Penn Library

The University of Pennsylvania’s Interdisciplinary Programs

The University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League schools, was established according to the belief of its founder, Benjamin Franklin, that students needed a practical education for business, public service, and trade at least as much as they needed a sound basis in classical languages, theology, and liberal arts. Penn was the first university in America to adopt the enlightened concept, then prevalent in Europe, that universities should combine disparate disciplines in order to produce leaders and professionals with knowledge and skills that matched the needs of their emerging modern states.

Penn continues this tradition today with its focus on interdisciplinary study. The fact that all of Penn’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools are on a single campus near downtown Philadelphia facilitates this mission. The university’s approach to undergraduate study is to strongly encourage enrollment in the courses of more than one of its four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Nursing, and Business.

Below are the three main ways in which Penn undergraduates may form an interdisciplinary curriculum.

  • Complete Dual Degrees in Two Schools: Students may pursue more than one undergraduate degree simultaneously, potentially graduate in four years, and, due to the support of faculty advisors, still have a life. These students graduate with Bachelor’s degrees from two of the four undergraduate schools, meeting the separate degree requirements of each school.
  • Major/Minor Combinations: Penn offers 91 majors, two of which may be combined as a major and minor for students who prefer not to complete the full requirements of two distinct degree programs.
  • Coordinated Dual Degree: A student may enroll in one of Penn’s coordinated dual degree programs such as the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business or the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. Each of these excellent programs has an integrated curriculum that is jointly offered by two schools in the University.

An overview of Penn’s current set of coordinated dual degree, accelerated, and specialized programs is provided below:

  1. The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

This program combines comprehensive study of the liberal arts and sciences with business fundamentals, intensive language training, and study abroad in order to prepare students to thrive in the global economy. Students earn a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.

  1. The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management

Students study and pursue research and internships in life sciences fields and management to prepare for careers in the rapidly growing life sciences sector of the economy. Students earn a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.

  1. The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology

Students integrate business and engineering knowledge to master the technical and managerial skills needed to thrive in a technological society. Students earn a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BS in Engineering or a BAS from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  1. Nursing and Health Care Management

In this program, students gain knowledge of nursing along with the business acumen to manage the complexities of today’s health care industry. Students earn a BS in Nursing from the School of Nursing and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of Business.

  1. The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research

Students study science and engineering while conducting advanced research projects that enable them to develop innovative solutions to energy problems and challenges. Students earn a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  1. Computer and Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence

Students combine theoretical insights from computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology with the study of intelligence, perception, reasoning, and other properties of the brain. Students earn a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Engineering or a BAS from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  1. Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program 

This is an accelerated seven-year program designed for biology majors who wish to begin dental school in their final undergraduate year. Students earn a BA and a DDM from Penn Dental Medicine.

  1. Digital Media Design Program

This interdisciplinary Penn Engineering concentration is intended for students interested in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality systems and interactive technologies. Students earn a BS in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  1. The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering 

This program integrates disciplines that contribute to the design and analysis of the networks that shape our lives. Students study the interrelationship of computer science, mathematics, economics, and sociology while participating in advanced research in communications, marketing, performance optimization, and information management. Students earn a BS in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

IvySelect, a private college admissions consultancy, has successfully assisted many students who aspired to attend Penn and were admitted to this outstanding Ivy League university. For those students interested in one of the University of Pennsylvania’s coordinated dual degree programs, we can provide expert guidance and application assistance.