Student holding a fossil
Research and Learning Opportunities

Penn is one of the nation's top research universities, not only generating important new knowledge in the fields of medicine, technology, business, science, and beyond, but applying this knowledge to improve the lives of individuals and communities at home and around the world. 

Upend Limits - Create Knowledge

We are committed to inspiring the next generation of world-class researchers. Annual research funding in excess of $966 million, a practical, hands-on approach to teaching and learning, and the opportunities presented by Penn’s graduate schools and hospitals combine to create opportunities for every Penn undergraduate student to engage in research.

Hubs for Innovation and Cultural Learning

Our learning hubs are physical and intellectual spaces for student-directed innovation and creativity. Whether resulting in robots, sonnet cycles, traditional dances, community outreach, or moments of intercultural understanding, the hubs provide opportunities for students to explore their interests, ask important questions, and bring their knowledge forward for the good of the world.

 

Research Happens Everywhere

Research at Penn is not limited to undergraduate classrooms and laboratories. Every day, undergraduates apply their knowledge in settings throughout the University and in surrounding communities. From the elementary school classrooms of University City to the conference rooms of local nonprofits, to the nation’s top-ranked children’s hospital, as a Penn student, you will learn and test your ideas while making positive contributions in the community.

 

Penn’s innovative Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses give you the opportunity to earn academic credit while doing important work in surrounding communities—partnering with local schools, churches, and community centers to address such issues as literacy, nutrition, and water quality.

Biological Basis of Behavior (BBB) majors have the opportunity to work in labs across campus, doing research under the guidance of experienced mentors who encourage original thinking and rigorous scientific methodology. Some of these students formally present their research findings at the annual BBB Research Symposium.

A $10 million research center, Penn’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception Lab (GRASP) supports student learning and research in areas such as haptics and service robots. The “Philliebot,” designed in Penn’s GRASP Lab, threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival.

Through the Wharton Social Impact Research Experience (SIRE), the Wharton Undergraduate Division offers up to 10 grants each summer to support undergraduate research that promotes both economic and social values—either domestically or abroad. Projects are designed and carried out by students under the guidance of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members.

Penn School of Nursing students complete immersive field research at numerous sites across the world.

Being a part of a research project builds critical skills that provide an opportunity to step outside the classroom and learn through a focused, in-depth exploration of a topic of personal interest. As a researcher, you gain skills that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Research experience is helpful if you want to apply for a fellowship and is an essential part of preparation for graduate studies in any academic area. Beyond methods and findings, though, by joining forces with a professor you’ll learn valuable collaborative thinking skills that build on what you’re learning in the classroom.

The Penn student-faculty research partnership is an intensive, long-term relationship that creates strong bonds between Penn students and the professors who guide them. This rapport often extends far beyond graduation, offering opportunities for personal and professional mentorship and resulting in well-informed letters of recommendation when the time comes to apply for fellowships, graduate study, or jobs.

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships supports undergraduate involvement in faculty research through the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM), which provides students completing their first or second undergraduate year the opportunity to spend a summer as a research assistant for a Penn faculty member. Since its inception in 2007, PURM has funded more than 400 Penn faculty members to provide more than 500 undergraduates with cutting-edge research experiences.

Penn conducts thousands of research projects each year and is consistently ranked as one of the largest recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With the support of federal funding, Penn also receives valuable support from a host of other sponsors, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, foundations, associations, alumni, and industry partners. 

With more than 100 research centers and institutes, research is a substantial and esteemed enterprise at Penn. As of fiscal year 2018, the research community includes more than 4,800 faculty and more than 1,200 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees, and a research budget of $966 million.

Beyond the Classroom

Internships

More than 80 percent of Penn undergraduates complete internships in the greater Philadelphia area. Whether you choose to tutor in a local school, conduct research in the city archives, work for a nonprofit organization, or learn the ropes at an investment bank, Penn will help you discover ways to apply your learning in real-world settings.
 

So Much to Discover

From its neighborhoods to its public schools, Philadelphia is a dynamic city where you can examine the challenges, dynamics, and possibilities of the American urban landscape—whether through Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Civic House, or other nonprofit and community initiatives. Many of our freshman seminars also make use of the culture our city has to offer. You may choose to take Theatre in Philadelphia, for example, attend plays, tour local theaters, and meet with theater artists.
 

Learning Through Service

Together with faculty, you can put your skills and knowledge to use in service of the local community. Opportunities include:

  • Penn Engineering students supply computers and teach technology skills to neighborhoods in need through student-run CommuniTech.
  • Wharton students apply their ideas to help Philadelphia organizations and businesses tackle problems—such as working with the Red Cross to create a fire safety program for local schools.
  • Nursing students provide free health care to underserved populations at the United Community Clinics.

Center For Undergraduate Research and Fellowships

CURF advisors help undergraduates interested in research find faculty mentors and research opportunities. The Center helps those interested in post-graduate fellowships develop competitive applications and proposals and provides assistance to undergraduates applying for funding for research and research-related activities.

Undergraduate Publishing

Your research findings are even more valuable when they’re shared, and Penn students have presented findings at professional conferences throughout the country and around the world.

As a Penn student researcher, you will have the opportunity to publish your research results both in collaboration with professors and independently. Our 11 undergraduate research journals often showcase the research of students and student-faculty partnerships. A few of the more common publications are listed below.