in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine as a top 100 “best buy” in public education. Washington Monthly magazine also distinguished WCUPA as the 143rd “Best Bang for the Buck” in America.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania Accreditation Details
As a whole, West Chester University of Pennsylvania is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). This is one of six accrediting agencies recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Furthermore, academic divisions at WCUPA have earned 22 discipline-specific, programmatic approvals. Teaching degrees meet the standards of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Health science degrees are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC). Artistic programs are certified by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
West Chester University of Pennsylvania Application Requirements
West Chester only accepts around 53 percent of applicants, so be prepared for a selective admissions process. First-year freshmen must be graduating or have graduated from a state-approved secondary school with a diploma. Most successful applicants rank in the top 40 percent of their graduating class. Having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better is required. WCUPA suggests following a college preparatory curriculum with four units English, three units math, three units lab science, three units social studies, and three units foreign language. All prospective freshmen must earn a combined SAT score of 1040 or higher, excluding writing.
Transfer applications are accepted from students who are currently or were previously enrolled in another accredited post-secondary institution. Having at least 12 transferrable credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 is required for consideration. Undergraduate transfers with a GPA ranging from 2.0 to 2.49 can be deferred until later in the review cycle though. At the graduate level, applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or foreign equivalent. Most programs mandate a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.8. Taking the GRE, GMAT, or MAT may be required depending on the degree.
During the rolling admissions, interested students should apply to West Chester University of Pennsylvania by submitting a completed online application form with:
• $45 non-refundable application fee
• Official, sealed academic transcripts
• One to three letters of recommendation
• Typewritten personal statement
• Standardized test score reports
• Permanent Resident Card
Tuition and Financial Aid
Full-time undergraduate students at WCUPA who live in Pennsylvania will be charged $4,730 in tuition and fees each semester. Out-of-state undergraduates enrolling full-time can expect to pay $10,139 for tuition and fees per semester. Part-time students are billed $394 (in-state) or $844 (out-of-state) per credit hour. Graduate students from Pennsylvania will pay $5,386 in tuition and fees each full-time semester. Non-resident graduates enrolling full-time must afford $7,609 for tuition and fees per semester. Part-time graduate students are charged $584 (in-state) or $831 (out-of-state) for each credit hour. Certain programs like the MSW, M.Ed. School Counseling, and M.A. Communicative Disorders add an extra 10 percent in tuition.
According to the NCES, the Schock Financial Aid Office at West Chester provides financial assistance to 80 percent of beginning full-time students. Students must file the FAFSA form using federal code 003328. Students could borrow money through the Perkins, Direct, PLUS, or Federal Nursing loans. Certain learners may qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, National SMART Grant, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. In-state residents could receive the PHEAA Academic Excellence Scholarship, CORE Philly Scholarship, or Pennsylvania State Grant. Veterans are eligible for GI Bill Benefits and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP). The West Chester University Foundation also bestows over 400 merit and need-based scholarships worth more than $750,000.
Rooted in the liberal arts, West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers 92 bachelor’s degree programs leading to a B.A., B.S., B.F.A, or B.M. Some unique undergraduate majors include Communicative Disorders, Earth and Space Sciences, Environmental Health, Forensic and Toxicology Chemistry, Geoscience, Pharmaceutical Product Development, and Public Health. There are even nine fully online programs offered for WCUPA students through the Pennsylvania Distance Learning Association (PADLA). Students benefit from small class sizes and professor interaction thanks to the low student-faculty ratio of 19:1. West Chester produces happy students with an average freshman retention rate of 86.5 percent.
In addition to its park-like location in Valley Forge, West Chester University operates a center city Philadelphia location. Around 36 percent of students live in college-owned residence halls, including the newest 651-bed Commonwealth Hall and East Village Apartments. Service learning is an integral part of campus life with students completing over 600,000 volunteer hours annually. WCUPA is well-known for hosting a yearly Summer Space Program with the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. A Summer Undergraduate Research Institute was also launched in 2014. Study abroad programs are abundant for West Chester students to visit countries from Australia to South Africa and everywhere in between.
West Chester offers more than 200 student-run organizations, so boredom can’t set in. Students could join the Active Minds Club, Cycling Club, Collegiate DECA, Women in Science Club, or Forensics Speech and Debate Team. Those interested in Greek life can select from 15 fraternities and 17 sororities on-campus. Unique activities available include a fascinating travel film series, paintball trips, and the annual WCU Live! event. In fact, the university hosts over 200 concerts and art exhibits each year. Athletes can compete the NCAA Division II PSAC Conference in nine men’s and 14 women’s sports. West Chester University of Pennsylvania is perhaps best known for its award-winning Golden Rams Marching Band, which has over 300 members.