How to Get Into UPenn: Acceptance Rate, Requirements & Tips

UPenn application
April 15, 2024
9 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/15/24

Are you thinking of attending the University of Pennsylvania? Here’s everything you need to know about getting into UPenn, including admission requirements, interview tips, and what UPenn is looking for.

Established by founding father Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania has stood for over 250 years and is still influenced by Franklin to this day; he once noted, “well-done is better than well-said,” and Penn is still proud of its tradition of “translating knowledge into social-minded action” today.   

This article will explore the application processes, deadlines, and UPenn requirements and provide tips on ensuring your application stands out.

UPenn Acceptance Rate: 5.8% 

UPenn maintains an overall acceptance rate of 5.8%. Though the precise admission rate for the most recent application cycle is undisclosed, historical data suggests it hovers around this mark. Like any other Ivy League school, you will need to work hard to get into this school.

Here’s a breakdown of its acceptance rate data from the last few years:

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023-2024 59,465 3,474 5.8%
2022-2023 54,588 3,549 6.5%
2021-2022 56,332 3,304 5.87%
2020-2021 42,205 3,789 8.98%

While UPenn offers Early Decision (ED) applications, they combine ED and regular decision admission data together to get these numbers. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into UPenn? 

With the University of Pennsylvania's 5.8% admission rate for the 2027 class, gaining acceptance to this prestigious Ivy League institution is no easy feat. 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into UPenn.

University of Pennsylvania Admissions Statistics

Here are some statistics on recently admitted UPenn students. 

UPenn Average GPA: 3.9

The students admitted to UPenn’s class of 2027 had an average GPA of 3.9. However, their minimum GPA requirement is only a 2.0 and this school considered circumstances when evaluating grades.

UPenn Average SAT Score: 1510-1560

While the SAT/ACT is optional at UPenn, the middle 50 percent range of overall SAT scores achieved by the 2027 UPenn class was between 1510-1560. Aim for a 1560 to be considered the most competitive. 

UPenn Average ACT Score: 34-35

The middle 50 percent range of ACT Composite scores achieved by the 2023-2024 applicants was between 34-35. We suggest you set 35 as your target to maximize your chances of acceptance. 

What Is UPenn Looking For In Applicants?

UPenn seeks students who are eager to cultivate their talents and academic prowess. They consider students’ academic profiles heavily, evaluating their coursework, GPA, test scores (if submitted), and essays. Additionally, they expect letters of recommendation to attest to applicants' excellence.

Here’s exactly how UPenn evaluates applications:

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation(s) X

Non-Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Racial/ethnic status X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

UPenn Admissions Requirements 

To boost your admission chances at UPenn, target an SAT score of 1560 or ACT score of 35. The most competitive applicants also have GPAs exceeding 3.9 with a rigorous academic record with AP or IB courses. 90% of admitted students rank in the top 10% of their high school class, so academic excellence is key!

UPenn’s complete admissions requirements include: 

Certain programs at UPenn may require additional materials. Refer to the UPenn website for further clarification.

University of Pennsylvania Application Deadlines

Keep these dates in mind to stay on track with your UPenn application:

Application Step Deadline
Applications Open August 1, 2023
Early Decision Applications Due November 1, 2023
Early Decision Admission Notifications Mid-December 2023
Regular Decision Applications Due January 5, 2024
Regular Decision Admission Notifications By April 2024

UPenn Regular Decision Deadline

UPenn’s regular decision applications open on August 1st, 2023, and are due January 5th, 2024. Students can expect to receive an admissions decision by April 2024 and are expected to enroll by May 1st, 2024. 

UPenn Early Decision Deadline 

UPenn offers a binding early decision application to interested students. This application opens on August 1st, 2023, and closes on November 1st, 2023. Admission decision notifications are sent out around mid December of 2023 and students are expected to confirm their enrollment by January 5th, 2024.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UPenn

1. Volunteering/Community Service

Penn’s admissions committee states that their ideal candidates “are inspired to emulate our founder Benjamin Franklin by applying their knowledge in ‘service to society’ to our community, the city of Philadelphia, and the wider world.” 

What really matters is that a “student’s contribution or service is authentic and meaningful to them and to others, whether that contribution is writing regular notes to frontline workers or checking in with neighbors who are isolated.” 

2. Pursue Valuable Extracurriculars

While Penn views your academics as a crucial part of your application, Penn is also interested in what you do outside of school. The admissions committee is interested in your experiences within educational, occupational, or community settings. 

In the UPenn extracurricular activities section of your application, make sure that you include the specifics; Penn wants to know your exact responsibilities and involvement in each extracurricular, the impact you have made, and how much time you dedicate to each activity. Include all summer activities, school clubs, and non-academic pursuits. 

Crucially, Penn “does not weight or rank activities and does not prefer one type over another” and advises that you should “pursue activities that are meaningful to you.” 

3. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation 

 Letters of recommendation give UPenn a more personal view of you as a student. They offer perspectives that can’t be learned through grades and scores. As such, your teacher recommendation should be from someone who taught you recently in major academic subjects. 

Rather than just choosing a teacher from a course you did well in, choose one who knows you well and can speak to your engagement in the classroom. 

Similarly, your other recommendation can be academic or non-academic, but it must be from someone who knows you personally and whose perspective would add information not captured elsewhere in your application.

4. Trust the Experts

If you're still uncertain about how to ensure your application leaves a lasting impression on the admissions committee, it's worth considering the expertise of our UPenn admissions counselors.

They possess invaluable insider knowledge about the committee's expectations and can help you demonstrate that you're the ideal candidate!

UPenn Essay Prompts

You will need to submit two Penn-specific essays and a personal statement. These essays are used by the admissions committee to gain an insight into “how you think, what you value, and how you see the world.”

The PS is the 650-word Common Application Essay that is specifically designed to allow you to show the aspects of yourself that your grades can’t - your personality, character traits, and experiences. As such, the prompts that you can choose between for this essay are purposefully vague.

UPenn’s essay prompts are different depending on which department you are applying to. All Penn applicants have to answer the following prompts on the UPenn website:

1. Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words, only required for first year applicants)
2. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
3. Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. (150-200 words)

UPenn Interview

Part of learning how to get into the University of Pennsylvania is understanding the importance of your interview. 

If you are offered a UPenn interview, you will likely be contacted by email, although some alumni interviewers may contact you via the phone number you included in your application. Make sure that you give a good first impression and respond promptly to any messages.  

UPenn typically offers an interview to more than 90% of its applicants. Your UPenn interview is an important opportunity for Penn to get to know you and your personality and for you to learn about the school. 

In terms of the contact timeline, early decision applicants will be contacted from mid-October to the end of November. Regular decision applicants will be contacted from December to February.

FAQs: Getting Into the University of Pennsylvania 

For any remaining concerns, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about UPenn. 

1. What GPA is Needed to Get Into UPenn?

Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered for admission at UPenn. However, competitive applicants typically have 3.9-4.0 GPAs and are at the top of their high school class.

2. Are SAT/ACT Scores Required at UPenn?

UPenn remains test optional for the foreseeable future. However, test scores are still considered an excellent way to evaluate students’ academic potential. Recently admitted students had SAT scores between 1510-1560 and ACT scores between 34-35. 

3. Does UPenn Interview All of Its Applicants?

UPenn interviews about 90% of its applicants. This interview is used to get to know applicants better and form real connections with them. If you receive an interview invitation, you’re highly recommended to accept it to leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

4. Does UPenn Use Superscore for Admissions Test?

Yes, UPenn does use superscoring for admissions tests. For the SAT, they combine the highest Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing scores with the highest Math score across multiple tests to calculate a superscore. 

Similarly, for the ACT, UPenn considers the highest individual English, Math, Reading, and Science scores across multiple tests to calculate a superscore composite.

Get Admitted to UPenn With Us

Getting into UPenn, one of the most prestigious universities in the country, can be challenging. To strengthen your application, consider speaking to an experienced UPenn admissions advisor

By obtaining solid test scores and pursuing meaningful extracurricular activities, you will be putting yourself in the best position possible to succeed. Go above and beyond the UPenn requirements for admission. If you can, try to engage in impactful work within your community, as this is a crucial part of Penn’s mission and culture. 

Good luck with your application!

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