Frequent Asked Questions

1. Integrated Studies / BFS seems intensive – is it harder than other ways of going through Penn?

There are many ways of doing Penn, each with its own rigors. The best way to think about ISP is not so much on the hardness/easiness scale, but rather on the particular way it shapes your first year experience at Penn. If you’re the kind of person who especially likes to think independently, is heedlessly curious, and tends to be drawn in more by ideas the bigger they get, chances are we’re right for you.


2. If I take Integrated Studies / BFS do I still major or double-major in whatever I want?

Yes! ISP / BFS does not take the place of a “normal” major or majors. It is instead a particular way of engaging in Penn’s wide array of resources. Integrated Studies is meant as a way to help you explore during the first-year year. It fits into the wider exploration that helps you find the major you’ll choose to pursue and fulfills part of your General Education requirement. BFS seminars invite you to dig into a topic in depth without barriers, and could be taken inside or outside your major.


3. Is Integrated Studies part of BFS?

Yes — Integrated Studies is the name for the specialized curriculum taken by all incoming BFS students who are in the College. Penn students in our other undergraduate schools — Nursing, Wharton, and Engineering — do BFS in their own ways. All BFS students, including those in the college, take BFS seminars during their time at Penn.


4. I’m not planning to be a science major and ISP includes a science component. Is ISP still right for me? Or I’m not planning to be humanities major and ISP includes a humanities component. Is ISP still right for me?

Yes! ISP includes the humanities, social science, and the sciences into an integrated whole. Our approach to all of these topics is the same one we would use for non-specialists. We aim to engage broad ideas at a high level but with minimal barriers to entry. In our experience, good thinking is just good thinking and students who demonstrate intellectual prowess in one or the other area of knowledge are the right kind of candidates for ISP.


5. I noticed that all ISP students live in Hill College House together. If I am applying to ISP, does this affect my housing application?

Yes. ISP is a residential program and one of the three steps you take to apply to the program involves your housing selection. This means that during the housing selection process you will indicate the Integrated Studies Residential Program in Hill College House as your first preference. You should also indicate your other housing preferences, just as you normally would.


6. I really want to live in Hill House – is this a good reason to apply to ISP?

No. ISP is designed for a person that wants a certain kind of first-year experience. If after carefully reading over the description of our program, you think that it’s right for you, then please apply! If it doesn’t quite seem right for you, but you are looking for a room in Hill House, you’re much better off just indicating that rather than trying ISP. We would also just underscore something you’ve probably already heard from others — there are many fantastic places to live as a first-year and after the first few weeks, most students find their living situations to be everything they wanted them to be, Hill House or not.

7. What sector requirements does the ISP sequence fulfill?

INTG001 and INTG002 - the ISP sequence - gives a student sector credit for Sectors IV and VII, plus a "wild card" sector of the student's choice.  If the student completes only either INTG001 or INTG002, then they only get a Sector IV or Sector VII credit depending on the year in which they took the INTG course (usually, whatever makes sense given the content of the INTG course when the student took it) BUT no "wild card" credit.  So, the full ISP sequence (both INTG courses) fulfills 3 Sector requirements (IV, VII, plus a wild card) and a partial fulfilling of the ISP sequence (one INTG courase) gives the student credit for 1 sector requirement (Either IV or VII).