What type of people study for the PhD?

Doctoral students come from a variety of backgrounds. Their most important distinguishing features are an eagerness to discover new things and an aptitude for research methods in business.

More than half of the students are international. The number of first-year students in each department’s program is small and select. New students interact with doctoral students in all years and also with students in other Wharton departments. Typically, the number of peers with whom a doctoral student interacts and finds common interests ranges from 15 to 30.

Do most graduates enter the academic field?

The majority of students who enter a Wharton doctoral program assume a faculty position at an academic/research institution upon completing the PhD degree program.

How long does a PhD take?

The required coursework for a PhD takes two years, and defense of a thesis proposal, performance of thesis research, and defense of the final thesis usually take 12 to 18 months at a minimum. It is reasonable to expect to take four to five years to complete the PhD.

Can I do it part time? Is there distance learning? Is there an online program?

The Wharton PhD program is full time during the period of coursework. Most students also pursue their theses full time for 12 to 18 months. There are no PhD-level courses offered through distance or online learning.

Do I need prior work experience or business courses?

No, not necessarily. Application decisions depend primarily on an evaluation of the candidate’s ability to handle complex course material and do original research. While experience is helpful, evidence of strong intellectual ability — as indicated by test scores, course grades, or letters of recommendation — is the most important factor.

Will prior graduate work help? Can I transfer prior graduate work and have it apply to the PhD?

Up to one year of graduate credits may be transferred (maximum of eight credits), but any transfers are usually less than the maximum, because students are required to take the core courses for the doctoral program here at Wharton. Prior work can shorten the time for required coursework a little, but its main advantage will be to provide a better background for dealing with the rigorous core courses.

Application Requirements

What is the deadline for tests?

All tests must be taken no later than December 15th. You may self-report your unofficial scores on the online application in order to meet the deadline. Official scores must also be sent from ETS/GMAC in order to complete your application.

We do not accept late test scores. Please plan in advance to ensure that scores and materials are submitted by the December 15th deadline.

As states on our website, please submit your application by December 15th, 11:59PM EST.

What code should I use to send official scores?

Please use the following codes to send official test scores:

GRE:  2954-5199 or 2954-0000

TOEFL: 2954-02 or 2954-00

GMAT: G56-97-12

If you are unable to find the exact codes for the GRE/TOEFL, as long as you use the Wharton School code (2954), we will be able to confirm your scores.

What tests should I take? Is there a minimum score?

All applicants must take either the GRE or GMAT, depending upon department/program admission requirements. While there is no minimum test score required to apply, good performance on one of the tests can offset lower scores on other portions.

As each department’s requirements on standardized tests vary, please see the Admissions Requirement page for details on test requirements by department.

The average GRE scores for doctoral students entering in fall 2023:

Verbal: 161
Verbal %: 85
Quantitative: 168
Quantitative %: 90
Writing: 4.5
Writing %: 69

The average GMAT scores for doctoral students entering in fall 2022:

Verbal: 40
Verbal %: 86
Quantitative: 42
Quantitative %: 47
Total: 673
Total %: 74
Writing: 5
Writing %: 54

The ETS codes for requesting to have your scores sent to the Doctoral Program are:
GRE: 2954-5199 or 2954-0000
GMAT: G56-97-12

We will accept GMAT and GRE scores that are up to 5 years old. If your test scores are more than 5 years old (taken prior to July 2018), you will have to take the test again and submit the new scores. Please see the GRE and GMAT websites for further information on taking those tests.

GRE/GMAT test scores CANNOT be waived. There are no exceptions unless outlined by the department. Failure to provide required application materials will result in your application’s rejection. Please note that certain programs will accept only the GRE.

See Application Requirements for specific information.

The average GPA of accepted applicants generally falls within the upper tenth percentile.

Is the TOEFL required? Can it be waived if I have lived or studied in an English-speaking country?

Applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL. You may request a TOEFL waiver if you have earned an undergraduate or master’s degree (or will receive the degree by June 2024) in an English-speaking country or from an institution in which English is the language of instruction.

To waive the TOEFL, you must submit your request under the optional essay section of the application and have it documented that your medium of education was English. Your transcripts may serve as documentation that English was the language of instruction.

TOEFL scores are valid for two years. If your TOEFL test was taken prior to July 2021 you will need to submit new scores.

Ask the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to report your test scores using the following Wharton Doctoral Programs’ ETS codes:
· TOEFL: 2954-02 or 2954-00

Please note, we do not accept IELTS scores in place of TOEFL scores.

What is the average TOEFL score? Do you keep scores submitted in prior years?

Generally, the better the test score, the more likely a student will succeed in the program. We do not keep scores submitted in prior years, unless an applicant submitted an application. Applications and all supplemental materials (including test scores) are kept on file for one year after the year of application, and then destroyed.

The average iTOEFL scores for doctoral students entering in fall 2023:

Reading: 29
Listening: 29
Speaking: 25
Writing: 28
Total: 109

The ETS codes for requesting to have your scores sent to the Doctoral Program are:
TOEFL: 2954-02 or 2954-00

Can I request an interview when applying?

Interviews are not granted prior to decisions. Accepted candidates are generally invited to visit at Wharton’s expense before they make a decision on whether to attend.

Can the application fee be waived?

Applicants from the following fellowships can waive the $80 application fee: McNair, Fulbright, IDDEAS, Leadership Alliance, and GRE Fee Reduction recipients. ​There are no other exceptions for offering application fee waivers.

Can I pay the application fee by credit card?

You can pay the $80 application fee by credit card when you submit your online application.

Admissions Process

When should I apply?

We will begin accepting applications in September for the following year’s admission period. The deadline for applications and supporting documentation (letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores) is December 15.

When and how will I be notified of the committee's decision?

The admissions committee meets in late February and again in early March, and the departmental programs make their final decisions by late March. Admission notification is made by April 15.

You will be notified of departmental decisions via the e-mail address you provide, so be sure to check your email regularly and to notify the Doctoral Office of any changes in your contact information.

Can you provide a paper application — I would rather submit a paper application than the online application?

Unfortunately, we no longer offer a paper application. All applications must be submitted using the online system.

How many applications do you receive each year, and how many do you admit?

The number of completed applications is usually between 800 and 1300. Less than 5% of applicants are offered admission, and usually 30 to 40 students matriculate.

Can I defer admission?

An offer of admission with financial support is made for the upcoming academic year only. Acceptance of the offer may not be deferred. An accepted applicant who must postpone acceptance of an offer of admission may reapply for consideration the following year. The applicant must follow the December 15th deadline to submit their application for review.

Can I request feedback on my application if I am not offered admission?

The admissions committee cannot offer feedback on individual applications.

Can I apply as a transfer student from a PhD program at a different school?

All applicants must complete an application with all required materials by the December 15 deadline regardless of their status at another school.

Can I apply to more than one Wharton PhD program?

No. It is for the benefit of both the applicant and Admissions Committee for an applicant to apply to one program only.

You are welcome to apply to separate schools at Penn (i.e. Arts & Sciences, Med). Please note you will be required to submit separate applications, materials and application fees.

Can I re-apply to a Doctoral Program?

Yes. Candidates who submitted an application to a Wharton Doctoral Program and were not offered admission may re-apply but not for the same academic year, e.g., an applicant who was not admitted for fall 2018 may re-apply for fall 2019. See Reapplication Process for more information.

Which programs are STEM-designated?

STEM-designated programs are denoted on our Programs of Study page.

Online Application

I'm having trouble accessing the Online Application. What is the problem?

You must have a Login Account to access the Online Application. To get a Login and Password please visit our online application, available in September.

My password will not work. Why?

You may be entering the incorrect password. A common problem is passwords are case sensitive. Be certain you are entering your password with the same capitalizations and lower cases as appear in your confirmation e-mail.

To have your login and password information re-sent to you, click the login link and follow the directions to have the information re-sent to you.

If all else fails, please email the doctoral office for assistance: doctoral-programs@wharton.upenn.edu.

When should I check the system after submitting the application?

You should allow at least three weeks for processing for your online account to truly reflect the status of your application.

Will I receive an e-mail when decisions are made? How will I know when to check the system?

You will receive an e-mail each time your status changes; this includes when we release a decision. Once you receive an e-mail, you need to check your status online. The e-mail only indicates there is a change to your application; it does not indicate what the change is.

Letters of Recommendation

Do you accept letters of recommendation through Interfolio?

Yes, please follow the instructions from Interfolio: https://product-help.interfolio.com/en_US/about-dossier-accounts/dossier-quick-start-guide

Assistance for applicants or the Interfolio agent can write to help@applyweb.com.

Financial Aid

What about financial aid? Are international students eligible?

All admitted Wharton doctoral students receive a fellowship that covers the cost of tuition and health insurance, and provides a stipend. It is expected that a similar level of financial aid may be awarded for up to 5 years. All financial aid awards are contingent upon a student’s satisfactory academic progress.

The number of students accepted in any department is therefore determined by the amount of financial aid available.

Annual Security & Fire Safety Report

Where can I find the annual security & fire safety report for the University of Pennsylvania?

To read the Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, click here.