Author Topic: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts  (Read 2909 times)

Juslookin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« on: September 29, 2015, 12:22:06 PM »
I am hoping a few of you could give us an opinion. My DS is applying to college and has been accepted to several schools that only offer a BA in Psychology.  He was interested in a BS in Psychology and we're trying to determine the difference in career and earning opportunities.

He has applied to other schools that offer a BS, he's still waiting to hear on those.

As far as what he wants to do with his degree, he's not completely sure, he's interested in Psych and is trying to find his way in life.  No definite path worked out yet. It's tough to be 17 these days.

Thanks!

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2015, 12:40:46 PM »
He should be doing research now into career prospects & requirements following graduation with either degree. If he discovers a PhD is required, better to know about it NOW & decide accordingly. He may decide a different major would be a better idea.

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 867
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2015, 12:46:16 PM »
Not about psychology directly, but in my field, environmental science, people don't differentiate between BS and BA. It all gets you a job. Perhaps if he were going to go on to more schooling a BS might get him more lab/experimental experience, which could help him determine if he wants to go on and could help him when applying for grad school. But that probably still depends more on the program rather than whether or not they call the degree a BS or a BA.

If I were him I would consider a major with a more defined career path that is more likely to get me a job, but I'm not him, obviously. Good luck with the guidance.

For a data point: my spouse went to school for a similar field. He knew there weren't a lot of jobs in that field directly, but he also figured he might as well as aspire for a job in the field while settling for a job that just requires a degree. He has a reasonable job now, but he does regret not majoring in something a little more useful.

KS

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 207
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2015, 06:07:45 PM »
Another non-psych major weighing in, but it hasn't been a problem for me. Some quirk in the rules of how colleges are allowed to name their majors led to my husband getting a BS in business, while my Molecular/Cellular Biology degree from the same university was a BA. I always thought that was weird but as far as I know it has never come up as a problem for me in the real world. (Unless I just don't know about the employers who didn't call me back for that reason or something.)

beltim

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2823
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 06:18:58 PM »
Not about psychology directly, but in my field, environmental science, people don't differentiate between BS and BA. It all gets you a job. Perhaps if he were going to go on to more schooling a BS might get him more lab/experimental experience, which could help him determine if he wants to go on and could help him when applying for grad school. But that probably still depends more on the program rather than whether or not they call the degree a BS or a BA.

This is pretty close to my experience.  Some schools offer both a BA and a BS, and in those schools, the BS is generally more rigorous and intended to prepare you for graduate school in that field.

Most schools, however, just offer one, and you can't evaluate the relative strengths of a given program based on whether they call their degree a BA or BS. 

Juslookin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 06:11:20 AM »
Thanks for your responses. I had my son read your thoughts and it resulted in a real open discussion between him and I and a lot of googling.   It's all a work in progress.

goatmom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 06:28:33 AM »
Not sure about the BA/BS things, but if your son is willing to get an advanced degree - the mental health field is only getting bigger.  I am in the field and there is no shortage of customers or opportunities once you get the right initials after your name.  Best of luck to him!

ambimammular

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 372
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Indiana
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2015, 08:11:07 AM »
DH is a psych professor and I'm going to let him write here:

I advised undergrads at the large state university where I got my PhD and served on the grad admissions committee there. At that university, the only difference between BA and BS was that the former required a couple of foreign language classes and the latter required a couple of math classes instead. The psych curriculum was the same. In terms of admissions to the grad program, I don't recall a single time that I or anyone else even paid attention to whether it was a BA or BS. We might look at quantitative reasoning ability, but more typically by looking at math classes and grades and at the math portion of the GRE.

If he's thinking of graduate school, the most important thing is to go to a place where he can start being a research assistant for a psych professor's research, and to do so early. The more he can do to work with researchers in an intimate lab setting, the better. Other than good academic indicators, research experience (and the good letters of recommendation that come with it) is the most important factor.

I should also note that this was the case for applicants to the clinical PhD program. Applications from students genuinely invested in helping people were a dime a dozen. The ones that stood out were always those from applicants who had lengthy research experiences in one lab. In addition to the exposure to cutting edge research and the lab discussions that lead to researchers homing in on the boundaries of knowledge in the field, that lengthy exposure shows grad committees that you're dedicated to the field, thrive in situations where you are trusted to complete lots of tasks without constant supervision, and aren't fazed by the tedium of research. Even for students going into purely applied fields like counseling benefit from this experience and are better students for it.

Final piece of advice if he's thinking of applied fields: try to find programs with an applied practicum. At my undergrad institution (a small liberal arts school) I spent two years volunteering at a local crisis hotline (in addition to my 3.5 years in research labs). Students at that institution can also go to these community organizations and complete a senior practicum by volunteering there and writing a paper connecting their experiences to their coursework. If I had wanted to go into counseling, that experience would have been an important undergrad experience.

The TL;DR version: what your son does to gain experience outside of the classroom is FAR more important than the psych curriculum.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 08:13:22 AM by ambimammular »

cambridgecyclist

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 82
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2015, 11:04:45 AM »
I have a BA in Computer Science. When I finally finished this degree and had the dean's office sign off on this, they commented that I was only the second or third person they'd ever seen in the BA program. The difference between the BA and BS was a handful of humanities courses instead of a handful of computer hardware courses. The core mathematics, programming and architecture courses were all identical.

In my nearly 20 year career nobody has even noticed the A. But I've had a tremendous amount of fun and friendship through the music theory and composition, gained a lot of insight from learning about rhetoric, and still apply the knowledge I acquired while studying history.

Juslookin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Benefits to a Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Arts
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2015, 11:23:05 AM »
DH is a psych professor and I'm going to let him write here:

I advised undergrads at the large state university where I got my PhD and served on the grad admissions committee there. At that university, the only difference between BA and BS was that the former required a couple of foreign language classes and the latter required a couple of math classes instead. The psych curriculum was the same. In terms of admissions to the grad program, I don't recall a single time that I or anyone else even paid attention to whether it was a BA or BS. We might look at quantitative reasoning ability, but more typically by looking at math classes and grades and at the math portion of the GRE.

If he's thinking of graduate school, the most important thing is to go to a place where he can start being a research assistant for a psych professor's research, and to do so early. The more he can do to work with researchers in an intimate lab setting, the better. Other than good academic indicators, research experience (and the good letters of recommendation that come with it) is the most important factor.

I should also note that this was the case for applicants to the clinical PhD program. Applications from students genuinely invested in helping people were a dime a dozen. The ones that stood out were always those from applicants who had lengthy research experiences in one lab. In addition to the exposure to cutting edge research and the lab discussions that lead to researchers homing in on the boundaries of knowledge in the field, that lengthy exposure shows grad committees that you're dedicated to the field, thrive in situations where you are trusted to complete lots of tasks without constant supervision, and aren't fazed by the tedium of research. Even for students going into purely applied fields like counseling benefit from this experience and are better students for it.

Final piece of advice if he's thinking of applied fields: try to find programs with an applied practicum. At my undergrad institution (a small liberal arts school) I spent two years volunteering at a local crisis hotline (in addition to my 3.5 years in research labs). Students at that institution can also go to these community organizations and complete a senior practicum by volunteering there and writing a paper connecting their experiences to their coursework. If I had wanted to go into counseling, that experience would have been an important undergrad experience.

The TL;DR version: what your son does to gain experience outside of the classroom is FAR more important than the psych curriculum.

Thank you so much for taking the time to type this detailed and incredibly helpful response. I have printed it out and will give it to my son. All of these responses are helping us open a dialogue together and giving him questions to ask and more research to do.

Many thanks!