You are here

Prospective Students

Incoming Students 
Each spring, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and UScholars administrators collaborate to invite a cohort of incoming students to the program at the same time that they are accepted to Penn.  These students come from diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of prior research experience, with interests ranging across all the undergraduate schools’ areas of study and with a shared curiosity and passion for research and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Invited incoming students must accept their place in the program via an online response form by no later than May 15. The UScholars program serves as a student’s primary co-curricular academic commitment. As UScholars, incoming students may not participate in like programs. 


Current Penn Students 
Most UScholars enter the program upon matriculation at the university. However, a small number of sophomores and juniors at Penn can apply to the program via an online form. They may apply only once during their time at Penn and that one application cannot be revised and resubmitted. Applicants must evidence that they are pursuing their own original and independent research question and that they are committed to the program’s mission, including interest in communicating and collaborating within and across their area of study.  Since the UScholars program serves as a student’s primary co-curricular academic commitment, applicants may not already, or later decide to, participate in like programs.

Sophomore applicants must originate a well-formed research question and propose an idea of how to answer that question – a methodology. They may or may not have identified the faculty member who will serve as their research mentor.

Junior applicants must already be conducting their own original, independent research under the guidance of a research mentor.


Application Components 
Personal Statement (maximum of 500 words) 
What are your intellectual and professional aspirations? Why do you want to be a University Scholar (UScholar) – how does this program relate to your aspirations?  What does it mean to you to participate in a cross-disciplinary community of scholars? What do you bring to the program? 

Research proposal (maximum of 500 words) 
Outline your project, stating for an intelligent, non-specialist reader the purpose, substance, and relevance of your proposed work; briefly assessing the state of knowledge and previous work in this area; and describing your project’s procedures (with timetable and plan for completion), followed by a projection of your potential contribution to this field.  Also, provide a one-page bibliography (not included in word count) of up to 12 academic sources that have informed your research. 

Two (2) letters of recommendation 
The first letter is from one standing Penn faculty member who will serve as a mentor for your research project, helping you plan your program of research and advising you as you work. The second is ideally written by a standing Penn faculty member who also knows you and your work well.  Both letters should speak specifically about your intellectual curiosity; potential for independent scholarly work, particularly for your proposed project; research skills; and motivation for, as well as commitment to, this particular program.  Since not all applicants know two faculty members well, the second letter may come from a teaching assistant (TA), from an instructor at another school, or from someone who knows you and your work from other contacts.  

Resume or CV


Interview with UScholars Faculty Steering Committee 


Nov. 1: application materials are due 
by Dec. 1:  interviews begin 
by winter break:  final decisions are determined