Get Into UPenn
About the University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, is located on a 299-acre urban campus in Philadelphia, PA. There are 4,722 total faculty members in addition to 10,605 undergraduate students and 11,355 full-time graduate students. Penn is ranked #6 of National Universities, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Penn is well known for its athletic teams in addition to its academic opportunities. The Quakers have varsity teams in 31 sports and are a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.
Within the larger university, students at Penn select one of four colleges for undergraduate study. There are also twelve graduate programs and schools on campus, including the Perelman School of Medicine, the first medical school in North America.
The College of Arts and Sciences or “The College” offers a liberal arts curriculum and a wide range of majors across the natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. This is the largest of the undergraduate schools, enrolling 6,200 of the University’s c. 10,000 undergraduates.
There are c. 1900-2000 undergraduate students enrolled in the school of Engineering and Applied Science. Undergraduates can pursue majors in either Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) or Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) programs. The faculty-to-student ratio provides many opportunities for undergraduate research with Penn faculty in laboratories during the academic year and in the summer.
There are approximately 590 undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Nursing—the top nursing school in the world. This traditional four-year BSN program for graduating high school seniors offers clinical experience at nearby hospitals and the chance to participate in faculty-driven research. Students may also enroll in combined programs that integrate a nursing education with a strong liberal arts curriculum.
Nearly 2,500 students are enrolled at the Wharton School. All Wharton students graduate with the same degree: a bachelor of science in economics. However, during their course of study, students choose focused concentrations (such as accounting, business analytics, finance, or marketing, among many others). The Wharton degree, unlike a BA in economics, places an emphasis on how to apply business methods and economic theory to real-world problems.
Penn’s undergraduate students pursue more than 90 majors across these four schools. They also engage in interdisciplinary programs, forge new paths in research, and participate in international study programs offered in more than 50 countries.
Applying to the University of Pennsylvania
Penn accepts either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. They are also a QuestBridge partner institution for high-achieving students with significant financial need. Applicants may choose to apply through the binding Early Decision option (Nov. 1) or Regular Decision (Jan. 5). For those who apply ED, decisions are made in mid-December. Regular Decision applicants hear back by April 1.
In addition to the materials submitted online via the Common App or Coalition App, applicants must submit their official high school transcript, standardized test scores, school report, counselor recommendation, two teacher evaluations, a mid-year report and a final report (for matriculating students).
Interviews are offered based on availability. Although typically, more than 90% of applicants are offered an interview with an alumni volunteer, this depends entirely on availability and not on a candidate’s strength. For Early Decision applicants, these interviews take place from mid-October through early December. For Regular Decision applicants, they take place from December through early March.
Students are also asked to submit a mandatory writing supplement. This year, there are two mandatory essays:
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
Here are the first lines from a few applications UPenn admissions officers reviewed and accepted in recent years:
“My love of history began in a swimming pool parking lot when I bought a book on U.S. presidents from a guy selling stacks of paperbacks from the trunk of his car.”
“Before I even saw her, my adrenaline levels spiked. I had spent plenty of time with girls my age, but never with a woman quite as old and mature as her. My heart raced and beads of sweat formed on my brow as I searched for her. And then, suddenly, there she was: short, delicate—and almost 3,000 years old.”
“Silvia, a Grameen America loan recipient and Bronx resident, described the paint crumbling off the walls and the occasional rodent scuttling across her not-so-beautiful beauty salon; she also described the rewarding week of work she and her co-workers put in to fix “Silvia’s Salon” after receiving $1,500 from Grameen.” (Student admitted to Wharton)
“According to economics, an object becomes more valuable as it becomes scarcer. Having been born with cerebral palsy, I was the only disabled girl in my school—why wasn’t I valuable too?” (Student admitted to Wharton)
UPenn Admissions Wrap Up
Of the 44,960 students who applied to Penn’s Class of 2023 in the early and regular rounds, 3,345 were admitted, leading to an overall acceptance rate of 7.44 percent. Last year’s overall acceptance rate was 8.39 percent when Penn admitted a total of 3,731 students from 44,482 applications. Out of the total 3,345 admitted to the Class of 2023, 1,279 students were admitted through the early decision round. The admission rate for the ED round was 17.99 percent out of 7,110 applicants. In the Class of 2023, 51 percent of admitted U.S. students self-identify as students of color, with 53 percent the year prior. 15 percent of students in the incoming class, around 500 individuals, identify as first-generation.