What is UPenn’s Huntsman Program?

The Huntsman Program at the University of Pennsylvania is a dual-degree program in the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences. The UPenn Huntsman program is extremely competitive and only around 50 students are enrolled in the program each year.

The program is designed for students interested in international business, which is why students are required to choose a “target language” when they apply to the program. For accepted students, the program offers unique opportunities such as internships, study abroad programs, and special guest speakers. The dual-degree component of the Huntsman program also provides undergraduate students with the flexibility and expertise to pursue interdisciplinary careers. Since I received admission into the Huntsman program, I believe I can offer some insights on how to maximize your chances of admission.

This informational essay was written by Rohan Krishnan, Yale University Class of ‘24. If you want to get help writing your application essays from Rohan or other CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.

Have a strong understanding of the regional issues associated with your target language

The supplemental essay for the Huntsman program asks: “What draws you to a dual-degree in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect?

Given the selectivity of the dual-degree program, nailing the essay supplement is integral to maximizing your chances of success. Your essay should discuss a potential solution to a global issue/crisis in the region or regions where your target language is spoken. Your essay should be well-researched and exhibit a deep understanding of the issue and region as a whole. For example, my UPenn Huntsman Program essay supplement was about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and how the investment in renewable energy sources could result in the defunding of nuclear energy.

Moreover, your essay should address how the Huntsman program would provide you with the resources and opportunities necessary to successfully develop solutions or contributions to the issue discussed in your essay. What aspects of Huntsman draw you to the program? Does the program have specific opportunities you plan to advantage of? Keep in mind that this supplemental essay has a larger word limit than average, so be sure to include relevant details and specific examples.

Apply Early Decision for the UPenn Huntsman Program (if you can)

Early decision is a process where a student can apply before the regular decision deadline, but if they are accepted, they are required to attend the university. As a result, the acceptance rate for early decision applications is higher than the acceptance rate for regular decision applications. This phenomena is true for the Huntsman program as well. From my own personal interactions with Huntsman alumni and students, more than half of admits are chosen from the early decision round. Note: the program hasn’t released official data, so there’s no way to know exactly how much of an advantage you’ll get.

This may go without saying, but remember, you should only apply early to the Huntsman program if your top choice is the University of Pennsylvania. With early decision, you could potentially be rejected from the Huntsman program but accepted to the Wharton program or the College of Arts and Sciences program. If you are not comfortable committing to the Wharton program or the College of Arts and Sciences, don’t apply early to the Huntsman program!

Although receiving admission into the Huntsman program in the regular decision round is difficult, it is not impossible (I did!), so I encourage you to apply no matter which deadline you choose.

Demonstrate proficiency and interest in your target language

An integral component of the Huntsman program is language acquisition. Students are expected to achieve fluency in the language by the end of their college graduation. Because the program is competitive, the admissions committee does take into consideration your demonstrated language proficiency. For example, if your target language is Spanish, a high score on the Spanish subject SAT or a 5 on the AP Spanish language exam would serve as proof of language proficiency. However, do not feel constrained by these specific standardized tests. If you have a less standardized proof of language acquisition or fluency, feel free to share that with the admissions committee.

Additionally, you also want to show your personal interest in and connection to your target language. While most of us must fulfill a language requirement, if you’re applying to this program, you probably have a deeper interest in the language itself. Are you interested in connecting more with your extended family? Do you hope to hold a job with this new language, or will studying this language improve your career? Whatever your reason for studying your target language, you should convey a deep passion for the language and a motivation to use the language for a greater purpose. The Huntsman program admissions committee looks for students who want to use their target language for a career or community-based reason in the future.

If possible, choose an uncommon target language

The most common Huntsman target languages are Spanish, Mandarin, and French. As a result, Huntsman applicants who apply under these target languages naturally face a more competitive group, and successful students have to demonstrate high proficiency in their respective language. However, if you have some proficiency in a less common language, such as Korean, Arabic, or Japanese, you can distinguish yourself from other applicants and face a less competitive application pool.

For example, my target language was Arabic. Because I had only studied it for a few years, I didn’t possess the fluency of some of my peers, who had been learning Spanish or Mandarin since a young age. However, the UPenn Huntsman Program wants to fill their class with a diverse group of students, so they do take into account a student’s ability to speak a more uncommon, yet important language.

Good Luck!

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