Alvernia University

400 Saint Bernardine St, Reading, PA 19607-1799

School Details

On a farm near Reading, Pennsylvania the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis opened an orphanage, and later a high school, in order to minister to the community. Their educational mission continued to grow, and in 1958, Alvernia College enrolled its first female students. The liberal arts school expanded programs and transitioned to a co-educational facility in 1971. By the end of the twentieth century, Alvernia established a graduate degree program, first awarding Master’s degrees, and later adding a Ph.D. program. In 2008, Alvernia gained university status.

Today, the private, not-for-profit Alvernia University continues to embrace its Franciscan heritage in the Catholic church. The institution resides on the main 121-acre campus in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and operates two additional campuses, the Philadelphia Center, and the Schuylkill Center in Pottsville, PA.  Alvernia enrolls approximately 3,000 students, with nearly half of the student body representing non-traditional students. Class sizes average 20 students or less, and the University maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. 


Over 55 student groups provide an array of extracurricular activities, ranging from academic clubs and honor societies to faith-based organizations and environmental groups. In addition, Alvernia University participates in NCAA division III intercollegiate sports, featuring basketball, lacrosse, track and field, golf and more.

Alvernia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Furthermore, Alvernia University retains program-specific accreditation from the:

  • American Council of Occupational Therapy Education
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Council on Social Work Education
  • PA State Board of Nursing Approval
  • PA Department of Education
  • Competency and Credentialing Institute.

Students can pursue a wide range of studies at Alvernia, from undergraduate degrees, including minor programs, to Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. More than fifty undergraduate programs give students options, including Education, Nursing, and Business Bachelor’s degrees. Students may elect to enroll in pre-professional programs, including Pre-Dental, Pre-Law, Pre-Medical and Pre-Veterinary. 

Alvernia University also offers approximately 22 graduate programs, including Master’s degrees, postgraduate certificates, as well as the Ph.D. in Leadership. Alvernia supports graduate Education and Business Administration studies, or students may choose to complete Master’s degrees in Nursing or Community Counseling. Additionally, adult educational programs give non-traditional students an opportunity to earn Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in the fields of business, education, and liberal studies.

In addition to continuing education courses for non-traditional students, Alvernia University also sponsors distance education. Busy professionals can complete the Master in Business Administration degree online. Students progress through seven-week modules as a cohort unit, however classes are conducted asynchronously for added flexibility. In addition, the MBA Online program matches the quality of its on-campus counterpart, and students have access to resources, such as librarians and technical support. Students complete between 36 and 45 credits and can finish the program within two years. Furthermore, Alvernia University hosts a large number of undergraduate and continuing studies coursework, along with graduate courses online for greater accessibility.

Alvernia University offers multiple financial aid options for qualifying students. Options include:

  • Scholarships, including merit-based, transfer awards, donor scholarships, and more.
  • Tuition discounts, including the Partners in Non-Profit, Leadership Berks Tuition Discount, Alumni Discount, Senior Citizen Discount, and the Tuition Exchange program.
  • Need-based grants, including Alvernia University grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Pell Grant, Out-of-State grants, Pennsylvania State Grant, and others.
  • Work-study programs and graduate assistantships.
  • Loan programs, including the Federal Direct Subsidized / Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, and other alternative private loans.
  • Tuition deferment.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation benefits.

In addition, Alvernia University has been cited as a G.I. Jobs Military Friendly School. Benefits for eligible service members and their families include Tuition Assistance, Montgomery GI Bill programs, the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, military credit for prior training, and benefits for dependents of service members that died in the line of duty.



Middle States Commission on Higher Education


School Overview:

  • Sector Of Institution:
    4-year, Private not-for-profit
  • Religious Affiliation:

    Roman Catholic

  • Highest Level Of Offering:
    Doctor's degree
  • Total Enrollments:
  • Adult Age Enrollments:
  • Percent Admitted:
  • Calendar System:



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