You are here

Application and Student Expectations

Students join BFS either upon enrollment at Penn or by applying after their freshman year. All BFS students are required to enroll in and complete for a grade at least 3 CUs of BFS Seminars while at Penn and maintain a strong academic record. Each undergraduate school also sets its own school-based BFS requirements.

Commencing with the Class of 2019, in order to graduate as BFS each student must present their research or findings to a broad audience of their peers outside their department by creating a BEN Talk of between 6 and 8 minutes, addressing the question: “What has been your most intriguing research discovery at Penn?”

BFS students planning to graduate in Spring 2019, Summer 2019, or Fall 2019 must submit their BEN talk no later than Sunday, February 24. Models of successful BEN talks are available, but please note the new time limit of 6-8 minutes. Students whose BEN talks do not sufficiently address the question will be required to revise their BEN Talk to meet the BFS requirement.

BEN Talks will be reviewed by a committee of BFS faculty determined by the BFS Faculty Council. One BEN Talk will be selected for the BEN Talks Prize of $500, which will be announced and awarded at the BFS Commencement Dinner.

In the College


BFS in the College is open to single-degree students in the College and starts off with an intensive year-long course called the Integrated Studies Program (ISP), which makes up half of the freshman curriculum.  The course sets out broad themes in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, and uses the multiple perspectives that different disciplines provide as a way to examine the underlying questions that make each of them tick.  BFS in the College is also a residential program.  Students accepted to the program are required to live together in Riepe College House in the Quad.

All incoming freshmen admitted to the College are invited to apply to ISP, with the exception of those already pursuing another specialized intensive program at Penn (Huntsman Program, University Scholars, Vagelos Scholars, etc.)  Applications are available after April 1 and are due on the same day as Penn’s enrollment confirmation is due (usually May 1). Incoming single-degree freshmen in the College should follow this link to apply. For more information on Integrated Studies, please contact ISP Associate Director Dr. Julio Tuma (215-898-4772)


Those students enrolled in the School of Engineering who are selected as Benjamin Franklin Scholars as incoming freshmen or who apply on-campus engage in a top flight engineering education while taking part in the larger world of the university. They train as the next generation of builders and dreamers in an atmosphere rich in excellence in the liberal arts, business, medicine, law, and nursing. BFS offers engineering students a gateway to all that the University of Pennsylvania has to offer.


Benjamin Franklin Scholars in Nursing (BFS-N) provides a liberal arts intensive option within the undergraduate nursing major for students who are curious and inclined toward intellectual exploration. Becoming a BFS-N scholar is by invitation on matriculation and by select invitation at the discretion of the BFS-N program leadership. As a scholar within BFS-N, your academic experience is marked by rigorous coursework and extracurricular activities open to you and peers in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Wharton School and in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition to a variety of campus-wide programs as part of BFS, you are able to enroll in the justly famed BFS Seminars – course taught by expert faculty from across campus in a variety of topics. Your experience concludes when you complete a two-semester capstone course during your senior year. In this capstone, you with your fellow BFS-N Scholars on a project that your cohort design and implement under direction of BFS-N director Professor Sarah Kagan. 


Those students enrolled in the Wharton School who are selected for the Joseph Wharton Scholars Program are simultaneously designated Benjamin Franklin Scholars. Founded in 1988, the Joseph Wharton Scholars program was designed to emphasize the importance of breadth in the liberal arts and sciences within the framework of a business education. Students in the program take scholars courses in Wharton and in the College of Arts & Sciences, engage in a significant senior research project (waived if doing one for a joint or dual-degree program), maintain a 3.4 GPA, and participate in a variety of activities that are academic, career-oriented, and social in nature. The liberal arts component of the JWS program emerges from our students’ engagement in BFS. A full description of the JWS program and its requirements can be found here.