How to Apply

Applying to VIPER

Prospective students can indicate a preference for VIPER when they first apply to the University of Pennsylvania as a high school senior. The application can be found here. Students can also list their preferences for other programs or majors at Penn.

VIPER and the Admissions Office evaluate applications on a holistic basis. As part of the application, VIPER applicants must also submit a supplemental essay explaining the reasons for their interest in the program. The supplemental essay topic is listed below:

Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words).


Early Decision

Students applying to Penn's VIPER Program have the option to apply through the binding Early Decision process. Students who rank VIPER as their number one choice should give careful consideration to this option. Students admitted to VIPER through the Early Decision process are bound to attend the VIPER Program. To submit your Early Decision application to VIPER, you will be prompted to complete the Early Decision Agreement in Penn's General section of the Common Application. It is possible to apply to VIPER during Early Decision without selecting a single degree choice as a back-up.

Prior to submitting your Early Decision application, you will be prompted to respond to the following question under Penn's Academics section of the Common Application:  If we are unable to admit you as an Early Decision candidate to your primary program choice [i.e. VIPER], do you wish to be considered under the binding Early Decision agreement for your secondary school/program choice [i.e. your potential single degree]?

If you would like for both your VIPER admission and your potential single degree to be binding, select "Yes" from the dropdown that follows. If, instead, you would like your VIPER admission to be binding, but would like the single degree admission to be non-binding, select "No". By selecting "No", you are asking Penn Admissions to hold your single degree application until the Regular Decision process begins. If a student is admitted to their single degree choice at that time, the decision is non-binding.


Academic Preparation

Additionally, please see Penn's testing requirements. In addition to the stated requirements, please note that, for students applying to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, the core foundation for VIPER, Penn typically recommends two SAT subject tests, specifically Math Level 2 and a Science Subject Test; however, due to disruptions to testing due to COVID-19, SAT and ACT tests are optional for the 2020-2021 application. 

For VIPER, a strong academic background in math and science is essential. In reviewing applications, the committee will be looking for a good fit between the applicant and the program. In particular, successful applicants will demonstrate high achievement in academic and co-curricular activities, clear aptitude for science and engineering, great interest in energy challenges, and strong potential for research innovation. The supplemental essay gives applicants the opportunity to discuss the nature and extent of their specific interest in VIPER.

Applicants may indicate on their application that they wish to be considered for admission to either the College or SEAS as a single degree candidate in the event that they are not selected for VIPER.