Why Alvernia University Online?

Alvernia combines a high-quality, practical education with the personal touch and attention of a small private university. And with the convenience and flexibility of learning online, you can learn when and where it works for you.

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Discover the next step in your career with our online programs in business, nursing and education. Small class sizes and faculty members with real-world experience means you’ll receive an education that is directly relevant to your career, with strategies you can apply immediately.

At Alvernia, we are committed to developing ethical leaders. As one of only 24 Franciscan institutions in the United States, our values-based learning philosophy is guided by the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” which shapes both our educational philosophy and strong community.

We hope you join us in making an impact.


Alvernia’s Franciscan heritage includes a rigorous intellectual tradition that recognizes and values the importance of diversity of thought, faiths and cultures. We challenge our students to shape the world and transform it as working professionals, concerned citizens and caring community members, consistent with the principles and teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi.


The roots of Alvernia University were planted in 1926 when the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis established an orphanage in the building now known as Francis Hall; eventually the orphanage became an elementary school. Beginning as a college for the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958, the institution became a four-year liberal arts school. Alvernia received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1960.

Alvernia soon opened its doors to female students from the laity, while the first male students were enrolled in 1971. Since that time, the University has grown in both educational opportunities and enrollment.

Alvernia’s student population has grown from 23 freshmen and eight sophomores in 1958 to a current enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, men and women. Alvernia grants degrees as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Graduate programs were added in 1999 and have grown to include seven master’s degrees (MA, MBA, MED, MSOT, MA-Community Counseling, MALS, MSN) and a recently added Ph.D. program in leadership.

On Sept. 25, 2008, officials announced it had attained university status and would be hereafter known as Alvernia University.


Guided by Franciscan values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” and rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions, Alvernia is a rigorous, caring and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering broadly educated, lifelong learners; reflective professionals and engaged citizens; and ethical leaders with moral courage.


  • Reverence for the dignity of each individual
  • Service to others in the local and global community
  • Hospitality as expressed in an openness to all
  • Formation of a caring community
  • Education of the whole person — mind, body, heart and spirit
  • Gospel-centered values
  • Reverence for all creation
  • Care for the environment
  • Belief in the basic goodness of life as demonstrated through the expression of joy and optimism
  • Using the Franciscan intellectual tradition in education
  • Commitment to social justice
  • Sense of responsibility to others
  • Development of moral integrity