University of Pennsylvania

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Private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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About University of Pennsylvania

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Pennsylvania (commonly known as “Penn”) is a leading private research university (note that nearly all US universities named after their state are public-supported—Penn is an exception to this rule).

The sixth-oldest institution of higher learning in the country, Penn was the brain child of American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who also served as its first president. Franklin’s educational ideas were highly innovative for the time, inclining more towards the teaching of practical skills and preparation for the learned professions, in contrast to the traditional curriculum based on the Classical languages, literature, and history, which aimed primarily to produce ministers and “gentlemen.”

Accordingly, the first medical school in the 13 colonies (now known as the Perelman School of Medicine) was founded at Penn in 1765. Also, thanks in large part to Franklin’s guiding principles, the first business school in the country (the Wharton School) opened there in 1881.

Penn has had a major impact on American politics and history: nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were either graduates of the university or members of its Board of Trustees. Hundreds of Penn graduates have served in the two houses of Congress, at the cabinet level of the executive branch, and as ambassadors in their country’s diplomatic service. Nearly 50 have served as governors of many different states. Finally, Penn can boast three US Supreme Court Justices (James Wilson, Owen J. Roberts, and William J. Brennan) and two presidents (William Henry Harrison attended the Penn medical school, but did not graduate, and Donald Trump received his bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School).

Located in racially and economically diverse West Philadelphia, Penn today has a student body that is “majority minority,” comprising numerous African American, Hispanic, and Native American students, as well as many international students (just under 500 in all) hailing from East Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

Among notable alumni we may mention:

  • Philosopher, Hilary Putnam
  • Famed linguist, Noam Chomsky
  • Investors, Warren Buffett & Eric Weinstein
  • Entrepreneurs, Elon Musk, Steve Wynn, & Sundar Pichai
  • Actors, Bruce Dern, Candice Bergen, Vanessa Bayer, & Elizabeth Banks
  • Broadway producer, Harold Prince
  • Stand-up comedian, Whitney Cummings
  • TV personalities, Andrea Mitchell & Marc Lamont Hill
  • Distinguished American poets, William Carlos Williams & Ezra Pound
  • Renowned architect, I.M. Pei
  • Blogger, Cenk Uygur
  • Kaw professor and political activist, Lawrence Lessig
  • African independence leader and first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah
  • 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump

Altogether, some 28 Penn-connected persons have been recipients of the Nobel Prize, including:

  • Christian Anfinsen —chemistry
  • Stanley Prusiner and Gerald Edelman, —physiology or medicine
  • Edmund Phelps, Lawrence Klein, and Simon Kuznets, —economics
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., —peace

According to Wikipedia, The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university, established as the College of Philadelphia, claims a founding date of 1740 and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum with a practical perspective.

University of Pennsylvania Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

Annual ApplicationsAcceptanceGraduation RateMedian SAT ScoreMedian ACT Score

How Much Does University of Pennsylvania Cost To Attend?

Tuition (in-state)Fees (in-state)
Price by Family Income
IncomeAverage Net Cost
0 - 30K$3,181
30K - 48K$4,833
48K - 75K$12,752
75K - 110K$20,632

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

How Much Do University of Pennsylvania Graduates Make?

If you graduate from University of Pennsylvania, then you can expect to earn an average of $131,600 per year. You also have a 90% chance of being employed after 10 years.

University of Pennsylvania's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

Student BodyUnder-GradsGraduates

Where is University of Pennsylvania?

University of Pennsylvania is located at 34th & Spruce Street, Philadelphia PA 19104-6303

What Is University of Pennsylvania Known For?

University of Pennsylvania is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

University of Pennsylvania's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are University of Pennsylvania's Most Influential Alumni?

University of Pennsylvania's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Business, Medical, and Criminal Justice. Here are some of University of Pennsylvania's most famous alumni:

Arnold J. Levine
An American molecular biologist.
Jay Garner
A United States Army general and United States Marine.
Laurence Kotlikoff
Laurence Kotlikoff
An American economist.
Eugene Galanter
An American experimental psychologist.
William P. Carey
William P. Carey
A Businessperson.
Gloria Allred
Gloria Allred
An American civil rights lawyer.
Leonard Sax
An American psychologist and physician.
Laurene Powell Jobs
Laurene Powell Jobs
An American political activist, business executive, philanthropist, heiress, billionaire.
John Edgar Wideman
John Edgar Wideman
A Fiction writer, memoirist, essayist.
Norton Juster
An American children's writer, academic, and architect.
Christian B. Anfinsen
Christian B. Anfinsen
An American biochemist.
Nathan Glazer
An American sociologist.