Alvernia University was founded in 1926 as a teacher's seminary by the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. In 1958,the institution expanded into a four-year college. In 2008, Alvernia celebrated its 50th Anniversary and was granted university status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Alvernia offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and minors. Pre-professional programs are available in dentistry, law, medicine, and veterinary studies. Master's degrees are awarded in occupational therapy, business administration, nursing, community counseling, education, and liberal studies. A Ph.D. program in leadership is also available.
Since 1967, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools has granted Alvernia accreditation. The Education program for elementary and secondary teachers is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The Occupational Therapy program is fully accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing has approval by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The Athletic Training program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs in cooperation with the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training. The Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The Behavioral Health course are certified by the Pennsylvania Certification Board. The Business Department is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs
Library holdings are 100,000 print, audiovisual, and computer materials; approximately 900 periodicals and 400 current subscriptions. The Library supports Polish-American and Italian-American cultural centers.
Alvernia's intercollegiate teams, known athletically as the Crusaders, compete at the NCAA Division III level in the Middle Atlantic Conferences (MAC), a highly competitive conference and the Eastern College Athletic Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, dance, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.