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BA or BS?

  1. Feb 12, 2009 #1
    ok, I have searched for this topic and found a couple of responses, but no conclusive answer so I thought Id ask...if I am at a school that only offers a BA, will I be at a disadvantage getting a BA in physics or should I transfer to another city university that offers the BS with very similar, almost identical requirements...but it will take me longer bc I'll have to fulfill all the residency requirements of the new university.
    any thoughts? is it possible to find work with just a BA in physics? someone told me I needed a BS to find employment. I don't want to teach so I dont think I want to get a phD but maybe a masters. I know its harder to say bc Im not sure what my plans are for after the BA/BS.
    any opinions/facts will be welcomed- thnx
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2009 #2
    The way I remember it...the only difference between a BS and BA was that a BA required four semesters of a foreign language where as a BS only required 2. Also a BS required two semesters of either physics, chemistry, or biology and a BA didn't.

    Essentially I see there being almost no difference. Just get the BA..you got a bachelors..that's all that matters...anyone tells you otherwise is full of it.
  4. Feb 12, 2009 #3
    How interesting, daveyinaz -- I read your post before I read your username, and said "wow, that sounds just like the U of A!" I'm guessing that's where you went. Did you do the BA or the BS?
  5. Feb 12, 2009 #4


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    Really? I agree there isn't much of a difference in the content. However, its all in the name. BSc is much more powerful in the job world than a BA. I'm sure this is not always the case however, its usually better to be safe than sorry.
  6. Feb 13, 2009 #5


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    No. The courses you take are what counts, not what the degree is called, so long as it's a bachelor's level degree. In the U.S. there is no standardization on the difference between B.S. and B.A., and any employer or graduate school that puts any weight on the name by itself is just plain stupid.

    I went to a small college that offered only the B.A., and it didn't keep me from going to grad school and getting a Ph.D.

    At some schools, the difference between B.S. and B.A. is purely a matter of general-education (non-major) requirements. Where I teach, it used to be that a B.A. required a foreign language but no math, whereas a B.S. required some math but no foreign language. But now the gen ed requirements are the same for both degrees. In any event, each department offers only one kind or the other.

    Some schools may offer both degrees in the same department, with different requirements in the major field. I don't know any examples, however. But it's by no means universal.

    I think I read here in an earlier thread that Harvard offers only the B.A. as an undergraduate degree. Surely no one would look down on a B.A. in physics from Harvard!
  7. Feb 13, 2009 #6


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    I agree with JTBell. It's the course content that counts. Ultimately, if you're concerned, you should contact various graduate departments that you may be interested in and ask them if your current course of study would qualify you for acceptance (assuming you do well in your courses).

    As far as the job market, it's definately possible to get a job with an undergraduate physics degree. The biggest issue that physicists run into, it seems, is that they have to market themselves, since it is not too often that employers know what skills a physicist has.
  8. Feb 13, 2009 #7
    Actually I did both :)
    I have two undergrad, one BA and the other BS.
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