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BA to PhD

  1. Apr 4, 2015 #1
    Hi all,
    Here is my story. My school offers BA and BS for both physics and math. I am currently a junior in the BS programs for both physics and math. The only difference between the two are merely the language courses verses the two science and society courses (S&SC). I have been told about the non-existing value of the S&SC, so instead of getting two BS's, I plan to not take the two S&SC courses and get a BA. If so, I will use the extra hours to take two more math or physics graduate courses before graduation.
    I went to my the math department adviser the other day and asked about this. He bluntly told me that during the process of filtering applications for the PhD program, the BA applications fall out first without even being looked at. I thought he was exaggerating the details, but he really tried to emphasize that what he said is fact (?!) and that it is what he was told from the "higher people".
    That is the end of the story. Regardless, I still do not want to spend time taking courses that will not be much useful to me, so the two BA's are preferable, at least to me. For the past three years, I have managed to be at the top of most of the courses that I have taken, done a decent amount of outreach activity and leadership, and I am working hard on my current research to gain some more experience. Therefore, I do not want my application to not be considered because of such a "minor" detail.
    I would really appreciate if anyone could offer their experience and knowledge on the topic.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    There are two kinds of math bachelors. One is preparation for grad school, and the other is substantially less rigorous, and sends people off to business or to teach high school. Many schools offer only the second kind. Some who offer both call one BS and the other BA. Some don't.

    Math grad schools do not like admitting people with the second kind of degree, because the students are unprepared. Sometimes a BA is a tip-off to that. But math is not physics. Physics degrees don't draw this distinction.
  4. Apr 4, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    My physics undergraduate degree is a BA from a small liberal-arts college. I was accepted to all four grad schools that I applied to, and ended up going to U of Michigan for my Ph.D.
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