UPenn Supplemental Essays 2024 | Strategies and Insights for Success

In 1980, the University of Pennsylvania boasted a 40% acceptance rate, but fast forward to 2023, and that number plummeted to a mere 7.4%. Today, gaining admission to the Quaker campus requires more than just strong grades and test scores—it demands a standout application that sets you apart from tens of thousands of similarly accomplished peers. This is where the UPenn supplemental essays come into play.

These essays provide applicants with a crucial opportunity to showcase their unique personality, writing prowess, passions, and talents. Crafting responses that are authentic, honest, and compelling can truly capture the attention of a Penn admissions reader.

Below, we delve into UPenn’s two general essay prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle, offering accompanying advice on how to tackle each one effectively.

UPenn Supplemental Essays

UPenn Supplemental Essays – Prompt #1

Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)

Expressing gratitude is the essence of this prompt. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the support and guidance you’ve received along your journey. Your recipient could be anyone from a parent, teacher, or coach to a friend, classmate, or mentor. Last year’s debut of this prompt highlights UPenn’s interest in seeing applicants’ appreciative and humble sides. Consider sharing your letter with the intended recipient—it adds authenticity and depth to your essay. The more genuine your expression of gratitude, the more resonant your essay will likely be with UPenn’s admissions committee.

UPenn Supplemental Essays – Prompt #2

How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)

When addressing this prompt, remember that UPenn is already aware of your impressive volunteer work and community involvement. Now, they want to know how you’ll contribute to their vibrant community of nearly 10,000 undergraduates. Connect your past efforts with your future aspirations to demonstrate your commitment. For instance, if you’ve spent hours working with individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease, emphasize your interest in joining Penn’s Alzheimer’s Buddies organization.

Craft your response with a focus on specific aspects of your identity and perspective, rather than providing a generic answer. Show evidence of meaningful research about Penn, as this demonstrates genuine interest and engagement. By tailoring your response to Penn’s unique community, you’ll create a more compelling and impactful essay.

Also read UPenn Transfer Acceptance Rate 2024 | Strategies and Insights for Success

UPenn Supplemental Essays – School & Program-Specific Prompts

The College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences at UPenn offers a flexible curriculum to inspire exploration and foster connections. What are you curious about, and how would you take advantage of opportunities in the arts and sciences? (150-200 words)

In this essay, demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and ambition by discussing specific courses, professors, student organizations, research opportunities, and study abroad programs that align with your interests and aspirations within the liberal arts. Research UPenn’s academic offerings to tailor your response effectively.

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Penn Engineering prepares students to become leaders in technology, combining a strong foundation in natural sciences and mathematics with exploration in the liberal arts. Share how you hope to explore your engineering interests at Penn. (150-200 words)

Discuss your academic interests, desired courses, faculty connections, student organizations, and research opportunities within Penn Engineering. Show how Penn’s offerings align with your goals and interests in engineering.

Also see Best Computer Science Schools in the USA 2024

School of Nursing

Penn Nursing aims to meet global health needs by promoting equity. Reflect on the future of nursing and how you envision contributing to the mission of promoting equity in healthcare. (150-200 words)

Demonstrate your understanding of nursing’s role in advancing healthcare equity and discuss how you plan to contribute to this mission. Highlight relevant experiences and initiatives within Penn Nursing that resonate with your goals.

The Wharton School

Wharton prepares students to address real-world problems using business methods and economic theory. Reflect on a current issue important to you and how a Wharton education would help you explore it. (150-200 words)

Choose a significant issue and discuss its importance to you, then explain how Wharton’s resources, courses, professors, and student organizations would enable you to explore and address this issue effectively.

UPenn Supplemental Essays

DMD: Digital Media Design Program

Why are you interested in UPenn’s Digital Media Design (DMD) program? (400-650 words)

Discuss your passion for digital media design, relevant experiences, and how the DMD program aligns with your academic and career goals.

Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

Explain your interest in a dual-degree program in business and international studies and how you would contribute to addressing global issues. (400-650 words)

Discuss your passion for international affairs and business, relevant experiences, and how the Huntsman Program aligns with your goals of becoming a global leader.

LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management

Describe issues you would address using the knowledge gained from the LSM program. (400-650 words)

Discuss your interest in life sciences and management, relevant experiences, and how the LSM program aligns with your goals of making innovative contributions in healthcare.

M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology

Explain how the M&T program will help you explore your interests in business and engineering. (400-650 words)

Discuss your passion for business and engineering, relevant experiences, and how the M&T program aligns with your goals of becoming a leader in technology-driven industries.

NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering

Describe your interest in modern networked information systems and technologies and their societal impact. (400-650 words)

Discuss your passion for networked systems, relevant experiences, and how the NETS program aligns with your goals of leveraging technology for social good.

NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management

Discuss your interest in nursing and healthcare management and how the dual-degree program will help you achieve your goals. (400-650 words)

Describe your passion for nursing and healthcare management, relevant experiences, and how the NHCM program aligns with your goals of making a positive impact in healthcare.

BIO-DENT: Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program

Answer various prompts related to pre-dental or pre-medical experience, manual dexterity, leadership, career motivations, and familial connections to dentistry. (250 words each)

Provide detailed responses to each prompt, demonstrating your readiness and commitment to pursuing a career in dentistry.

VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research

Explain how participation in VIPER will further your interests in energy science and technology. (400-650 words)

Discuss your passion for energy science, relevant experiences, and how VIPER aligns with your goals of making impactful contributions in the field of energy research and technology.

Also see UPenn Acceptance Rate | Strategies and Insights for Admission Success 2024

How Important are the UPenn Supplemental Essays?

When it comes to evaluating applicants, UPenn deems the supplemental essays as one of the six “very important” factors. Alongside these essays, UPenn assigns utmost importance to the rigor of an applicant’s secondary school record. Similarly, GPA, standardized test scores, recommendations, and character/personal qualities hold equal weight in UPenn’s evaluation process. Therefore, while crafting your application, it’s essential to give due attention to the supplemental essays, as they play a significant role in shaping the overall impression UPenn forms about you as a candidate.


The University of Pennsylvania’s supplemental essays provide applicants with a vital opportunity to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive admissions landscape. These essays are considered one of the key factors in the evaluation process, alongside other important criteria such as academic performance, standardized test scores, and personal qualities. Crafting compelling and authentic responses to these prompts can greatly enhance an applicant’s chances of securing admission to UPenn. Therefore, it’s imperative for applicants to approach these essays thoughtfully, showcasing their unique perspectives, experiences, and aspirations in order to stand out to the admissions committee.