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BA vs BS in Physics

  1. Apr 2, 2009 #1
    My university offers both and I was planning to pursue the BA in Physics with a Computer Science minor. The BS has more requirements/less room to take non-Physics classes. Is there any disadvantages to having a BA on your resume rather than a BS?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2009 #2


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    If your thinking about experimental physics the BA might be a better option. Computer science part is also more marketable in the job/internship market.
  4. Apr 3, 2009 #3
    In general, I'd personally say that if you plan to pursue higher education in the field of physics, a BA would be looked down upon relative to a BS because of the lack of upper level coursework... but you haven't posted your future plans in order for people to comment very extensively about the pros and cons regarding your choices.
  5. Apr 3, 2009 #4

    Agreed. I would imagine it appears at first glance to graduate admissions as "ahh...went the easy route, eh?"
    If there is a definite reason for going the BA route, I'd imagine you'll have to explain that reason well in any graduate applications.
  6. Apr 3, 2009 #5


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    The differences between BA and BS for scientific educational degrees are essentially meaningless. You choice within the options and your choices of electives are far, far, far, far more important.
  7. Apr 3, 2009 #6


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    I would agree with you I dont understand were anyone would get the impression that youre going to be looked down on because youre degree is a BA instead of BS. I always think of the fact that Berkeley only offers BA in physics.
  8. Apr 3, 2009 #7

    If the BA program were as science intensive as the BS program at schools where both options are offered, there wouldn't be a BA program in the first place. Whether or not it's "right" to look down on a BA, I doubt it will be a benefit in future applications.
  9. Apr 3, 2009 #8


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    In my experience those distinctions have no observable effect. The importance of things such as PGRE and recommendation and GPA towers over so that any theoretical difference between BA/BS cannot be observed.
  10. Apr 3, 2009 #9


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    It all depends on what a "BA" or a "BS" constitues. The same is true for "honours" vs. non-honours courses. These mean different things at different schools. Where I did my undergrad, if you didn't take the honours route, you generally didn't have the proper prerequisite courses for graduate school. For others, it's just a matter of a few electives. The same is true for the BA vs. BS.

    Take a close look at the core elements in the programs you're considering and if there's any question, contact the department to see if a particular route qualifies you for graduate admissions.
  11. Apr 3, 2009 #10


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    If your goal is to work in industry, I don't think there will be much difference.

    But if you have any inkling of ever going on to graduate school, it's always best to take the more rigorous option, IMO.
  12. Apr 3, 2009 #11
    Thanks, that's all I'm really trying to say. My previous undergrad is a BA in Kinesiology, so I have no prejudice against BAs, but I'm able to understand that had I applied to grad school, my application would have been better served by going with a BS.
  13. Apr 4, 2009 #12
    what about if you intend to go to grad school for applied math or mechanical engineering?

    if it hurts that much, is it worth it for me to change from a BA to BS, even though I will have to stay another semester?
  14. Apr 4, 2009 #13
    It just depends on what the B.A./B.S. constitutes at your school. General rule is that more classes in your field the better.
  15. Apr 4, 2009 #14
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