When Do Penn’s Decisions Come Out?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

UPenn signage

When Do Penn’s Decisions Come Out?

For high school students that have the goal of attending one of the most prestigious undergraduate programs in the United States, there are a lot of reasons to consider applying to The University of Pennsylvania, otherwise known as Penn.

After all, Penn is one of the most prestigious and historic schools in the United States, and the school has been home to some of the most influential men and women across many different fields of study and importance.

If the University of Pennsylvania is your top choice of undergraduate programs, you are likely quite interested in learning the answer to the question, “When do Penn’s decisions come out?”

Of course, these “decisions” refer to the announcements that all schools make regarding which students are offered a spot in the upcoming graduate class and which students are deferred, waitlisted or rejected.

View of UPenn building at day time.

At AdmissionSight, we work with high school students every single application cycle from all over the world to help them improve their chances of getting into Penn and similarly prestigious schools. It’s why we are so proud of the fact that from all the students that we work with, 75 percent of them end up getting into an Ivy League school or a top-10 school outside of the Ivy League like MIT, Stanford, University of Chicago and more.

So, if you are a high school student that is dreaming about one day getting a Penn acceptance letter, or wants to know about when the Penn REA decision date is, or if you simply want to know about the Penn acceptance rate and more, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

Let’s get started on getting the facts regarding these important questions along with getting the answer to the question, “When do Penn’s decisions come out?”

The Penn acceptance rate

Before we get into the important information regarding the Penn REA decision date, or when Penn waitlist decisions come out, we thought that it made sense to first break down the Penn acceptance rate. Of course, the acceptance rate of any school is the ratio of students that are actually offered a spot at the school compared to the entire pool of students that apply to a school in a single application cycle.

While acceptance rate at school varies from year to year, schools also typically display pretty consistent trends from year to year as well. With that in mind, it is quite important for any applying student to know that the most prestigious schools like Penn have had a consistent downward trend of their acceptance rates in recent years.

It is also important to know that for schools like Penn, which offer some form of early admissions, there are two different acceptance rates for students to keep in mind. One is the overall acceptance rate and the other is the Early Action/Early Decision acceptance rate. At Penn, students can apply via a binding Early Decision application. We’ll get into what that means in a little bit, but first we want to break down the two acceptance rates that students were subjected to in 2021.

  • The overall acceptance rate for students that applied to Penn in 2021 was just 5.9 percent
  • The Early Decision acceptance rate for students that applied to Penn in 2021 was a far more forgiving 14.9 percent

If you are curious about how the Penn acceptance rate stacks up compared to the other seven schools in the Ivy League, take a look at the table below:

Table with information about different universities.

While the downward trend in terms of acceptance rates has been something that admissions experts have recognized for much of the last decade, there are some pretty specific reasons why schools within the top 10 witness such a dramatic drop off in the 202-21 application cycle.

Essentially, the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged many students to take a gap year during the 2019-20 application cycle and defer their application to the colleges and universities of their choice. One reason for this was the general uncertainty regarding the pandemic.

The other was because the vast majority of schools elected to offer remote learning for students. Students wanted to defer their applications until they were sure that they would be able to attend Penn in the same way that students have been doing so for hundreds of years; on the beautiful campus in Philadelphia.

For that reason, the pool of students that applied was abnormally high, leading to a lower percentage of students that were accepted!

View of college students studying in a room with a table.

Still, even though the overall acceptance rate was low, the Early Decision acceptance rate was still quite realistic. 14.9 percent is still quite low, let’s not fool ourselves, but it does give students a much better chance! But what does this Early Decision application really entail?

First off, it forces students to get their applications, required material and supplemental material quite a bit earlier than Regular Decision applicants. Beyond that, the binding nature of the Penn Early Decision application option must be taken into consideration. Basically, this means that students who apply in this way and get accepted must then withdraw all other applications to other institutions and accept their spot at Penn!

Important 2022-23 dates to know for Penn decisions

With the 2021-22 application cycle fully in the books, our admissions consultants at AdmissionSight thought that it would be useful for us to look ahead towards the upcoming 2022-23 application cycle and the important dates and materials that students who are planning on applying to the University of Pennsylvania to know.

Application deadlines and fee

Early Decision

November 1, 2021

Regular Decision

January 5, 2022

Application Fee

$75 or fee waiver for those who qualify.

Required forms

  • Common Application or Coalition Application & Penn-specific Essay
  • Official High School Transcript
  • School Report
  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Early Decision Agreement (only if applying for Early Decision)
  • Mid-Year Report
    • Early Decision: Required February 15, 2022 if student is deferred
    • Regular Decision: Must be submitted directly by the school as soon as mid-year grades are available
  • Final Report
    • Required in June for matriculating students


COVID-19 Update: In response to COVID-19, Penn will not require applicants to submit the SAT or ACT for the 2021-22 application cycle. This applies to first-year and transfer applicants. Applicants who do not submit SAT or ACT scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. Students who are able to take the SAT or ACT and wish to report them may continue with that plan.

  • Early Decision: Last Test Dates Accepted—October 2021 (ACT) or November 2021 (SAT)
  • Regular Decision: Last Test Dates Accepted—December 2021 (ACT) or December 2021 (SAT)


  • Early Decision: Mid October–Early December
  • Regular Decision: December–Early March

Supplemental materials

  • Early Decision: November 1, 2021
  • Regular Decision: January 5, 2022


Notification of Decision

  • Early Decision: Mid-December 2021
  • Regular Decision: By April 2022

 Admitted Student Reply/Enrollment Confirmation

  • Early Decision: January 5, 2022
  • Regular Decision: May 2, 2022

What does it mean to get waitlisted?

If you are a student that applies to the University of Pennsylvania via the school’s binding Early Decision admissions option, there are three different decisions that the school can hand down to you.

View of three people studying in a desk.

By the middle of December of your application year, you will receive one of the three following outcomes from your UPenn application:

Here is what the school has to say about each outcome:

  • You are admitted into the University of Pennsylvania. As part of our Early Decision program, you are committed to accepting our offer of admission. You must withdraw any active applications you have to other colleges/universities. The only instance in which you could request to be released from our Early Decision binding agreement is if your financial need can’t be met, which would be determined only after consulting with Penn’s Student Financial Services office.
  • You are deferred for consideration during Regular Decision. Your application will be considered among our Regular Decision candidates and you will no longer be bound by the Early Decision binding agreement. You will receive final notification of our decision in late March/early April. Instructions on how to provide updates to your application will be found on your applicant portal.
  • You are denied under the Early Decision program. Your application process for this cycle year is complete. If you are still interested in Penn, you are welcome to re-apply during the next application cycle.

Obviously, being admitted or denied admission from Penn as a result of your Early Decision application is simple enough. However, the middle option – otherwise known as being deferred – is quite a bit more complex.

Being deferred basically means that while a student will not be accepted to Penn as an Early Decision student, they have not been denied either. Instead, their application is essentially rolled over and put within the pool of Regular Decision applicants. This should not be seen as a rejection even though it can be disappointing for applying students.

One important thing that students need to know is that if they are deferred, they can send in additional materials to the school’s admission committee to further convince them that they have what it takes to succeed at Penn.

Close up of two people using a laptop.

After being rolled into the Regular Decision pool, students who have been deferred – and students who applied via Regular Decision originally will receive one of three outcomes.

Those outcomes are:

  • You are admitted into the University of Pennsylvania. You have been accepted and are now invited to join the incoming first-year class. You will have until the admitted student reply date to accept or decline our offer of admission.
  • You are waitlisted. You have been placed on the waitlist and do not currently have a seat in the incoming class. If you choose to remain on the waitlist — and if space allows — you will be considered for admission later in the spring or summer.
  • You are denied admission under the Regular Decision program. Your application process for this cycle year is complete. If you are still interested in Penn, you are welcome to re-apply during the next application cycle.

So, the answer to the question, “when do Penn waitlist decisions come out” is actually a two-part question. The first decision – meaning when students are actually put on the waitlist come out in April.  That is when students will be notified that they have been put on the waitlist.

When it comes to when students actually find out if they have been accepted or rejected from the waitlist, that timeline is a little less clear. In fact, waitlisted students tend not to hear anything back from the school that they are waitlisted at until after the national May 1st decision deadline.

In fact, it is not unheard of for students to hear back from the school until soon before the fall semester starts. For that reason, many students who are put on waitlists at schools often opt to enroll at a different school entirely instead of hanging in limbo for months on end.

What to do when you get waitlisted at Penn

When a student does get waitlisted at their top school, there are steps that they can take to help come to the right conclusion about what to do next. At AdmissionSight, we – of course – have had students that we work with get waitlisted. It happens to even the most impressive students and is a reality that students who plan on applying to the most competitive and prestigious schools need to be prepared to face.

For that reason, we have broken down the four things that every student should do when they are waitlisted.

  1. Make a decision about your spot on the waitlist: The very first decision that you are going to have to make is going to be about your spot on the waitlist to begin with. After being deferred from Penn and then being put on the waitlist, you may simply conclude that it is time for you to move on and focus on the other schools that are at the top of your list. In fact, you have likely already gotten into other schools that you are super excited about! If that is the case, it could be the right time for you to move on and accept a spot at another school. However, if the school that you are waitlisted at is your clear top choice, you will likely want to accept your spot on the waitlist.
  2. Keep up your great grades: Another thing that you will absolutely need to do if you are still on the waitlist at your dream school is keep up your great grades. For some students, the second semester of their senior year marks a time to take their foot off the brakes just a little bit and worry a bit less about taking very advanced courses. That is not really a good idea for any student, but it is really not a good idea for a student that is waitlisted. You will want to maintain a rigorous course load and keep up great grades so that you can send updated grade reports to the Penn admissions committee. Maintaining – or even improving – your great GPA will help you improve your chances of getting into Penn.
  3. Send additional letters of recommendation: Another effective way to improve your standing as a waitlisted student is to send in more letters of recommendation to the school that you were waitlisted at. All students who apply to Penn have to send in three letters of recommendation from two separate teachers and their high school counselor. If waitlisted, a student may want to seriously consider sending in other letters from community leaders that they have worked with, athletic coaches, club organizers, etc. This could help further clarify that the student would be a positive and productive member of the Penn community if they are taken off the waitlist and accepted into the school.
  4. Write a letter of continued interest: Finally, you will want to strongly consider sending in a letter of continued interest. Essentially, this letter is a direct line from you to the admission committee at Penn that you can use to prove to the committee that you continue to be as passionate about attending Penn as ever despite your status on the waitlist.

In this letter, students should make sure to update the admissions officers on any new accomplishments, major milestones, or anything else that the admissions officers may benefit from knowing about. Most importantly, it is important that students who are waitlisted show a strong level of maturity and humility about the fact that they were waitlisted from what is likely their dream school.

Get more advice on Penn admission

There’s no question that it is difficult to get into Penn. Despite that, thousands of students accomplish the goal every single year! If you are curious to learn more about the admission process at Penn and figure out ways to improve your application profile, contact AdmissionSight today to set up a free consultation.





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