Books on a shelf of the Van Pelt Library


The Penn application process includes a personal essay as well as supplemental short answer prompts. We read your words carefully, as they are yet another window into how you think, what you value, and how you see the world. Through your writing, we get a glimpse of what you might bring to our community, including your voice and creativity.

Before you begin writing:

  • Review the prompt thoroughly. Be sure you’re answering the question or prompt being asked. Topics are chosen because the Admissions Committee wants to know specific things about you. If you don’t address the them directly, we are left to make decisions regarding your application with incomplete information.
  • Consider your response carefully. We understand that you may be writing responses for different schools and you may want to reuse material, but read through your response to make sure the content is relevant to the prompt.
  • Double check your writing. Give yourself time to revisit your response. Do not rush your writing process; create space in your schedule to revise your work. Ultimately, it is up to you to polish your response before you submit.

In your Penn supplemental short answers, be precise when explaining both why you are applying to Penn and why you have chosen to apply to that specific undergraduate school. Some of our specialized programs will have additional essays to complete, but the Penn supplemental prompts should address the single-degree or single-school choice.

2023-24 Short Answer & Essay Prompts

Penn Supplemental Short Answer Prompts (Required)

  1. Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words, only required for first year applicants)
  2. How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective, and how your experiences and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
  3. The school-specific prompt will now be unique to the school to which a student is applying. Considering the undergraduate school you have selected, please respond to your school-specific prompt below. (For example, all applicants applying to the College of Arts and Sciences will respond to the prompt under the “College of Arts and Sciences” section).

For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.

Transfer Essay (required for all transfer applicants): Please explain your reasons for transferring from your current institution and what you hope to gain by transferring to another institution. (4150 characters)

Undergraduate School Academic Short Answer Prompts

Penn Nursing intends to meet the health needs of society in a global and multicultural world by preparing its students to impact healthcare by advancing science and promoting equity. What do you think this means for the future of nursing, and how do you see yourself contributing to our mission of promoting equity in healthcare? (150-200 words)

To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about Penn Nursing’s mission and how we promote equity in healthcare. This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of our values and how they align with your own goals and aspirations.

The flexible structure of The College of Arts and Sciences’ curriculum is designed to inspire exploration, foster connections, and help you create a path of study through general education courses and a major. What are you curious about and how would you take advantage of opportunities in the arts and sciences? (150-200 words)

To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about the academic offerings within the College of Arts and Sciences.  This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of how the study of the liberal arts aligns with your own goals and aspirations.

Wharton prepares its students to make an impact by applying business methods and economic theory to real-world problems, including economic, political, and social issues.  Please reflect on a current issue of importance to you and share how you hope a Wharton education would help you to explore it.  (150-200 words)

To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about the foundations of a Wharton education. This information will help you better understand what you could learn by studying at Wharton and what you could do afterward.

Penn Engineering prepares its students to become leaders in technology, by combining a strong foundation in the natural sciences and mathematics, exploration in the liberal arts, and depth of study in focused disciplinary majors. Please share how you hope to explore your engineering interests at Penn. (150-200 words)

To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about Penn Engineering and its mission to prepare students for global leadership in technology. This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of academic pathways within Penn Engineering and how they align with your goals and interests.

Coordinated Dual Degree and Specialized Programs Short Answer Prompts

For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer the program-specific essay below.

** Character count that only applies to transfer students applying through Common App.

Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words / 3575 characters**)

DMD: Digital Media Design Program

The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree program in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to contribute to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)

The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing, and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)

  • Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)
  • Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words)

Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words / 3575 characters**)

Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn's coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)

How do you envision your participation in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) furthering your interests in energy science and technology? Please include any past experiences (ex. academic, research, or extracurricular) that have led to your interest in the program. Additionally, please indicate why you are interested in pursuing dual degrees in science and engineering and which VIPER majors are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)