When was UPenn Founded?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of UPenn building with a garden near the entrance.

When was UPenn Founded?

When was UPenn founded? UPenn was founded by one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, on November 14, 1740. The institution was initially established as a charity school named the Academy of Philadelphia. It underwent several name changes and broadened its focus over time, culminating in adopting the University of Pennsylvania name in 1791.

The university’s founding is marked by its innovative approach to education, breaking from traditional models by emphasizing both the study of classical literature and practical knowledge. This combination of practical and theoretical instruction can be traced back to Franklin’s vision, which has played an instrumental role in shaping modern American higher education.

UPenn is now renowned as a member of the prestigious Ivy League and continues to be a leading institution in various academic fields.

View of University of Pennsylvania

Set by its founding principles, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has grown to be a global leader in various disciplines, including business, law, medicine, engineering, and the arts. Its Wharton School, founded in 1881, was the first collegiate business school in the U.S. and has maintained a reputation as one of the best in the world. UPenn’s commitment to interdisciplinary education is embodied in programs that allow students to bridge different fields, reflecting the original ethos of blending practical and theoretical knowledge.

The university’s campus in Philadelphia is home to an array of architectural styles and significant historical landmarks, symbolizing its rich heritage and ongoing commitment to innovation. UPenn has also been a hub for scientific research, contributing breakthroughs in various fields, from medicine to computer science.

With a solid commitment to community engagement and public service, UPenn continues to build upon its legacy, shaping the landscape of higher education in the United States and significantly impacting the global academic community.

Its long-standing tradition of excellence continues to attract scholars, researchers, and students from around the world, further solidifying its position as one of the premier educational institutions in the world.

What is UPenn Known for?

It is commonly referred to as the “Social Ivy” since students at this university lead active lives outside of the classroom, and the mentality of “work hard, play hard” dominates the campus. However, despite the laid-back atmosphere, since UPenn was founded, the academic standards at this school are still relatively high.

There are 12 schools within the University of Pennsylvania, four of which provide undergraduate degrees: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the Wharton School, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The Wharton School is widely regarded as one of the finest institutions anywhere in the world.

Three students talking while sitting on the library.

At least one-third of Wharton students’ classes are taught in UPenn’s other undergraduate schools, contributing to the school’s reputation for providing an education that draws from different fields.

Wharton takes excellent satisfaction in its adaptable academic program, which allows first-year students to explore interests unrelated to the business environment, such as a love for the written word or an aptitude for political science. Students who take advantage of this method of instruction are better prepared for careers after college in virtually every sector.

Thirty percent of Wharton students get two undergraduate degrees from two different schools within the University of Pennsylvania, which can take four to five years to complete. The following are notable examples of dual degree programs offered by Wharton:

  • The Huntsman Curriculum: This program, which is offered by both the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences, allows students to study both business and international affairs, thereby equipping them to participate in the global community.
  • The Jerome Fisher Program: This highly competitive dual-degree program in business and engineering is offered jointly by the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. For students to complete this course of study, they will need STEM skills on par with those required at MIT.
  • The Vagelos Program is another program that collaborates with Wharton and the CAS. Students in this program take business and bioscience classes, making it an excellent option for students interested in pursuing a career in the life sciences or the healthcare industry.

Even though it is frequently overshadowed by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the School of Engineering and Applied Science shouldn’t be ignored. In addition to being well known for its multidisciplinary approach, the Department of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania offers several specialized programs in collaboration with other schools. These programs include management and technology (M&T), energy research and development (VIPER), digital media and design (DMD), and information systems (NETS).

In addition, the University of Pennsylvania is a Quaker Consortium member, including Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, and Swarthmore College. Because of this collaboration, students from any of these schools can join classes and participate in extracurricular activities at the universities with which schools have partnered.

Since UPenn’s founding, it has been regarded as a respectable educational institution and recognized as being in the elite group of educational institutions known as the Ivy League. Penn University is reliably ranked among the top ten universities in the U.S. every year and never fails to cut. On the yearly ranking of the best universities in the United States that U.S. News and World Report compile, Penn University is now in the eighth spot as of 2022.

In addition, the University of Pennsylvania has been ranked #1 in several of the various academic program categories that it offers. On a scale from 4.0 to 3.9, the typical unweighted grade point average (GPA) from high school for students accepted as first-year students at the University of Pennsylvania is 3.9. This indicates that to be competitive applicants to this university.

The admissions procedure at UPenn is considered exceptionally tough because the school only accepts a small percentage of applicants (9 percent, to be exact). It is clear that to join the University of Pennsylvania’s academic community, applicants must be among the very best in their fields.

At the University of Pennsylvania, a degree can be obtained by most first-time, full-time students in just four years of study. This percentage is 86%. A staggering 96.2 percent of undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years, taking into account the additional two years of data.


Since its founding in 1740, UPenn has become the home of a wide variety of noteworthy customs.

Alumni Weekend is a festival that occurs once a year in May and is considered one of the most long-standing traditions associated with the institution. The event, which takes place throughout the weekend, allows current students to engage with Penn alums, who comprise a network of over 17,000 people in 95 countries worldwide. The celebration consists of various, such as tour campus tours, receptions, and other forms of entertainment.

The annual Parade of Classes is one of the events that is held each Alumni Weekend at Penn. During this event, Penn alums join according to their class year and march along Locust, walking behind the flags representing their respective classes.

The Split Button statue is a 5,000-pound, 13-foot by 6.5-foot metal structure constructed by artist Claes Oldenburg to represent a genuine garment button. This statue is one of the most distinctive and one-of-a-kind features of the University of Pennsylvania campus.

The Button was implemented in 1981 and is immediately in front of the Van Pelt Library.

The Split Button was initially the source of a large amount of controversy, with detractors of the sculpture arguing that it was an unattractive addition to the historically significant campus of the institution. The Button, on the other hand, has, over time, come to establish itself as something of a focal point on campus.

The fact that the statue, known as the Button, was even included in an episode of The Simpsons is further evidence of the statue’s iconic significance.

Extracurricular Activities

More than 450 student-run organizations and extracurricular activities are available at the University of Pennsylvania. These provide opportunities in various fields, including athletics, journalism, community service, and other areas.

Penn Hillel, a Jewish religious and cultural organization with chapters at more than 550 institutions worldwide, is one of the school’s most well-known and well-respected extracurricular activities.

Hillel is one of the major clubs at Penn because over 85% of Jewish students are active members, making it the largest Jewish student organization on campus.

Group of students talking around a table.

Penn Hillel is a Jewish student organization that welcomes students of any Jewish background or level of knowledge of Judaism. It provides its members various opportunities to connect and participate in Jewish culture.

The club organizes a wide range of activities that are related to Judaism. Some of these activities include cultural festivities, chances for community service, kosher dinners, and educational events such as workshops and lectures.

At UPenn, more than 3,000 students are active fraternity or sorority members. This makes Greek life an essential part of the student experience at Penn. There are more than 40 different Greek life organizations that call this campus their home.

What Majors is UPenn Known for?

Set by UPenn’s founding principles, students are instructed that their academic and professional growth will come from viewing the world from various perspectives and devising a course that aligns with their unique educational and career goals.

Group of people talking while using a laptop.

UPenn’s academic programs allow students to combine their areas of interest and take an interdisciplinary approach to their education. Every undergraduate student at UPenn must take introductory classes in the liberal arts and sciences and courses focused on their chosen major within their undergraduate school.

Political Science

Students in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania are exposed to an entirely new breadth in international relations, American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. The Department of Political Science at UPenn is one of the oldest institutes in the world, and its foundations were laid by a revolutionary named Benjamin Franklin.

Biological Sciences

Students at the University of Pennsylvania interested in pursuing a career in any profession connected to biological systems have access to a curriculum that is on par with the best in the world. In addition to the regular lessons, the student body is allowed to learn about various relevant subjects, such as medicine, dentistry, biotechnology, and physical therapy.

Computer Science

It is generally agreed that the University of Pennsylvania was the institution that pioneered computer technology. This is because in 1946, the very first computer, known as ENIAC, was designed and constructed here. One of the most sought-after majors at the University of Pennsylvania is computer science, and each year, hundreds of students from all over the world apply for admission to the school.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering is one of the many engineering degrees the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to make available to its students. Students who choose to major in electrical engineering will gain an understanding of all relevant topics thanks to the breadth of their coursework, which includes introductions to fundamental ideas in related disciplines such as computer engineering, power generation, and systems engineering.

Business Administration

The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania is officially the oldest business school in the United States, cementing its position as a forerunner in providing future business executives with a high-caliber education. The degree in Business Administration offers various topics, including Economics, Finance, and Human Resource Management, as some of the majors that students can choose to focus on.

Male student lounging in the school grounds.


At UPenn, the Department of Mathematics is one of the oldest and one of the most advanced departments. Students are expected to acquire theoretical and practical information from members of a distinguished faculty primarily composed of mathematicians who are known throughout the world.


The field of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania is built on solid groundwork. Students interested in majoring in Physics must successfully complete a “sample program” to ensure that they are all on the same page. After that, one moves on to the subsequent stages of the process, which involve following a carefully constructed curriculum that includes topics such as advanced physical theory and astrophysics.

Want to know more about how UPenn was founded? Or do you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications? At AdmissionSight, we have over ten years of experience guiding students through competitive admissions.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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