University Of Pennsylvania
  • EduScore 93 /100

University of Pennsylvania: Quick Overview

Quick Stats
  • Year founded1740
  • Number of students enrolled21,599
  • Average cost (in total)$75,303
Application Info
  • Acceptance rate9%
  • SAT/ACT1420/31
  • Application date

History and Mission

The University of Pennsylvania was founded by one of America’s Founding Fathers in Benjamin Franklin. He wanted to form a university that had a focus on practical education for the public and commerce while the other universities in the “New World”, considering the United States was not even a country yet, focused on the classics as well as theology with their main goal being to give educational opportunities to potential clergymen. The university was established in 1740 and followed a more European model of academic institutions that had several areas of study at the college. The University of Pennsylvania was the first college in America to have a school of medicine and business school.

The University of Pennsylvania is usually referred to as Penn, but it had several names in the early years, as well as a few specialized colleges, which were intertwined. As stated above Benjamin Franklin was the founder of the university as well as the President of the Board of Trustees and an Academy and College of Philadelphia trustee. The College of Philadelphia and the University of the State of Pennsylvania merged in 1791 and it became the University of Pennsylvania, which is the official name of the university to this day. While the college was originally located in Philadelphia for over 100 years it moved to West Philadelphia across from the Schuylkill River in 1872 where it remains at present and is referred to as University City. Penn was always a commuter school until just after World War 2 where it turned into a residential one with many students attending the university under the GI Bill.

While the University of Pennsylvania does not have a mission or mission statement per se, all of 12 the individual schools associated with the college do have them.

Areas of Study

At Penn University, there are over 90 majors in the four undergraduate schools and all in all there are 12 schools associated at the college. The four schools in the undergrad program are the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, and Wharton School (business). Penn offers many opportunities for undergraduate, PhD, and research master’s programs in many fields. The 12 graduate schools at the university, which four have undergrad degrees as well, are:

  • Annenberg School for Communication
  • Graduate School of Education
  • Law School
  • School of Arts & Sciences
  • School of Dental Medicine
  • School of Design
  • School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Perelman School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Social Policy & Practice
  • School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Wharton School (business)

Penn Law School

The Law School at Penn is typically referred to as Penn Law or UPenn Law and not only is it one of the oldest law schools in America it is also one of the most prestigious. It was established in 1850 and the entering class only numbers around 250 students, so it is very competitive to say the least.

Wharton School

This Penn school of business was established in 1881 and in an interesting fact the school has produced the most billionaires in the United States. While not cheap to attend U.S. News reported that a first year grad with a MBA form Wharton will earn, on average, nearly $160,000.

School of Arts & Sciences

This school known as the SAS and was established in 1755. They offer M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. programs and the three main academic components are humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Online Program

Penn has an extensive online learning program not only for undergraduate and graduate courses, but also for programs that offer college credit as well as non-degree programs. The online program called Penn’s Online Learning Initiative (OLI) launched their Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2012 and they also have a special office that is all about learning through the university online. The 12 schools associated with Penn offer in excess of 150 online courses. These days the mission of the OLI is to make paint a broader spectrum of learning through the Internet using the Penn resources and faculty. The online program at Penn offers students certificates, continuing education, micro-credentials, and degrees.

How do I apply to University of Pennsylvania?

To apply at the University of Pennsylvania you can do so through the Common Application or the Coalition Application. The college does not have preference in what application process is used and they treat both with equal integrity. Penn encourages prospective students to look over each of the applications available and pick the route that is the best for them. Prospective students can submit only one application for every admission cycle.

Besides the two applications available the university is also partnered with the QuestBridge institution and they take part in the program for National College Match, which is tailored for students that have a high academic standing and are in need of financial aid. Penn accepts the QuestBridge Application from their National College Match Finalists rather than the other two typical applications.

Acceptance rate

The acceptance rate at the University of Pennsylvania is 9% and while it is not as hard to get into as other elite colleges it is still a prestigious university and not easy to get into. The acceptance rate for graduate work will depend on the school being applied to. High academic standing is the main focus when applying to a Penn graduate school, but it is not the only one.

Student life at University of Pennsylvania

Penn offers their students a rich abundance of student life with no lack of social, political, religious, and cultural activities. Being such an established institution steeped in history there are a lot of campus traditions that are handed down from class to class such as Hey Day, sitting with Ben on the Bench, and the Penn Holi Festival. Being in that the university is in the historic city of Philadelphia there are tons of things to do in the campus surrounding area from sporting events and festivals to great restaurants and bars. From frat parties to the bars and pubs around campus to meet and greets to other festivities through various organizations Penn is seen as a party school and Playboy Magazine ranked it the best party school in the United States in 2014.

Athletics is a big part of Penn and there are 33 varsity sports that are sponsored by the school. One of the sports that the school is well known for is fencing, as they have won four national championships in the sport three on the men’s site and one on the women’s. All of the varsity sports are in Division 1 and in the Ivy League. The nickname of the sport’s teams is the Quakers with the unofficial nickname being the Red and Blue. The Penn Relays is the longest uninterrupted collegiate track meet in the United States and it usually attracts in excess of 100,000 spectators.

There are also numerous intermural sports that are open to students and PennRec offers a wide variety of sport clubs. A few of the bigger sporting venues on campus are the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, Fox Fitness Center, Penn Ice Rink, Penn Park, Weiss Pavilion. Greek life is aplenty at Penn with 48 Greek fraternities and sororities. Besides cheering on the Quakers Philadelphia is a sports-mad city with such major teams as the Eagles (NFL), Flyers (NHL), 76ers (NBA), and the Phillies (MLB).

University of Pennsylvania Campus

Penn University is in an urban setting in West Philadelphia and comprises of 299 acres. While in an urban setting the campus is very green and there is so much greenery in the area that in 2017 it was officially declared an arboretum. There are over 215 buildings on campus that range from the historic to the modern in terms of the architecture. Safety at the university is top-notch and for seven consecutive years the Higher Education Sector by Security Magazine has it ranked #1 in the nation. There is a private police force and to further the safety of their students Penn offers a walking or riding escort program, which is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. While the campus is easily walkable with many trails and paths there are also many subway, bus, rail (regional and national) and trolley lines available near and on the campus. There are walking tours of the Penn campus available to prospective students as well as tourists and those who want to simply enjoy the beauty and history of the university.

Costs of Studying at University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is an expensive college to attend, which is no shock being in the Ivy League. However, it is a prestigious university where graduates can expect to make a significant income. There is financial aid available to both undergraduate and graduate students and each of the 12 graduate schools have its own tuition and fees. The allowance for housing on campus is based on the rate of a median room at the University College Houses. Students can stay within the housing allowance, which is $10,200 per year, and prospective students are encouraged to pick their residence on campus by the Penn Housing deadline. Freshman residents at the university are required to live on campus for at least the first year that they are enrolled.

Penn has an all-grant financial aid program that was established in 2007 and it is the biggest school in the United States that has an all-grant financial aid program for undergrad students. The policy of the university is that financial aid can come in the form of grants as well as a work study job and does not include student loans. All undergrads at Penn are eligible for this grant program and it does not matter what their family income level is.

Here is a breakdown of the costs of studying at the University of Pennsylvania per year:

  • Tuition $49.220
  • Fees $6,364
  • Room $10,200
  • Board $5,416
  • Books and Supplies $1,138
  • Transportation $895
  • Personal Expenses $1,890


The University of Pennsylvania is located in West Philadelphia and the city, which is referred to as “The City of Brotherly Love” is one of the largest cities in the United States. It is close to the coast as well as other bigger cities like New York, Newark, and Washington D.C. Penn is located on the East Coast of the U.S. and is situated near the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.

Q: How much money will I make with a University of Pennsylvania degree? A: Students that graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Penn can expect to make around $73,000 after graduation. The mid-career salary for Penn grads jumps to $145,200 and in an interesting fact the most billionaires in the U.S. are Penn graduates. One of the notable grads of the school is President Donald Trump. The average salary will also be different, usually significantly more, when graduation from one of the 12 graduate degree programs at the university. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: The University of Pennsylvania is a regionally accredited institution that accepts transfers for both undergrad and graduate students. For the graduate programs the prospective student will have to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college in the United States and for students from abroad a BS equivalent from a college that has a recognized standing. The process for undergrad transfers will deal with their former coursework at their previous university and their academic standing. Q: Can I sit in on classes when looking into applying for university? A: Prospective students can sit in on classes at Penn, but not all of them. The Penn Registrar Office will have a list of classes that can be sat in on. Prospective students can check out the list of those classes on the University of Pennsylvania website. Q: What are the average class rank and test scores for students admitted to Penn?A: For the class that entered Penn in the Fall of 2017 96% of them finished in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. Q: What is the undergraduate graduation rate at Penn? A: The University of Pennsylvania has an aggregate undergraduate graduation rate of 96%.

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