Professional degree vs. Standard question

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  • #1
Okay, so the university I am wanting to transfer to has a professional option of a bachelor's degree in physics and math. They are a little more rigorous it seems, but I don't understand why it is a professional degree. Is it some marketing b.s. that the university put forward? Is this like a honors degree? I will link the checklist if you would like to see for yourself.

Math:
Professional: http://checksheets.ou.edu/15checksheets/math-pro-2015.pdf
Standard: http://checksheets.ou.edu/15checksheets/math-std-2015.pdf

Physics:
Professional: http://checksheets.ou.edu/15checksheets/phys-pro-2015.pdf
Standard: http://checksheets.ou.edu/15checksheets/phys-std-2015.pdf
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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From https://www.nhn.ou.edu/undergrad-students

There are two different degree programs in Physics: the professional degree of Bachelor of Science in Physics (major code – B781), and the standard degree of Bachelor of Science (major code – B780). Students planning to continue into graduate study, or who, for any reason, want a comprehensive curriculum, are advised to take the professional degree program. This program can be completed in four years, although some students take five years. Students who want a less comprehensive program may choose the standard degree, which takes less time. It is possible, although we strongly discourage it, to enter graduate school with the standard degree and take the missing courses as a graduate student. With fewer required courses, the standard degree enables a student interest in medicine or law, for example, to take the necessary preparatory courses for a professional program.
 
  • #3
jtbell
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Note for example that the "professional" physics BS includes a Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics course, which is usually required for graduate school, whereas the "standard" degree does not.
 
  • #4
Okay, so unlike an honor degree which gives breadth this degree gives you depth? What is the general though on taking graduate work before grad school? I've seen some places where they have to take it all over again because they were incompatible. Also, is it very common to see a "Professional" degree in fields like the sciences?

Thank you for your response jtbell and Vanadium 50.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50
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"Professional" might better be defined as "Traditional" (or "Old-fashioned" if you prefer). It used to be that most degrees had a program that looked like that.
 
  • #6
jtbell
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Also, is it very common to see a "Professional" degree in fields like the sciences?

Some schools offer physics bachelor's degrees with different "concentrations", aimed at students planning to go to graduate school in physics, or graduate school in engineering, or medical physics, or high-school teaching, etc., but I've never seen them called "professional" and "standard" degrees before.
 
  • #7
Choppy
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Okay, so unlike an honor degree which gives breadth this degree gives you depth?
The semantics of this are a little confusing, so it's no wonder you have questions. In my experience, an "honours" degree is the one that's meant to prepare you for graduate school. Such programs are set up to prepare you for advanced studies and research in the field.

According to the quote in post 2, what I would have called an honours program is what this school is calling a "professional" program. Personally I would consider this a misnomer because physics is not in itself a profession. Engineering, medicine, and law are examples of professions. Physics is an academic subjected. And it's odd that they specifically state that people with intentions of later going on to do such professional degrees are advised to take the "standard" program, and not the "professional" one. Regardless, I would go by the school's advice and pick the program that's most consistent with your goals.

What is the general though on taking graduate work before grad school? I've seen some places where they have to take it all over again because they were incompatible.
I would be careful with taking graduate courses as an undergrad. If you're finding that you've completed a wide breadth of senior undergraduate courses and still have room, and you feel you need more of a challenge, then enrolling in a graduate course or two might be a good idea. Unfortunately I think what sometimes happens is that some undergrads chose to take on graduate courses before they are ready, and end up in over their heads, unprepared for the workload and the whole thing backfires miserably. And yes, sometimes they will be required to be repeated if you change schools. That's just the way it goes.

Also, is it very common to see a "Professional" degree in fields like the sciences?
As I said before, I think "professional" is an odd choice of name for this degree. From my point of view a professional degree is one that qualifies you to practice a recognized profession (or at least is a part of the qualification process). Most science degrees don't do this.
 
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