Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked by prospective majors:
1. What is the PPE major?
The PPE major offers an integrated, cross-disciplinary perspective that combines broad and rigorous training in the foundations of three subjects (plus study opportunities in some areas of psychology related to PPE) with a specialization and research experience in a concentration of choice. The major is intended to prepare its graduates for careers in public policy and public service, consulting, journalism (reporting on political and economic issues), law and international affairs. It is an excellent pre-law major and it also offers suitable preparation for graduate study.
2. How is it different from a major in just philosophy, politics, or economics? Or majoring in one and minoring in the other two?
In PPE we teach not only the individual disciplines but also exert considerable effort in pointing out the commonalities and differences between the subjects. Many of our classes are interdisciplinary in and of themselves. In addition, we point out the increasingly important role that Psychology is playing in the social sciences –many of our classes are based on behavioral psychology.
Consider for example the problem of inequality – an issue increasingly in the news today. PPE students can study such a topic from the economic perspective (measurement), the politics approach (what laws perpetuate this problem?), the philosophical approach (is inequality inherently immoral or is it sometimes unavoidable?) and the psychological approach (what do we learn about people’s attitudes towards altruism and fairness from laboratory experiments?). All this within one major!
How do I declare a PPE major?
4. How many credits is this major?
A minimum of 36 credits for the College degree. 16 credits for the PPE major.
5. What classes do I need to take to declare a major?
Students should take at least one course in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Psychology before declaring the major.
6. Where can I find a list of major requirements?
7. Is there a minimum grade requirement in PPE for fulfilling a requirement?
Yes – the minimum grade is C-. If your grade is below that, please contact the PPE major by writing to ppemajor@sas.
8. Can I declare a PPE minor?
PPE does not have a minor. For a list of PPE related minors, see our Major Overview Page.
9. Can I double count courses required for a PPE major?
The University has policies on double counting. You are allowed to double count one class with the PPE major and the sector requirements. There are no restrictions in double counting classes between the PPE major and the Foundational Approaches part of the Gen Ed requirements.
You may double count up to three PPE major courses with a minor. You may count more three, as appropriate, if you double major.
10. What can I do with a PPE major?
Career services surveys recent majors to see what they did next. Take a look at the PPE results!
We've also done video interview with several formal majors. Check them out!
11. Who can I talk to about potentially majoring in PPE?
You can also Make an Appointment with the Associate Director using the online scheduler on the advising page.
To make your conversations productive, make sure to read all the information available on the website including the pages in the Overview of the Major.
12. Can I use pre-college (AP/IB/A-level) or transfer credit to fulfill major requirements?
First see the University policies on credit for pre-college work. PPE does not typically count AP or IB credits towards the major. Transfer students should make an appointment with the Associate Director to see what courses will count towards the major.
13. Is it feasible to study abroad as a PPE major?
Yes! Many PPE students study abroad, and we have a List of Recommended Abroad Programs available on the website.
14. What is the role of research in PPE?
Please see this page: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/ppe/Requirements/PPEmajor/research.html
15. Do I have to do research to complete the major?
You don’t have to do independent research but it’s highly recommended and encouraged. See http://www.sas.upenn.edu/ppe/Requirements/PPEmajor/research.html for the reasons why engaging in research would be one of the best decisions you can make while in the major. Note that many courses, i.e. capstone seminars, are research based
16. I know I have to take a course for a grade to count it towards my major. What if I've already taken a course pass/fail, but now I think it would be perfect in my PPE major? Can I count the course towards my major and have it uncovered at graduation?
No. The decision to take a course pass/fail should be made with the recognition that the course will not count towards the major. PPE has a policy not to count pass/fail courses towards the major even if they would be uncovered at graduation.
1. What's the process for getting a permit for a class?
There may be several reasons you need a permit:
- If the class is an advanced class, email the instructor directly with your background and interest to see if the class would be appropriate for you.
- If the class is full, we do not typically have waitlists. It never hurts to email the professor with your interest in the class, and to check Penn in Touch frequently, perhaps using something like Penn Course Notify, to see if the class opens up. Try to attend classes that are currently full to so you can get a better sense of what the class will be like as you wait to see if someone drops.
- If the class is an LPS class, you will have to wait until after the first day of classes. No permits are available and seats are reserved for LPS students until that time.
2. How do I apply for part-time status in the spring?
The University describes the process of applying for part-time status on the website. Importantly, "Simply registering for one or two courses is NOT sufficient to become part-time; the student must follow the procedure in order to make the tuition adjustment."
3. Can I take a PPE course to apply for a CPT visa?
PPE does not run any formal summer courses appropriate for applying for a CPT visa.
Past students have successfully applied for a CPT visa by organizing an independent study, relevant to both the major and the internship, that took place during the summer session. As with other summer courses, summer independent studies are not covered by Fall and Spring tuition. So long you design a project that's appropriate for your theme - confirmed in advance with the Associate Director - PPE will request a permit for the summer independent study.