How hard is it to get into the University of Pennsylvania? Learn the UPenn acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and read UPenn essays that worked
Part 1: Introduction
If your child is a highly competitive student with an appetite for a rigorous course load and a robust thirst for learning, chances are they’re looking into attending one of the prestigiousIvy League universities。If they also happen to be interested in interdisciplinary thinking and attending college in a historic, thriving city, they should consider applying to the nation’s first university, theUniversity of Pennsylvania.
But before you start asking how to get into UPenn, take a moment to learn as much as possible about the spirit of the school that calls itself “the Ivy League without the ivory tower.”
Penn was established in 1740 by founding father Benjamin Franklin, who envisioned an institution of higher education that pushed the boundaries of knowledge and contributed to furthering society. At Penn, that lofty mission manifests in integrated studies in the liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional training at both the undergrad and graduate levels, along with several extremely unique interdisciplinary undergrad programs like the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business.
Penn’s four undergraduate schools include a college of arts and sciences, a business school, an engineering school, and a school of nursing. No matter which school or major students are enrolled in, Penn emphasizes that all undergraduate students receive a thorough foundation in the liberal arts. Many students take courses across all four undergraduate schools and choose from countless interdisciplinary minors and dual degrees.
Your child might spend their summer traveling with the Penn-in-Cannes abroad course to attend the Cannes International Film Festival and study international business, or hiking the Swiss and Italian Alps to gain direct field experience in their studies of geography. They might be invited by a top professor of physics to research supernovas in the Andes Mountains and aid in the discovery of a new planet by the start of the fall semester. Or they could spend their days training as an oncology nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and their nights reading their poems to an audience of literary giants at the Kelly Writers’ House.
Penn prides itself on a tradition of firsts—the nation’s first university founded by its first statesman, in the nation’s first capital of Philadelphia—and it has a long tradition of producing the world’s foremost innovators and thinkers. Your child might follow in the footsteps of some of Penn’s greatest alumni—launch a private space exploration company like Elon Musk, become the chief NBC Nightly News correspondent like Andrea Mitchell, change the landscape of political thought like Noam Chomsky, or entertain the world through performance like John Legend.
As is the case for any Ivy League school, the competition to gain admission is fierce. Fortunately, our team has helped many UPenn applicants achieve admissions success and we routinely receive messages like these:
Read on to learn the UPenn acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and our recommendations to help your child maximize their chances of receiving a UPenn acceptance.
U.S. News & World Report: 8
Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education: 12
(Suggested reading:Ivy League Rankings: The Definitive Guide)
UPenn is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This walkable, unpretentious, historic Mid-Atlantic metropolis is nestled in the corridor between Washington D.C. and New York City.
Philadelphia was named a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2015, the first city in the United States given this distinction. It’s also the ninth-largest metropolitan economy in the U.S. and home to five Fortune 1000 companies, meaning your child might have a chance to intern or network with alumni and local Penn affiliates at the telecommunications giant Comcast or the food technology corporation FMC.
城市。宾夕法尼亚大学的校园位于大学City neighborhood of Philadelphia. While Penn is right in the heart of the city, the campus itself is abundantly green—so much so that it was officially declared an arboretum in 2017.
University City is a safe, affordable section of Philly easily accessible to the rest of the city and the greater Northeast corridor region through public transit. Your child might roll out of bed in their dorm room at Penn and be at their internship at JP Morgan Chase & Co or Facebook an hour later.
UPenn student population
Graduate and professional students: 16,592
UPenn acceptance rate
Here’s the UPenn admissions data pertaining to the class of 2025:
Acceptance rate: 5.9%
(Suggested reading:Ivy League Acceptance Rates）
UPenn tuition and scholarships
The 2021–2022 cost of attendance at UPenn (i.e., tuition, room, board, and fees) is $83,298.
Upenn满足了没有学生贷款的100％证明需求，使学生可以免于债务。2018 - 2019年，有46％的本科生获得了基于赠款的经济援助，平均奖励为54,301美元。
Who gets into UPenn?
In order to assess your child’s odds of gaining acceptance to UPenn, we’ve provided a profile of successful applicants:
UPenn average GPA: 3.9
UPenn average ACT score:
UPenn average SAT score:
25th percentile: 1490
75th percentile: 1560
Part 2: UPenn requirements for admission
UPenn academic requirements
Similar to its Ivy League and Ivy+ counterparts, Penn seeks intellectually curious, well-rounded students who will continue that Franklinian philosophy of applying knowledge in service to society—the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the world.
There are no specific course requirements to get into UPenn but the university expects your child to have taken challenging classes in the core academic areas (English, social studies, math, science, and foreign language) based on the courses available to them at their specific high school. They also want to see how your child challenges themselves withextracurricular activities。
It's worth noting that Penn, unlike Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, but like Cornell, does ask students to apply to one of the four specific colleges within the university. Again, those undergraduate schools are: The College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, Penn Engineering, and the Wharton School of Business.
回顾课程,入学搁浅船受浪摇摆estions for each of the four undergraduate colleges are slightly different. The College of Arts and Sciences expects your child to have had a balanced and advanced college prep curriculum, while both Penn Engineering and the Wharton School expect particularly strong preparation in mathematics, with coursework in calculus of possible. The School of Nursing likes to see strong science prep, particularly in chemistry.
Choosing one of the four colleges also means that, to apply to Penn, your child may need a little more information about their future academic plan than they might at another school. However, while identifying an intended major gives the admissions committee an idea of what your child might pursue at Penn, it has no impact on their studies once they enroll in one the undergraduate colleges.
Over half of students who indicate an intended major end up majoring in a different subject once they are studying at Penn. If your child is undecided, they can check that box, like over half of students admitted to the College of Arts and Science.
One difference to consider: If your child is admitted to one school and decides they’d rather study in another (for example—they are admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences but decide after their first year they’d rather study business at Wharton), theirinternal transfer通常要等到大二之后才考虑。
UPenn application requirements
Here’s the lowdown on what your child will need. Penn accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application.
Two Penn-specific essays and possibly several more essays tailored to the undergraduate school to which your child intends to apply
2021 - 2022年的可选：ACT or SATtest scores
Optional: IB, AP, or AICE test results
3letters of recommendation, following one of the options below:
1 counselor recommendation and 2 teacher recommendations
1 counselor recommendation, 1 teacher recommendation, and 1 other recommendation (e.g. a letter from a supervisor, mentor, coach, arts or music teacher, spiritual leader, or cultural leader)
School report, transcript, and midyear senior report (plus a final report required in June for matriculating students)
Optional: Additional letters of recommendation, art or music samples, or an expanded resume or research abstract in addition to the activities section of the application
Part 3: Applying to UPenn early decision vs. regular decision
Your child can apply to Penn via a binding early decision agreement by November 1st. They’ll receive an answer ofaccepted, deferred to the regular decision pool,ordenied到12月中旬。宾夕法尼亚州通过早期决定承认他们即将上课的一半，但Upenn早期决策接受率仍然很低，约为15％。
Your child can also apply regular decision to Penn, by January 5th.
If your child needs the fall semester of their senior year to improve their test scores, GPA, or activities profile, then they should wait for regular decision
Since Penn has different undergraduate schools, you might be asking yourself, are your child’s admissions odds affected by which school they apply to? The answer: Not particularly. Admissions rates to the College of Arts and Sciences, Wharton, and Penn Engineering are all typically under 10 percent. Only the School of Nursing is slightly higher—about 25 percent in recent years.
(Suggested reading:Early Action vs. Early Decision: Pros and Cons and What Your Child Should Do）
第4部分：2021–2022 Upenn补充论文(examples included)
Penn will evaluate your child based on their Common App personal statement, but it is equally important that they have exceptional Penn-specificsupplemental essays。Some individual undergraduate schools and specialty programs require additional written supplements, so make sure your child is aware of allPenn-specific essaysrequired for their chosen program.
Forallundergraduate admissions, Penn requires two supplements, both of which are shorter than the Common App essay: a 350–400-word essay that focuses on academic pursuits and a 150–200-word mini-essay that focuses on life outside of school.
Like otherIvy League essays，这些补充剂可以帮助招生团队对孩子的动力，领导力，激情，智力和背景更加全面地了解。这些论文允许招生委员会想象您的孩子如何为宾夕法尼亚州的文化做出贡献。
Jean is a first-generation college student interested in the Science, Technology, and Society major at Penn as a foundation for law school. She has been captain of the debate team since her sophomore year, and she’s a self-declared history buff. Jean writes a history of technology column for her school newspaper and serves as its web developer—last year, she even created an app for the paper.
爱丽丝长大在明尼阿波利斯和墨西哥城。She volunteered at a women’s prison in Mexico City during her last two years of high school and made a documentary with her IB Film class that profiled some of the prisoners and their lives there. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to major in but feels strongly about the intersection of art and public policy. She also writes poetry but doesn’t have any coursework or achievements that show her talent.
Question 1: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at The University of Pennsylvania? (300-450 words / 2295 characters)
Penn is asking your child to discuss their intellectual curiosity— not only their academic interests or accomplishments, but also (more importantly) their process of发现what makes them tick and how that might inform their academic approach at the university.
Strong applicants will have done their research into Penn programs they are interested in and specific professors they would like to take classes with; they’ll mention possible career fields or avenues of research they would like to explore.
But top-notch candidates won’t treat this essay as a report on their own talents. Rather, they’ll tell a story that showcases their intellectual vitality and demonstrates that their love of learning is infectious—and will make them a superb fit for Penn.
Here’s how Jean answered this one:
Before visiting Penn last spring, I read Wharton professor Adam Grant’s bookThe Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World。格兰特教授阅读的书给我看小孩ortance of risk takers being thoughtful, meticulous, and always slightly suspicious of the status-quo. Growing up the daughter of two Korean immigrants, I found that switching between American and Korean cultures naturally cultivated these traits in me from a young age—with Professor Grant’s help, I now applied those traits more intentionally in my own life. I listen carefully to the ideas of others, am open to collaboration, and end up finding surprising and innovative solutions to problems.
As founder Benjamin Franklin saw Penn as an institution that should combine practical and traditional education, I see the intersection of studies in political theory, practical experience in technology firms, and research in climate science as the foundation of my Penn education. I believe that the intersection of these disciplines— and at the core of that, a comprehensive liberal arts education— can truly open my mind to tackling the world’s problems with innovative solutions. I want to design an education for myself that helps me to consider problems like global warming holistically. Rather than a gain singular perspective from the hard sciences, business practices, or public policy, I can truly contribute to challenging the status-quo from the intersection of these subjects. An inside view of science and technology will also aid in my eventual plan to go into either environmental or intellectual property law.
In my high school experience, I’ve always tried to live a life of intellectual openness. Leading my fellow debaters to state and nation-wide competitions and collaboratively designing an app for my school newspaper have taught me the importance of considering different intellectual perspectives and skillsets to create the most innovative and surprising solutions possible.
Equally important to me are the perspectives of my parents, who both work as mail carriers for the US Postal Service. Their livelihoods rely on the sway of public policy and their ability to do manual, outdoor labor in a world with increasingly severe weather. I am always considering the material intersections of policy, technology, and climate science in their jobs, and know I would thrive in an atmosphere that allowed me to explore this intersection from a theoretical and research perspective.
What makes Jean’s essay so successful?
An emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking.Jean highlights her alignment with Benjamin Franklin’s philosophy of learning, which is central to Penn’s identity. She concisely communicates the specific intersection of studies she’s interested in, and why she thinks a holistic education in multiple fields is important. She then mentions how this will serve her current career goal of attending law school in particular law concentrations. Most importantly, Jean talks about how she already applies this mode of thinking in her current life, both through her extracurricular activities and reflections on her family life.
Question 2: At Penn, learning and growth happens outside of the classroom, 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 / 1020 characters)
The second supplement is the complete opposite of the first—Penn wants your child to communicate their aptitudeoutside教室作为与目前居住的社会互动的人。
Remember that Penn is proud of providing an education that intersects the theoretical and the practical— the Ivy League没有the ivory tower. They want students who will contribute to the betterment of society in the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the wider world. Your child should consider the parts of their lives outside of the classroom that made them grow as individuals or become leaders, and how they might continue to do so at Penn.
Note that while it’s not explicitly stated in the question, this prompt is an opportunity for your child to talk about the community from which他们来。这是设置他们以宾夕法尼亚学生将很快属于的社区谈论社区的好方法，并确保论文来自深层个人经验和感觉，而不是浅薄的，反应性的冲动。
Here’s how Aashish answered:
我在一家餐厅长大。我的一些记忆中的一些包括看着我叔叔的飞镖进出工业厨房的摇摆门，看着房间里装满了美味的萨尔森·卡格（Sarson Ka Saag）和麦基（Makki Ki Roti）。随着年龄的增长，我放学后在那里作为洗碗机工作，为大学省钱。有时，这项工作感觉令人不愉快，我的手总是用肥皂生生。但是后来我见证了我的叔叔在一个无家可归的人面前设置一盘蒸盘食物，并像任何付费客户一样对待他，我会对在叔叔的业务中洗碗表示深切的感谢。
The restaurant is where I first learned how to take care of the community around me, it’s what fueled my passion for public health. At Penn, I also want to take care of the community around me through food by volunteering with the Good Food Bag Program through the Agaston Urban Nutrition Initiative, as well as hosting family dinners for my dorm to introduce my peers to the Punjabi food of my childhood.
What made Aashish’s essay successful?
He goes beyond his resumé. In his first essay, Aashish already mentioned his hospital experience and how he would continue and deepen his intellectual practices in nursing through his duel degree. This gave Aashish the opportunity to talk about a complex experience of work and family that wouldn’t necessarily translate on a resumé of activities.
He demonstrates personal growth. Aashish tells a story of how he came to value community involvement through his upbringing and details specific ways he would like to continue to contribute at Penn. While this essay focuses on extracurricular involvement, it also mentions his path of study in public health.
Here’s what Alice wrote:
I never thought that my affinity for Netflix would lead me to the great passion of my life. As a freshman in high school, I binged the first season ofOrange is the New Black在明尼苏达州的下雪天。该节目使我感动了我，我开始阅读有关在美国监禁的所有内容。当我的家人回到墨西哥城时，我意识到我不知道那里的监禁景观，我需要找出答案。因此，我拿起相机，教自己如何拍摄和编辑电影。我采访了西班牙语的女人，并将他们的故事翻译成英文，因此广泛的听众可以访问他们的故事。
As a writer of poetry, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity of Freewrite Prison Writing Group through the Kelly Writers’ House, working with incarcerated women and trans people. I’d like to continue my documentary filmmaking work with those I meet in this program, to be able to both help them tell their stories and help the world to know them.
She starts from a surprising angle. An anecdote about binge-watching Netflix isn’t generally a strong way to start an essay, but Alice uses it as the spark that activated her intellectual rigor and commitment to social justice. By beginning with something as banal as watching television, that most people would simply consume and move on, Alice the extent of her passion and drive.
She sets specific goals for community involvement. Alice uses this chance to mention her interest in poetry, which doesn’t appear anywhere else in her application, to show her interest in contributing to a specific institution at the school. She takes it a step further by making plans to continue her current extracurricular project in this new environment.
(Suggested reading:Successful College Essay Examples From Top-25 Universities）
The University of Pennsylvania is a top contender for any ambitious high school student with a penchant for intersecting scholarship with practical knowledge. Here, your child will have every opportunity to access a first-rate education for their intellectual life and career paths. Penn’s identity is very specific, so as you think about how to get into UPenn, your child should get to know the school. It’ll help them articulate how they fit perfectly into Penn’s unique intellectual culture.
About the Author
Dr. Shirag Shemmassianis the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and one of the world's foremost experts on college admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into top programs like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT using his exclusive approach.