High School

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Admissions and Application Questions
  2. Financial Aid
  3. Campus Life
  4. Pre-College Questions

Admissions and Application Questions

What materials are required for application?

Please see the application page for application requirements.

What is the profile of a successful applicant?

A successful candidate for admission will have:

  • At least a 3.3 G.P.A.
  • Scores in the 85th percentile or greater in all sections of their standardized tests (SAT, PSAT, ACT)
  • Writing that shows both technical skill and intellectual depth
  • Strong recommendations
  • A variety of extracurricular interests

It should be noted that an individual’s entire application is considered as a package and no one factor determines acceptance to our programs.

Are TOEFL scores required for international students?

International students whose native language is not English are required to submit TOEFL (or TOEFL equivalent – Cambridge ESOL, IELTS) scores to verify English language proficiency. International students who attend an English-medium high school may substitute PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores for TOEFL scores.

Is the Penn Summer High School Program competitive?

Yes, the program is competitive. Last year we received approximately 900 applications and enrolled 325 students.

When will students receive an admissions decision?

Admission decisions are posted to your online application account within two weeks of submitting the completed application (including our receipt of supplementary application materials.) You will receive an email notice when your admissions decision is available.

What should students do once they are accepted?

In order to reserve your spot within the program please submit your Decision Form as soon as possible. A link for the Decision Form is located within your application portal. Failure to submit your form within a timely manner may result in your space being offered to another worthy applicant. We may grant extensions on a case by case basis. All requests for extensions must be made in writing and addressed to hsprogs@sas.upenn.edu. 

Will students earn college credit for their participation?

Students enrolled in our 3 week academies will not receive academic credit for their efforts; however, all students will receive a certificate of completion. Letters of evaluation may also be issued by request.

Students enrolled in the Pre-College Program will receive college credit for successful completion of one or two undergraduate courses. Most courses are worth 1 Penn course unit (CU) which translates into 4 credits at most other institutions. Biology counts as 1.5 CUs due to the rigorous lab component. Students may request an official copy of their Penn transcripts through the Registrar’s office.

Are Summer High School Program alumni favored for admission to Penn as undergraduates?

Admission to Penn is highly competitive and based upon a variety of factors. The Penn Summer High School Program will be a great addition to any resume and, combined with a strong high school record, will provide undergraduate admissions officers with information regarding a student’s academic potential. However, admission to the Penn Summer High School Program does not guarantee admission to a Penn undergraduate program.  

What is a typical day like?

Students enrolled in one of our academies should expect a schedule similar to the following:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday


Lecture/ Guest Speaker




Field Trip or schedule similar to Monday - Thursday







Lab/Group Work

Lab/Group Work

Lab/Group Work

Lab/Group Work

Schedules for students in the Pre-College Program will vary greatly depending upon the courses in which they are enrolled.

Financial Aid

Is financial aid available?

A limited number of full commuter scholarships are available to qualified School District of Philadelphia public and charter high school students through our Penn Summer Scholars Program. This program follows a separate application review and admissions process. Please see the Penn Summer Scholars Program page for further details.

Unfortunately, we do not provide financial aid to applicants from outside of the School District of Philadelphia. Rather, we encourage students to seek out scholarships and awards from outside sources.

Campus Life

Where will students be living?

Students will reside in one of Penn’s many dormitories. Dorms are fully air-conditioned and secure, featuring computer labs, lounges with big-screen TVs, study areas, laundry facilities, ping-pong, and vending machines. Additionally, all rooms and common spaces are equipped with high-speed Internet access.

Will students have a variety of dining options?

Penn summer dining features all-you-care-to-eat meals at 1920 Commons and retail lunch options at Houston Market, Monday through Friday. Both venues offer a wide selection of dietary choices, including vegetarian and kosher options. Residential students receive a meal plan consisting of three meals per day, Monday through Friday, and brunch and dinner on Sunday. Day/commuting students receive lunch Monday through Friday.

Are residential students permitted to return home for weekends or family events?

We prefer that students remain in residence for the duration of the program. We do, however, allow students to leave for brief periods (such as an evening or weekend) as long as adequate advance notice is given and the student is escorted by a parent or legal guardian.

Will students be safe on campus?

All University residences are equipped with 24-hour monitoring of building entrances. You can instantly contact Public Safety from more than 225 exterior “blue light” emergency telephones, located on the campus and throughout the University City community. If you need to work late at the library or lab, you can request a walking escort to accompany you to the dormitory or nearest transportation center.

What happens if a student becomes ill during the program?

Students are eligible for limited medical care through Student Health Services. After-hours emergency or urgent care is provided at the emergency room of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, ranked as the best children’s hospital in the country.

Pre-College Questions

Who teaches Pre-College courses?

Pre-College courses are carefully selected from the full undergraduate course listings. As such, they are taught by Penn faculty, distinguished visiting faculty, and Penn staff.

Will Pre-College students be treated differently in the undergraduate classroom?

No. In order to receive a true college experience Pre-College students will be treated no differently than Penn undergraduates. Instructors will not be aware that you are a Pre-College student unless you make it known to them.

Can students add/drop a course once the program has begun?

If a student attends the first few meetings of a course and determines that it does not meet their need for any reason we will be happy to work with them to find and enroll them in a more appropriate course. Drop/add dates will be issued to all students during orientation.

How do Pre-College students request official Penn transcripts?

Transcripts may be requested online, by mail, or in person through the Registrar’s office for a fee of $10. For further instructions, please see the Registrar’s Transcripts Information page.