Undergraduate Program

Major Options: Pursue the BSE or BAS Degree?

Penn is an Ivy League school that offers both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) and a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Biomedical Science.  Undergraduates are given the flexibility to pursue either degree.  Since the first two years of course work are the same for both degrees, student are free to change their path even after matriculation into the undergraduate program.

Pursue the BSE or BAS Degree?

How to Choose:

The BSE versus the BAS

The BSE is the ABET, Inc., accredited engineering program. This degree is a traditional engineering degree that prepares students for careers in professional engineering.

In contrast, the BAS is more flexible—its original purpose was to allow students to pursue dual degrees and other paths, such as premedical education, more easily. This degree is designed primarily for students whose interests are not oriented toward a professional engineering career. It is a popular degree option for those preparing for careers in medicine, business, and law.

Why pursue a BSE degree?

Choose a BSE degree if you want an accredited engineering program, potentially to become a licensed professional engineer. This degree involves an in-depth BE-focused curriculum. If your goal is to study engineering in graduate school, the BSE is also the better option.

Why pursue a BAS degree?

Choose the BAS degree if you don't need to become a licensed professional engineer, want a broader curriculum, or have other career goals in mind such as medical school, consulting, healthcare management, law, etc. This degree is also more helpful if your goal is to study in the basic sciences in graduate school.

How do the curricula differ?

The main differences lie in:

  • The number of engineering courses required: BSE is 16; BAS is 12.
  • The number of technical + career path electives: BSE is 2; BAS is 6.
  • To graduate with a BSE, you must complete a senior design project; with a BAS, you must complete a senior thesis.

Please note: These requirements apply only to students entering in fall 2011 and later.

What if I'm not sure? How long do I have to decide?
Our general recommendation is to start with the BSE, and then if there is something you want to do but cannot fit in, switch to the BAS.  The BAS gives you more options. As the programs are nearly identical during the first two years of study, you have time to decide while still fulfilling requirements of both paths.