Physical and Life Sciences

BAAS Concentration in Physical and Life Sciences
Physical and Life Sciences

About the concentration in Physical and Life Sciences

The physical and life sciences share fundamental principles that lie at the heart of scientific discovery and innovation. In this hybrid concentration, you develop a solid foundation in both branches of science by completing requirements in biology, chemistry, and physics.

The Physical and Life Sciences concentration can be completed entirely online or as a hybrid course of study (including both online and on-campus courses). There are more options for students who can enroll in both online and on-campus courses. If you are enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) program and wish to declare a concentration in Physical and Life Sciences, you must take a diagnostic exam before being enrolled in an on-campus course. On-campus science courses become available to Physical and Life Sciences students beginning in 2020.

While Penn LPS Online students may enroll in online courses within the Climate Change and Neuroscience course blocks without committing to the Physical and Life Sciences concentration, on-campus science courses are only available to BAAS degree students who have passed the science diagnostic exam and been admitted to the Physical and Life Sciences concentration.

The concentration in Physical and Life Sciences prepares you to:

  • Understand the broad principles of science and the ways scientists in a particular discipline conduct research

  • Learn the steps in the scientific method and identify them in published scientific research

  • Apply laboratory skills to conduct experiments and research

  • Interpret quantitative and qualitative evidence, including graphical representations

  • Analyze and evaluate alternative scientific points of view

  • Read scientific research critically to understand its role in public debates and discourse

  • Apply scientific research to explain phenomena and events

  • Communicate scientific findings and debates to diverse audiences through oral, visual, and written media

  • Explore the ethical considerations related to scientific research and clinical care of patients


Students in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree will choose a concentration to tailor their undergraduate education to specific personal and professional goals. Courses within each concentration may be taken in any order unless prerequisites are specified.

Students must complete foundational courses for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree. In addition, students in this concentration focus their studies by completing a total of 12 courses (12 c.u.*):

  • 3 foundational courses: Foundations of Life Sciences, Foundations of Physical and Chemical Sciences, and one course in Mathematical Sciences
  • 4 courses in a course block: either completion of the Climate Change course block (4 courses) or the Neuroscience course block (4 courses)
  • 5 additional courses with input from an academic advisor (up to 3 courses can be transfer courses)

Course options

Climate Change course block

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Climate Change
  • Communicating Science
  • Global Environmental Issues

Mathematical Sciences course block

  • Mathematical Foundations for Data Analytics
  • Mathematics All Around You
  • Introduction to Applied Statistics

Neuroscience course block

  • Introduction to Neuroscience (required first course for Neuroscience)
  • The Neuroscience of Music
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Hormones, Brain, and Behavior
  • Autonomic Pharmacology
  • Psychopharmacology

Physical and Life Sciences online courses

  • Foundations of Physical and Chemical Sciences
  • Foundations of Life Sciences

Physical and Life Sciences on campus courses

  • Introduction to General Physics I
  • Introduction to General Physics II
  • Introduction to General Chemistry I
  • Introduction to General Chemistry II
  • Organic Chemistry I
  • Organic Chemistry II
  • Introduction to Biology I
  • Introduction to Biology II
  • Essentials of Biochemistry
  • General Physics Lab
  • General Chemistry Lab
  • Organic Chemistry Lab
  • Introduction to Biology Lab

Courses are subject to change.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

Careers related to Physical and Life Sciences

The skills and knowledge acquired in the Physical and Life Sciences concentration are applicable to many health, research, and clinical settings and are a foundation for pursuing further graduate study. Career options include:

  • Research coordinator

  • Lab manager

  • Pharmaceutical sales representative

Course Registration

Fall 2021 registration is now open

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