The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Individualized Major: Taking Full Advantage of Penn Academics

by Amitoj S., M&T Class of 2014

by Amitoj S., M&T Class of 2014

There are two awesome and unique characteristics of Penn academics: its focus on interdisciplinary study and its encouragement of independently designed curricula. The M&T program is a strong example of the first point that automatically integrates engineering and business, but the second requires initiative from the student. Whether through an independent study in Wharton (ask fellow M&T Ulhas!), a customized concentration, or an individualized major in SEAS, if you want to learn things that aren’t officially taught or want to integrate across disciplines, Penn gives you many options.

After three fascinating and rigorous semesters as a Materials Science and Engineering major, although my knowledge of and interest in materials had grown, I felt my understanding of future trends in technology was limited. As my interests lie on the business side of technology, to me, breadth of engineering and applied science knowledge was more important than an intimate and accredited depth. Moreover, I wanted an understanding of several key technological concepts and developments in more than one engineering discipline which wasn’t possible with a standard BSE or BAS major.

After discussing my options with academic advisors, January, and certain professors, I decided to apply for an Individualized Major through SEAS.  This way, I could continue studying materials, add courses that would grant a general understanding of computer science, and, in my Senior year research project, integrate the technology trends of the two with a business lens. The process involved finding a professor who would serve as my advisor, drafting a curriculum which included courses which I found interesting and relevant, and courses which my advisor recommended, and getting the petition approved.

Overall, it took two hours to create a new major at Penn. Of course, the pondering behind choosing the disciplines and courses  and designing a major takes much longer, but you’ve been thinking about that forever by now. Penn wants you to take full advantage of their considerable academic resources and makes it easy to do just that.

Amitoj is a current M&T junior in the Class of 2014. He studies Materials and Computer Science via an individualized major within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare his concentration in the Wharton School.

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