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  1. #1
    me again is offline Registered User
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    Question B.S. vs. B.A. -- Is There a Difference?

    Is there a difference between a bachelor of science degree and a bachelor of arts degree?

    In some schools, a business degree is a B.S. while in other schools, it is a B.A. This holds true for other degrees as well (criminal justice, health psy ed, consumer management, ect).

    This raises at least three questions:
    • In today’s academia, have the differences between a B.S. and a B.A. become indistinguishable?
    • In the old days, what was the difference between the two degrees?
    • What led to the creation of these two different educational titles?
    Does anyone know?

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  2. #2
    jon porter is offline Registered User
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    My alma mater, Wabash, only gives the AB, even if it's a degree in biology; if memory serves, USMA West Point only gives the BS, even if it's a history degree.

    And St Andrews, where I did my MPhil (which would have been an MA in England or the US), Pyschology degrees could be either MA (an undergraduate degree: it's a long story) or a BSc. Coursework was the same for both, only the letters changed.

    I think it's safe to say there's no difference between a BA and BS; I would, however, argue that there is a significant difference between a BA and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies.

    Jon Porter, PhD
    Butler University

  3. #3
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    The following page from ERIC is relevant: What's the difference between a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree?.

    More specifically related to particular programs are the following:In general, the BS seems to be more focussed, the BA broader, possibly with requirement for foreign language and non-Western culture, and possibly with the requirement for a minor.

  4. #4
    me again is offline Registered User
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    What was the original distinction of a B.S. and a B.A.

    In the begining, there certainly must have been a distinction!

    2014 - Bench pressed 43 pounds
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  5. #5
    DaveHayden is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by me again
    What was the original distinction of a B.S. and a B.A. In the begining, there certainly must have been a distinction!
    A Bachelor of Science would typical require a one year sequence in Math and one in Science. A Bachelor of Arts would typically require 2 years in a foreign language.
    Best Regards,
    Dave Hayden

    "Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare



  6. #6
    Bill Highsmith is offline Registered User
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    My undergraduate degree required:
    32 credits of math (beginning with calculus)
    32 credits of engineering science
    32 credits in my engineering specialty
    32 credits in the humanities

    That would be hard to call a "BA."

  7. #7
    Bruce is offline Moderator
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    I asked the same question of my undergrad alma mater, although my only option was the B.A. (Criminal Justice ). I was told that the B.A. is more of a liberal arts degree, with also more of a focus on independent research and writing.

    FWIW, Indiana State University offers both the M.A. and M.S. in Criminology , with the M.A. being the preferred choice if one is going on to a doctoral program (the M.A. requires a thesis, the M.S. doesn't). Then again, some excellent graduate CJ programs (Sam Houston State for one) offer only the M.S. degree, so who really knows?


    "Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for last call" - Bruce :D

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  9. #8
    EllisZ is offline Registered User
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    My undergrad (before I transfered to Regents) would have resulted in a B.S. from a liberal arts school. B.A. wasn't even an option for my field. (Computer Science ). Go figure.

  10. #9
    Anthony Pina is offline Registered User
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    The distinction between B.A. and B.S. is only significant if a program or school offers both degrees (as Gert's useful list illustrates). Otherwise the degrees are considered equal. If one state university, for instance, offers only a B.A. in psychology while another offers only a B.S., it would be incorrect to assume that the B.S. would be superior.

    The same situation applies to the M.A. versus M.S. (and M.Ed. if the subject is education ). The significance between the two degrees only appears if the program offers two different tracks for the two degrees. A previous thread has also been devoted to the difference between the education Ph.D. and Ed.D. (also no significant difference)

    Tony

  11. #10
    Guest
    I realize this is not the point of this thread but you are correct there is often no difference in terms of requirements (though not always) but there is a difference in prestige. Ed.D is a professional doctorate (ie DBA, D.Min. etc not to be confused with a first professional degree which is not really a doctorate such as JD & D.Pharm.). Ph.D. is the more prestigious degree.

    When I was in undergraduate studies the BS could be done in sociology but required more science/math requirements than the B.A. in Sociology .

    North

    Originally posted by Anthony Pina
    A previous thread has also been devoted to the difference between the education Ph.D. and Ed.D. (also no significant difference)

    Tony

  12. #11
    EllisZ is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by North
    I realize this is not the point of this thread but you are correct there is often no difference in terms of requirements (though not always) but there is a difference in prestige. Ed.D is a professional doctorate (ie DBA, D.Min. etc not to be confused with a first professional degree which is not really a doctorate such as JD & D.Pharm.). Ph.D. is the more prestigious degree.
    I'm a bit confused by your reply. Would not a JD or D.Pharm be as much of a doctorate as an M.D.? What do you mean "not really a doctorate" ?


    When I was in undergraduate studies the BS could be done in sociology but required more science/math requirements than the B.A. in Sociology .

    North

    Again, this is really dependent on the school.

  13. #12
    Guest
    Although they technically have "doctor" in the title they are not a doctorate in the classic sense. In Canada, great Britian and elsewhere a law degree is an LLB (Bachelors), in Canada a pharmacy degree was or is a bachelors degree. They are undergraduate professional degrees. In the US at some point the LLB was changed into a JD and the pharmacy degree into a D.Pharm. However, changing the name of a degree does not necessarily elevate it to the status of a doctorate in the classic sense. As I understand it in Britian the medical degree is also a bachelors and I believe this is or was the case for Australia as well (I know an Australian dermatologist & I *believe* his medical degree was a bachelors). In the US we have puffed these degrees up. I remember telling a Rabbi I knew in the army about a debate regarding whether to call Ph.D.'s doctor or only M.D.'s, his response was that he (the Rabbi) had a *real* doctorate unlike the M.D.

    I have posted these links before but here they are again. This is from the USDoE regarding the National Science Foundation categorization of doctorates considered equivalent to the Ph.D. in terms of being research doctorates (some what are commonly called professional and others academic).

    http://www.ed.gov/NLE/USNEI/us/research-doctorate.html

    This one is from the same site but has degrees called doctorates which are not equivalent (ie they are first professional degrees). This is not meant to in any way demean the degree or the accomplishment.

    http://www.ed.gov/NLE/USNEI/us/profe...l-studies.html


    North


    Originally posted by EllisZ
    I'm a bit confused by your reply. Would not a JD or D.Pharm be as much of a doctorate as an M.D.? What do you mean "not really a doctorate" ?

  14. #13
    me again is offline Registered User
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    Facinating Mr. North. Thank you for posting the links.

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  15. #14
    EllisZ is offline Registered User
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    Extremely interesting. THANK YOU for the reply.

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  17. #15
    Nosborne is offline Registered User
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    Post Research law degrees

    It wouldn't hurt to point out, in regards to the JD, that law research is fundamentally different than research in the rest of the American academy.

    There is a PhD equivalent in law; it is the JSD (or SJD). The student completes a BA, then a JD, then spends two more years in residence during which he may or may not acquire an LLM "along the way", then researches, writes, and defends a dissertation.

    VERY few law school professors hold the JSD. Many more have LLM degrees in specialty areas of law, such as taxation or international law. Most teach, publish, research and obtain tenure with nothing more than a JD. Universities with law schools treat the JD more or less the same as they treat the PhD except that they pay the JD professor more money.

    Universities with law schools have even begun prescribing the wearing, not only the doctoral hood and gown, but the gold tassle by their JD holders and graduates.

    Now, I don't know why the situation developed this way, but I can speculate to a certain extent.
    In most areas of research, human knowlege is increased through the efforts of scholars working in the University system. That, after all, is what the University is for. In common law countries, however, developments in the law come, not from scholars in the schools, but from judges hearing cases presented by lawyers and from legislatures assisted by lawyers. The teaching in law schools follows practice rather than leading practice.

    Every lawyer reads his case reports and recent legislation in his field of law in order to stay abreast of the most recent developments. It is, however, rare indeed that a practicing attorney consults a legal periodical. Citation to periodicals for authority is even rarer; the lawyer will instead cite the cases contained in a periodical article.

    Since the common law develops in a way that does not rely on academic research, there is little demand for scholars trained in academic research.

    Well, that's how it looks to me, anyway.

    Nosborne

  18. #16
    Anthony Pina is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by North
    ...you are correct there is often no difference in terms of requirements (though not always) but there is a difference in prestige. Ed.D is a professional doctorate...Ph.D. is the more prestigious degree.

    While it is true that when Harvard started offering the Ed.D. degree in the 1920s, the intention was to create a "professional" degree, in contrast to the more "research oriented" Ph.D. degree. All of the studies that have been done in the area of Ed.D. vs. Ph.D. (about 10 of them) have shown that there is little justification to distinguish the two degrees.

    Although a few colleges of education may offer both degrees, with a separate "applied" track for the Ed.D., the fact is that Ed.D. students have to take the same research and statistics courses that Ph.D. students do and must (with few exceptions) do a research-based dissertation. Incidentally, a study of nearly 2,000 Ph.D. and Ed.D. dissertations found little difference in academic rigour between the two degrees.

    Historically, education Ph.D. programs were more prone to require a foreign language than Ed.D. programs, but most programs have also dropped this requirement. All we are left with is the perception (with no basis in quantifiable research) that, somehow, a Ph.D. in education is superior to an Ed.D.

    Tony
    (Who has been a student in both Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs)

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