How to get into University of Pennsylvania

What you need to know

Strategy for getting into University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League University located in Philadelphia, with a high-level of research activity in almost every field. Penn has over 90 majors offered across four undergraduate schools: arts and sciences, nursing, engineering and business. Penn’s “One University” policy allows undergrad students to take classes at all of Penn’s undergraduate and graduate schools, except the medical, veterinary and dental schools.

Undergraduates at Penn may also take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore, under a reciprocal agreement known as the “Quaker Consortium.” Applicants not interested in a business major at Wharton will do well to identify that fact and differentiate themselves.


  School Standardized Testing Stats

What you need to know

The average SAT score composite at UPenn is a 2163


You must do well on the SATs or the ACTs. UPenn does not require the writing section of either exam. Penn looks for a well-rounded applicant so having equally strong verbal and quant scores are definitely a bonus.

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Reading 710 670 760
Math 728 690 780
Writing 725 690 780
Composite 2163 2050 2320

  Application Essays

What you need to know

University of Pennsylvania application essay tips

Essay Prompt

How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (400-650 words)

For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice. Interest in coordinated dual-degree programs will be addressed through those program-specific essays.


For Penn essays, I would suggest focusing on your distinct passion, a volunteering activity that’s meaningful, or an extracurricular accomplishment. The Adcom will see what you do in the classroom from the application and recommendation letters so the essay is an opportunity to share something unique that isn’t communicated in the rest of the application.

Specifically for the interview, bring your resume and prepare a quick introduction and strong answers to typical questions. The interviewer doesn’t see the student’s application in advance, so they can only judge on him/her on the merits of the interview.

From an alumna: “I absolutely loved my time at Penn! It’s an incredible school with a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture. The school has masterfully balanced a sense of campus community with its location in a fantastic and unique city. The heart of campus, a pedestrian street called Locust Walk is the hub of many activities. Greek life has a strong presence on and off-campus but because of the large student body, there are many different interest groups students can join. The size and scope of university activities affords educational and social opportunities not available at smaller schools and Penn traditions such as Hey Day, Spring Fling, throwing toast at football games become favorite memories.”

  School Admissions Statistics

UPenn admissions statistics for classes 2007-2019
What you need to know

UPenn’s Class of 2019 Admissions Stats

What the admissions statistics tell you:

Although a larger percentage of the Early Decision applicant pool is admitted than of the Regular Decision pool, that higher acceptance rate reflects the remarkable strength of a self-selected group of applicants. A candidate to whom we otherwise would not offer admission is not going to be accepted simply because he or she applied under the Early Decision program.