Edward Bushnell attended Hastings College in Nebraska before transferring the new Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1899, at the start of his junior year. At Penn, Bushnell was involved primarily in sports and in journalism. He was a member of two varsity teams (track and cross country) during his two years at Penn, serving as captain of the cross country team during his senior year. He was chair of the Houston Club's Press Committee and also a member of the Pennsylvania Debating Union and the Western Club. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn in 1901, the same year he received his Bachelor of the Arts degree from Hastings College. Bushnell placed 4th in the 1900 IC4A meet in the mile. After college he worked as a journalist and later returned to Penn, where he became graduate manager of athletics from 1918 to 1921, and chairman of the membership committee of the General Alumni Society.