Wilkes University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Wilkes University
Wilkes University offers the opportunities of a large institution in the caring, mentoring culture...

Wilkes University

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1933, Wilkes University commits to helping all students thrive, regardless of background. Wilkes is one of the nation’s great, small universities, offering the programs, activities and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small college, all at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities. 


In addition to 43 bachelor’s degree programs, Wilkes offers 25 master’s programs and five doctoral/terminal degree programs, including the doctor of philosophy in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, and doctor of pharmacy, as well as the master of fine arts in creative writing. The University comprises the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the College of Science and Engineering; the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy; the Passan School of Nursing; the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership; the School of Education; and University College (for undecided students).


Wilkes students will find professors truly interested in getting to know their goals for the future. All Wilkes students can find opportunities to gain real-world experience. That may mean starting a business in the first semester, conducting research, or using high-tech instruments. The core curriculum ensures a solid foundation across subjects, and rigorous programs prepare students to apply theory in real-world situations. Dedicated staff support students with tutoring, career services, internships and cooperative learning experiences, study abroad, diversity initiatives, and veterans issues.

Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
2,418 undergraduate students
95% of undergrad students are full time
53% male — 47% female
22% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
182 full-time faculty
272 part-time faculty
14 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
69% of first year students live on campus
39% of all students live on campus

School Location

Located at the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, along the Susquehanna River, Wilkes University lies in historic Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Shopping, restaurants, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, and a 14-screen movie theatre are within walking distance. Wilkes is two hours from Philadelphia and New York City and four hours from Washington, D.C. An international airport is 16 miles from campus. Minor league ice hockey and baseball teams compete nearby. Several ski resorts and state parks are located near campus for outdoor recreation.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities X
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X


76% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


61.52% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 8%
Hispanic/Latino 7%
Black or African American 5%
White 72%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 3%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 2%


Wilkes University offers 23 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports. Wilkes is part of the Middle Atlantic Conference and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Colonels compete in the following men’s sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling; ice hockey will join the roster for the 2018-19 season. Women’s teams are: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball.

The Colonel mascot embodies the Wilkes spirit of leadership while emphasizing camaraderie. Colors are blue and gold.

Other Information

Wilkes University is a private, comprehensive institution with more than 2,500 undergraduate students. Founded in 1933, it is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Professional accreditations include:

  • American Chemical Society
  • Engineering Accreditation Commission
  • ABET
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs
  • Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacist Commission on Credentialing
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Commission on English Language Program Accreditation

Academic Programs

Accounting, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biology, Business Administration, Chemistry, Communication Studies, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, Criminology, Digital Design and Media Art, Earth and Environmental Science, Education, Engineering, English, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Geology, Health Sciences, History, Individualized Studies, International Studies, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Musical Theater, Neuroscience, Nursing, Pharmacy, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Law, Pre-Osteopathic/Pre-Allopathic Medicine, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Podiatry, Pre-Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, Public Administration, ROTC(Air Force and Army), Sociology, Spanish, Sports Management, Theater Arts

More Distinctions

  • Wilkes has been designated a Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, parent company of G.I. Jobs magazine, for seven consecutive years. The award honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to support America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students to ensure their success on campus and after graduation.

  • The Economist has recognized Wilkes University as one of the top 25 institutions in the nation for providing economic value to students.


Wilkes University’s Education Gateway to Excellence (WilkesEDGE) is an optional program offered to select first-year students to help support the transition from high school to college. It requires fewer courses during the first semester and provides increased advising and support services.


Wilkes University’s E-mentoring Program provides first-year students with help to transition to college and provides an extraordinary support environment for academic achievement and personal growth. E-mentors are student leaders who have excelled in a collegiate lifestyle both academically and through extracurricular activities. E-mentors are assigned to first-year students based on students’ majors. Each E-mentor is matched with approximately 10-15 first-year students whom they meet at orientation and continue to mentor throughout the first year. The program received an Excellence Award from Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.


Wilkes students have an unparalleled opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty in research. Students can begin working on research as early as their freshman year, and up to 60 students work in full-time, paid summer research positions each year. Experiences include studying the impact of natural gas drilling on songbird health, working on early breast cancer detection, looking for ways to reduce hospital readmissions, or examining how drugs interact with proteins.


Wilkes attracts students from around the globe and from all walks of life. The Center for Global Education and Diversity works with the Multicultural Student Coalition to plan multicultural programs and projects to ensure that all students feel welcome in the Colonel community.    

Wilkes also places a high premium on global education and study abroad. The study abroad advisor works with students to find programs that meets their interests, goals, budget, and comfort level. Opportunities include weeklong excursions, summer offerings, and full semesters. Scholarships are available for study abroad. Destinations include Spain, Ecuador, Costa Rica, London, and Tanzania, among others.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band  
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band X
Literary magazine X
Marching band X
Model UN  
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band X
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station X
Yearbook X


The First-Year Foundations Program challenges first-year students to develop strategies for a successful transition to college. Each section of FYF is unique in content and constitutes a special topics course in which faculty members explore topics of special interest to them. All sections of FYF, regardless of topic, share a common core of objectives that facilitate significant learning experiences (inside and beyond the classroom) by which first-year students develop self-knowledge as learners and members of an academic community, intellectual curiosity, openness to diversity, and a capacity for lifelong learning and civic responsibility.


Wilkes’ Writing Across the Curriculum program requires that all academic programs require discipline-specific writing embedded throughout the curriculum.


Students selected for Wilkes University’s Honors Program take part in an enhanced, interdisciplinary experience for greater intellectual and professional development. Honors classes and extracurricular activities challenge students to expand their boundaries and explore new growth opportunities. Honors students get to meet university guest speakers and take field trips.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy X
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages  
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 137 172 178 56 9 27 1 580


Living Learning Communities at Wilkes extend learning beyond the traditional classroom to residence halls. Students can enjoy greater interaction and develop relationships with students who share common interests, facilitated by a designated faculty member and resident assistant. Commuters are invited to join as well. LLCs at Wilkes include Learning Through Leadership, Cross Cultural Dialogue, and Learning Without Walls.


The Big Event brings together students, faculty, staff, and alumni for a single day of university-wide community service to build relationships among Wilkes Colonels and neighbors. They rake yards, paint fences, groom gardens, and much more, working with local agencies to find volunteer sites.


Wilkes University hosts numerous lecture series, giving students access to nationally and even internationally known thought leaders in varied disciplines. These include the Allan P. Kirby Lecture in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, the Max Rosenn Lecture in Law and Humanities, the United Nations Lecture Series, the Catherine H. Bone Lecture in Chemistry, the Grace Kimball Memorial Lecture in Biology, and the Allan Hamilton Dickson Writer Series.


Wilkes University’s Centers of Excellence offer expanded opportunities for students to develop skills and experience, and they extend Wilkes’ influence as an economic driver in the region. Centers include the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (including the Kirby Enterprise Center), the Family Business Alliance, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, and the Small Business Development Center.


In addition to 23 NCAA Division III athletics teams, Wilkes students can compete in a variety of intramurals, including flag football, indoor soccer, billiards, volleyball, bowling, basketball, and softball.


The Darte Center for the Performing Arts buzzes with activity. It’s home to the region’s only collegiate marching band as well as other choral and instrumental groups. Students can also find their voice in theatre productions or participate in dance.


The Sordoni Art Gallery presents exhibitions, related programming, and publications in a wide range of media, topics, cultures, and time period.


The adventure education coordinator provides fun learning experiences that get students involved in physically demanding outdoor activities. In addition to building community and healthy physical activity, these experiences develop leadership skills and provide lessons on group dynamics, communication, and social skills.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms X
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students  
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  


Students find many opportunities to serve the local community. They provide meals to the homeless, donate blood, and fundraise for local charities. Many students also participate in projects specific to their majors, including accounting students helping prepare taxes for low-income clients, English majors conducting resume-writing workshops at a women’s center, and pharmacy students providing education at health fairs.

Alternative Spring Break service trips enable students to gain field experience while helping others. Destinations have included Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana, as well as Peru, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.


Wilkes University’s Office of Cooperative Education and Internships helps students get the hands-on experience they need to build out their resumes and put their Wilkes degree to work. Students can get help finding companies looking for interns in their discipline, or find out how to reach for a position in a specific company, whether it’s across town or across the country. Wilkes students have landed internships with companies like Google, Microsoft, Disney, Berkshire Hathaway, Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and Procter and Gamble.


Every program at Wilkes includes a capstone experience involving independent work with a faculty mentor or an internship.


Wilkes’ Center for Health Sciences and Student Success, staffed by a full-time director, is dedicated to assisting all Wilkes students interesting in attending medical, dental, optometry, veterinary or other health science programs. About 92 percent of Wilkes students applying to a medical and other health professions schools are accepted.


NCLEX pass rate for nursing students was 90.41 percent for 2016. Pharmacy students’ three-year average first-time pass rate on the NAPLEX (pharmacy board exam) is 97.1 percent.


Wilkes University alumni remain active after graduation, volunteering their time to mentor current students. Students can learn from alumni who provide valuable advice on career selection, job-search strategies, and resume improvement. Events like Connecting the Dots bring students and alumni face-to-face.



4,245 Total Applicants
3,223 Total Admissions
664 Total Freshmen Enrollment

75.92% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank

Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities

Interview Talent/ability
Alumni/ae relation
Volunteer work
Work experience

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 445 550
SAT Math 450 580
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 20 25
ACT Math 19 26
ACT English 19 24
ACT Writing    





Tuition $33,208
Fees $1,688
Total $34,896
Room and Board (on campus) $14,270
Estimated Total On Campus $49,166


Average Financial Aid Packages 2016-2017 ESTIMATED

$25,938 First year students
$20,242 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2016-2017 ESTIMATED

69.4% on average, the percentage of need that was met
11% of financial need students that had need fully met

$20,242 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,405 Average need-based loan

Additional Aid Information

Wilkes University reviews applications on a rolling basis. Merit scholarships are available based on high school academic record and performance on the SAT or ACT. From its founding, Wilkes has been committed to helping first-generation college students attain a degree. The First Generation Scholarship Fund provides funds to make a Wilkes education affordable.

Students applying for the guaranteed-seat doctor of pharmacy program must first apply to Wilkes and then apply to the guaranteed-seat program by Feb. 1.

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