Prospective Students


Research should be an important component in your decision to apply to Penn. In fact, we often refer to ourselves as an “urban research university” to highlight the major advantages of being an undergraduate at a research university in a city like Philadelphia. A recent survey showed that 75 percent of students in the College had a substantial experience in hands-on, independent projects, and we hope that an even larger proportion of our undergraduates will have such experiences in the years ahead.

So why should this matter to you? Well, research is the investigation of the unknown. As a top tier institution, Penn’s faculty is committed to creating new knowledge that advances the way we understand the past, present and future. Our location in an urban setting allows students and faculty to apply research to real-world settings with an immediate impact. And we want any student with an interest in working collaboratively with a member of the faculty in any discipline to be able to do so!

Undergraduate research in the College encompasses a wide range of activities. In some disciplines, such as English, philosophy and history, students read original works, examine primary literature, or engage in archival research, while looking for new connections and interpretations of these writings. In areas such as anthropology or history of art, students study artifacts, works of art or ancient languages, gaining insights on earlier civilizations and the lives of those who contributed to them. They might even do this in a foreign country. And of course, hundreds of students do research in laboratories for life and physical sciences seeking insights on genetic coding, molecular structure or animal behavior, just to name a few examples.