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Difference bewteen B.A Physics vs B.S Physics

  1. Mar 15, 2014 #1
    What is the difference between a B.A in Physics and a B.S in Physics? There are 2 liberal arts schools that I have been accepted in to but both only offer a B.A in Physics so I can't really compare the course curriculum between a B.A and B.S, since they don't offer a B.S. Will this be something that can prevent me from being accepted into graduate school?

    The first school "St Mary's College of Maryland" offers two options: "Physics Major with Concentration in Fundamental Physics " and "Physics Major with Concentration
    in Applied Physics" These are the classes each must take:

    Physics Major with Concentration in Fundamental Physics

    Fundamentals of Physics 1*
    Fundamentals of Physics 2*
    Fundamentals of Physics 3
    Mechanics
    Advanced Physics Laboratory
    Electricity & Magnetism
    Quantum Mechanics
    Statistical Mechanics
    St. Mary's Project (8 credits)
    Calculus 1
    Calculus 2
    Vector Calculus
    Linear Algebra

    ELECTIVES(One of the following)
    Mathematical Methods in Physics,
    Optics,
    Astrophysics & Cosmology
    Senior Seminar in Physics,
    Differential Equations,
    Physical Chemistry,
    Independent Study (PHYS 399/499)




    "Physics Major with Concentration in Applied Physics"

    Fundamentals of Physics 1*
    Fundamental of Physics 2*
    Fundamental of Physics 3*
    Electronics
    Advanced Physics Laboratory
    Electricity & Magnetism
    Quantum Mechanics
    Intro to Computer Science 1 or General Chemistry 2
    Topics in Applied Physics 1
    Topics in Applied Physics 2
    Calculus 1
    Calculus 2
    Vector Calculus
    Linear Algebra

    ELECTIVES(One of the following)

    Mechanics,
    Optics,
    Astrophysics & Cosmology,
    Statistical Mechanics,
    Senior Seminar Physics,
    Differential Equations,
    Physical Chemistry,
    Software Engineering 1,
    Partial Differential Equations







    For the second school "Clark University" the courses in the core curriculum include:

    1. Introductory Physics (2):

    PHYS 120 - Introductory Physics - Part I and
    PHYS 121 - Introductory Physics – Part II
    or
    PHYS 110 - Introductory Physics - Part I and
    PHYS 111 - Introductory Physics - Part II

    2. Intermediate-level Physics (3):

    PHYS 123 - Methods of Physics
    PHYS 130 - Oscillations, Waves and Optics
    PHYS 131 - Quantum Physics and Relativity

    3. Calculus (4):

    MATH 124 - Honors Calculus I
    MATH 125 - Honors Calculus II
    MATH 130 - Linear Algebra
    MATH 131 - Multivariate Calculus

    4. Laboratory-based courses (1):
    PHYS 127 - Computer Simulation Laboratory
    OR
    PHYS 219 - Electronics Laboratory

    5. Upper-level courses (4):
    PHYS 150 - Statistical and Thermal Physics
    PHYS 160 - Classical Mechanics
    PHYS 161 - Electricity and Magnetism
    PHYS 171 - Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

    6. Senior project (1):

    PHYS 299 - Directed Studies in Physics
    Total in core curriculum: 15
    Additional approved electives: 3
    Total in major program: 18


    These are all the Physics courses at Clark university

    Physics Courses

    PHYS 020 - Discovering Physics
    PHYS 030 - The Nature of Light
    PHYS 110 - Introductory Physics - Part I
    PHYS 111 - Introductory Physics - Part II
    PHYS 120 - Introductory Physics - Part I
    PHYS 121 - Introductory Physics – Part II
    PHYS 123 - Methods of Physics
    PHYS 127 - Computer Simulation Laboratory
    PHYS 130 - Oscillations, Waves and Optics
    PHYS 131 - Quantum Physics and Relativity
    PHYS 140 - Energy, the Environment, and Climate
    PHYS 145 - Physics of Biomolecular networks
    PHYS 150 - Statistical and Thermal Physics
    PHYS 160 - Classical Mechanics
    PHYS 161 - Electricity and Magnetism
    PHYS 165 - Continuum Mechanics
    PHYS 167 - Fluid Mechanics and Applications
    PHYS 169 - Information Theory, Inference, and Networks
    PHYS 171 - Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
    PHYS 201 - Classical Dynamics
    PHYS 202 - Electrodynamics
    PHYS 205 - Quantum Mechanics – Part I
    PHYS 206 - Quantum Mechanics – Part II
    PHYS 209 - Statistical Mechanics
    PHYS 219 - Electronics Laboratory
    PHYS 243 - Technology of Renewable Energy
    PHYS 290 - Senior Seminar
    PHYS 299 - Directed Studies in Physics
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2014 #2
    In the U.S. they are the same thing. Different schools just call by either name. I think some places Princeton call them A.B.
     
  4. Mar 16, 2014 #3
    Some schools (I can only speak of about 30 years ago), the BS is harder in that it usually required 1-2 more courses. Many schools had only one program B.A or B.S. The admissions council at my graduate school treated them equally (including the one person who got the A.B. recognized as a B.A.)
     
  5. Mar 18, 2014 #4
  6. Mar 18, 2014 #5

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No. Lots of people with B.A.'s in physics from small schools get into "decent" grad schools. I got into Michigan with a B.A. from a small college.

    Harvard offers only a B.A., by the way. I've never seen anyone complain about that. :wink:
     
  7. Mar 18, 2014 #6
    If physics grad school is your aim, take upper level e&m, classical mechanics, stat mech, and quantum (at least one semester each), and do at least one Summer of research.
     
  8. Mar 18, 2014 #7

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Right, those are the "core four." Note that Clark requires exactly those four upper-level courses as part of their physics major, and St. Mary's requires them in their "Physics Major with Concentration in Fundamental Physics".

    [added later] Aha, now I see that Clark has two sets of the "core four" courses: 150, 160, 161 & 171 which are part of the requirements for the major, and 201, 202, 205, 206 & 209 which cover the same areas, with QM being a 2-course sequence.

    If you go to the physics major page at

    http://catalog.clarku.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=9&poid=1104

    and click on the link for e.g. Physics 201, you get a description which includes the statement "Designed to prepare students for graduate work in physics." These courses appear to be the same lectures as the corresponding graduate courses (301, 302 etc.) but with different homework problems and tests. I've never seen a setup like this before.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
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