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University of Pennsylvania appears in these rankings:

30 Best Value Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

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In 1743, Benjamin Franklin developed an idea for an academy and included his ideas in his famous "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth" essay. The essay allowed Franklin to gather a group that helped him bring the school to life. They purchased a building that previously housed a charity school and house of worship that had closed due to lack of funding. The Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania opened its doors in 1751. Franklin served as president of the institution in 1755 and was a trustee until his death in 1790. The mission of the school was to train young men in business, government and public services.

In 1755, the College of Philadelphia was chartered with three schools - an academy, charity school and college - operating under the same trustees, although the charity school soon closed. In 1779, Pennsylvania legislators created a University of the State of Pennsylvania, a rival school to Franklin's college. The two institutions merged in 1791 becoming the University of Pennsylvania and the school remained in downtown Philadelphia for more than 100 years.

In 1872, the university purchased property West Philadelphia, creating what is now known as University City, across the Schuykill River. Today, Penn has 21,358 students enrolled at Penn. There are eight MacArthur Award recipients and two Pulitzer Prize recipients as well as four National Medal of Science and four Nobel Prize recipients on the faculty.

University of Pennsylvania Accreditation Details

Penn is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Regional accreditation indicates to parents, students and potential employers that graduates are well-prepared for positions in their field of study. Penn must undergo review every ten years to confirm that they continue to offer outstanding education, address any areas that are identified as needing improvement and use resources wisely to achieve the goals of the university.

In addition to regional accreditation, the following associations or organizations accredit specific programs at Penn:

  • ABET
  • Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
  • American Bar Association
  • American Dental Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Society of Landscape Architects
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Association for Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
  • Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
  • Council on Education for Public Health
  • Council on Social Work Education Office of Social Work Accreditation
  • Liaison Committee on Medical Education
  • Planning Accreditation Board

University of Pennsylvania Application Requirements

Students who have not earned college credit after they graduate from high school are considered first-year students at Penn. They must complete the Common Application and pay the application fee. The Penn Writing Supplement must be completed as part of the application. Students must provide an official high school transcript, a school report and recommendation from a counselor. Official ACT or SAT scores are required along with two recommendations from teachers. Some programs may require additional admission materials so students should speak to an admissions counselor before applying.

Transfer students are those who have earned college credit after graduating high school. Transfer students must also complete the Common Application and writing supplement as well as provide official college transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A college report, official high school transcripts and two evaluations from academic instructors at the college they most recently attended must be provided. If students have taken the ACT or SAT within one year of application, those scores must also be submitted.

Graduate students apply directly to the department that offers the program they are hoping to enter. Each program has their own requirements for admission. Students must speak to a Graduate Admissions Counselor prior to submitting an application.

Penn Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at Penn for undergraduate students is $47,416 for full-time study each year while graduate tuition varies depending on the program the student enters.

Starting in 2007, Penn instituted an All-Grant Policy, the largest school in the nation to offer such a financial aid program. Financial awards include grants and work-study but do not include any student loans. This policy is in effect regardless of family income. The average financial aid package for incoming freshmen at Penn is $48,977. Penn does not award merit-based or athletic scholarships. All aid is need-based and the university is committed to meeting full demonstrated needs for students for four years.

Students in doctorate programs at Penn usually receive financial aid packages that cover multiple years and are designed to cover tuition, fees, health insurance and a living allowance stipend. Professional schools at Penn offer limited financial aid although some graduate schools may have scholarships available to cover the cost of tuition and expenses.

Penn Degree Program(s) Available

Health and Societies

The Health and Societies degree offered at Penn under the College of Arts and Sciences provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary in positions that deal with the global world of healthcare and decision-making. The program examines health and medicine in a social context so that students gain an understanding of health as it is connected to society and culture. The program is built on anthropology, history and sociology. Students become multilingual scholars who are fluent in the methods of different social science disciplines with a focus on global outlook. In addition to core courses required of all majors and courses required by the department, students also take the following concentration courses:

  • Bioethics and Health
  • Disease and Society
  • Environment and Health
  • Gender and Health
  • Global Health
  • Health Care, Markets and Finance
  • Health Policy
  • History of Medicine
  • Public Health

Students must also complete a Capstone Research Seminar.

Penn is proud of its diverse community with students and faculty from a wide range of cultural identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs and sexual orientations. The school allows students to be who they are without judgement or discrimination. Penn offers the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center as a home-away-from-home for students. Whether students are questioning their sexuality, have recently come out or have been proudly identifying as LGBTQ for many years, the center offers a safe space. The center offers peer mentorships, space to study, socialization opportunities and events.

Penn offers a wide range of unique degree programs with an understanding of student diversity. Several centers at the University of Pennsylvania provide areas for students with diverse backgrounds, whether they are racial, sexual, religious or gender-based, to feel comfortable and socialize with others like them or for those who wish to better understand different cultures to do so in a safe environment.


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