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Seminars

BFS Seminars are small, challenging classes that reach out to non-specialists, facilitate close engagement with faculty, promote independent thinking, stimulate research, and encourage curiosity.

Our goal for the Benjamin Franklin Seminars, the centerpiece of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program, is to make them your most interesting and intellectually stimulating experiences at Penn. They are small classes that have fewer than 20 students, are designed to be intensive, and predicated on the idea that the students and faculty are jointly pursuing deeper discoveries through discussion and investigation. We hope that these courses will allow you to make intellectual and personal connections to both your peers and to faculty with similar interests to your own. You can find information on the seminars in several places: this website, the Freshman Seminar booklet, and in the seminar section of the Course Timetable.

All BFS students must take at least three BFS seminars during their years at Penn. You may have semesters in which you take no BFS seminars, and others in which you take more than one. The current record among alums is 15 BFS seminars by graduation; of course, there is no upper limit!

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. If permitted by your major and school advisor, BFS courses may be counted as part of appropriate majors and can satisfy general requirements. In addition, if you are in the Engineering, Nursing and Wharton schools, which require that you take several College courses, BFS courses may satisfy this requirement with approval of your school advisor. Your school's BFS Advisor would be happy to talk to you on an individual basis about how you might use BFS courses to satisfy your non-BFS requirements.

Being a BFS does not guarantee you a space in a BFS course, and some seats are open to non-BFS students interested in the subject or in joining BFS. Some classes fill very quickly. To prepare, in Advance Registration, you should list an alternate BFS course that interests you. BFS Courses change from semester to semester, so if one in particular catches your eye you are encouraged to enroll in it.

See the list of current and previously offered BFS courses by clicking on the links under "Seminars" on the right side of this page.

Faculty members interested in teaching a BFS Seminar, please see Information for faculty interested in teaching a BFS Seminar