- Saint Joseph's University, a Jesuit institution in Philadelphia, is set to acquire Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, a nonprofit in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in what would be its second acquisition in less than two years.
- The deal is expected to close in January 2024. That timeline would allow for a year of integration and planning efforts. Accreditors and regulators still have to approve the plan.
- Saint Joseph's is touting the expansion as growing its reach outside of the Philadelphia area and enabling it to add over 20 programs offering certificates to doctoral degrees in allied health and, importantly, nursing. Saint Joseph's will begin offering nursing in Philadelphia.
Saint Joseph's snapped up the nearby University of the Sciences in June 2022. At the time, it said the move made it one of the three largest private institutions in the Philadelphia area, which is a highly competitive market in a state saturated with colleges.
The University of the Sciences deal swelled Saint Joseph's to nearly 8,900 students, including graduates and undergraduates — up from around 6,800 students previously. It also gave the institution a new city campus and several healthcare programs, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy and physician's assistant programs.
Acquiring Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, or PA College, would seem to fit with that direction. Saint Joseph's has long wanted to add nursing programs, its interim president, Cheryl McConnell, said in a statement.
"We know that programs like those offered at PA College are not only sought after by students, but they also have an exponential value in the communities where those students then go on to live, work and lead,” McConnell said.
Almost 2,000 PA College students are expected to become part of Saint Joseph's after the deal closes. PA College's enrollment has been growing over the last 10 years — it rose to just over 1,800 in fall 2021, up from 1,165 a decade earlier, according to federal data.
While Saint Joseph's has recent experience completing a merger, its latest move leaves it with considerably more geography to span. The University of the Sciences was a city campus just 5 miles away from Saint Joseph's suburban campus. PA College is in a different city, about 65 miles away.
But leaders cast the areas as part of the same regional economies and healthcare ecosystems.
“By becoming part of Saint Joseph’s, we have an extraordinary opportunity to continue PA College’s valued role in the education and professional development of the regional healthcare workforce while expanding the geographic and demographic reach of its critically needed nursing and allied health programs,” PA College's president, Mary Grace Simcox, said in a statement.