UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
REQUIREMENTS AND CAMPUS GUIDE
School Name: University of Pennsylvania
School Location: Philadelphia, PA
School Type: Liberal arts / Ivy League
Category: High Reach
University of Pennsylvania Admissions Rates Fall 2020
Test Optional for 2021-2022
Fall 2020 Test Scores
Early Decision: November 1
Early Results: Mid-December
Regular Deadline: January 5
Regular Results: By April 1
Curriculum Type: One University policy
Greek Life: Yes
UPenn Application Requirements, Admissions Tips, and University Guide:
How Do I Get Into UPenn?
Penn is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 universities in the country as a liberal arts-based research institution. The university is home to the #1 business school in the country: Wharton. Penn seeks students who strive to promote the mission of their founder, Benjamin Franklin, who sought to apply his knowledge in “service to society” to the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the world. Each year, the University of Pennsylvania Admissions Selection Committee welcomes a diverse class of scholars, scientists, artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs.
Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to get into Penn:
- Common Application or Coalition Application
- Penn-specific Supplement
- School report
- Official high school transcript
- Counselor recommendation
- Two letters of recommendation written by academic teachers
- Mid-year report
- SAT or ACT (writing portion of ACT is NOT required): Optional
- SAT Subject Tests: Optional
- $75 Application Fee
When Should I Apply to UPenn?
UPenn offers two timelines for admissions: Early Decision or Regular Decision. The deadline for Early Decision is Nov 1st, and you’ll be notified of your admissions decision by mid-December. Compared to the 2019-2020 application cycle, UPenn saw a 34% increase in the application pool from the 2020-2021 cycle. In 2021, out of 56,333 Regular and Early Decision applicants, Penn offered admission to over 3,200 students (5.68%) with an expected class of 2,400 students across the College of Arts and Sciences, Penn Engineering, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing. Of 7,962 Early Decision applicants, 1,194 students were accepted (15%); therefore, if you think that your application is strong and UPenn is your top choice, apply early to show the admissions committee how serious you are about attending UPenn! Alternatively, you can also choose to apply Regular Decision—the deadline for Regular Decision is January 5th, and you’ll be notified by April 1st.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into UPenn?
In 2019, UPenn’s acceptance rate was 7.7% and in 2020, it was 8.07 percent, consistently making it one of the most competitive schools in the country. This year, UPenn hit a record-low acceptance of 5.68%. Of those admitted, 15% identify as first-generation, 54% are women, and 56% are U.S, citizens or permanent residents who identify as a person of color. Students were accepted from all 50 states and 95 countries. 11% of admitted students are international students.
Applicants who are admitted to UPenn typically take the most challenging course load with AP and IB classes and are academic standouts in high school. 26% of students admitted Regular Decision did not submit their standardized testing scores. For those who did, the testing averages for the incoming class of 2025 at Penn were:
- SAT: 1500-1560
- ACT: 34-36
However, having high standardized test scores, school and great grades aren’t enough to gain admission. Penn aims to admit students who are passionate, driven, and committed to meaningfully contributing to the greater community at Penn and beyond. So, make sure to highlight your extracurriculars, leadership involvement, and unique experiences in order to set yourself apart from the other highly qualified applicants also applying to Penn.
Can I afford UPenn?
Penn’s annual tuition costs $54,652. According to Penn’s website, students spend on average $83,298 (on-campus) and $80,558 (off-campus) annually for tuition, fees, room and board.
While the cost of attending Penn may seem astronomically expensive, Penn’s grant-based undergraduate financial aid program meets 100% of demonstrated financial need. Through grants and work-study funding, many students graduate with a world-class undergraduate degree debt-free. 46% of undergraduate students received grant-based financial aid in 2020-2021, with an average package of $56,095. Penn recognizes several tiers of financial need, specifically:
- For families making up to $65,500 per year, Penn’s financial aid package covers tuition, fees, room, and board.
- For families making between $65,500 and $140,000, the average aid packages cover at least the tuition.
- For families making more than $140,000 who are eligible for aid, the average aid packages are greater than half of the tuition.
- Only 19% of students receiving need-based aid took out loans to supplement their aid packages in 2020-2021, compared to 80% of students in 2004.
Admitted students are assigned Student Financial Services counselors who can help them navigate this process while prospective students can also connect with Student Financial Services as they begin the financial aid application process. International Students can also learn more about applying for financial aid here. You can also try using Penn’s Net Price Calculator to estimate your costs and potential financial aid funding here.
Where is UPenn?
UPenn is located in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. A haven for history buffs, Philadelphia is “walkable, historic, bustling, and unpretentious: you can make yourself at home in Philadelphia” according to Penn Admissions. In 2015, Philadelphia became the first UNESCO World Heritage City in the United States. The city contains 67 National Historic Landmarks such as the Liberty Bell. When visiting Philadelphia, make sure to check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art, watch animals play at the Philadelphia Zoo, or grab lunch in the Reading Terminal Market, at which you’ll be able to experience the dynamic neighborhoods that make-up the fifth largest city in America. In addition, attending a Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, Flyers or 76ers game is another perk of residing in Philadelphia, home to one of the most passionate sports fan bases in America.
On and off campus, you’ll have access to amazing restaurants. Local favorites include the famous food trucks that line Spruce Street outside of the Freshman Quad. There is a movie theater on campus and several parks and green spaces such as the Morris Arboretum, a historic public garden and educational institutions, located a short drive or train ride from campus. On campus, students have access to several CVS stores, Starbucks shops, Chipotle, and more.
Penn is also a short 1.5-2 hour bus or train ride to either New York City or Washington D.C. Students have access to either MegaBus/Bolt Bus or 30th Street Station (blocks from campus), which makes taking trips along the North East Coast convenient.
Where do students live at UPenn?
Approximately 5,500 undergraduates live on campus. During the first year of enrollment, all freshman, transfer, and exchange students are required to live on campus and enroll in a meal plan. Freshmen are eligible to live in 9 of Penn’s 12 College Houses. These College Houses foster small, intimate communities that provide academic and personal support, as well as many opportunities to meet other students from diverse backgrounds and interests. After freshman year, students can apply to live in one of the several residential houses on-campus or choose to live off-campus. Off-campus housing, usually private houses with multiple bedrooms, becomes available In November or December when landlords begin to advertise for the following year. Many times, these larger homes are passed along from one student group to another. More information on both on and off-campus living (and dining) options can be found here.
What is the Social Life like at UPenn?
Penn offers a lot of fun activities on and off-campus for everyone to enjoy. Spring Fling is a highlight for many first-year students. The weekend-long carnival is known for its week-long celebratory nature and is often headlined by a musical performer.
Cheering on the Quakers at campus games is a highlight for many sports fans. Students have a tradition of throwing toast during home football games—over 30,000 pieces of toast are thrown per game!
The city of Philadelphia has a lot to offer the tight-knit, spirited Penn community. While Greek life is not a huge part of the social atmosphere and none of the sororities and fraternities have their own houses, freshmen officially rush in the Spring to join a sorority, fraternity, or a co-ed organization starting the Fall of their sophomore year. Usually students can find themselves convening for social gatherings on campus throughout their four years.
What are academics at UPenn like?
UPenn is a research university with four schools: College of Arts and Sciences, Penn Engineering, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing. The university offers more than 90 majors for students to choose from, and encourages students to explore their curiosities and passions. Students are given the freedom to take a variety of classes in subjects ranging from Economics and Psychology to Global Health and Anthropology in order to determine what they want to study or concentrate in, and have until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major. Penn prides itself on its 6:1 student to faculty ratio. Many classes are supplemented by weekly recitations hosted by TA’s and attended by 10-20 students.
Since Penn is uniquely committed to giving back to the greater Philadelphia community, students have the opportunity to participate in more than 300 Penn volunteer and community service programs and over 60 academically based community service courses. Such community service opportunities are mainly coordinated by Civic House (student volunteerism and advocacy), Fox Leadership, the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships (coordinates academically based community service), and Penn VIPS (Volunteers in Public Service—faculty and staff volunteers), which is a part of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.
The Academically Based Community Service Course (ABCS) offered through the Netter Center is another unique aspect of Penn education. ABCS students and faculty collaborate with West Philadelphia public schools, communities of faith, and community organizations to address critical campus and community problems in many areas such as the environment, health, arts, and education.
Penn houses over 170 research centers and institutes. Penn’s graduate students take part in meaningful research in social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering, which undergraduates can help get involved in. During their junior year, undergraduate students are required to write a junior paper, and then senior year, all students are required to write a thesis paper on a topic of their choice (this can piggyback on the junior paper topic).
Students interested in learning abroad must apply through Penn’s application process. Studying abroad allows students to demonstrate that they have the academic and emotional capacity to truly thrive in a foreign setting. Penn undergraduate and graduate/professional students earned academic credit in over 60 countries in 208-2019. Each year, over 2,500 students participate in study abroad programs for academic credit.
What extracurricular opportunities do they have at UPenn?
Penn offers many clubs and student-run organizations for students to participate in in the performing arts, sports, media, or civic engagement. Penn’s Platt Performing Arts House is home to over 45 student-run comedy, spoken word, music, dance, and theatre organizations. Students can join the Penn Band, Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, and a variety of other unique student musical groups. Whether you’re an athlete or a spectator, the NCAA Division I school is home to a variety of sports teams. A notable sporting event hosted by UPenn is “The Penn Relays,” one of the oldest and largest track and field events held annually at Franklin Field since 1895. Club sports teams practice regularly and compete against surrounding schools within a designated league or regional tournament. Penn also offers Intramural sports for everyone.
If you’re interested in media and communications, you can write for the school newspaper (Daily Pennsylvanian or the DP) or seek out a variety of other student-run media outlets such as WQHS Radio.
Penn’s student body is celebrated for its diverse cultures and identities through various student-run organizations, including the Penn Women’s Center to Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, a focal point organization for Black Culture and the African Diaspora. Other cool clubs you can check out include the Defenders of Wildlife, Penn Fashion Collective, and Penn Actuarial Society, run by Wharton!
If you don’t see a club you want to see, Penn students are encouraged to start their own club and seek out funding.
National Center for Education