Evangelist George Whitefield had a dream to create a Philadelphia charity school that would also be a house of worship for his congregation. He, along with a group of Pennsylvania followers had a building designed by Edmund Woolley which was the largest building in Philadelphia at the time. Unfortunately, lack of funding forced plans for the school and its chapel to be placed on hold.

In 1743, Benjamin Franklin developed an idea for an academy. He suggested that Reverend Richard Peters lead his institution, but Peters declined and the project was placed on hold. In 1749, in his famous essay “Proposals Relating to Education of Youth,” Franklin proposed his academy a second time. This time, he circulated his essay among leading citizens and organized 24 trustees to bring the idea to life. In 1749, the trustees purchased Whitefield’s building, opening the Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania in 1751. Franklin served as president of the institution in 1755 and was a trustee until his death in 1790.

Franklin’s dream for the university was to train youth for leadership positions in business, government and public service. At that time, most institutes of higher learning educated young men for Christian ministry, but Franklin proposed something that is very similar to liberal arts studies today. However, the trustees were not in support of such radical ideas and kept the curriculum traditional. As president, Franklin continued to push boundaries and many of his ideas moved science and society forward. Franklin saw knowledge as asset that required practical application to have any value.

In 1755, the College of Philadelphia was chartered and the three schools, the academy, charity school and college were operated under the same trustees. The charity school closed just a few years later. In 1779, the State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania due to their distrust of Reverend William Smith’s “loyalist” tendencies. This created a separation with Smith continuing to control the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the legislature merged the two institutions and changed the name of the school to the University of Pennsylvania, combining the trustees into one unit.

The university was located in downtown Philadelphia for more than 100 years, still using what was known as the “New Building,” built by Whitefield. In 1872, the university purchased property from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia, moving the campus across the Schuykill River. The area is now known as University City. The school has the distinction of being the oldest university in the country with a founding date of 1740, making it older than Princeton University which was not chartered until 1746.

Even today, influences of Franklin can be seen on the 302-acre campus. The campus has over 165 research centers and institutes. Over 250 years after Franklin developed his innovative institute of higher education, faculty, students and alumni continue to make breakthroughs in research, education and scholarship. The university created the first business school, Wharton, in 1881 and the first electronic, large scale, general-purpose digital computer, ENIAC in 1946. Judith Rolin was the first female president of an Ivy League institution, inaugurated in 1994 and Amy Gutmann became the first female to succeed a female president at an Ivy League institution in 2004.

University of Pennsylvania Accreditation Details

The University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Regional accreditation means that the university has undergone a rigorous process to confirm that the programs they offer provide the excellence in education required by the accrediting agency. It also indicates that the university takes steps to improve any areas identified by the agency in order to be sure that students are receiving the highest quality education possible. In addition to regional accreditation, specific programs throughout the college are accredited by industry organizations and associations as well.

University of Pennsylvania Application Requirements

Students who have not earned college credit after high school graduation are considered freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania. They must complete the Common Application along with the Penn Writing Supplement and pay the application fee. An official high school transcript must be provided along with a school report and counselor recommendation. Two teacher recommendation are also required along with official SAT or ACT scores. Students entering fine arts programs must also provide a supplement and additional letters of recommendation.

Students who have earned college credit after high school graduation may be considered transfer students. They must complete the Common Application and Penn Writing Supplement. They must pay the application fee and provide official college transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. They must supply a college report as well as a high school transcript and two academic evaluations. Transfer students must also submit official SAT or ACT scores if taken within one year of admission. Programs may also require additional documentation for admission as well.

Each graduate program has its own criteria for admissions. Students must apply directly to the program of interest. Most applications are online and all questions about how to apply must be directed to the program the student chooses to pursue.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at the University of Pennsylvania for undergraduate students is $47,416 for full-time study each year. Graduate tuition varies depending on the program the student wishes to attend. The University of Pennsylvania is ranked in the top of Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Universities as the school works to make higher education possible for all students, regardless of their economic circumstances. The average financial aid package at the University of Pennsylvania is $44,772.

In 2007, University of Pennsylvania launched an All-Grant Policy, the largest school to offer all-grant financial aid. The policy states that students who receive a financial aid award are given grants and work-study options, but the awards do not include loans. All undergraduates eligible for financial aid at the school receive grant aid packages regardless of family income.

Degree Programs Available

Master of Business Administration

The Master of Business Administration at Wharton adds depth to a student’s undergraduate studies and allows students to major in specific concentrations that can include marketing, economics, business and public policy as well as finance or environmental and risk management. Students have 18 majors to choose from as well as opportunities for interdisciplinary degrees through the online version of the Wharton Business School. Tuition and fees for the entire program is $109,450 but financial aid is available. Students must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in order to apply. Students must submit official copies of all transcripts, essays and letters of recommendation. They must provide GMAT or GRE scores and specific background information as well.

Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership

Offered through the School of Policy & Practice, the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership prepares students to transform nonprofits, social enterprises and other agencies. The program provides students with innovative approaches to address long-term challenges. Students become collaborative agents and are prepared for leadership roles in nonprofit and governmental agencies. The program requires ten courses which covers subjects such as effective communication, international development for the non-profit, small group processes and group dynamics.

Students must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institute of higher learning and must have a GPA that reflects strong academic ability. An official transcript from all colleges and universities attended must be provided. Students must provide official GRE scores, three strong letters of recommendation and an application essay.

The University of Pennsylvania is the oldest institute of higher learning in the United States and retains its innovative methods in education even today. Programs are offered in online formats that provide flexibility for working adults who may have social, family or work obligations that prevent them from attending traditional classes. These formats offered through the University of Pennsylvania can help working adults advance in a current career or move into a new career.