Penn State Acceptance Rate: Admissions Statistics

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Penn State University's front side showing its buildings and some students walking by.

Penn State Acceptance Rate: Admissions Statistics

Successful Applicant Profile

  • Demographics
  • Concentrations
  • SAT/ACT scores

Entry Requirements

  • Tuition
  • Scholarships
  • Checklist of Application Requirements
  • Application Deadlines

What Should You Expect

  • Student life
  • Academics offered
  • Athletics offered
  • Notable Alumni

Competition for college admissions is tough, to say the least. Thousands of students from across the world are applying for Ivy League colleges. Majority face disappointment and rejection because of surmounting expectations from these top-tier colleges.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that the college admission process isn’t perfect. There are too many vague requirements that are beyond reach for even those who have a brilliant academic as well as extracurricular record.

Lush, green lawn in front of Penn State's old buildings.

The selection criteria for most of these top-tier colleges are not limited to top grades and ACT/SAT scores. Other than being academically bright, these colleges want their applicants to be top achievers who’ve demonstrated that they are ahead of the crowd in extracurriculars, sports, and in their subject of interest.

Think about it – Even if you fall short by just a little margin on any of the criteria that these universities are specifically looking for, you miss your chance of getting through an Ivy League college. That’s why we at AdmissionSight advise that you must not stick only to Ivy League colleges while filing your college application.

There are many other top-tier colleges, other than the Ivies, that are internationally acclaimed and reputed. Penn State University, for example, happens to be one such school. Where the Harvard Acceptance rate for 2019 stood at a mere 5.2%, Penn State Acceptance Rate was a whopping 58%!

One of the main requirements for beating Penn State Acceptance Rate is academic performance. Penn State generally admits applicants with a GPA of 3.5 or above.

Your chances get stronger with each feather in your academic hat that you add. If alongside the required GPA you fall in the top twenty-five percent bracket of your high school graduating class, you are a step closer to making it to Penn State University.

So, if you are anxious about college admissions, be assured that with Penn State Acceptance Rate being above 50% you have good chances of making it to a competitive school that ranks among the top one percent of all universities across the globe.

Let’s take a look at what your applicant profile must look like such that it boosts your chances of making it to Penn State.

1.Successful Applicant Profile

Penn State ranks #57 in the 2020 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities. Located in University Park, it comprises 24 campuses that offer a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses.

Founded in 1855,  Penn State University is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant institution. It is also the largest public university, committed to education, research, public service that supports Commonwealth citizens, and towards creating a positive impact across the world.

The kind of contribution that Penn State has made towards economic growth is unmatched. The university, as of 2017, had contributed more than $11.6 billion to the state’s economy supporting, directly and indirectly, more than 105,000 jobs across Pennsylvania.

Needless to say, students who manage to beat Penn State Acceptance rate and complete their higher studies from this university demonstrate an unfailing commitment towards building a better world – socially and economically.

Three seated students filling out their own papers.

For this well-rounded development of its students, alongside 160+ baccalaureate degree programs, Penn State also provides magnificent opportunities to participate in innovative entrepreneurship programs.

Highly-driven students with an entrepreneurial spirit have access to Penn State’s twenty-one innovation hubs. Students who are a part of these innovation hubs work on various projects that have a far-reaching impact on economic growth.

So, if innovation drives and motivates you, being a part of such programs can help you contribute towards the larger economic betterment. Similarly, the university provides unparalleled scope and facilities for those with an inclination towards research.

To date, Penn State has contributed nearly $927 million for research support. The Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2018, places Penn State at the 74th rank among the world’s top universities for teaching and research.

As such, your applicant profile stands more chances of successfully beating Penn State Acceptance rates when it exhibits aspects that closely match with the values of this university.

With a well put across college application, you can make it through this university easily, if you see it as a good launchpad for your overall academic and career growth. In the following section, we talk in detail about the demographic profile of this university to help you understand the kind of diversity this university nurtures, and why that’s important.

Where are the applicants from?

Equality in diversity is one of the fundamental value foundations of Penn State. The university respects differences in race and ethnicity, in gender and sexual orientation, in religious affiliation, in age and life experience, in nationality and language, and in physical capabilities.

Talking about geographic diversity at Penn State, from within the U.S., the largest percentage of applicants to Penn State are from Pennsylvania itself.

This percentage is somewhere around 65%. The next big share of the geographic pie is taken up by students from New Jersey, at 12%. Around 7% of the students are from New York. From within the U.S. Penn State also homes students from Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, California, Florida, and more.

A female student walking with headphones and carrying some books.

International students make up around 15.7% of the student body. The largest share of this percentage comprises those from China, India, and South Korea.

The university is rapidly gaining popularity among international students. The international population of students on Penn State campus has consistently grown at an average rate of 9.5% over time. According to 2018 data, the number of international students at Penn State was 7,397. In 2013, this number stood at 6,194.

Encouraging such diversity is a key responsibility and core value for all top universities that understand its growing importance in the wake of shrinking geographic borders, and the economy becoming global in scope.

Penn State, like most other competitive universities, recognizes why an increasing emphasis must be laid on the interaction among students from different demographics, different cultures, races, and religious backgrounds.

What are the most popular majors at Penn State?

The most popular majors that undergraduates can apply for at Penn State include Business, Engineering, Communication, Social Sciences, and Computer and Information Sciences. All in all, Penn State provides more than 275 majors, with four-year degrees offered across all of their undergraduate campuses.

The range of courses offered, which you can go through on their website, is huge. So much so, that it can get confusing to pick a major for specialization from the enormous list. This is all the more true for intellectually curious students who shine in more than one subject.

That’s the reason why it is completely okay to tick ‘undecided’ under the ‘choice of major’ section in your college application.

Having nailed Penn State Application Rate if you are filling the form, we at AdmissionSight advise that you fill in for the Division of Undergraduate Studies in case you are undecided on your major. Or, if you wish to pursue majors in more than one academic college.

Taking up this program ensures that you have full access to many resources to help them research their options, complete freedom to explore academic interests, and ultimately, guidance on how to narrow down on your majors, and enough time to decide your desired major(s) specialization.

What are the general SAT/ACT scores of admitted students?

For admitted students in 2019 who took ACT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 28
  • 75th percentile score: 32

For admitted students in 2019 who took SAT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 1250
  • 75th percentile score: 1430

(Please note that these scores are for the Penn State University Park campus. For SAT and ACT scores of other Penn State campuses, please check the website).

SAT score lower than 1250 will place you below average while that of above 1430 will increase your chances of beating Penn State Acceptance Rate, for the University Park campus.

Similarly, your high school GPA must 3.6 or more for getting admission into this campus. Other Penn State University campuses accept applicants with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.6. So, it’s actually possible to get into a reputed college with a low GPA!

In fact, we at AdmissionSight have seen students with as low as  2.5 GPA get into making it to Ivy League colleges. It’s not impossible given that you can showcase your story and a stellar application.

Though ACT and SAT scores and your academic records are the primary parameters of acceptance at Penn State, the university believes in the holistic screening of applications.

Other than the number of academic courses you’ve taken up in high school, grades, and levels of those courses, standardized test scores, etc., Penn State also gives due weightage to your personal statement, activities list, contribution towards research, internships, extracurriculars, athletic achievement, and other demonstrated extraordinary performance in any area of interest.

2. Entry Requirements

Now, that we’ve gone through factors that matter in an applicant’s profile let’s see if Penn State’s offerings, costs, and other entry requirements suit your budget and interests.

How much will it cost to attend?

If you think you can beat Penn State acceptance rate and would be interested in enrolling for an undergraduate course in this university, this section will prove to be your most important decision basis of whether or not you should.

The cost of studying and living at Penn State is comparatively lower than most Ivy League colleges. Here’s a breakdown of the annual cost for in-state and out-of-state applicants for Penn State.

Annual-cost breakup for in-state residents:

Tuition – $ 17,416

Books and Supplies – $1840

Other Fees – $1038

Room and Board – $11,570

Other Expenses – $4788

Total – Above $36000

Annual cost breakup for out-of-state residents

Tuition – $ 33,820

Books and Supplies – $1840

Other Fees – $1038

Room and Board – $11,570

Other Expenses – $4788

Total – Above $53,000

Note that tuition cost for out-of-state residents is higher because it is not covered by the state’s tax revenue. However, there’s always financial aid to fall back on in case you can’t establish in-state residency. Or, even if you are an in-state resident but can’t afford the total cost of studying and living at Penn State.

What are Penn State University’s financial aid opportunities?

Given that nearly 75% of students applying at Penn State receive some kind of financial aid there is no reason for you to lose sleep over it. In the year 2018-2019, Penn State students received $995 million in student aid.

Undergraduate student aid funding at Penn State include options like grants, university scholarships, private scholarships, loans, and work-study programs.

Applying for financial aid at Penn State requires interested applicants to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This applies even to those who are applying for merit-based scholarships.

So, whether you are an in-state applicant or an out-of-state one, make the best of the following mentioned financial aid options available to you:

  • Grants – Penn State applicants can apply for four types of grants – federal, university, out of state, and institutional grants. The Federal Grant aid is further categorized into five options – Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, Federal Pell Scholarship, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and TEACH grant. Institutional grants are open for those who have a high financial need. The university also covers financial aid requests coming in from students who come are not in-state residents but come from one of the six states mentioned on the out-of-state grants section on Penn State’s website. Additionally, students can also apply for Penn State Grants and Scholarships such as The Blind or Deaf Higher Education Beneficiary Grant, The Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, and more. You can read in detail about eligibility for these grants on Penn State’s website. These grants need not be paid back.
  • Scholarships – These are awarded to students who have achieved exceptional grades and top-scores in their high school and excelled at academics. The number of scholarships awarded can range from $1,500 per year to $7,000 per year. On average, the merit-based scholarship amount received by a student is around $2500. It’s recommended that you read in detail through the scholarships section on Penn State’s website in case you wish to apply for it.
  • Student loans – You may need to take up a loan in case grants fail to meet your expenses at Penn State. However, it is advised to not take up a huge debt that’s difficult to pay back later. It is in your best interest to look for loan options that have a low rate of interest. Federal Direct Loans for undergraduates applying for Penn State include Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and the PLUS loan for parents of undergraduate students (Parent PLUS). Federal direct loans and financial aid programs are the safest options if you ever need a loan to pay your college expenses. You also have the option to apply for a private loan or a university loan.

In case you don’t qualify for any of the above options you can take up a work-study program or other employment opportunities available to keep debt-free. This option makes much more sense than taking hefty loans, which require that you pay the full money and the interest on the borrowed amount.

What are the application requirements for Penn State?

Applying to some of the colleges and majors at Penn State will require that you take up and complete additional math in high school. As such, while applying for these majors or colleges, you will need to submit information regarding this.

You can apply to the university through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or through MyPennState Application. Applicants will need to submit their high school transcript, SAT and ACT scores, and  Self-Reported Academic Record.

To apply for a subject and college of choice your high school grades must beat the grade requirements specified by Penn State. Those who haven’t graduated from high-school and have earned a GED will need to submit their official high school transcripts through the last year completed, and the official GED transcript.

What are the timelines for Penn State Application?

Dates and deadlines vary for different applicant types. For first-year students, for example, we’ve mentioned important dates as follows:

Early Decision

  • Application available – August 1
  • Application submission – November 1
  • Application notification – December 24
  • Deadline for enrollment – May 1

Regular Decision

  • Application available – June 1
  • Application submission – November 30
  • Application notification – Mid December
  • Deadline for enrollment – Not specified (refer to offer notification)

Note: Application submission and admission notification dates may vary based on your choice of course/subject.

3. What to expect?

Studying at Penn State college provides students every chance to pursue their interests and subjects of choice. The atmosphere is vibrant and brings together thousands of students from diverse backgrounds.

Students posing with thumbs up and smiling for the camera .

Penn State clubs and organizations are a great source that helps students like you reach their academic and career goals. Similarly, options for those interested in athletics and sports galore.

Also, on the surface, it may appear that Penn State is for the white kids. However, that’s absolutely not the case. Just because white kids form a large percentage of the Penn State student population that does not make the university biased towards this group. All students mix up well together and are treated with the equal at Penn State.

What do Students think of life at Penn State?

At Penn State, you get ample opportunities to hone your skills – those with which you already excel and those which never knew you’ll shine. Campus Ministries, Dance, Drama/Theater, International Student Organizations, Literary Magazine, Model UN, Radio Station, Student Government, Newspaper, Film Society, Television Station, Yearbook – there are a number of clubs and organizations to pursue alongside academics.

Side view of Penn State building at campus with plants on the side.

Grace, in her blog on student life at Penn State, mentions, “The main reason that I chose Penn State was because of its stellar communications program.

I wanted to attend a school with a big alumni network so that I could meet different people in my field and get exposed to tons of unique opportunities.” She further talks about her joining the THON committee. However, she soon realized it wasn’t her cup of tea. Grace later tested out and is pretty happy joining the comedy club.

There are many such interesting stories that reflect on student life at Penn, which you can read before saying a final ‘yes’ to this university.

What academics are offered?

As we’ve mentioned before in this post, Penn State offers more than 275 majors for undergraduates. You can choose to major from different subject areas like Agricultural Sciences, Arts, Biological Life Sciences, Physical Science and Mathematics, Communications, Business, Interdisciplinary Studies, etc.

Drill deeper into the courses you can enroll in under these subject areas. All the information about these courses and how to apply for them is available on Penn State’s website, under the section Majors by Area of Interest.

What if I want to pursue athletics?

Penn State encourages the spirit of sports and athletics in everyone. Whether you are keen on pursuing athletics as a career or simply like to play a game of badminton for fun, you will have the best of resources here.

Three men in sport clothes run at the running track in professional stadium.

For those who are serious about making a career in athletics and want to know whether Penn State would be the right college for excelling in this direction here are some reassuring facts:

  • The University Park campus has 31 Division 1 NCAA teams
  • All other Penn State campuses have more than 75 competitive NCAA Division III teams
  • Penn State campuses other than University Park also have over 100 teams that qualify for national championships through the USCAA

Who are some famous Penn State alumni?

Some of the world’s most popular faces and names have received their higher education from Penn State. Here’s a list of a few such world-renowned names:

  • Business tycoons – Mark Parker, Betty James, Patricia Woertz, Herman Fisher
  • Famous TV celebrities – Robert Bruce Banner, John Aniston, Steven E. De Souza
  • Other noticeable alumni – Steve Mccurry, Jef Raskin, Tom Verducci, Guion Bluford

Isn’t it interesting to know that one of your favorite actors, authors, or sports person also went to the same university you aspire to graduate from?

The Final Word

Applying to college can be a tedious process with so many different requirements and criteria to carefully fulfill. At some point, you may need professional help or experts to step in and help you navigate this cumbersome process.

At AdmissionSight we are there to share this load. Be it your college essay editing or one-on-one application assistance we guide you on what top universities look for in an applicant. We also evaluate your academic and extracurricular profile through and through, helping you plan ahead of time to buck up in areas where you may be lagging. With our help and your effort, you can surely beat the decent Penn State Acceptance rate requirement.



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