What is a Penn Abroad Exchange?

The University of Pennsylvania partners with many international institutions to offer undergraduate semester or year exchange opportunities to students.  Exchange students spend one semester (September-December or January-May) or one year (September-May) enrolled in one of the four undergraduate schools:

A list of institutions that have undergraduate exchange partnerships with Penn can be found below.

Don’t see your institution on this list? 

Why Penn?

  • Founded by Benjamin Franklin in the 1740s, the University of Pennsylvania is a member of the Ivy League, and internationally renowned for undergraduate-level teaching, research programs, as well as its graduate and professional schools.
  • Penn is one of the most competitive universities in the United States.
  • Penn has a diverse student body of approximately 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 
  • Penn is a cosmopolitan university set in the urban setting of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Undergraduate Schools

Exchanges are linked to one or more of the four Penn undergraduate schools.  Students are expected to take the majority of their courses in the school of their exchange.  If you are unsure, ask your study abroad coordinator. 

Exchange students must enroll in a minimum of four credit units (four courses) per semester in order to maintain full-time status at Penn.  Course descriptions can be reviewed in the Penn Course Register.  Some courses will have prerequisites. 


Exchange students at Penn receive support for their well-being and academics for the duration of their stay.

  • An Academic Advisor from your undergraduate school will assist with course selection, registration, and other academic matters.
  • A Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager will assist with cultural and adjustment issues, serve as a liaison to your home institution, and provide support throughout the term.  

Exchange Student Programming

  • Each semester begins with an orientation program to acquaint students to Penn and Philadelphia. 
  • Throughout the semester, events are planned to introduce students to the culture of the United States.
  • Opportunities, such as exchange student and Penn student mixers, are available for exchange students to meet and mingle with their Penn peers and hopefully, make lasting connections. 
  • There are also opportunities for students to introduce their own culture to domestic students by volunteering at the Study Abroad Fair, serving as International Speakers at Penn Museum, and engaging with the local community.

Life at Penn

All exchange students are required to live in on-campus housing with Penn students  and enroll in a dining plan.

The University of Pennsylvania offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities for students and exchange students are encouraged to get involved in one or two on-campus activities to complement their studies in the US. In addition to the general activities offered on-campus to all students, Penn Abroad and International Student & Scholar Services provides special activities for international and exchange students throughout the year.


Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States, is a major cultural center and the heart of a metropolitan area with a population of more than five million people. In its older sections, visitors will find monuments and streets from the era of colonial America. Many of its neighborhoods, including its walkable, easily explored downtown, are just minutes from the University of Pennsylvania by bus, subway or bicycle. There are more than 100 significant museums and historical sites in Philadelphia. Students have access to the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra as well as opera, ballet, jazz, contemporary and classical music, and theater. The city hosts teams for major professional sports, and it is famous for its restaurants, which range from some of the top-ranked in the nation to an endless variety of ethnic and neighborhood establishments. The city has attracted immigrants from around the world and has a wide variety of ethnic communities. The region also has one of the highest concentrations of colleges and universities in the country, making it a vibrant place to spend a semester or year as an exchange student.

Application deadlines:

Academic Year and Fall – March 1

Spring – September 20

Visa Requirements

All exchange students who are not US citizens are required to have a student visa for their studies in the United States. Information and assistance in applying for the visa will be provided to all accepted exchange students.


  • Eligibility and Application Process
  • All participants must provide evidence of a solid undergraduate academic record, typically the equivalent of a 3.0 (B) average in the United States.  Non-native English speakers must also demonstrate proficiency in the English language through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a TOEFL-IBT (Internet-Based Test) score of 100 or with a Paper-Based TOEFL score of 600. The TOEFL must have been taken no more than two years prior to the application deadline. Penn Abroad's TOEFL Destination (DI) Code is 3221

    NOTE: Non-native English speakers who are attending English-speaking schools must sit for the TOEFL OR provide proof that (s)he has been studying at an English-speaking institution for the past three (3) years.

    Steps to apply:

    1. Students must be nominated to Penn Abroad by their home school.

    2. Penn Abroad will send you a link to access your online application.

    3. You must submit the following application pieces to Penn Abroad:

      • Electronic/unofficial transcript(s) of all undergraduate work

      • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member who has instructed the applicant

      • Scanned copy of passport photo page

      • Official hard copy of the TOEFL score report

    **Incomplete applications will not be considered.**

  • Costs to Consider
  • Tuition and student fee charges are waived for exchange students. However, you must budget adequate funds to cover living and personal expenses in Philadelphia.

    Estimated Living Expenses* for Academic Year 2017-18**:

    • Room (Housing): $9,820
    • Board (Meals): $5,246
    • Books & Supplies: $1,280
    • Insurance: $3,348
    • Miscellaneous Expenses: $2,060
      • Fall/Year students are required to pay the mandatory New Student Orientation fee (~$295) which includes orientation activities and most meals over the orientation period.
      • Student Health Service Clinical Fee is charged to all students for use of SHS (~$270/semester)

    *These figures are only estimates and will vary greatly depending on individual spending habits.  All estimates are subject to change without notice

    **These figures are for the entire Academic Year 2017-2018, for either Fall 2017 or Spring 2018, divide figures in half. Figures for 2018-2019 will be published by May 2018.