University of Pennsylvania

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Updated August 7, 2020

The University of Pennsylvania, often called Penn or UPenn, is a private, research, Ivy League institution of higher learning residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It prides itself as the oldest university in the country. It is home to over 20,000 students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and more than 6,000 faculty and staff members. The university encompasses 12 schools of education that join on one campus location. The University of Pennsylvania traces its founding back to 1740, when George Whitefield had the notion of building a charity school and worship house in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin officially opened the school in 1751 as the Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin strived to provide education in business, government, and public service and his innovative ideas resulted in the institution becoming a university in 1749. In 1755, the university earned collegiate charter, and the first class graduated in 1757. In 1765, the first medical school was established. The institution expanded to a new location in 1802 and another in 1872. Today, the University of Pennsylvania is committed to innovation and intellectual rigor that carries on the vision of Benjamin Franklin and the institution's early history. It honors the tradition through its ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and involvement of all individuals who pass through its doors.

University of Pennsylvania Accreditation Details

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools regionally accredits the University of Pennsylvania. The American Council on Education accredits online courses offered by the university. The American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation accredits the online continuing nursing education program. The American Psychological Association accredits the online master's in psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania.

University of Pennsylvania Application Requirements


  • Complete and submit the Common Application
  • Submit the Penn Writing Supplement
  • Submit SAT or ACT scores
  • Submit official transcripts from secondary schools
  • Submit two teacher evaluations
  • Submit a school report
  • Submit a recommendation from a counselor
  • Submit a midyear report
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores
  • Submit application fee


All graduate programs have different admissions requirements. The requirements for the master's degree in psychology include:

  • Submit documentation of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S college or university or a postsecondary degree that is equivalent to a four-year bachelor's degree.
  • Minimum 3.0 grade point average
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Written statement of reasons for applying to the program and career goals
  • Professional resume
  • Submit scores from the GRE examination if applying within three years of completion of a bachelor's degree
  • TOEFL scores for non-native English speakers
  • Demonstration of ability for quantitative and analytical coursework through high GRE scores, practical experience, or previous coursework.


Online programs have the same requirements as campus-based courses with the following technical requirements:

  • Up to date operating system, browser, Java, and Flash.
  • Recommended minimum screen size of 1024x600
  • Internet connection of 512Kbps download speed or higher
  • Windows XP SP3 and newer, Mac OS X 10.6 and newer, ChromeOS, iOS 7 and newer, and Android 2.3 and newer
  • Supported browsers include Internet Explorer 10 and 11, Chrome 37 and 38, Safari 6 and 7, Firefox 32 and 33, Flash 14 and 15, and Respondus Lockdown Browser

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at the University of Pennsylvania varies greatly on education level, program, and residency. In general, the tuition and fees per year for resident undergraduate students is $49,536. Tuition for graduate students varies by program, but is generally between $14,000 and $27,000 per semester. The tuition specifically for the master's degree in psychology is around $27,000 per semester including $23,920 in tuition and 4,000 in fees. The tuition is comparable for both campus-based and online programs.

The University of Pennsylvania participates in a array of financial aid programs to provide its Ivy League educational programs to all students no matter their financial situation. It has a generous financial aid budget to assist students. The types of aid include grants and scholarships, loans, and work-study. The Penn All-Grant Aid Program offers traditional undergraduate students financial aid that encompasses grants and work-study to help students graduate debt-free by decreasing the need for loans. The scholarships include university named scholarships, outside scholarships, and Mayor's Scholarship. The grants include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, state grants, and the Penn Grant. Students can choose either Federal Work-Study or Penn Work-Study. The University of Pennsylvania also participates in undergraduate and graduate loans such as the Direct Loan, Direct PLUS loan, alternative loans, and international loans. A variety of financing and payment plans are also available such as the Penn Monthly Budget Plan and the Tuition Prepayment Program.

Online Degrees Available

The University of Pennsylvania offers an online master's degree in psychology. The College of Liberal and Professional Studies offer the Master of Applied Positive Psychology. The University of Pennsylvania was the first in the world to offer a degree in this area of psychology. The program was founded with working professionals in mind and enables students to gain a solid background in the theory, practice, history, and research of the field without relocating to Philadelphia. Nine courses are included in the curriculum, all completed within one year. Students are required to visit the campus 10 times over intensive weekends that consist of both instruction and networking. The program was designed to enable graduates to apply course topics to real-world situations. It includes exhaustive instruction in research methods and theoretical foundations of positive psychology that allows students to apply to current and future careers. Students must complete an individual capstone project at the end of the program to develop professional development and make a difference to the positive psychology field. The courses include introduction to positive psychology, research methods and evaluation, foundations of positive interventions, approaches to the good life, applied positive interventions, positive psychology and individuals, positive psychology and organizations, and humanities and human flourishing. The capstone project combines academic and professional experiences where students gain a further understanding of the theories and practical applications learned throughout the program. Examples of capstone projects include reviews of literature, empirical studies, and workshops. Capstone projects are completed during the summer semester of the program.

The University of Pennsylvania has a lot to offer to both undergraduate and graduate students; it is an excellent choice for those seeking both campus-based and online programs.

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