A liberal arts education trains students for more than a particular profession; it imparts skills and knowledge that cut across multiple disciplines, regardless of major, to serve graduates for a lifetime. College students examine and reflect on the big questions impacting the human experience and emerge as global citizens and leaders, able to find success wherever education or career aspirations may lead.

As a student in the College of Arts and Sciences you will acquire the creative, analytical and communication skills—the intellectual agility—to adapt and make an impact in a rapidly changing world. Along the way, there are many resources to assist you in your journey from undergraduate student to your life after Penn.

By the numbers

See what College students are doing after graduation.

Students considering graduate studies or pursuing fellowships are encouraged to take advantage of guidance provided by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships as well as the recommendations of Career Services and their Academic Advisors.

Students may explore an interest in humanities or social science research early in their careers by taking a First-year seminar or a Benjamin Franklin seminar. As they explore their majors, students should consider fields they might want to do graduate study in, taking opportunities to enroll in research methods courses and seminars in those fields, even if they are not part of the student’s major.

Prospective science majors should take courses in that discipline in their first semester. Students should speak with the undergraduate chair of the department that interests them as they plan their first year.

Students talented in science should consider preparing for a Ph.D. program. It is extremely important to get as much advanced coursework and research experience as possible. Since the common language of science is math, and the common unit of study for most sciences has become the molecule, it is important to begin the study of math, chemistry and physics early in an undergraduate career.

Penn provides exceptional opportunities to gain a broad education while preparing for medical school. You may choose a major from any of the majors offered by the College, as long as you complete a pre-med core required by the American Medical Association to prepare you for the MCAT entrance exam. In addition to coursework, however, it is also important to explore the actual field of medicine while an undergraduate student since medical schools want to make sure that you know why you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

The advantage of being “pre-med” at Penn is that students have the opportunity to assist in clinical care and research labs at the University's medical, dental, and veterinary schools, all of which are located on the same campus. Additionally, Penn offers courses and majors in a number of health-related fields, including internationally-recognized science departments, health care management, technology and society, health and societies, biological basis of behavior, and human biology.

Applying to Health Profession Schools

Law schools do not look for students who follow a specific course of study, therefore, a wide range of majors can prepare you for a career in law. Law schools do look for applicants who challenge themselves with a broad-based curriculum that will train their minds to think analytically and critically, since these are the skills that will be most valuable once in a law curriculum. The other reason you should find an academic area that appeals to you relates to performance. Law school admissions tends to be driven a great deal by undergraduate GPA and LSAT score, so choosing a major that interests you usually means you will perform better.

As an added bonus, Penn Law actively encourages our undergraduates to sample its course offerings, regardless of future plans. Only a handful of top law schools allow this kind of arrangement.

Applying to Law School

Dean's Letter for Law School Applicants

Any major choice can prepare you for a career in business. Companies of all types are interested in employees who have a contribution to make in practical and creative terms, and most want to teach you their industry-specific skills once you have been hired. Organizations seek creative and analytical minds, traits that all of the College's majors instill. This is why College of Arts and Sciences graduates get job offers in finance, consulting and marketing with majors such as sociology, classics and history. The majority of these students did not take a single class in business at the undergraduate level, but if you are truly curious about what it's like to explore a field like marketing or finance, you may enroll in Wharton School classes on a limited basis. (Take a look at the career data in this section for more examples and details about what alumni are doing in business-related professions.)

After working for a few years, many alumni then apply for a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree. Most competitive graduate programs in business are looking for at least 3-5 years of business-related experience, regardless of what you studied at the undergraduate level. Keep in mind that the quality of your work experience after college will play a major role in MBA admissions decisions. And the way to land that first job or internship is to major in something you enjoy because there is a direct correlation between higher grades and interest in the subject matter, especially when you get to a place like Penn.