Penn dates its founding to 1740, when prominent evangelist George Whitefield had the idea of building a Philadelphia charity school that would double as a house of worship for his followers.
To this day, Penn’s 302-acre West Philadelphia campus reflects its rich heritage—a heritage closely bound with the birth of the United States—boasting more than 200 buildings and many notable landmarks, including the nation’s first student union and first double-decker college football stadium .
The 165 research centers and institutes on campus also reflect the University’s innovative, civic-minded and pragmatic creator: More than 250 years after Ben Franklin broke new ground in founding Penn, its faculty, students, and alumni continue to make breakthroughs in research, scholarship, and education. Its many subsequent “firsts,” include the world’s first collegiate business school (Wharton, 1881), the world’s first electronic, large-scale, general-purpose digital computer (ENIAC, 1946), and the first woman president of an Ivy League institution (Judith Rodin, inaugurated in 1994) as well as the first female Ivy League president to succeed another female (Amy Gutmann, inaugurated in 2004).
Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.
Penn offers many avenues to find what you like and what you’re good at, and meet peers whose interests align with and diverge from your own. This wide diversity of social, political, religious, and cultural activities on campus deeply enriches the life of the University.