September 8-10, 2023

Applications have been reviewed, the game is on!

Hosted at the nation's first university, PennApps is the original college hackathon. Come join us to learn something new, build an app, or start a company. Let’s continue to make history together.

The College Hackathon

In the context of a hackathon, the word "hack" is used to describe how multiple technologies can be used together in a new and innovative way. Teams of up to four people spend the weekend working on innovative software and hardware solutions to real-world problems. These projects range in platform and application, including elements of web development, mobile applications, drones, and more. However, many times the most important aspect of a hackathon are the community it generates and skills that inexperienced hackers walk away with.

The PennApps Difference

Founded in the fall of 2009, PennApps was the nation's first student-run college hackathon. Since then, it has spurred a revolution in the way engineering students develop and showcase their skills, spawning an entire "league" of hackathons across the nation. In the past years, over a thousand students from the U.S. and other countries like Switzerland, Canada, England, India and Singapore have converged in Philadelphia for a weekend of creation and discovery. Both beginners and experts alike will work together, learn and compete to become better engineers. This year, PennApps is expanding its focus on learning by emphasizing the collaboration of new and experienced hackers and providing more learning opportunities and workshops throughout the weekend.

The Application Process

Each year, PennApps receives thousands of qualified applications, but unfortunately, we can only accept a limited number of participants. To ensure fairness, we ask everyone to share a bit about themselves, so we can invite those who have shown interest and skill.

We don't expect everyone to have been to a hackathon before, in fact, we love first-time hackers having been there ourselves when we started! We just hope to bring those who are passionate about building something awesome and learning something new.

While we cannot accept everyone, we strive to build a diverse community of amazing hackers. Simply showcase your work, share why you want to attend PennApps, and we will do our best to bring you here! Penn students should register with their Penn emails when applying. Applications are now closed, and you may access your application at

If you are a Penn student who missed the application deadline but still would like to join, please email us at [email protected] with your Penn email.

Interested in more details about the hackathon? Click the buttons below to learn more!


We will keep everyone updated with this status according to the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, but as of now, PennApps is BACK in-person :)

Not only will we provide you with a weekend's worth of swag, meals, drinks, and snacks and a place to crash when you need a break from coding, we'll even help cover your travel. When you're accepted, we'll have a page where you can submit your required travel reimbursement forms and receipts. We’ll determine a reasonable cap based on your travel from location to reimburse up to. This cycle we're excited to have even more travel reimbursements available than past years!

Need: Laptop and charger, cellphone and charger, sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, a couple changes of clothes (nerdy shirts are particularly appreciated). Consider bringing clothes that can get wet (We can neither confirm nor deny there may or may not be a water fight).

Don't need: a pre-determined team, an idea for an app, food or drink.

Please don't bring: Firearms or other weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, soldering or similar equipment, animals (no matter how adorable).

PennApps will start with the kick-off ceremony at Penn Engineering Quad. There will be events planned throughout the day for those who arrive early. A detailed schedule of events and locations will be posted later. All work eligible for prizes must be completed between Friday night after the kick-off and Sunday morning.

It's not about winning—it's about learning and making friends that last for a lifetime (so everyone's a winner!). If you're thinking, "that's adorable...but really," then we've got you covered too. A panel of professional judges will select the top three hacks based on the following criteria: creativity, technical difficulty, polish, and usefulness. Top prizes are TBA, but usually involve thousands of dollars and insane perks from company sponsors. Most sponsors offer their own prizes too for specific categories, which they judge and fund themselves. We had well over $40k worth of prizes up for grabs last time including Nintendo Switches and Oculus Rifts, if you like numbers.

We're looking for creative, innovative, and team-oriented hackers with a set of skills – mobile, web, hardware, design, or anything else that can contribute to a project. We generally prefer applicants who showcase their ability through links, project descriptions, Github profiles, video demos or participation/awards in other hackathons. We love first-time hackers who show us what makes you special in whatever way is most natural.

The PRIORITY application will close June 30th at 11:59 PM ET.

The FINAL application will close July 19th at 11:59 PM ET.

Any college, university, or high school student 15 years or older on September 2nd, 2022 is eligible to apply.

Penn students MUST also fill out the application with their Penn email to sign up. Penn students are automatically accepted into the hackathon and have a later application deadline than non-penn students.

Unfortunately, we can't allow you to participate in the event or be on site during hacking. If you're looking to mentor (i.e. someone with technical skills who'd be willing to help out participants during the weekend) or lead a workshop (i.e. speakers that lead events on topics that they are passionate about to the hackers), reach out to us at [email protected]. Otherwise, you can see the finished products at the demos on Sunday (time and location TBA).

PennApps is planned almost entirely by University of Pennsylvania students, with some advice and assistance from our friends at Penn Engineering. One hundred percent of the funding for PennApps comes from corporate sponsor donations. You can find more information about sponsoring at our sponsor section.

Be respectful and considerate of your fellow hackers. We're all here to learn and have a good time. Everyone deserves the chance to hack free of the fear of being harrassed.

Aw shucks. Shoot us an email at [email protected]!