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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do students in the BFS program do that is different from non-BFS students?

All BFS students take at least 3 BFS seminars during their time at Penn. These are the heart of the BFS program and bring together students and faculty who jointly pursue powerful questions of mutual interest. In addition, the four undergraduate schools – Nursing, Engineering, Wharton, and the College – have their own additional requirements for their BFS students. We also host joint plenary events to which the entire BFS community is invited to hear speakers or just get to know one another better.

2. I’m interested in applying to Benjamin Franklin Scholars, but I’m set for a joint degree/dual degree program (i.e. Huntsman, Vagelos, M&T, LSM, etc.) Can I do both?

There are many extraordinary and intensive opportunities at Penn, each with their own rigors. Amazing educational experiences here are simply the norm, and it’s true that worthwhile things tend to be demanding, and sometime force us to make choices. For example, students whose home school is the College and who are doing Integrated Studies will be unable simultaneously to complete the requirements for the College’s intensive biological science program, the Vagelos Scholars Program. Students who are pursuing a dual degree with a professional school may be able to simultaneously complete an intensive or dual-degree program (such as Huntsman, LSM, or Nursing and Health Care Management) while also being able to complete the requirements for BFS in their professional school. These students will NOT be eligible for Integrated Studies. Contact your pre-major advisor for more information.

3. What are the requirements for the BFS Program?

See Student Expectations

4. Do I have to be in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program in order to enroll in a BFS seminar class?

No, any undergraduate at Penn can request a seat in a BFS seminar. Roughly a third of the seats in BFS seminars are reserved for program participants, and the rest are open to BFS students or for general enrollment. Some BFS seminars may have seats reserved for majors in that department (for example, History usually reserves some seats in BFS seminars for their majors). Some BFS seminars may require a permit for all students, whether or not the student is in the BFS program.

5. Can Benjamin Franklin Scholars influence my financial aid?

No, all aid from Student Financial Services is need based; there are no merit based scholarships administered by Penn’s Student Financial Services.

6. I’m interested in Benjamin Franklin Scholars but I plan to go abroad my junior year. Is this a problem?

No. Students can “bank” courses in advance, so if you have completed 2 BFS seminars by the end of your sophomore year, you can go abroad all of junior year and take your third BFS seminar senior year. If, however, you haven’t taken any BFS seminars by the end of your sophomore year and plan to be abroad all of junior year, it is not realistic to expect to take all your BFS seminars as a senior.

7. Is BFS a dual degree program. Do I get a separate degree?

No, BFS is not a degree program or a major.  The BFS distinction is noted on your transcript. 

8. Are BFS courses introductory or upper level?

Some BFS courses are introductory, appropriate for students interested in a subject in which they have no prior experience; others require some knowledge going in.

9. Do I have to take a BFS seminar every semester?

You may have semesters in which you take no BFS seminars, and others in which you take more than one.