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Admissions and Application Overview

Admissions and Application Overview

Eligibility for the Young Scholars High School Program

For the fall and spring terms, the Young Scholars Program is open to local high school students who are current juniors and seniors. The Young Scholars Program is not designed for students who have already graduated high school, nor for those admitted to Penn through the Early Decision option.

Our average applicant has:

  • Scores in the 85th percentile or greater in all sections of their standardized tests (SAT, PSAT, ACT). (Students who have not taken any standardized tests may submit an additional letter of recommendation.)
  • Writing that shows both technical skill and intellectual depth
  • Strong recommendations
  • A variety of extracurricular interests
  • Nonrefundable $75 application fee; Any applicant to the Young Scholars Program who is currently enrolled at a School District of Philadelphia public or a School District of Philadelphia charter school will automatically have the application fee waived. To see if your school qualifies you for a waived application fee:

Enrollment in the Young Scholars Program is limited. Some courses may have educational prerequisites or require placement testing.

Admission to the Young Scholars Program does not constitute admission to a full-time program at the University of Pennsylvania.

English proficiency test scores

Non-native English speakers must submit a test score to verify English language proficiency unless they attend an English-medium school for 2+ years by the time of enrollment, in which case the requirement is waived.

If scores are required, a TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English Test (DET), PSAT, SAT, or ACT score is accepted. Copies of score reports may be uploaded to the application system or emailed to as attachments. The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT), or 600 (PBT). The IELTS score required for admissions consideration is a 7. The minimum Duolingo English Test (DET) score required for admission is 120.

COVID-19 and admissions reviews

Recognizing the challenges of teaching, learning, and assessing academic performance during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Penn’s admissions committees for graduate and professional programs will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant. In particular, as we review applications now and, in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/Fail and other grading options during the period of COVID-19 disruptions. An applicant will not be adversely affected in the admissions process if their academic institution implemented a mandatory pass/fail (or similar) system for the term or if the applicant chose to participate in an optional pass/fail (or similar) system for the term. Penn’s longstanding commitment remains to admit graduate and professional student cohorts composed of outstanding individuals who demonstrate the resilience and aptitude to succeed in their academic pursuits.

How to apply

Applications may only be submitted through our online application system.

All applicants must submit the following:

  • Completed online application
  • Copy of PSAT, SAT, or ACT score report, uploaded through the online application system
  • Unofficial transcripts from each secondary school attended, uploaded through the online application system
  • Application essays, listed below
  • Two letters of recommendation.(A third letter is required if have not taken any standardized tests. This third letter needs to be emailed from the recommender to

Application deadlines

Term of Entry Deadline
Fall 2024 August 1, 2024

Start your application now

The Young Scholars Program is selective. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all application materials arrive by the deadline. Applications are not considered until all materials have been received.

Application essays

On the application, you’ll be asked to respond to the following questions. Number your essays clearly and upload responses together in one document using the upload button on the online application. Responses should not exceed two (2) pages in length for all the questions combined.

  1. Describe your recent educational history (past three to four years) and background, making sure to address whether your transcripts accurately reflect your academic ability. Feel free to describe any nonacademic or extracurricular experiences that you feel strengthen your application, such as volunteer work, employment, sports teams, high school clubs and/or travel.
  2. Briefly describe your academic and personal goals and explain how these will be furthered by study in the Young Scholars Program at Penn. Feel free to discuss a specific academic topic you enjoy studying and explain who it is of interest to you.