University of Pennsylvania Requirements and Campus Guide

School Name: University of Pennsylvania

School Location: Philadelphia, PA

School Type: Ivy League/Liberal arts

Class of 2025

  • Early Decision Applications: 7,962
  • Early Admitted: 1,194
  • Early Acceptance Rate: 14.9%
  • Regular Applications: 48,371
  • Regular Admitted: 2,008
  • Regular Acceptance Rate: 4.1%

General Info

2025 SAT/ACT Score (Test Optional)

  • SAT Composite: 1500-1560
  • SAT Math: 730-790
  • ACT: 34-36


  • High Reach


  • Early Decision: November 1
  • Early Results: Mid-December
  • Regular Deadline: January 5
  • Regular Results: By April 6

School Info

  • Schedule: Semesters
  • Curriculum Type: One University policy
  • Greek Life: Yes
  • Athletics: D1

UPenn Requirements for Admission and Campus Guide:

How Do I Get Into UPenn?

Penn is consistently ranked as one of the 10 universities in the country as a liberal arts based research institution that is also home to the #1 business school in the country – Wharton. Penn seeks students who strive to follow 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 seeks to enroll a class of 2,445 scholars, scientists, artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs.

As a checklist, here’s a list of Penn application requirements:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Penn-specific Essay
  • School report
  • Official High School transcript
  • Counselor recommendation
  • Two stellar teacher recommendations
  • Mid year report
  • SAT or ACT (writing portion of ACT is NOT required)
  • Two SAT Subject Tests are recommended but not required

When Do I Apply to UPenn?

UPenn offers two timelines for application. You can choose to apply Early or Regular Decision. The deadline for Early Decision is Nov 1st, and you’ll find out whether you got in or not by mid December. In 2020, Penn offered early admission to 1,269 students of 6,453 students (19.7 percent). In 2020, Penn offered regular admission to 3,404 students of 42, 205 students (8.1 percent). Therefore, it is a UPenn requirement to have an excellent application in order to gain admission. This does not mean applying to Penn early means that you’ll have an easier chance of getting in. However, if you think that your standardized test scores and application are strong and UPenn is your top choice, then applying early will show admissions how serious you are about attending UPenn if selected. 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. While not explicitly required, 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. 

Testing averages for the incoming class of 2024 at Penn:

  • (SAT) 1460-1550
  • (ACT) 33-35

Penn isn’t just looking for students with strong grades, standardized test scores, and SAT IIs. They want to see students who are passionate, driven, and committed to contributing to the greater Philadelphia communities, and the community at Penn and beyond, in significant ways. So highlighting your extracurricular, leadership involvement, and unique experiences is what will set you apart from the other high quality applicants also applying to Penn.

Can I afford UPenn?

Penn’s annual tuition is $51,156. According to Penn’s website, students spend on average $78,186 (on-campus) and $76,444 (off-campus) annually for tuition, fees, room and board.

While the cost of attending Penn seems astronomically expensive to the average family, Penn’s grant-based undergraduate financial aid program meets 100% of demonstrated financial need with grants and work-study funding, making it possible for students to graduate with a world-class undergraduate degree debt-free. 45% of undergraduate students received grant-based financial aid in 2018-2019, with an average package of $53,9437. Penn has several tiers of financial need and admitted students are assigned financial aid counselors at Student Financial Services to help navigate this process. 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.

Some more facts and figures from Penn’s Site:

  • For families making up to $65,500 per year, the aid package covers tuition, fees, room, and board.
  • For families making between $65,500 and $130,000, the average aid packages are greater than tuition.
  • For families making more than $200,000 who are eligible for aid, the average aid packages are greater than half of tuition.
  • Only 28% of students receiving need-based aid took out loans to supplement their aid packages in 2018-2019, compared to 80% of students in 2004.

You can also try out Penn’s Net Price Calculator to estimate your family’s costs and potential financial aid funding here: https://npc.collegeboard.or.g/app/upenn

Where is UPenn?

UPenn is located in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, PA. Per Penn’s website, Philadelphia is “walkable, historic, bustling, and unpretentious: you can make yourself at home in Philadelphia.” Philadelphia is a haven for history buffs. 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. You can visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, watch animals play at the Philadelphia Zoo, have lunch in Reading Terminal Market, and experience the dynamic neighborhoods that make-up the fifth largest city in America. Philadelphia is also home to one of the most passionate sports fan bases in America. Penn students will have the opportunity to attend a Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies or 76ers game in college.

On and off campus, you’ll have access to tons of amazing restaurants (including BYOs – more on this below) and local favorites as well as Penn’s famous food trucks lined up and down Spruce Street outside of the Freshman Quad in the center of campus. There is a movie theater on campus and several parks and green spaces such as the Morris Arboretum, a historic public garden and educational institution, 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 distance 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 Penn station (blocks from campus), which makes trips anywhere up and down the North East Coast extremely convenient.

Where do students live at UPenn?

51% of Penn students live on-campus and 45% live off-campus. To support undergraduates in their successful transition to Penn, all freshmen, transfer, and exchange students will be required to live on campus and participate in a meal plan during their first year of enrollment. Freshman 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. Click here to learn more about Penn’s 12 College Houses. After freshman year, students can apply to live in one of the several residential houses on-campus or students can choose to live off-campus. Off-campus housing usually becomes available In November or December, when landlords begin to advertise for the following year. Private houses with multiple bedrooms are typically the first type of off-campus housing to rent. 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?

There’s a lot of fun to be had while studying at Penn. A highlight for many first year Penn students will be Spring Fling, a weekend-long carnival headlined by a musical performer and known for its week-long celebratory nature. In 2014, Playboy ranked Penn the number one party school in the nation (heavily debated subject).

Nevertheless, there’s a lot to do on and off-campus once you’re ready to explore all the city of Philadelphia has to offer. Penn has a spirited, tight-knit community of students who predominantly live and convene for social gatherings on campus all four years. There are a few sororities and fraternities, but greek life is a not a huge part of the social atmosphere on campus and none of the sororities and fraternities have their own houses. Many students, clubs and organizations take advantage of Philadelphia’s BYO (bring your own beverages) restaurants.

Penn has a thriving Greek life for those interested in joining a fraternity, sorority or co-ed organization. Freshmen officially rush in the Spring to join a sorority/fraternity starting the Fall of their sophomore year.

What are academics at UPenn like?

UPenn undergraduates have four schools (College of Arts and Sciences, Wharton, Nursing and Engineering) and more than 90 majors to choose from is a liberal arts university and strongly encourages students to fully explore their curiosities and passions. Students have until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major, and are given the freedom to figure out what they want to study or concentrate in after taking a variety of classes in subjects anywhere from Economics and Psychology to Global Health and Anthropology. Penn prides itself on its 6:1 Student to Faculty ratio and many classes you will take will be supplemented by TA’s who hold smaller weekly classroom sessions of about 10-20 students.

One unique aspect of learning at Penn is the University’s commitment to giving back to the greater Philadelphia community. You will have the opportunity to participate in more than 300 Penn volunteer and community service programs and more than 60 academically based community service courses that are taught each year. Community service at Penn is primarily 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. Another unique aspect of Penn’s academics are its Academically Based Community Service Course (ABCS) offered through the Netter Center. ABCS students and faculty work with West Philadelphia public schools, communities of faith, and community organizations to help solve critical campus and community problems in a variety of areas such as the environment, health, arts, and education.

While the focus of academics at Penn is on the undergraduate experience, Penn is a research institution with 189 research centers and institutes.Since Penn is a research institution, there are graduate students who take part in meaningful research on campus in social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering, which undergraduates can help get involved in. During 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 be a piggy back on the junior paper topic).

If you’re interested in learning abroad, you must apply through Penn’s application process. Penn leads the Ivy League in the percentage of students who study abroad, and they use this process to allow students to demonstrate to the university 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 85 countries in 2016-2017. In 2016-17, 2,311 Penn US Citizen and Permanent Resident students participated in study abroad programs for academic credit.

What extracurricular opportunities do they have at UPenn?

Whether it’s performing arts, sports, media or civic engagement, there are tons of clubs and student-run organizations to get involved with at Penn. To start with the arts, Penn’s Platt Performing Arts House is home over 45 student-run comedy, spoken word, music, dance and theatre organizations. Students will be able to join the Penn Band, Chamber and Symphony Orchestras and a variety of other unique students groups. As for sports, Penn is an NCAA Division I school which students should take advantage of as a spectator or as a participant. Penn offers students the opportunity to participate in Club sports which 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 participate in a variety of other student-run media outlets such as WQHS Radio.

Penn also has a large number of student-run organizations celebrating the diverse cultures and identities throughout Penn’s student body. From the Penn Women’s Center to Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, a focal point organization for Black Culture and the African Diaspora.

If you don’t see a club you want to see, Penn students are encouraged to start their own club and seek out funding.