Physics BA vs. BS?

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I'm sure that there are more topics about this but recently I decided I'll be switching out my current major (Computer Science) and into Physics. However, I see that there's BA and BS but I'm not sure which to choose? Any questions or thoughts?
 

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  • #2
kuruman
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Hi Kendo and welcome to PF.

It depends on what you plan to do after graduation and where you are in your College career. For example, if your goal is to go to graduate school in physics, then a B.S. is the way to go. If, however, you are far enough advanced in your studies so that getting a B.S. means staying in College for an extra semester or two and getting deeper in debt, then I would advise you to get a B.A. and to take as many physics courses that are part of the B.S. as possible. You may not end up with a B.S. but your B.A. will be souped up.
 
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  • #3
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Hi Kendo and welcome to PF.

It depends on what you plan to do after graduation and where you are in your College career. For example, if your goal is to go to graduate school in physics, then a B.S. is the way to go. If, however, you are far enough advanced in your studies so that getting a B.S. means staying in College for an extra semester or two and getting deeper in debt, then I would advise you to get a B.A. and to take as many physics courses that are part of the B.S. as possible. You may not end up with a B.S. but your B.A. will be souped up.
Interesting I might go for BA then but what kinds of career would BA open up?
 
  • #4
jtbell
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I see that there's BA and BS but I'm not sure which to choose?
What is the difference between BA and BS in physics, in terms of course requirements, at your school? It varies at different schools.

If you're thinking about graduate school in physics, graduate school admissions committees aren't stupid. They will probably focus on the specific courses that you've taken, not the name of the degree. A BS is probably more likely to contain the courses that grad schools look for, but in the end it depends on what your school offers.

The small college where I was an undergraduate offered only a BA in physics, but it was enough to get me into grad school. The small college where I taught for many years offers only a BS in physics, but it's pretty much like the BA at my undergraduate school.

If you're going to be looking for a job right after your BS/BA, I have no experience with that route. However, from what I've read here, few employers look specifically for a BS/BA in physics. Instead, they look for specific skills: programming, data analysis, writing, etc.
 
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  • #5
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What is the difference between BA and BS in physics, in terms of course requirements, at your school? It varies at different schools.

If you're thinking about graduate school in physics, graduate school admissions committees aren't stupid. They will probably focus on the specific courses that you've taken, not the name of the degree. A BS is probably more likely to contain the courses that grad schools look for, but in the end it depends on what your school offers.

The small college where I was an undergraduate offered only a BA in physics, but it was enough to get me into grad school. The small college where I taught for many years offers only a BS in physics, but it's pretty much like the BA at my undergraduate school.

If you're going to be looking for a job right after your BS/BA, I have no experience with that route. However, from what I've read here, few employers look specifically for a BS/BA in physics. Instead, they look for specific skills: programming, data analysis, writing, etc.
For BS, they offer physics courses of course and lots of comp sci courses while BA offers only one comp sci course which I’m taking that one at the moment and just your other physics classes (like Electronics, acoustic, astrophysics..).

Edit: Oh wait, so there is 3 tracks we can complete. One track is Chemistry, other one is computational and traditional (Other physic courses). Also, I don't see myself going to Grad school. I mean if you want, I can private message you the link of the courses for BA and BS for my school?
 
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I guess I decided to schedule an appointment with my advisor and going to talk about it :L
 
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  • #7
kuruman
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I guess I decided to schedule an appointment with my advisor and going to talk about it :L
Good decision. Your advisor probably knows more about what's specifically going on at your institution than most of us.
 
  • #8
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Good decision. Your advisor probably knows more about what's specifically going on at your institution than most of us.
Yep, I guess I'll report back here on the information I gather if it deems insensitive or not xD
 
  • #9
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Good decision. Your advisor probably knows more about what's specifically going on at your institution than most of us.
Curious, when looking for Physics internships, does it matter if you're BA or BS?
 
  • #10
kuruman
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Curious, when looking for Physics internships, does it matter if you're BA or BS?
Probably not. If I were evaluating your qualifications for an internship, I would look at three things, (a) how advanced you are in your field as judged by your coursework, (b) how much experience you have with working on research or semester-long projects and (c) what your letters of reference say about your ability to work well with others and with minimum supervision.
 
  • #11
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Probably not. If I were evaluating your qualifications for an internship, I would look at three things, (a) how advanced you are in your field as judged by your coursework, (b) how much experience you have with working on research or semester-long projects and (c) what your letters of reference say about your ability to work well with others and with minimum supervision.
Ok, I shall keep that in mind :). I'm going to declare my major to Physics (B.A.) now. :>
 
  • #12
verty
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Please remind us why you are not doing the BS. I mean, isn't it better with more physics involved and more computers as well?
 
  • #13
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Please remind us why you are not doing the BS. I mean, isn't it better with more physics involved and more computers as well?
I mean yea but BS gonna require an additional year or so and financial wise.. I mean my advisor said that I can either take technological courses or computer courses because BA freed up my schedule a little bit more so in the future I'll probably either take some Comp sci courses are other Physic courses.
 
  • #14
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I mean yea but BS gonna require an additional year or so and financial wise.. I mean my advisor said that I can either take technological courses or computer courses because BA freed up my schedule a little bit more so in the future I'll probably either take some Comp sci courses are other Physic courses.
Thanks for the explanation. What I'm thinking is this. It'll be nice to say, I have a BA in physics but I've also done computers. It makes you more broadly skilled for the employer. So even though you are changing, I think it is a good idea to do enough computers to be able to say that. That is my recommendation.
 
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  • #15
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Thanks for the explanation. What I'm thinking is this. It'll be nice to say, I have a BA in physics but I've also done computers. It makes you more broadly skilled for the employer. So even though you are changing, I think it is a good idea to do enough computers to be able to say that. That is my recommendation.
Ok, then most likely I won't minor in computer science but since I got free spaces in my upcoming schedules, I guess I'll take some CS courses. Also, I do intend in minoring in Japanese though.
 
  • #16
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Well I think a minor is better. If you were thinking of doing that, I think it's a good idea, then you have some proof of your competence.
 
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