Which degree is more diverse: B.A. or B.S.?

<p>I plan on majoring in psychology in college and do want to become a psychologist after all of my schooling. However, at some of my schools there is the option between a B.A. and a B.S. in psychology. The problem is, I don't know what TYPE of psychologist I want to be yet. So which degree do you think I could do more with?</p>

<p>The current ideas I have are doing research in one of the fields of psychology or becoming a school psychologist. I think those require different degrees though...I guess what I'm saying is that I need a degree that I can do multiple fields of psychology with.</p>

<p>Also, I plan on going to grad school with one of those degrees am I'm not sure if it matters which one I have.</p>

<p>Go with the B.S… Being a psychologist (in general) will most likely require some science background, and for all of the programs I’ve looked at, a B.A. in psychology is like a B.S. without the science, so it tends to close more doors than it opens. The only reason you should do a B.A. is if you are weak in the sciences and have decided on a field that doesn’t need it. In this case, taking science courses could severely damage your GPA and prevent you from getting into grad school – as Psyc is a very popular major, a high GPA is a must for grad school applicants.</p>

<p>BS might be better if you’re interested in clinical or psychiatry; BA might be better for counseling or social work. If you want to do research, you have level playing ground in both areas. Some sub-fields in psychology are better for one track v. another: cognitive, neuroscience, and clinical may be better suited for a BS track, while social, counseling, industrial and organizational psychology might be better for a BA track. Developmental can be well suited for either. But again, there is considerable overlap in many programs and a BA track can still take numerous science courses if needed/desired.</p>

<p>I have a BA in psychology and personally I don’t feel any less qualified for work or grad school than someone with a BS in psychology. I was still required to take a number of science courses, and honestly, how much more useful is an additional science course or two to qualify for the BS? This of course depends on the school and how the programs are structured. I also had research experience, and certainly no fewer opportunities than the BS track. </p>

<p>And no, a GPA is not the most important factor in graduate admissions. Research experience is one of the most influential factors, as well as strong letters of recommendation and a well-thought out personal essay. It is always good to shoot for a high GPA, but other strengths in an application can offset lower GPAs.</p>

<p>I’m sorry, NovaLynnx; I hope I didn’t offend you at all. I really did generalize and I apologize for giving the impression that I think BAs make a person less qualified for grad school, which they don’t. I gave my advice with the intention of allowing for maximal background knowledge and preparation for all fields of psychology based on the programs I was aware of (several BA programs I’ve looked at required 1/no science courses at all), and assuming that electives taken in a BA program would be geared away from the BSc requirements, for the most part (since the difference between a BA and a BSC may only be a couple of science courses anyways).</p>

<p>Do listen to NovaLynnx, who’s given great advice, 13nortonj, and see if you can talk to those working in the field, and find out what kind of preparation (in terms of courses, moreso than major) they found was useful in undergrad. As well, you should make sure as you progress that you aware of the requirements of the programs you’re interested in, so you can take the necessary prerequisite courses – I will agree here that a BA may be preferable, as they sometimes allow for more flexibility in course selection.</p>

<p>I will disagree slightly with NovaLynnx regarding GPA, as it’s still easier when you don’t have to offset a low GPA (which, of course, is not the most important factor, but may be used in the initial screening of applicants); but then, I’m sure you’ll make the most of your undergrad experience, and get amazing recs and research experience so that it won’t matter. :)</p>

<p>The difference between a BA and a BS is often completely arbitrary and varies wildly between schools and programs. Effectively, it doesn’t matter as far as graduate school goes, because no admissions decisions are going to hinge on having one letter or the other on your degree.</p>

<p>For example, I have a BS in journalism rather than a BA. I didn’t take a single extra science course to earn the BS. At my university, earning a minor meant you got a BS, while taking two years of one foreign language resulted in a BA.</p>

<p>Thank you all so much for your responses! They were all really helpful!</p>

<p>TitoMorito: No, you did not offend me. If you want to go to grad school for neuroscience, a BS would certainly be the way to go (though it’s still possible to do so with a BA). But if you want to go for a less science-heavy field, it won’t matter which degree you have, is all. As for GPA - I agree, keeping it high is best, but a 3.6 or 3.7 isn’t terrible for psychology either, and if you plan well and have a lot of research experience, then that’s what’s going to get them on board with admitting you, not a 4.0. By “lower” GPAs, I generally meant in the 3.4 - 3.5 range. Although most schools do not have hard cut-offs above a 3.0. There are plenty of students on this site with a 3.3 - 3.4 range who were admitted to programs based on other excellent qualifications. </p>

<p>As for job prospects after college, it is tough as a psychology major regardless of BA/BS. I don’t think employers would care which you had, honestly. Some college only offer a BS; others only offer a BA, and may have nearly identical programs/requirements.</p>

<p>It doesn’t really matter, honestly.</p>

<p>Psychology only really requires a natural scientist background if you are going into a specific type. I’m entering my last year of a health psychology PhD and I do not have a natural science background. You likely wouldn’t need one for school psychology either (I considered that field myself). If you want to stay open to doing the more biologically based psychology subfields, though (neuroscience, biological psychology, cognitive, neuropsychology, some types of clinical) then the BS might be better. Of course, you could always do a BA and just take natural science classes that interest you. Your graduate admissions committee is going to look at the classes you took, and your degree won’t matter so much as long as you have the prerequisites for what you have to do.</p>

<p>I also disagree with NovaLynnx on the topic of GPA - it is one of the most important factors. I would say that only research experience is more important, and maybe recommendation letters are neck-and-neck. Whether other factors can offset a lower GPA depends on how low the GPA is - a person with a sub-3.0 GPA is unlikely to be admitted to doctoral programs.</p>

<p>^^ I did state that it should be above a 3.5, actually. By “lower” GPAs I was referring to 3.4 or so, not sub 3.0. Of course sub 3.0 would be nearly impossible to offset, even with near perfect GRE scores. But my point was that comparing an applicant with a 3.8 GPA to an applicant with a 3.9 GPA is irrelevant, because the 3.8 applicant may have a much stronger background in research, stronger letters of rec., etc. So no, in that case the higher GPA would not mean much of anything. There is also the importance of “fit” with a PI or program in general. If you want to work with someone, your interests should match theirs, or you should be willing to develop a sincere interest in theirs. I actually don’t think I have ever read another PhD student in psychology say that GPA was one of the most important factors. Especially since there are plenty here and on similar sites with sub 4.0’s who got into excellent programs. It is important, yes, but you need to bring the whole package, not just the grades.</p>

<p>It doesn’t matter because each college and university has their own guidelines for awarding BA/BS degrees. I received a BS degree, but I was enrolled in a pre-professional program. In fact, all the students in pre-professional programs earned a BS degree at my university. Students whose majors were housed in the College of Arts and Sciences earned BA degrees.</p>

<p>What matters more than the letters of your degree (BS/BA) is the coursework in preparation for the pysch research that you want to conduct. Scientific research may require Calc & Stats, for example. Neuro programs will look for plenty of science or math/comp sci courses.</p>

<p>Some colleges will award you a BS if you take enough math/science courses. At other colleges, it is impossible to earn a BS in Psych just because they don’t offer it. Cal-Berkeley, for example, only offers a BA in Psych (as well as Bio, Math, Physics and other sciences). Most liberal arts majors at Cal are in the College of Letters and Sciences which only offers a BA degree.</p>