PAFA-Penn BFA Application Process

Earn your Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while studying at two of Philadelphia’s most prestigious institutions in the Coordinated PAFA-Penn BFA Program.

For nearly 100 years, the University of Pennsylvania has partnered with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to pursue their artistic passions and intellectual pursuits in the Ivy League.

Penn's portions of the PAFA/PENN application process. 

Prospective Students

Prospective students interested in the PAFA/Penn BFA should first apply and enroll at PAFA. Accepted students will work with their personal PAFA Admissions counselor to complete the Penn Application process.

Students can apply to the Penn portion of this program at any time once they have been accepted to PAFA. Actual enrollment in Penn BFA courses will be contingent upon successful completion of the first 30 credits (one full-time academic year) at PAFA.

Students have the option to complete an internal transfer to the Coordinated BFA program at any point during their time at PAFA; it is recommended to complete the internal transfer process before the start of their second year.

Currently Enrolled PAFA Students

Students that are currently enrolled at PAFA who are interested in applying for the Coordinated BFA with the University of Pennsylvania must meet with the Dean of Student Affairs to discuss the program, review their academic records, discuss a plan of study, and receive an overview of the application process.

Students interested in transferring from PAFA's BFA to the Coordinated BFA program must successfully complete 30 credits at PAFA before they are eligible to enroll in courses at Penn.

Students who are not admitted into the Coordinated BFA program may still complete the PAFA BFA program.

Admissions Decisions

The Admissions Committee at the University of Pennsylvania carefully considers the applicant’s academic (non-art related) course records for Coordinated BFA candidates, and generally expects students to maintain a B (3.0) average in those classes. Similar performance in current PAFA courses is expected as well. 

Depending on a student’s previous academic record, the Admissions Committee may grant “provisional admission” to students who may not completely fit the admissions criteria, allowing them the opportunity to complete four classes, after which time they will be reassessed for continued enrollment eligibility.

Students who are not admitted into the Coordinated BFA program may still complete PAFA’s BFA. 

Penn's Application Requirements

  • Penn's BFA Application requirements 
  • Completed online application.
  • Current résumé.
  • Nonrefundable application fee.
  • Application essays.
  • Official high school transcripts sent directly to the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. Students need to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered for admission.
  • Prospective PAFA Applicants: Contact your PAFA Admissions Counselor for a copy of your Acceptance Letter.
  • Current PAFA Students: An approval form and a transcript from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts or a letter of acceptance from PAFA for individuals who have not yet completed their first year of classes.

Application Essays

Your application will include essays addressing the following topics. The essays are reviewed as a reflection of your writing ability and should be well thought out and polished. Responses should not exceed four pages in length for all the questions combined. (Please compile your responses into a single document, but keep them as separate essays.)

  • Describe your educational history and background, making sure to address whether your records and transcripts accurately reflect your academic ability.
  • Write a brief essay describing your academic and personal goals and explain how these will be furthered by study at Penn in general and at LPS in particular. Feel free to discuss a specific academic topic you have enjoyed studying and explain why it is of interest to you.
  • Describe any non-academic experiences that you feel strengthen your application such as employment, travel, community affairs, volunteer work, publications, etc.

Optional Additional Materials

The following circumstances require that you submit additional material:

  • If you completed less than two years of liberal arts work at the college level (approximately 16 courses in literature, philosophy, history, sociology, science, mathematics, etc.), you must submit an official high school transcript.
  • If you left high school without graduating, and you have completed less than two years of liberal arts work at the college level, you must submit an official score report from the test of General Educational Development (GED).

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores are not required for admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. However, you may choose to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT, in support of your application.

  • Request that your scores be forwarded to the Bachelor of Fine Arts office at the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, using ETS institutional code 2986.

A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores to demonstrate English proficiency. Please note that the TOEFL is rarely waived; therefore, we encourage applicants to take the test to avoid delays in completing the application.

  • The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are: 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT) or 600 (PBT). The TOEFL must be sent from ETS using the institutional code 2986. To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted and the minimum score for consideration is a 7. You may upload a copy of your IELTS test to the standardized test score section of the application.