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Two BA's vs. One BS - Admissions

BanquoBanquo Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
Hi! So I'm going back to school in a few weeks and it's time to pick a major. I definitely want to go to graduate school in either Math or Physics, but I'm not exactly sure which one yet.

The requirements of the BA would allow me to pursue a BA in Math and Physics in undergrad, or I could get a BS in Math with a minor in Physics. I would like to pursue the dual major but I don't want to lessen my application by pursuing a BA instead of a BS if that will be the case.

Replies to: Two BA's vs. One BS - Admissions

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,196 Senior Member
    edited May 6
    Know multiple students currently in PhD programs at top grad schools who have BAs in Math or Physics. In many places, Physics major requirements leave you just a couple credits short of a minor in Math, so it is very easy to pick it up. The overlap is a lot less strong the other way around,

    One factor to consider is the difference in the requirements for the BA or BS: will it affect how you do on the subject test for the GRE? b/c the subject-specific test is a *big* part of getting into the good math or physics grad programs, and they are *hard* exams. Do a little homework first (what different courses are required and what the math or physics GRE covers), then go talk to your advisor.

    fwiw, grad school admissions won't see it as "2 BA's", even if you do a full double major- they will see it as 1 BA.

    One more thing: you might consider looking at materials science as a path. I see from other posts that you were interested in engineering as well. MatSci is a growing multidisciplinary field at the nexus of engineering, physics, math & chemistry.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,347 Super Moderator
    The actual letters behind your name don't matter - BA, BS, it doesn't matter. What matters are the courses you took in the major/program. If taking the BA still allows you to take the right classes to be prepared for a PhD program, then the BA won't matter. Given that you're doing the BA so you can double-up with physics + math, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your class profile will be pretty good for what you want.

    Paging @xraymancs for comment.
  • Popla1995Popla1995 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    BA or BS is the same things. Double major is better, since they give you more scope of knowledge
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,481 Forum Champion
    I completely agree with @juillet - A BA usually has fewer required courses than a BS but the key for preparing for a graduate degree in physics is which core courses you take. A strong preparation would include a full year of Classical Mechanics, Electrodynamics and Quantum Mechanics, and at least a one semester course in Statistical Mechanics. Taking physics electives is valuable but not essential.
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