College Courses

For the science side of the LSM dual-degree, students earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Penn's College by completing a science major, along with a set of General Education and elective courses.

The Major

The major is the centerpiece of the B.A. degree; LSM students must complete a major in the life sciences.

Within the Department of Biology, students may follow a general Biology major, or they can pursue a more specialized area of interest by choosing any concentration, including Molecular and Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (our recommendation for those interested primarily in the environment), Mechanisms of Disease, and Computational/Mathematical Biology.

LSMers may also pursue a major in ChemistryBiochemistry, Biophysics, or in Neuroscience.  Students wishing to major in a scientific discipline outside of these options may do so only with the permission of the LSM program directors.

All LSM students are required to complete at least one semester of Independent Study within their science major.  Even if Independent Study is not required for the major, it is required for LSM (but it usually will also count toward the science major anyway). Students are encouraged to complete this one semester of Independent Study no later than the Fall semester of their senior year.

The Biology and Neuroscience majors allow students satisfy introductory biology by taking either BIOL 1121 or BIOL 1101/1102. However, in keeping with the scientific rigor of LSM, the program generally requires that LSM students (if they are required to take Biology at all) take BIOL 1121, or place out of it by taking the departmental exam at Penn. Whereas BIOL 1101 and 1102 are more basic courses covering general principles in Biology that assume no previous background, BIOL 1121 is a more intensive introductory course that places greater emphasis on molecular mechanisms and experimental approaches, and sets students up particularly well for more advanced work in Biology. If a student did not take AP Biology and has no similar background at all, they should consult with the LSM advisor.

General Education Curriculum

Students gain a broader education beyond their major by completing the College of Arts & Sciences General Education Curriculum.  The General Education curriculum is composed of two main elements: Sectors of Knowledge and Foundational Approaches. 

1) Sector Requirements:  The College has identified seven sectors (fields of study) that are essential to gaining a liberal arts education--several of which are completed with courses already in the LSM curriculum:

●     Sector 1: Society (this is fulfilled automatically in LSM)
●     Sector 2: History & Tradition (Path@Penn Attribute: AUHT)
●     Sector 3: Arts & Letters (Path@Penn Attribute: AUAL)
●     Sector 4: Humanities & Social Science (Path@Penn Attribute: AUHS)
●     Sector 5: Living World (fulfilled automatically by any major that requires Biology) (Path@Penn Attribute: AULW)
●     Sector 6: Physical World (fulfilled automatically by any major that requires Chemistry or Physics) (Path@Penn Attribute: AUPW)
●     Sector 7: Natural Science Across Disciplines (fulfilled by LSMP 1210)

All students must take one course in each of these sectors, except as noted above. External exam credit (such as AP or IB credit) may not be used to complete these sector requirements.

LSMP 1210, which is required of all LSM students, satisfies the Natural Science & Mathematics sector, Sector 7.

Note that Sector 1, Society, is waived because the Wharton degree requires a foundation in Economics (usually provided through BEPP 1000).

Although usually only one sector can also count toward a College major, students taking a science major that includes courses that satisfy the Living World and Physical World sectors (such as Biology or Neuroscience) may use such courses to count also for both Sector 5 and Sector 6.

2) Foundational Approaches are requirements that develop six key intellectual capabilities for life-long learning.  These are:

●     Writing (fulfilled with a Critical Writing Seminar)
●     Cross Cultural Analysis (Path@Penn Attribute: AUCC)
●     Cultural Diversity in the U.S. (Path@Penn Attribute: AUCD)
●     Language
●     Quantitative Data Analysis (Path@Penn Attribute: AUQD)
●     Formal Reasoning & Analysis (Path@Penn Attribute: AUFR)

Many of the courses in Sectors 2, 3, and 4 can be double-counted to satisfy the Cross Cultural Analysis and Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirements, though this doesn't necessarily save on the number of courses you need to do (since you need to do a minimum number of Arts & Sciences courses anyway).

For the Language requirement, students must demonstrate language proficiency either by passing a language department examination, excelling in an AP, SAT II, or IB test, or taking appropriate language courses (typically up to the intermediate level of study--the 4th class that a beginner would take). It is the College, not the Wharton, language requirement that LSM students must satisfy. Note that this requirement doesn't mean you need to take 4 language classes if you haven't placed out, unless you're actually starting a language from scratch; you just need to pass the fourth level. The Penn Language Center has a list of many of the languages available

LSM students can often complete the Quantitative Data Analysis and Formal Reasoning & Analysis requirements (one course each) either with science major courses or business courses (like Statistics) that are already part of the LSM curriculum.

Non-Major College Courses

As part of the requirements for the B.A. degree, students must complete at least 14 course units of non-major College courses. Any course not counting for the College major that is taken in a College of Arts & Sciences department--or can be used to fulfill a Sector or Foundational Approaches requirement, even if it is not normally a College course --counts as one of these 14 non-major College courses.

(If a course is not in an Arts & Sciences department -- for example if it is an Engineering, Nursing, or Wharton course -- it doesn't count as a College course unless you see the AU16 attribute in Path@Penn, which is for courses that can count towards Sectors or Foundational Approaches.)

LSMP 1210 and 4210, the Proseminar and Capstone, also count as non-major College courses (1210 is 1 c.u., 4210 is 2 c.u.). Sector and Foundational Approaches courses count as non-major College courses unless they are also counting toward your College major. And then you will usually have some room for some pure College electives.

Students are encouraged to speak with their advisor to ensure the fulfilment of this requirement. However, you can also track this through the Path@Penn audit: your Bachelor of Arts degree audit will let you know how many total Arts & Sciences courses you have completed (including those in your major), and once you have declared your major, it will let you know also how many you still need to complete. For those who have not yet declared a major, the College has helpfully already calculated how many total Arts & Sciences courses you need to complete with each major, including the non-major College courses, and put together a list of majors with the total Arts & Sciences courses required. Look at the "# of Arts & Sciences C.U. Within Total C.U." column and subtract 2 -- since dual-degree students need 2 fewer non-major College courses than single-degree College students. Note that some majors (such as Computational Biology) include courses that are not Arts & Sciences courses, and therefore are not included in that total.