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Online Colleges in
PENNSYLVANIA

Online schools in Pennsylvania

Article Sources
  • “Top Colleges,” Forbes, Accessed March 2015: Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.forbes.com/colleges/carnegie-mellon-university/; University of Pennsylvania, http://www.forbes.com/colleges/university-of-pennsylvania/
  • Pennsylvania, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=PA&ct=1+2+3&ic=1+2, Accessed March 2015.
  • Key Industries, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, http://newpa.com/business/key-industries, Accessed March 2015.
  • Community Colleges, Colleges and Universities, Pennsylvania Department of Education, http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/higher_education/8711/community_colleges%2C_colleges_and_universities/823470, Accessed March 2015.
  • Pennsylvania Top 50 Employers, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry,
  • http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1222720&mode=2, Accessed March 2015.
  • Newly Launched Degree Programs, Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education, http://www.passhe.edu/answers/Pages/New_Programs.aspx, Accessed March 2015.
  • Long Term Occupational Projections - Pennsylvania, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm, Accessed March 2015.
  • Cost of Living in Pennsylvania, Sperling's Best Places, http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/Pennsylvania, Accessed March 2015.
  • Pennsylvania Quickfacts, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/42000.html, Accessed March 2015.
  • Fastest Growing Occupations, “Employment Projections,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_103.htm, Accessed March 2015.
  • Pennsylvania, “May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/OES/Current/oes_pa.htm, Accessed March 2015.
  • Pennsylvania Economy at a Glance, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.pa.htm, Accessed March 2015.
  • “Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh, all accessed March 2015: Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm; Psychologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm; Market Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm; Logisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm; Industrial Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/industrial-engineers.htm; Information Security Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm
  • California University of Pennsylvania, “Best Colleges,” U.S. News and World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/cup-3316, Accessed March 2015.
  • “Overall Rankings,” U.S. News and World Report, all accessed March 20, 2015: Pennsylvania State University - University Park, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/pennsylvania-state-university-main-campus-214777/overall-rankings; Villanova University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/villanova-university-216597/overall-rankings; Lehigh University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/lehigh-university-213543/overall-rankings
  • “Online Programs,” U.S. News and World Report, all accessed March 20, 2015: Pennsylvania State University-World Campus,  http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/pennsylvania-state-university-world-campus-6965/bachelors?int=a2bb09&int=a56509; Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper), Online MBA Degrees,” http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/carnegie-mellon-university-OBUS0100/mba
  • Schools accessed March 20, 2015: Drexel University Online, http://www.drexel.com/; About Edinboro University,  http://www.edinboro.edu/about/; Distance Education Programs and Courses, Edinboro University, http://www.edinboro.edu/academics/distance-education/programs-and-courses.html; Our History, The Pennsylvania State University, http://www.psu.edu/this-is-penn-state/our-history; About Penn State World Campus, The Pennsylvania State University, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/about-us and http://www.outreach.psu.edu/about/newsroom/; Online Learning, University of Pennsylvania, http://www.upenn.edu/programs/distance.php; Penn's Heritage, University of Pennsylvania, http://www.upenn.edu/about/heritage.php; Fun Facts, Lehigh University, http://www4.lehigh.edu/about/history/funfacts.aspx; Rankings, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/about/rankings-awards/rankings/index.shtml#Rankings%20Index; Graduate Success, Central Penn College, http://www.centralpenn.edu/success; History & Traditions, Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/about/history/index.shtml; About, Villanova University, http://www1.villanova.edu/content/main/about.html
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If you're looking into traditional or online schools in Pennsylvania, then you probably already know that the state has a lot to offer prospective students. Whether you prefer the big-city life in Philadelphia or the laid-back pace of country townships that back up to forested wilderness, there's likely to be at least one among Pennsylvania's 311 two- and four-year institutions that can give you the educational environment you're after.

Institution type No. offering bachelor's degrees No. offering associate's degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public43508928
Private nonprofit875210793
Private for-profit11721275


What's more, the job market for college graduates has some significant strong spots in the Keystone State. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 that 27.5 percent of Pennsylvania residents over the age of 25 hold college degrees, but that figure varies quite a bit at the regional level. In York, Pennsylvania, for example, the bachelor's-educated workforce composed less than 10 percent of the adult population in 2013, while more than a third of Pittsburgh residents held at least a bachelor's degree the same year.

City Total estimated population
(U.S. Census, 2015)
No. of enrolled students
(NCES, 2016)
No. of students as a percentage of total population % of residents with bachelor's degrees
(U.S. Census, 2015)
Bethlehem75,0049,78013.04 percent 26.7 percent
Radnor31,5018,72027.68 percent 72.6 percent
Allentown119,2618,6537.26 percent 15.5 percent
Erie100,6788,3618.30 percent 21.6 percent
Indiana14,0508,22158.51 percent 42 percent
Upper Darby82,8296,4927.84 percent 29.2 percent
Bloomsburg14,6316,33543.30 percent 24.5 percent

Online education in Pennsylvania

As the technology necessary to deliver engaging educational content becomes more widely available and easier to use, more and more traditional universities are beginning to offer degree plans that take place mostly or entirely in the virtual classroom. The list of online schools in Pennsylvania includes some prestigious institutions, including an Ivy League school and several with more than 150 years of history.

There are also some benefits to distance learning that apply specifically to Pennsylvania residents. Here are a few of the advantages that Pennsylvania online students enjoy alongside the location flexibility and generally lower tuition rates available to online students anywhere:

Institution type No. offering 4-year degrees No. offering 2-year degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Private nonprofit25 - 2323
Private for-profit - 115-1
Public3643620

Affordable living costs in Pennsylvania may let students stretch their education budget a bit further than in other states where housing comes at a higher price. In 2015, Sperling's Best Places reports an average Pennsylvania housing expenditure 15 percent lower than the average nationwide, with an overall cost of living that also sits below the national mean.

Dozens of new degree plans are emerging from Pennsylvania schools, and a large percentage of them are slated to serve the online segment of the student population. Among the institutions of the Pennsylvania State University System alone, the last couple of years have seen the emergence of newly minted online degrees in cybersecurity, nutrition, applied mathematics, criminal justice administration and more.

A higher education support network supplements Pennsylvania's many top-tier universities, and includes libraries, public two-year institutions and other entities that can provide a wealth of resources for in-state students. There's also a total of 31 community colleges in Pennsylvania, which can help students build study skills and tackle many of their general education requirements before transferring to a four-year school to concentrate on the subject-specific work of their degree.


A large percentage of new degree programs emerging from Pennsylvania schools are slated to serve the online student population.


Many Pennsylvania universities are notable in their commitment to online education, and a few stand out specifically from the pack both statewide and nationally. Here are a few of the top online colleges in Pennsylvania:

  • Penn State World Campus - Penn State was a trailblazer in the world of distance education, offering its first correspondence courses over 100 years ago and debuting its online offerings in 1998. U.S. News and World Report ranks Penn State World Campus as not only Pennsylvania's best online college but also the best online bachelor's program in the country. The school continues to lead the pack in online education, working on projects ranging from its recent initiative that provides veterans and other military personnel easier access to academic degrees, to its recent expansion of online master’s degree programs and areas of emphasis in education.
  • Drexel University - This longstanding private research university offers online degrees to undergraduates, graduates and professionals in numerous fields of study. Drexel also maintains three campuses around Philadelphia, so online students in the metro area should have fairly ready access to on-campus facilities.
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania - Edinboro is one of the online schools in Pennsylvania with a traditional education history that stretches back the better part of two centuries. The Erie County institution offers undergraduate and graduate programs online, as well as a list of courses offered through video conferencing (ITV).

Featured schools in Pennsylvania

Students interested in a more complete list of Pennsylvania-based institutions offering online degrees can start by exploring this map, which shows the location of all colleges in the state based on 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Once you identify schools that are located nearby, it's easy to explore what online degrees might be offered near you. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

VIEW MAP >

Best degrees to get in Pennsylvania

High tech is big business all over the U.S. in 2015, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Opportunities in advanced manufacturing, materials science, aviation and bioengineering abound, and the interdisciplinary sciences behind the state's big agribusiness and food production economies are advancing in step with other technological fields.

STEM degrees aren't the only game in town, though, with the business administration and management fields holding up as strong as ever in Pennsylvania's urban areas. Top Pennsylvania employers like Walmart, Giant Foods and others in the grocery and retail industries need skilled managers and logisticians to keep their operations running. Public policy and higher education organizations also employ thousands of people throughout the state, and government agencies like the Department of Defense have a significant economic presence as well.

Here's a quick list of degrees available at traditional and online schools in Pennsylvania that can help students prepare to meet the state's particular workforce demands once they enter the career market:

Biomedical Engineering
Education level required
Why it's hot
Bachelor's degree Biomedical engineers are in high demand all over the country, and Pennsylvania specifically should see a 40.5 percent increase in employment opportunities between 2012 and 2022.
Business Administration
Education level required
Why it's hot
Master's degree (MBA) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that management careers were among the highest paying of all fields in Pennsylvania in 2013, with a mean annual wage of $115,750 across the occupational category.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Education level required
Why it's hot
Associate degree or certificate Sonography careers come with some impressive upside, including expected statewide job growth of 36.3 percent by 2022 and a mean annual wage of $59,620 in 2013.
Cybersecurity
Education level required
Why it's hot
Bachelor's degree Large organizations need a strong information security presence, and the presence of both large private and federal agencies in Pennsylvania can translate to strong opportunities for candidates with cybersecurity training.
Industrial Engineering
Education level required
Why it's hot
Bachelor's degree Jobs for industrial engineers aren't hot everywhere in the U.S., but the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development reports a statewide commitment to revolutionizing industrial facilities and techniques.
Supply Chain Management
Education level required
Why it's hot
Bachelor's degree Large retail operations are among the top employers in Pennsylvania, and keeping just-in-time inventory systems running smoothly earned Pennsylvania logistics personnel a mean annual 2013 salary of $71,260.
Statistics
Education level required
Why it's hot
Bachelor's degree Sharp statisticians are the unsung heroes of marketing and corporate research, and Pennsylvania expects 6,100 brand new positions to open up in the market research field by 2022.
Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Education level required
Why it's hot
Master's, doctoral or specialist degree Industrial-organizational psychology shows the fastest growth projections of any U.S. career in 2015, and Pennsylvania psychologists should see their industrial-organizational ranks swell by 35.5 percent by 2022.

Pennsylvania colleges

Pennsylvania's rich educational climate contains a wide variety of schools, and every one has its own unique learning environment and institutional characteristics. Each of these schools has a good reputation for traditional, classroom-based coursework, but online options may be available as well:

Pennsylvania State University - With 24 campuses and close to 100,000 students, Penn State has come a long way since its founding as a land-grant college for agricultural scientists. Along with its head-of-the-class online bachelor's degree program, U.S. News also lists it at No. 14 among stateside public colleges and No. 52 among all universities worldwide.

California University of Pennsylvania -Hands-on experience takes center stage at this public institution in the southeastern section of the state, where students in nearly all of its programs engage in clinical practice, fieldwork, student teaching or another practical application of their classroom learning. Online education at Cal U is no slouch either, with graduate programs in education and nursing that rank among the nation's best.

University of Pennsylvania - Founded more than 250 years ago by Benjamin Franklin, this old-guard institution graduated its first class in 1757. Penn is consistently held up as one of the best schools in the U.S., with Forbes placing it at No. 12 overall and U.S. News ranking it in a tie at No. 8. Students at Penn may take some courses online, although full-fledged degrees may be hard to come by.

Lehigh University - This Bethlehem institution is home to the third oldest collegiate stadium in the country and counts among its graduates the men who built the Golden Gate Bridge and the Panama Canal. It also ranks among the top 50 universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and its online graduate programs in business and engineering are highly esteemed as well.

Central Penn College - With a main campus, a satellite location and a robust online presence, Central Penn focuses on training students for gainful working lives once they're out of school. According to data gathered on the school's One-Year Graduate Follow-Up Report, more than 85 percent of its graduates find employment in their chosen field after graduation.

Carnegie Mellon University - Founded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and steeped in tradition, this Pittsburgh institution checks in at No. 59 in the Forbes rankings and shows up on more national lists of academic excellence than we have space here to list. Its business school, the Tepper School of Business, offers an online-hybrid MBA that U.S. News puts among the top 10 nationwide.

Villanova University - Just a train ride from Philadelphia is located this austere Roman Catholic institution, named by U.S. News as the best university in the northern region and home to a men's basketball team that's seen considerable success. Its online graduate programs in business and engineering have won national recognition, and it's considered one of the best educational values available in the country.

Article Sources
Methodology

To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
    • Remedial services
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Guaranteed tuition plan
    • Tuition payment plan
    • Any other alternative tuition plan
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21st Century eSchool
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
7106 South Avenue
City
Middleton
State
WI
Zip Code
53562
Website
http://www.21eschool.com/index.html
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
School Type
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
0
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
In-State Tution & Fees
$0
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
0
Number of Online Programs Offered
-
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
0%
21st Century Virtual Academy
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1829 Denver West Drive #27
City
Golden
State
CO
Zip Code
80401
Website
http://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/online/
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
School Type
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
0
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
In-State Tution & Fees
$0
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
0
Number of Online Programs Offered
-
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
0%
Academy Online High School
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1110 Chapel Hills Drive
City
Colorado Springs
State
CO
Zip Code
80920
Website
http://www.asd20.org/education/school/school.php?sectionid=3858
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
School Type
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
0
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
In-State Tution & Fees
$0
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
0
Number of Online Programs Offered
-
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
0%
ACCESS Distance Learning
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
5351 Gordon Persons Building PO Box 302101
City
Montgomery
State
AL
Zip Code
36130
Website
http://accessdl.state.al.us/
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
School Type
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
0
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
In-State Tution & Fees
$0
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
0
Number of Online Programs Offered
-
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
0%
Alabama A & M University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
4900 Meridian Street
City
Normal
State
AL
Zip Code
35762
Website
www.aamu.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
383-470
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
360-480
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
370-457
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
16-19
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
4,505
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$30
Admissions Rate
65%
Offers On-Campus Housing
1
In-State Tution & Fees
$9,366
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
19
Number of Online Programs Offered
2
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
15%
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
Administration Bldg Suite 1070
City
Birmingham
State
AL
Zip Code
35294
Website
www.uab.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
520-630
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
520-668
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
22-28
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
11,511
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$30
Admissions Rate
60%
Offers On-Campus Housing
1
In-State Tution & Fees
$7,766
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
13
Number of Online Programs Offered
6
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
67%
Amridge University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1200 Taylor Rd
City
Montgomery
State
AL
Zip Code
36117
Website
www.amridgeuniversity.edu
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
308
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
0
In-State Tution & Fees
$10,860
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
10
Number of Online Programs Offered
22
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
100%
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
301 Sparkman Dr
City
Huntsville
State
AL
Zip Code
35899
Website
www.uah.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
520-650
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
550-680
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
24-30
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
6,013
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$30
Admissions Rate
81%
Offers On-Campus Housing
1
In-State Tution & Fees
$9,128
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
20
Number of Online Programs Offered
15
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
12%
Alabama State University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
915 S Jackson Street
City
Montgomery
State
AL
Zip Code
36104
Website
www.alasu.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
370-450
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
360-460
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
16-19
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
4,764
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$25
Admissions Rate
46%
Offers On-Campus Housing
1
In-State Tution & Fees
$8,720
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
18
Number of Online Programs Offered
4
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
13%
University of Alabama System Office
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
500 University Blvd. East
City
Tuscaloosa
State
AL
Zip Code
35401
Website
www.uasystem.ua.edu
Test Scores
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
-
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
-
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
-
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
0
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$
Admissions Rate
0%
Offers On-Campus Housing
-1
In-State Tution & Fees
$0
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
0
Number of Online Programs Offered
-
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
0%
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