People walking in Penn Commons

Exploring Academics

Congratulations on taking this exciting step toward your future! We know that a great deal of thought has led you to this moment and we want to help you get across the finish line.

When you apply to Penn, you must choose one of our four undergraduate schools or a coordinated dual-degree program. This academic community will serve as your home base for academic advising and degree requirements. Each has its own requirements and offers a different degree.

Penn asks you to make this selection because the Admissions Committee will review your application in the context of the school or program you’ve identified. So, what does this mean?

Most applicants will apply to one of four undergraduate schools. You can learn more about specifics and what each undergraduate school is looking for through the following links: 

To set yourself up for success in the admissions process, you should apply to the school that matches both your academic interests and your academic preparation to date. For example, you’ll notice that Penn Engineering is looking for exposure to calculus and physics because these are subjects necessary for successful completion of their degrees. Penn Nursing is seeking students with a commitment to patient care and exposure to chemistry in high school. Make sure to research the various academic programs and suggested preparation.

HOT TIP: While all Penn students have access to courses across the university, it is important to consider where you want to focus your undergraduate studies and choose your academic program accordingly. When asked to write about your academic interests in the Penn essays, focus on the specific undergraduate school you have selected. This doesn’t mean you have to have narrow intellectual interests! You can share the various ways you hope to engage at Penn in addition to explaining why you feel a particular school will be the best “home base” for you.

Some students may identify a coordinated dual-degree as their target program when applying. This process is slightly different. These are smaller academic programs whose paths and curriculums are pre-established with specific focuses. All coordinated dual-degree applicants are required to complete additional essays specific to their selected program. When students apply to one of these programs, they are required to identify a single-degree program from among the sponsoring schools of that dual degree. In the event they are not admitted to the dual degree program, the admissions committee will then consider them for the school they have identified.

Penn offers coordinated dual-degrees and specialized programs in the following areas, and you can learn more by visiting each specific link. If these areas interest you, one of these programs may be a great fit, but please note that it is possible to study these topics at Penn without enrolling in one of these specialized programs.

  • DMD: Digital Media Design Program
  • Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
  • LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
  • M&T The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
  • NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering
  • NHCM Nursing and Health Care Management
  • VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research