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The Philosophy

Benjamin Franklin Seminars are the centerpiece of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program.  We have small classes (fewer than 20 students) that involve intensive discussion and investigation.  Students and faculty jointly pursue deeper discoveries through discussion and investigation.  Classes are designed to promote independent thinking and encourage curiosity about a breadth of topics.


BFS students must take at least three credit units (c.u.) of BFS seminars during their years at Penn. This will typically mean 3 BFS seminars, since most BFS seminars are full c.u. courses.  But we also offer a handful of half credit (.5 c.u.) BFS seminars.  These will contribute only .5 c.u. to the BFS total.  So, for example, a scholar who takes two seminars, each for a full c.u., and another for .5 c.u., will be required to take at least another .5 c.u. BFS seminar to complete the requirement.  There is no upper limit on the number of BFS credits a person may enroll in.  The current record among alums is 15 BFS seminars by graduation!

BFS courses may count toward other requirements at Penn, including certain majors and general requirements.  Your school's BFS Advisor assists students on an individual basis about how (and whether) specific BFS courses satisfy non-BFS requirements.

BFS courses change from semester to semester, so if one in particular catches your eye you are encouraged to enroll in it!  Being in BFS does not guarantee a student space in a BFS course. Some classes fill quickly.

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

Current Course Offerings

Spring 2023 BFS Seminars