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Programs BA vs. BS In Physics + Why can't I get a BS in Both Math and

  1. May 16, 2017 #1


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    Gold Member

    Hi guys,

    I am graduating in one year and figuring out my plans with my advisors.
    I was set on getting both a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Physics when I graduate.

    Unfortunately, my school now will not allow me to get a BS in both degrees.

    1. Why would they deny this? What reason do you think the school has in not allowing me to get two BS degrees.

    Instead, they are telling me I can get a BA in Physics and a BS in Mathematics.
    This actually works out well for me in the sense that it'll be a little easier to achieve these degrees as I will only need 2-3 more Math courses and 4 more Physics courses.

    Now, I've read a lot on BA vs. BS and that it 'really won't matter' come graduate school (I want to go for Physics), and instead, what will matter is the courses taken.

    Is there anything I should be worried about in getting a BA in Physics vs. a BS? (I won't need to take Electromagnetism II, QM II, Modern Optics, or Theoretical Mechanics.... although, I will probably take 1-2 or 3 of those courses if I can fit them into my schedule in Spring 2018).

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    It probably has something to do with coursework. If you look at the courses required for Physics, you might be lacking a few needed for the BS.

    If that's not the case, you should ask them why they are denying this and perhaps you can petition the dean to allow it.

    I had a case where I was lacking some credits in liberal arts needed for my Physics BS. I was able to petition that my courses in Chinese language rounded out my education in the same way that other liberal arts courses would and the school agreed so I could graduate early.

    In your case, you might need to cast some courses you've taken as ones that meet the BS requirements and so gain the BS.

    Anyway here's a refernce to the differences in a BA and a BS:

  4. May 17, 2017 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Most or all grad schools won't care about the name of the degree. They'll focus on which specific courses you've taken.

    So look up the grad schools that you've interested in and see which courses they expect applicants to have.
  5. May 17, 2017 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Isn't this spelled out in your school's course calendar? Most universities will spell out very specifically which courses are required for the degrees that they award. Coming back after you've done the coursework and expecting something different isn't very fair or reasonable.

    And while I realise the distinction is important to you because you've invested a lot of time and energy into the work, (i) graduate schools aren't likely to care, and (ii) what's really important is the education that you've received.
  6. May 17, 2017 #5
    Agree here. Some elite schools offer a BA in physics. One notable example is Wellesley; some of their alumnae have gone on to highly successful research careers.
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