Adult Students

PhillyColleges was created as a free resource to help adult learners access the rich network of colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia area. We are a network of over 20+ institutions, all accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which provide programming geared towards the working adult. Offerings include both campus and online programs, evening and weekend classes, from Associates through Doctoral degrees. Please explore the links below to take the next step in your academic career.

Member Schools: View our member schools and the programs that they offer
Preparing for the Next Step: Explore professional development information, materials to help you get ready for college, and available funding resources
Connect: Join us on LinkedIn to receive periodic content from higher education and industry
Contact Us: Please let us know how we can assist you in your academic search
Reached this page in error? Visit our page for Employers.


Information – Our website and our representatives provide your employees with an efficient and effective way to gather college information.

Consultation on the successful coordination and promotion of your education or benefits fair.

Access to experts and resources in higher education in the greater Philadelphia region.

Convenience to contact with only one member who will then invite the member schools you’ve chosen to your event. This contact can prepare publicity materials, as well.

Raffle prizes (when requested) for your employees who attend your college fair.

Assurance you will you avoid a scheduling conflict by selecting a date when our members are not committed to another event.


    Employee Empowerment

    "PhillyColleges is our most strategic and innovative partner in the college and university environment. They place tremendous emphasis in higher learning and adult degree completion programs. We are very pleased to have this level of support within our organization to help our employees grow and develop, and to give back to SEPTA."

    -Michael D

    Employee Education

    "We have hosted the 'Employee Education Fair' for many years. This is a very popular event and greatly assists in our career progression efforts."

    -Christie T.
    Abington Memorial Hospital

    Furthering Careers

    "Many of our employees want to further their careers. This was a positive look at how to accomplish their goal. Thank you!"

    -Laura Z.
    SAP AG, Inc.

    Encouraging Growth

    "It shows that we are concerned about the future of our staff and that we encourage growth."

    -Paula H.
    Horizon House

    Educated Workforce

    "An educated workforce is an advantage. The fair coordinator cooperated to seamlessly integrate the fair into our workday. A number of employees made a point to tell me how pleased they were with the fair."

    -Lou V.
    Rohm & Haas, Inc.


    "You made our first fair a success! We hope to do this every year. Thanks!"

    -Robyn L.
    City Year, Inc.

    Positive Experience

    "The education fair was a valuable and positive experience for our employees and the high school students in our career program. It was a great opportunity for attendance by bringing the event on-site."

    -Barbara L.
    St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

    Very Convenient

    "Because there were multiple colleges in attendance it provided an opportunity for employees to find schools close to work and home. It also gave the allowed employees to ask specific questions based on what their needs were. Many employees, like myself, find it time consuming to search the internet, contact colleges, etc… and having a group together that can easily be accessed during lunch, breaks etc… was very convenient."

    -Risa H.
    PECO Energy


    "Each university was properly represented with enough information for our employees to make the best decision for themselves and/or their family and friends. We only had to provide the space; the representatives of the consortium controlled everything else. It was most helpful to all of us in the Human Resources department, not to have to worry about the set-up or break down of the education fair. UPS emphasizes higher education, not only for a more erudite employee, but also to further develop a diverse and learned individual."

    -Michelle B.

    Frequently Asked Questions for Adult Students

    Why attend college? Will it help my career?

    The opportunities for adult learning in the Philadelphia region far exceed those of just about any other place in the United States. So how can that help you?

    The answer begins first with you – your interests, needs, personality traits and values. After you’ve determined your key qualities, you can compare programs and schools with your own goals.

    The majority of adult learners attend college seeking career advancement and satisfaction. Additionally, postsecondary education will be required for nearly 75 percent of all future jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

    While a degree can’t guarantee success, workers who earn an associate, bachelors or graduate degree will gain, on average, a wage increase of $10,000 per year for each higher-degree level earned. These earnings can amount to as much as $1 million over the course of your work life. Of course, not all degrees affect earnings equally: business, engineering and professional degrees are typically the most lucrative.

    Others might choose to attend college for a more personal interest or simply because of a love of learning. Some parents have even found an unexpected bonus — their children are motivated to excel in school by watching them study!

    Whatever your goals, you should be able to find a Philly Colleges member college that can help you attain them.

    How can I narrow my college search?

    In a region with so many great educational opportunities it is understandably challenging to narrow down your college search. The following criteria may help you compare schools. School offerings also must be compared to your needs and long-term goals. If you are an employer considering which schools to invite to an event, we would encourage you to invite different types of schools to meet a variety of needs.

    Relevance: Do the classes include adults and apply to the real-world?

    Instructor background: Does the school use full-time or adjunct faculty?

    Supportive environment: Can you reach staff when needed?

    Reputation: Are both the school and program accredited? Does the school rank favorably?

    Convenience: What time and where are the classes held?

    Distance Education: Are classes available online or partially online? Is it real-time (synchronous) or to be viewed at any time?

    Length of classes and program: How many days/hours will you be in the classroom?

    Requirements: What are the specific entrance, graduation and major requirements?

    Transferability: Will all classes with a grade of a “C” or better transfer and how do they apply?

    Prior learning credit: Does the school use tests, essays or give academic credit for professional training and/or military training?

    Student completion rates: What percentage of students who start and finish the program?

    Career advantages: What career planning or placement is provided? Who are the other students who will become part of your network? What is the success rate of graduates?

    What are the differences between degrees, certificates and non-credit courses?

    Certificate: This often is a non-credit program to allow students to gain knowledge in a particular subject area or trade. It is not a college degree, but may assist students with acquiring skills in a focused area of study. Additionally, some certificates are offered in cooperation with professional associations to meet the standards for that profession. For example, certification in Project Management, Six Sigma or Human Resources.

    Academic credit certificates are also possible and are typically connected to undergraduate or graduate degree programs to encourage a concentrated course of study.

    Associate: This undergraduate degree (or certificate-level) is eligible to those with a high-school diploma or GED. Students must complete approximately 60 credits of course work and may choose to attend classes on a full-time or part-time basis. An associate’s degree is equivalent to a two-year degree. Another two years of successful study provides a student with a bachelor’s degree.

    Bachelor: This undergraduate degree is eligible to those with a high-school diploma or GED. Students must complete approximately 120 credits of course work and may choose to attend classes on a full-time or part-time basis. A bachelor’s degree is equivalent to a four-year degree.

    Post-Baccalaureate (Pre-master’s): This non-degree program allows students to gain additional preparation in a particular discipline after earning a bachelor’s degree. Typically, those completing a post-baccalaureate program a certificate of completion and could also receive credit that could be included in a degree program.

    Master’s Degree: This graduate degree is designed for those who wish to achieve advanced credentials in a particular discipline. In most cases, students must possess a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a master’s program. Some colleges offer a combined undergraduate and graduate program which can be completed in five years.

    Education Specialist: The Ed. S. degree is intended for individuals who wish to gain additional credentials in the field of education beyond the master’s degree level. A master’s degree in the field of education is typically required as a prerequisite.

    Professional: This advanced degree prepares graduates for professions, such as medicine, dentistry, or law. Professional degrees often have the title “doctor.” Typically, students must have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a professional degree program.

    Doctorate: This advanced degree is one of the highest earned academic degrees granted by a university, preparing the recipient for research and teaching positions. Typically, students must possess a master’s degree to be accepted into a doctoral program; however, there are also combined master’s and doctoral programs which may accept students with bachelor’s degrees.

    How can I afford college?

    You can’t afford not to complete at least one college degree. According to a study conducted in 2005 by the U.S. Census Bureau, full time workers aged 25 and older earned, on average, thousands of dollars more for each degree they had achieved. For example, the median income for someone with their Associate Degree is $40,600, with a Bachelor’s Degree is $50,900, and a Master’s Degree, is $61,300. If you are interested in more information pertaining to degrees and average income you can visit the Department of Labor.

    There are a variety of ways to help pay for your education. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement. This helps to cover the cost and will pay either a portion of your education or in some cases cover everything including your classes and books. Similarly, the military also offers reimbursement for education.

    Many schools offer payment plans, where you can pay increments based on a schedule. Other ways of paying include low interest government backed loans, grants and scholarships. Full-time students who participate in graduate assistantships often receive discounted or free tuition.

    While there are numerous scholarships available to traditional undergraduate students these are much more limited for part-time adult students. Your college may offer their own scholarships. For example, there often are merit scholarships for transfer students graduating from a community college and going on to a four year college or university.

    Be sure to speak with the Financial Aid Officer of the university or college you plan on attending to find out the options that are available to you. Below are additional links you may find useful:

    Financial Assistance

    College Navigator: National Listing of Schools

    Explore Careers and Jobs

    Exploring Distance Education