Coordinated Dual-Degree Essays for University of Pennsylvania

Lana Tanich
Lana Tanich

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Like other Ivy League colleges, University of Pennsylvania requires its undergraduate applicants to complete a university-specific essay. The first question is required for all majors. We talk about how to answer this question in another blog post where we go into details on answering “How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania?”

 In addition to the  question mentioned above, UPenn requires an additional essay for 7 of their coordinated dual degree programs. Here we’ll discuss each of these essay prompts.   

When writing your answers to these particular essays, remember that you must be set in your major. This is the time toexplain what motivates you to pursue a career in this field. So let’s focus on the narrowed essay topics for specific programs.

Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

Discuss a current international issue, which demonstrates how international affairs and business intersect; and explain how the Huntsman curriculum might assist to resolve the issue. (500 words maximum)

The Huntsman Program “integrates business education, advanced language training and a liberal arts education.” This question may seem very clear-cut; but if you explore the Huntsman Program, you’ll find that there are many various points you can touch on. In fact, the program combines business studies, international relations, arts and sciences; and focuses on different language and cultures. It can be overwhelming to discuss each of these at length. At the same time all of these components are something you should in fact mention throughout your response. So how do you do this?

Well, it’s in the question itself: pick an issue to revolve your answer around. While explaining this, you will naturally end up mentioning how the stated items above play a role in this issue.

You may also want to explain how this issue concerns you. Further, discuss what your approach would be to studying it or aiding in its resolution. The proactive thinking approach demonstrates your desire to learn and participate in this field.

LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management

LSM seeks students who are enthusiastic about combining science with management. What excites you about this combination? What kind of benefits could an individual trained in both disciplines bring to society? Be as specific and original as possible in addressing these questions. (400-650 words)

Again, the first sentence here clearly states that UPenn is looking for those who are enthusiastic about this curriculum. You need to help the admissions office understand why you’re excited to study this. In addition, what brought you to the realization that this is your passion.

The other emphasis of the question is the combination of the two disciplines: science and management. To an ordinary person this may seem like two entirely different areas that have absolutely no correlation to one another. However there are endless potential benefits to be gained from this combination. Explore what these are.

Try to be unique in your approach to this answer. Dig deep into both of these fields and understand their nature. Study what each field may be lacking on its own, and come up with innovative ideas on how they support each other. Conducting research and educating yourself will help you brainstorm the diverse directions you can take in your response. You may even want to give a personal example. Have you experienced a situation where lack of management skills, for example, hurt someone with a career in science?

M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology

Please complete both prompts. Question 1: Explain how you will use this program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. It is helpful to identify potential engineering and business paths available at Penn. (400-650 words) Question 2: Please describe a time in which you displayed leadership. (250 words maximum)

This is an extremely packed question! There are endless possibilities for an answer here. It could be helpful to make a list of what you want to include in your answer even before you start writing.

Lets take this apart step-by-step.

First part

The first part is similar to the two prior prompts: focus on interdisciplinary studies. You should know the path that you would like to take your career in or at least have a somewhat vague idea of this direction. As always, be sure to include the programs that University of Pennsylvania offers, preferably unique to the university, tying into the theme that UPenn is the only ideal college for you.

You may even add something along the lines of how business is driving the rapid technology advancement of today and perhaps you want to become one of the leaders of this movement. You can touch upon a great deal of topics here, from computer learning to the potential of medical advancements of the future. Of course these should only be discussed if this is truly the path you want to pursue and you can give concrete examples of why this is of interest to you and what you have been doing to advance your knowledge of these topics.

Second part

This type of answer can help you smoothly transition into the second part. What you say in terms of displayed leadership needs to be a personal story with examples. Do not try to make something up or embellish the facts. For the story to be more effective, you should mention a difficult time for you. During the time you displayed leadership, did you face any difficulties? How did you overcome these? What did you learn from this experience? Has this experience played a role in the development of a certain skill that will aid you in your future endeavors?

NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management

Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn’s coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)

I won’t go into too much detail about this question because it resembles the prior questions in asking for similar discussion topics. Just to reiterate: focus on how the two interdisciplinary studies will benefit one another, how your interest relates to this, what you have done to further your knowledge in this, how only UPenn’s program is unique to what you want to study.

VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research

Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability.
  • If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions).
  • Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals.
  • Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)

Again, a very packed question dealing with lots of topics that need to be addressed. The first part of the question speaks for itself and you should include everything that will help University of Pennsylvania understand your true interest in this field.

The second part of the question asks about your research. If you have not done any previous research into this topic, try to get a head start on the application process,. Perhaps you still have time to conduct this project. In fact, if that’s an option for you, I would definitely recommend putting off answering this until you can easily speak regarding your research.

If you have time in the summer, this may be a great opportunity to conduct a study. This will show both your interest and self-motivation. If you currently have an assigned project and the topic can be of your choosing, this is another great opportunity to work on this.

After completing your project, you can freely speak to your experiences and incorporate these into the majors offered by University of Pennsylvania that interest you.

NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering

Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)

This is an expansive subject where you have the freedom to go in the direction of your choosing. You can focus on anything from technological impact on business, psychology of society or any aspect of this world that it has an effect on. Remember to bring up some personal examples and demonstrate your interest. Although the question does not directly ask for this, it may be useful to include how you will use UPenn’s resources to explore your interests and what makes UPenn the ideal college to study this (its uniqueness of class offerings and any other benefits).

Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program

Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting, laboratory work, or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience.
If you do not have any pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry.
  • List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.
  • What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people?
  • Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least.
  • Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended.

The first lengthy part of this question asks about your pre-dental or pre-medical experience. If this is something you do not have you should explore the possibility of acquiring this experience before writing the essay.

One of the best ways to receive some experience is by finding an internship in a dental office or clinic. Or ask around and see if anyone may allow you to visit their clinic for observational purposes. Of course it’s preferable to have this experience for some time. Maybe you can visit clinics on weekends or after school just to ask questions and gain some knowledge. You may even want to go to some clinics in your area and explain that you want to study this field and if you can just stop by from time to time or if they can give you some tasks to help with. This will show initiative and your passion for the subject.

Final thoughts

The remaining prompts in this question are fairly straight forward and use some of the topics mentioned previously. As with all answers, be unique in your approach, tell a story and show why University of Pennsylvania has the perfect offerings to fit your interests.

Empowerly can help you in writing your perfect essay and walk you through the process of composing a successful essay. We can also help you find programs and opportunities for the college of your dreams. From the University of Pennsylvania and beyond, we understand college admissions.

Questions? Let us know!