Living in Philadelphia

Credit: Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia is the ideal location for a business school — small-scale and historic, with all the resources of a major East Coast city. It has been an academic hub for centuries — inspiring students with its entrepreneurial culture, academic opportunities, extensive cultural institutions, impressive culinary scene, and night life.

Wharton’s Philadelphia campus is located in the center of the University of Pennsylvania, giving you all the resources of an Ivy League university in one of the country’s liveliest, most diverse cities. It also puts you right in the heart of all the opportunities of the East Coast — a train ride away from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

The majority of Wharton students come from other areas, but quickly become part of a diverse but close-knit community in which it’s easy to make friends. Most MBA students choose to live within walking distance of campus to take advantage of the rich cultural opportunities Philadelphia has to offer.

Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the U.S., home to more than 1.5 million residents. It offers diverse experiences and job opportunities, yet is small enough to feel like home. It has the highest standard of living per dollar of any major city in the Northeast corridor.

Living in Philadelphia as a Graduate Student
Doctoral students talk about their experience living in Philadelphia and the community they’ve found on Wharton’s campus.

Regional Hub

Philadelphia is a natural and convenient location for those with serious academic and business interests. Professionals and scholars from around the world are drawn to Philadelphia and Wharton for conferences, symposia, and other events. Philadelphia has the second-largest concentration of universities and colleges in the U.S.

Many doctoral students at Wharton conduct research or partner with local business organizations as diverse as The Vanguard Group, Comcast Corp., Merck & Co., Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. One of the nation’s top hubs for biotech, pharmaceutical, health care, and life sciences organizations, Philadelphia also offers opportunities in telecommunications, technology, business services, insurance, education, and manufacturing.

Dining, Culture, and Recreation

The birthplace of U.S. democracy and commerce, Philadelphia is a city of vibrant neighborhoods and culture.

Wharton students enjoy a thriving, eclectic restaurant scene that includes world cuisines from Belgium to Vietnam, haute cuisine, small BYOBs, reinvented pub grub, and Philly’s famous cheesesteaks.

Recreation opportunities include the fields and courts at Penn Park and the new Schuylkill Banks trail along the river. Nearby Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the world, maintains running, cycling, and riding trails.

Why Philadelphia Was a Good Fit for This PhD


You’ll find a wide range of housing options throughout Philadelphia, all with easy access to campus.

Housing Resources

On-Campus Housing
Residences for graduate students on Penn’s campus include furnished studio efficiencies and two-bedroom apartments located in two high-rise graduate-student apartment buildings at Sansom Place. Explore your options and resources at Penn Residential Services.

Off-Campus Housing
Thousands of Penn students, faculty, and staff live in University City, convenient to both the Penn campus and Center City. The area offers rich ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity, with great restaurants, large apartments, and striking Victorian architecture. Explore your options at Penn’s Off-Campus Services.

Where to Live?

Rittenhouse Square and Center City
Many students live near Rittenhouse Square, an elegant neighborhood over the bridge in Philadelphia’s Center City. A variety of apartment buildings and brownstones are available for rent within a 25-minute walk, or 10 to 15 minutes by public transportation or bike.

Other popular Philadelphia neighborhoods — including Old City, Queen Village, Northern Liberties, Bella Vista, Society Hill, and Fairmount — offer an eclectic mix of affordable and livable housing options, from historic townhouses to converted lofts.

University City
Much of University City is in the eligible area for the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School (known as the Sadie School), a pre-K through eighth grade public school assisted by the University and the Penn Graduate School of Education. Opened in 2001, this neighborhood public school has been labeled a “gold standard” by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities for bringing the most effective, research-proven educational practices into the classroom.

Suburban Living
Some students decide to live in the suburbs, particularly those with families, those with partners who work outside Philadelphia, and those who plan to remain in Philadelphia after graduation.

The towns in the near western suburbs along the Main Line, such as Bala Cynwyd, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, and Bryn Mawr, are close to campus (a 15-minute direct commuter train ride) and are known for excellent public schools. Other students choose suburbs to the north of Philadelphia or in New Jersey, also a train ride away.

Within the Philadelphia city limits, the residential neighborhoods of Germantown, Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Roxborough, Overbrook, and Wynnefield offer tree-lined streets, architectural charm, and family-friendly single and twin homes.


Wharton students travel from campus to other parts of the city on foot (it is a safe, pleasant walk from campus to Center City), by bike, or on Philadelphia’s comprehensive public transportation system, which includes buses, trolleys, and trains.

In addition, the University offers its own transportation options. PennBUS operates on a fixed schedule and an established route. Penn Shuttles operate between 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., seven days per week, and provide riders with off-campus, “to-door” service within defined boundaries.

Safety and Security

Students at Wharton have safety concerns similar to those of students in any major city. Wharton operates under the careful eye of the Division of Public Safety at the University of Pennsylvania, which is committed to enhancing the quality of life of the campus community and operates a fully commissioned police force with state-of-the-art safety and security technology. For more information, visit Safety and Security at Penn’s website.