How to Get Into UPenn– Acceptance Rate & Strategies
June 1, 2023
The University of Pennsylvania was founded in the 18th Century as a member of the Ivy League; yet, it took roughly 250 years for it to become the uber-elite, highly-selective institution that it is today. If your parent, grandparent, or older neighbor went to Penn, they faced an entirely different admissions landscape than that encountered by applicants in the 2020s. For example, in 1980, the UPenn acceptance rate was over 40%; the average SAT score was approximately 1240. In contrast, current cohorts face a sub-7% acceptance rate and the median SAT score of a contemporary undergrad is above 1,500.
As hellish as the admissions process is for applicants to the general university, getting into Wharton—the world’s premier business school—involves descending a few additional levels into the inferno. Given this challenging set of facts on the ground, the intention of this article is to inform you of the following:
- Is UPenn an Ivy?
- UPenn vs Penn State
- UPenn early decision acceptance rate
- UPenn acceptance rate
- Wharton acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, GPA, and class rank of accepted Penn applicants
- Admissions trends
- How Penn admissions officers evaluate applicants
- A look at the demographics of UPenn undergraduates
- The percentage of accepted students that attend the university (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Penn
- How to approach the UPenn supplemental essays
- How to assess whether applying to Penn is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)
Is UPenn an Ivy?
The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740, decades before the birth of the United States. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, UPenn is indeed a member of the prestigious Ivy League.
UPenn vs Penn State
If you are just beginning your college search, you may be wondering about the difference between UPenn (sometimes appreciated as just “Penn”) and the similarly nicknamed Penn State. In short, Penn State is an excellent public institution with a main campus about three hours away from Philadelphia. On the other hand, UPenn is a Philly-based private Ivy League university that is among the more highly-selective institutions in the United States.
Penn: Early Decision Acceptance Rate
Out of the 8,000 early decision applications received for a spot in the Class of 2027, Penn accepted an unknown number of students. In forming the Class of 2026, UPenn admitted 15.6% of the 7,795 applicants. Based on the available data, we project the UPenn Early Decision acceptance rate to be around 15% for the Class of 2027.
Penn Acceptance Rate
A whopping 59,000+ applications were received by Penn for the Class of 2027, the largest applicant pool to date; the goal is to field a class of 2,400 students. UPenn elected not to release their Class of 2027 acceptance rate, but it is likely to be lower than the Class of 2026 mark. We reveal those numbers, as well as other historical University of Pennsylvania acceptance rates.
- University of Pennsylvania acceptance rate 2026: 6%
- UPenn acceptance rate 2025: 6%
- UPenn acceptance rate 2024: 8%
Penn Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA, and Class Rank
Enrolled students in the Class of 2026 had a mid-50% SAT range of 1510-1560; the ACT the range was 34-36. The prior year, 93% hailed from the top decile of the high school class and the average unweighted GPA is 3.9.
Wharton – Undergraduate Acceptance Rate
Recent statistics for Wharton-specific undergraduate acceptance rates have not been made available. In one fairly recent year, when the overall Penn acceptance rate was 9.2%, the Wharton acceptance rate was only 7.1%. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that getting into Wharton is likely still a degree (or two) more difficult than getting into another undergraduate school within the university.
52% of Wharton students in the Class of 2026 were female and 68% identified as students of color. First-generation students accounted for 15% of the Wharton Class of 2026. There were 521 total members of the cohort.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- 18% of the Class of 2026 were first-generation students.
- 92% engaged in community service and 40% worked paid jobs.
- UPenn will remain test-optional through the 2023-24 admissions cycle.
- Students admitted in the ED round came from 43 states and 60 countries.
- The Class of 2026 saw the highest total of applicants from Philadelphia ever admitted to Penn.
- One-third of admitted Class of 2027 students engaged in research during high school.
How Penn Evaluates Applicants
Six factors are rated as being “most important” in admissions decisions at the University of Pennsylvania: Rigor of coursework in high school, GPA, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendations, and character/personal qualities. It is important to point out that Penn extended their temporary test-optional policy into the 2023-24 admissions cycle. The next tier of “important” factors includes class rank, interview, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability.
UPenn Acceptance Rate (Continued)
In terms of extracurricular activities, it is critically important to have some type of “hook” when applying to Penn. For example, there are over 1,000 NCAA Division I athletes competing for the Quakers. Some of those individuals were recruited by a Penn coach, giving them a serious edge in the admissions process. Yet, sports are only one of a multitude of areas where one’s talents can knock down the doors to any Ivy League institution like the University of Pennsylvania. In the words of the admissions office, “Penn looks for students with the ability to turn their ideas and interests into action, people whose talents and experiences will energize our community.” Your talents and accomplishments in the laboratory, on the stage, in the orchestra, at work, or in a volunteer setting can all be just as impactful as those on the playing field.
Behind the University of Pennsylvania Acceptance Rate
Let’s look at the demographics of current Penn undergrads:
Geographically, the undergraduate student body is comprised of the greatest number of students from the following states:
- New York
- New Jersey
If you reside in the Deep South or a less-populated state like Montana or Idaho, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances than if you live in Pennsylvania or New York. Colleges like Penn love to say that each freshman class includes a member of each U.S. state which is why being from a remote locale can help your chances.
UPenn Acceptance Rate (Continued)
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown was as follows (percentages do not add up to 100% as applicants can list multiple races):
- White: 31%
- Asian American: 28%
- Hispanic: 11%
- African American: 8%
- International: 13%
- Two or more races: 5%
- Unknown: 5%
Current international studies hail from the following areas of the globe:
- Africa: 8%
- Asia: 49%
- Latin America: 10%
- Europe: 17%
- North America: 13%
- Oceania: 4%
The gender breakdown of current undergraduates is as follows:
- Men: 46%
- Women: 54%
University of Pennsylvania Yield Rate
Penn’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is over 70%. The takeaway is that an exceptionally high number of those admitted to Penn ultimately choose to attend the university. Part of the explanation for this is that the majority of the class was brought aboard via binding early decision. For comparison, elite schools such as Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Claremont McKenna all have yield rates closer to 60%.
Tips for Applying to Penn
The 59,000+ Quaker hopefuls should all be aware of the following:
- An interview is not a mandatory part of the admissions process, but 90% of applicants are typically offered one with an alumni interviewer. Interviews are primarily informational in nature (although they are part of the admissions process) and can be conducted in person or virtually.
- For advice on what types of questions you should be prepared to answer/ask visit our blog—College Interview Tips.
- Unlike many Ivies, Penn does consider “demonstrated interest” so be sure to make contact with the university throughout the process. This can include a campus visit, an email to an admissions officer, connecting with the school via social media, or attending a Penn event in your area.
- Do everything you can to “bring your application to life.” This means seeking out recommenders who can speak to your passion and help your unique personality and attributes pop off the page. Essays will also be key…
UPenn Acceptance Rate (Continued)
- Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the two supplemental essays and short answers required by Penn. In the 2022-23 cycle, they were as follows:
- 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)
- How will you explore 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)
- 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)
For a detailed look at how to tackle these essays, visit our blog entitled: UPenn Supplemental Essay Prompts and Tips.
UPenn Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts
If you are at the top of your high school class and boast exceptional standardized test scores, it is definitely worth adding Penn to your college list. Yet, unless you are a star athletic recruit of the progeny of a U.S. President, it’s hard to give many applicants better than 50/50 chance at earning a place in the Penn freshman class. For more information on constructing a properly balanced list of prospective colleges, consult our blog—How to Create the Perfect College List.