Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania is the fifth-oldest university in the United States. The campus is home to fewer than 10,000 students, nestled in the thriving urban setting of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia offers a host of museums, historic landmarks, restaurants, theaters, and sports arenas for students to enjoy when not immersed in study.
Should a student desire to spend some of their four years outside of Pennsylvania, they can apply for one of many study abroad excursions.
UPenn currently ranks first among Ivy League schools in the number of students who participate in study abroad programs.
Some of the most popular majors at UPenn are economics, business, and biology. The Wharton School of Business is the first business school established in the nation, and students in the program enjoy a flexible curriculum where nearly 30% of their classes take place outside of Wharton.
Applying early decision to UPenn is a competitive process. In the upcoming sections, we’ll discuss the acceptance rate for early decision applicants, as well as specific admission requirements and important deadlines.
UPenn Early Decision Acceptance Rate
Most recently, UPenn accepted 15.6% of 7,795 early decision applicants into the class of 2026 – slightly up from the previous year’s historic low of 15%.
Of the 1,218 accepted applicants, 14% are considered first-generation college students.
Notably, 24% of those admitted through the early decision program did not submit their standardized test scores.
The middle 50% of accepted early decision applicants who submitted ACT scores ranged between 34-35 on the ACT.
UPenn Early Decision Decision Date
Early decision applicants will receive a decision from UPenn by mid-December: admit, defer, or deny. UPenn’s early decision program is binding, so those who are accepted are expected to enroll at UPenn.
Upon learning of their acceptance to UPenn, early decision applicants should withdraw any other active applications at other colleges.
Early decision applicants who are accepted have until January 5 to confirm their enrollment status at UPenn.
If an early decision applicant was deferred to the regular decision applicant pool, they would have until May 2 to confirm their decision.
UPenn Early Decision Deadline
Early decision applicants must submit their materials to UPenn by November 1 – the process of applying for early decision is no different than that of regular decision candidates.
Any U.S. citizens or permanent residents should plan on submitting their financial aid materials by November 2 for the early decision cycle.
These items include the FAFSA, CSS Profile, Penn Financial Aid Supplement, and federal tax returns for both the student and their parent.
If the student does not file taxes, they should still complete the Non-Tax Filer Form.
Does UPenn Have Early Decision 2?
UPenn has a single early decision round. If an applicant is not accepted in the early decision evaluation period, their application will either be deferred or denied.
Deferred applications move to the regular decision application pool, and at that point, are no longer bound to attend UPenn should they gain admittance.
Students whose applications are denied will not be able to re-apply for the remainder of the cycle year.
UPenn ED Deferral Rate
While UPenn does not share the percentage of early decision applicants who are deferred or denied, recent statistics indicate that the admissions selection committee accepted 16% of students who were deferred to the regular decision pool.
If deferred, there are several things applicants can do to provide more information about themselves.
They may submit an additional letter of recommendation or submit those results if their standardized test scores are competitive.
How to Apply to UPenn for Early Decision
The first thing applicants should do when applying to UPenn is to complete the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application – it costs $75 to apply to UPenn, though those who qualify can have the fee waived.
All applicants are asked to select among one of four undergraduate schools or programs at UPenn: the College of Arts and Sciences, Penn Engineering, the Wharton School, or the School of Nursing.
UPenn’s Office of Admission has shared what they are looking for in applicants for each program. For the most popular school – the College of Arts and Sciences – UPenn is looking for demonstrated curiosity and aptitude in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences; application of classroom knowledge to real-world contexts, and rigorous preparation via college preparatory courses.
Penn Engineering applicants should show evidence of talent in physics and mathematics (particularly in calculus). Their application should convey their penchant for innovation, design, and application of scientific principles.
School of Nursing applicants should show commitment to patient care, curiosity in regard to healthcare issues, and a strong background in sciences (especially chemistry).
Wharton School applicants should demonstrate exceptional leadership abilities, strong mathematics preparation in calculus, and a genuine desire to contribute to the socio-economic well-being of global citizens.
Once early decision applicants have designated the school to which they are applying, there are seven additional required components of the application, with the first being a Penn-specific essay.
The next two items are an official high school transcript and a School Report (typically completed by a school official and sent on behalf of the applicant).
The fourth requirement consists of three letters of recommendation, and early decision applicants can go about the process in one of two ways.
Their first option is to submit a high school counselor recommendation and two recommendations from teachers; alternatively, they may submit a recommendation from a high school counselor, a teacher, and an additional adult who can speak to the applicant’s interests, abilities, and personality.
Ideally, teacher letters should come from those who have taught the applicant in junior or senior year core courses (like science, social studies, math, English, or a foreign language), or in the area of the applicant’s academic interests. UPenn does not advise sending two letters from instructors in the same subject area.
For the second option, an additional recommender can be someone like an employer, mentor, coach, extracurricular instructor, spiritual leader, or cultural leader. UPenn does hold workshops throughout the early decision and regular decision admission.
The final three items are the Early Decision Agreement (EDA), Mid-Year Report, and Final Report. The EDA is a document signed by the applicant indicating their promise to enroll upon being admitted to the university.
The Mid-Year Report (required by February 15 in the case of a student deferment) shares the official fall semester grades for an applicant’s senior year.
The Final Report accomplishes the same task for spring semester grades and is required in June for students enrolling at UPenn.
Let’s now review some of the optional components of an early decision application, starting with standardized test scores. As of the 2021-2022 application cycle, standardized test scores are optional. For those choosing to submit scores, the last eligible SAT is in November, and the last eligible ACT is in October.
SAT scores submitted to UPenn are typically highly competitive.
For the incoming class of 2021, which accepted 6% of 56,332 applicants, the middle 50% of accepted students scored between 720-770 on the Critical Reading and Writing section of the SAT, while the same group scored between 760-800 on the Math section – these ranges represent near-perfect scores!
Of those who were admitted to UPenn (regular and early decision), 93% were ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating classes.
Early decision applicants also have an opportunity to participate in a (virtual) alumni interview between mid-October and early December. Over 90% of applicants receive an invitation for an interview, depending on the availability of alumni volunteers.
UPenn shares helpful advice in regard to preparing for interviews.
Most importantly, students should show up ready to talk about themselves, what’s important to them, their current academic and extracurricular interests and pursuits, why they’re applying to UPenn, and their future plans.
Interviewees should dress as they would for a school presentation, prepare questions to ask the interviewers, and refrain from researching their interviewers.
Early decision applicants for specific programs may need to submit portfolios or additional materials.
Any student applying to Architecture, Digital Media Design, Music, or Fine Arts and Design are typically expected to submit an array of recent works that highlight their style, vision, and eye for design.
Fine Arts applicants should share an artist’s statement of nearly 300 words (though it is not required). These supplements are due ten days after the application deadline.
Those who are accepted early decision to UPenn will enjoy a diverse, stimulating, and intellectually-challenging collegiate experience at one of the best schools in the nation.
Receiving an early decision admission can provide great comfort to high school seniors in the college application journey, though admitted students should continue making excellent grades in their senior year courses.