University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, normally referred to as” UPenn”, is a private, Ivy League research university, set up in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, as an educational institution where knowledge combines with practical skills. There are around 10,000 undergraduates and 12,000 postgraduates studying here, at one of four undergraduate and 12 postgraduate schools. UPenn is renowned for its outstanding Wharton Business School, and its School of Medicine – both of which were the first to be established in the US. It has an annual research budget of $41.02 billion, and a huge endowment fund of $14.65 billion -and is highly selective, when it comes to admissions.

What is it renowned for?

It is virtually impossible to know where to start, as this giant of a university boasts alumni such as Kwame Nkrumah, Donald Trump, Ezra Pound, John Legend and Elon Musk, 36 Nobel laureates, 16 Pulitzer prize winners, and 29 Rhodes scholars. The list of statesmen, judges and politicians alone could fill two blogs. It was founded to produce and train leaders in commerce, government and public service, and has most certainly succeeded.

Similarly, the  University of Pennsylvania‘s inventiveness and research output has produced too many groundbreaking discoveries to enumerate, including:

  • The world’s first electronic digital computer, in 1946
  • Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines
  • Retin-A
  • Cognitive therapy
  • PET scans
  • Gene therapy
  • The world’s first dialysis machine
  • The Philadelphia chromosome
  • New understanding of solar neutrinos
  • Income comparison methodology
  • Support for tropical rainforest diversity…etc

The University of Pennsylvania has 165 research centres, a large budget, the libraries and resources to support its staff and students and the drive to succeed. One of the words which crops up regularly when former students are asked about their years at UPenn is “driven” – along with highly-intelligent and competitive! Its research output is prolific, world-class and brilliant, since more than 50 per cent of UPenn’s programs have been assessed as in the Top Five in the world in their field.

University of Pennsylvania -Is it difficult to get admitted?

The overall admission rate to the University of Pennsylvania is 8 per cent, but this drops to 6.7 per cent, when it comes to international students. Some 12.3 per cent of the student body are nevertheless international students. UPenn expects high SAT scores, and most students who apply have achieved over 700 in every section of the SATs, and therefore have an aggregate score upwards of 2100. Fifty-three per cent of students are women.

UPenn is in the Top Ten of the most selective universities in the US and competition is particularly fierce if you are applying for:

  • Law
  • Wharton Business School
  • Dental medicine
  • Veterinary science
  • Medicine and Nursing

University of Pennsylvania-ratings, globally and nationally

The University of Pennsylvania comes in 14th in the global rankings of the world’s universities,(THE,2023), and features in the Top Ten of US universities, usually ranking between 6th and 8th.

Is the University need-blind?

This depends where you come from, since it is only need-blind if you are a permanent resident of the US, Canada or Mexico. Students from other countries have to apply for aid at the same time as they submit their application for a place.  It is, however, worth remembering that UPenn can afford to financially support students it would like to accept, and all the university’s grants are need-based, rather than merit-based.

Is the academic scheduling flexible?

In line with the University of Pennsylvania‘s aim to encourage interdisciplinary work across its schools, it encourages students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to consider taking double-degrees. The combination of subjects you can take is vast. To take one example, if you are studying at Master‘s level for a Doctorate in Veterinary Science, you can add an MBA, a Doctorate in Philosophy (DPhil.), a Master’s in Public Health etc. Thus, you can take life sciences with management; computer and cognitive science; and law and medicine – and many variations in between.

In addition, UPenn students can spend a term or a whole academic year at one of the university’s partner institutions, for example:

  • UCL, London
  • King’s, London
  • The LSE, London
  • Sciences Po, Paris
  • University of Barcelona
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Hong Kong etc…

Is it well-resourced?

The university has enormous library resources, and  exceptional collections of area studies, in hundreds of languages.

The UPenn Museum is a treasure trove of riches, since the university has taken part in hundreds of excavations and projects all around the world and regularly runs exhibitions for its students.

In addition, it has a state of the art large animal veterinary centre, which has been in the news for treating famous racehorses; the Morris Arboretum, and an extensive network of student services  and resource centres to meet the needs of faculty and students alike. In short, you will find anything and everything, in terms of resources, you could wish for at the University of Pennsylvania.

Is UPenn a campus university?

The university is situated in University City, West Philadelphia, and covers 299 acres. The original buildings were designed by the architects who created the University of Oxford and Cambridge campuses, and can be classified as Collegiate Gothic. Famous art installations are dotted around the campus, which contains over 200 buildings and provides  an attractive and green setting, with good transportation links to the city of Philadelphia. The campus has its own police force, and is  safe and secure. There are many dining options, with food trucks, cafes, bars and restaurants on site.

The university has twelve residential housing units, where postgraduates, professors and undergraduates all live together in a close community (UPenn students spend their first year living on campus in university accommodation). In addition, you can request to be housed with people who share your interests by applying to the UPenn Program Community – you may be asked to write an essay to demonstrate your  passion for the subject!

Does UPenn have sporting facilities?

The University of Pennsylvania competes in 33 different sports and is in Division 1 of the NCAA. It offers a huge range of sports and excellent facilities, including rugby, lacrosse, rowing, cricket, football, basketball etc.

University of Pennsylvania – how can I apply to university in the USA?

What is the University of Pennsylvania motto?

“Laws without morals are useless”.

UPenn students have reacted to what they considered immoral activities and invoked the motto to challenge the university on a number of occasions. For example, they liaised with PETA to expose the experiments into head injuries being carried out on animals, and rejected the university’s involvement in the government’s chemical and biological weapons program, for use in South East Asia.

In addition throughout the twentieth-century UPenn students have followed the tradition of civil rioting which began back with the first “Rowbottom Riot” in 1910.Students have smashed crockery, let off firecrackers, taken over traffic lights, refused to pay fares on trams, held snowball battles and burnt the effigies of disliked professors… Although the last full-scale Rowbottom was some years ago, the tradition holds a special place in UPenn’s students’ hearts – and may well return…

I am interested in applying to the University of Pennsylvania- what is my next step?

Get in touch with us here at Elab, either by giving us a call or dropping us an email. We have a team of experienced US specialists, who  are ready to guide you through the application process and entry exams, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with information on the university, the Ivy League and life in the USA.

Contact Elab and let us start working together to build your profile and get you a place at that colossus of American universities – the University of Pennsylvania!

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