On Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania announced admission decisions for Regular Decision applicants to the Class of 2026, the institution’s 270th class, to build a class of 2,400 outstanding students across Penn’s four undergraduate schools: the School of Arts & Sciences, Penn Engineering, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing.
There were nearly 55,000 applicants this year—almost 15,000 more than applied just two years ago for the Class of 2024—and students were admitted through Questbridge Match, Early Decision, and Regular Decision rounds. We are proud to report that they collectively represent the most diverse group of admitted students in Penn’s history in terms of racial and ethnic background, socioeconomic diversity (including those who are eligible for Pell grants), and those who are the first generation in their family to attend a four-year college or university. This group also includes the highest proportion of students from Philadelphia that we’ve admitted in any year.
We know that people are curious about Penn’s enrollment and that potential applicants want data when considering Penn. After the class settles into place in May, we’ll post the details about who is enrolling and some of the academic and demographic characteristics that represent students in our incoming class. While our admit rate, testing, and demographic data will be available in various public data sources, we wish to celebrate the students we have invited to the Penn community as individuals and in the ways that we got to know them, through their unique combinations of identity, accomplishment, and talent. In this spirit, we are sharing with you some of the amazing accomplishments we admired while reading their applications.
To start, intellectual discovery and innovation at the highest level drives the Penn community forward every single day. Students admitted to the Class of 2026 have already demonstrated their curiosity, fortitude, and unparalleled excellence in their academic work, which is especially impressive given how much disruption students have experienced over these past two years.
Nearly one-third of the admitted students engaged in academic research during their time in high school, many earning national and international accolades for research that is already pushing the boundaries of academic discovery. Admitted students worked alongside leading faculty and researchers in their fields of interest, co-authored publications included in leading journals, and displayed their ingenuity in making connections across complex and varied disciplines. Our faculty and fellow students across Penn’s schools and research centers are ready to welcome this latest generation of dynamic scholars who will continue to create new knowledge to benefit the world.
Further, one of the central tenets of a Penn education is translating knowledge into social-minded action. Over 80% of the admitted students are living out this tradition by engaging in community service activities that have already made a significant impact locally, nationally, and globally. We admire those students who gave their time to help others on an individual level and those who facilitated large-scale initiatives and undertakings that made a wide and lasting impact in their communities. In the midst of the pandemic, many students displayed flexibility and creativity in translating their desire to give back to the virtual realm, pivoting with established practices to new and innovative means of making a difference.
We saw an uptick in interests in sustainability and environmental studies among applicants this year, who channeled their passion into tangible action. We read about students who organized efforts to adopt more sustainable practices and policies, both at a local and national level. Students worked at the cutting-edge of sustainability and energy research, and pursued and advocated for environmental equity to address one of the most challenging issues of our time. We look forward to the contributions these young scholars will make to Penn’s ongoing efforts to prioritize sustainability efforts and to promote environmentally conscious policies.
Finally, almost 40% of students worked during their time in high school, earning money to support themselves and their families. Our admitted students showed up for shifts as essential and frontline workers, members of service industries, helped parents to reimagine or pivot family businesses in the face of grave economic uncertainty, and gained wide-ranging professional experiences in fields of their current interests. Additionally, many students took on significant responsibility at home with younger siblings, caring for grandparents or elderly neighbors, and taking on household responsibilities. While they gained insights and skills that will serve them in adulthood, we were touched by the number of students who described these contributions simply and with great empathy.
These anecdotes represent just a small snapshot of the incredible individuals that have been admitted to the Class of 2026. We celebrate their intellect, character, integrity, and persistence to achieve their goals amidst the very many challenges of our world right now. We’re looking forward to welcoming these students to the Penn community as they enrich our campus with their unique voices. Congratulations to the Class of 2026, we can’t wait to see what you do next!