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Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science? (Pursuing PhD)

  1. Oct 1, 2013 #1
    I am trying to apply to colleges online to transfer to next year after I finish my AA. However, I am not sure if I am applying for a Bachelor of Arts or Science? I am a physics major looking to get my BA and then head on to grad school for my PhD. Not sure if that determines which I choose or not. If anyone can help me out, I'd appreciate it. I searched the web but found no clear-cut answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2013 #2
    Have you tried looking at the colleges website? On the transfer application, there should be an option, if not I'm sure you can tell your advisor once you switch to your new school that you're pursing your BA.
  4. Oct 1, 2013 #3
    Maybe you misunderstood my question. Both options are on the online application. I am simply not sure which one to choose on the application.

    As far as their website, I can't find any information that tells me which one I should choose. From what I am gathering from what you posted here, I want to pursue my BA if I am going to pursue grad school and a PhD later on? Is it optional or is that simply the one you pursue for that path?
  5. Oct 1, 2013 #4
    At some schools, the requirements to get a BA and a BS are different. In these schools, usually the BA would require more humanities, social sciences, and arts courses, while the BS would be more focused on science. If you are applying to one of these, you probably want to get a BS if you are going on to grad school in a scientific field.

    At some schools, you just get to choose whether you want a BA or a BS, and there is no practical difference between the two. At these schools, it wouldn't matter which one you choose.

    Some schools don't even offer a BA in physics at all.
  6. Oct 1, 2013 #5
    Well thanks for the information. I guess my best bet then would be to call the college and find out from them directly to be sure.
  7. Oct 1, 2013 #6


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    Staff Emeritus
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    I'm not sure what a Bachelor in Arts in Physics would be. Using collages to illustrate Newton's Laws? Interpretive dance to intuit conservation of momentum? Writing epic poems about quantum theory?
  8. Oct 1, 2013 #7
    That would be nice, but I think it usually means that you took an ordinary physics curriculum (sometimes with fewer technical electives) while also studying the traditional liberal arts.
  9. Oct 2, 2013 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    Surely the college's web site has that information, listed under something like "requirements for the degree" or "general education requirements." General information about the degrees that they offer is probably listed separately from the physics major requirements because it's probably the same for all departments college-wide.

    As far as graduate schools are concerned, what counts is is courses you take, not the label on the degree.

    I have a B.A. in physics from a small liberal-arts college that gave only B.A. degrees. It included the usual core courses: intro classical and modern physics, intermediate/advanced E&M, quantum, thermo, classical mechanics, electronics, etc., along with some research experience. It got me into grad school and a Ph.D. at Michigan. All the physics majors who graduated along with me (three) went to grad school, in fact.

    I understand that Harvard also offers "only" a B.A. in physics. :wink:
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  10. Oct 2, 2013 #9
    What Eigenperson said. And what jtbell said too. I went to a small liberal arts college for undergrad and B.A.s were the only thing you could get in physics. From what I've seen, our topic coverage was actually broader and deeper than a lot of B.S. programs. The downside was that it was done in fewer courses, since you also had to do all the liberal arts things (which is good in my opinion).

    It also got me into an Ivy for a Ph.D. So depending on the quality of the program, don't knock a B.A. It really depends on the specifics of the program.
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