1. What is BFS?
The Benjamin Franklin Scholars program provides a home for undergraduates in all the schools at Penn – Nursing, Engineering, Wharton, and the College – who are broad-minded, intellectual risk-takers. It is an umbrella program that collects talented students who sign up to do an intensive version of whatever kind of undergraduate education they choose to pursue. We come together, as both dreamers and doers, over our shared interest in the power of ideas to transform the world.
2. So, 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 (four, for the class of 2014 and earlier). 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 various undergraduate schools – Nursing, Engineering, Wharton, and the College – have their own additional requirements for their BFS students. Follow the links describing how the program works for your school. 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.
3. 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 Valegos 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 (like for example 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.
4. What are the Requirements for the BFS Program and Certificate?
a. Benjamin Franklin Scholars are expected to take challenging courses that extend beyond their major and distributional requirements. Starting with the class of 2015, Scholars must have taken and passed at least one BFS seminar by the end of their sophomore year, two by the end of the junior year, and three by the end of the senior year. Students admitted before the class of 2015 must take and pass at least one BFS seminar by the end of their freshman year or their first year as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and must pass at least four BFS seminars in order to graduate as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar. Students admitted to the program in their freshman or sophomore years must take at least one BFS seminar per semester until they have reached the benchmarks described above. All courses must be taken for a grade. BENF 099 Independent Study does not count as a Benjamin Franklin Seminar.
b. Scholars must meet in person with their BFS advisor at least once per semester during their first two semesters in the program. This requirement applies even to students who have been assigned a school or departmental advisor.
c. Scholars must maintain superior grades, graduating cum laude with a Grade Point Average of 3.40 or better.
d. Scholars are expected to behave in a mature, collegial manner.
e. To receive a BFS certificate, students must successfully complete seven BFS courses and a senior thesis or capstone project. Successful completion is defined as a 3.0 average in those seven credits, with no pass/fail. BENF 099 Independent Study may count for at most one of these seven courses. The senior project could be a departmental honors thesis, one or more semesters of BENF 099 resulting in a thesis, an independent studies 399 or 499 course resulting in a senior thesis and/or public presentation, or some other independent research project as
5. 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. BFS seminars generally have 2/3 of the seats reserved for program participants, and 1/3 for general enrollment. Some BFS seminars may have seats reserved for majors in that department (for example, history usually has some seats for their majors). Some BFS seminars may require a permit for all students, whether they are in the BFS program or not.
6. 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.
7. 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.