BA or BS? course schedules

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In summary: You should also look into taking some courses that are cross-listed as both math and physics.In summary, the speaker is a junior student considering applying to graduate school in physics. They have a specific plan for their remaining semesters, including taking courses in electromagnetism, analytical mechanics, ordinary and partial differential equations, linear algebra, quantum mechanics, and statistical thermodynamics. Their professor has advised them to make sure they enjoy and do well in these upper-level physics courses before committing to a career in physics. The speaker is also considering pursuing a BA instead of a BS, and potentially taking an extra year to complete their courses and do research. They are seeking advice on the best path to take in terms of courses and potential career changes.
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Hello Dear mentors, fellows, and comrades in PF,

I'm currently a junior per my credit hours, but I'm sort of late for a physics degree. I am strongly considering applying to grad school. My current plan for my rest 3 semesters in undergrad is like below.

ODE is a prerequisite for both EM1 and Analytical Mechanics, but I got permission to register.

Semester 1:
a lab course for Juniors(EM1 and Analytical Mechanics are corequisite)/4cr
EM1 /4cr
Analytical Mechanics /4cr
Ordinary Differential Equations /3cr
Linear Algebra /4cr (i don't have to take it for a physics BS/BA)
Independent Study /2cr

Semester 2:
EM2 /4cr
QM1 /4cr
Statistical Thermodynamics /4cr
Elective(non-major, but required) /4cr
independent study /2cr

Semester 3:
Partial Differential Equations /4cr
Advanced Laboratory/4cr
QM2 /4cr
Senior Thesis/minimum 4cr


The professor I'm currently doing my independent study with(and probably would give me the most straight advice) told me that before I have EM and Analytical Mechanics under my belt and go through the transition from the basic courses, I don't know if I really like physics or be able to do well in the subject or not. He also said if I happened to do not very well in the next semester(in which EM1 and Analytical mechanics are covered), I should probably consider a career change.

Next semester would be the second semester of my Junior year, so it's like I have only about a year for everything.(GRE, thesis, courses, and what else..?) It's always good to be told honestly of what situation I'm facing, but I'm now kind of scared..

Yes, the Semester 1 has a formidable courseload. ODE is offered for only small numbers of students in the spring, so I decided to take ODE from somewhere else. However, it turns out that they want me to have some knowledge of Linear Algebra. Eventually, I concluded that it would be beneficial for me to just take Linear Algebra too, because it will be useful in physics anyway.

Differences in BA and BS are Advanced Lab, Statistical Thermodynamics, and QM2.
Not having to take Advanced lab would let me take Junior Lab in Semester 3. (in my university, we have 3 lab classes to be finished for BS, Sophomore lab, Junior lab, and Advanced laboratory)
I will try to take Statistical Thermodynamics and QM2 anyway even though I proceed to BA.

Would having BA instead of BS matter a lot in going to grad school?
It will certainly relieve me of some courseload in Semester 1, but I don't get BS.

What about graduating in 5 year and take some time in taking the courses? In that case I can either spend more time in research or put some math courses if my courseload seems to be too light. Though it can be financially challenging, it can be rewarding as it's less likely for me to screw up with my core courses.

Any advice would be appreciated. I don't want to end up changing the career :)
 
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amoena said:
The professor I'm currently doing my independent study with(and probably would give me the most straight advice) told me that before I have EM and Analytical Mechanics under my belt and go through the transition from the basic courses, I don't know if I really like physics or be able to do well in the subject or not. He also said if I happened to do not very well in the next semester(in which EM1 and Analytical mechanics are covered), I should probably consider a career change.

If you have so far taken only the usual two- or three-semester introductory physics sequence, I think that is very good advice. Upper-level courses are different in style from the introductory ones. The material is more sophisticated, and the homework exercises are longer. No more "look up the right equation and plug in the numbers." Graduate-level courses in turn are different from upper-level undergraduate ones, going further in sophistication and demands on the student.

Would having BA instead of BS matter a lot in going to grad school?

Not in itself, no. What matters is the courses that you end up taking. I think it's a good idea to take Statistical Thermodynamics in addition to the BA, and probably also QM2; but the first one should take priority so you get some exposure to it before grad school.
 

What is the difference between a BA and BS degree?

A BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree typically focuses on a broad liberal arts education, while a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree is more specialized and focuses on a specific subject or field of study. BA degrees often require more general education courses, while BS degrees require more courses in the chosen major.

How do I choose between a BA or BS degree?

The decision between a BA or BS degree depends on your academic and career goals. If you are interested in a broad education with a variety of courses, a BA may be the better choice. If you have a specific career path in mind and want to gain in-depth knowledge in a particular subject, a BS may be a better fit.

How do I know which courses to take for a BA or BS degree?

The specific courses required for a BA or BS degree will vary depending on the university and the chosen major. However, a general rule of thumb is that BA degrees require more general education courses, while BS degrees require more courses in the chosen major. It is important to consult with your academic advisor to determine the specific course requirements for your chosen degree.

Can I switch from a BA to a BS degree or vice versa?

It is usually possible to switch from a BA to a BS degree or vice versa, but it depends on the university and the specific degree programs. Some universities have specific requirements or limitations for switching between degrees, so it is important to check with your academic advisor or the university's registrar's office before making the switch.

How many courses should I take per semester for a BA or BS degree?

The number of courses you should take per semester for a BA or BS degree will depend on the university and the specific degree program. Some universities have a specific number of credits required for graduation, while others have a recommended number of courses per semester. It is important to consult with your academic advisor to determine the appropriate course load for your degree program.

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