Excelsior College - Bachelor of Science Liberal Arts

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by bceagles, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    This is something I’ve been meaning to ask about for some time now but never got around to it. As I’ve stated in other threads, for me the main objective of completing an undergraduate degree from Excelsior College (EC) was to get into an MBA program. For my particular situation, a stand-alone undergraduate degree wasn’t going to make much of a difference, or that’s how I felt at the time. I was tempted at one point to forget about an undergraduate degree altogether and go straight into the Heriot Watt EBS MBA program (no undergraduate degree required, not sure if this is still an available option). HW EBS MBA is a legitimate program with a decent enough reputation. The deal breaker for me was how an MBA without an undergraduate would look on a resume, especially one from overseas. I was trying to walk thru in my head how an interview would go in this situation.

    “You indicated on your resume an MBA and no undergraduate degree, is this correct? ..... And Heriot Watt is in Scotland, correct? Did you live in Scotland?”

    For me, this would raise too many red flags during the hiring process. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I could “pull it off”.

    Anyways, at this point I decided to find the most efficient way to get an undergraduate degree that would use all/most of my existing course work and also include any potential MBA pre reqs (Management, Econ, Accounting, Marketing, Etc.). EC’s BSLA program fit the bill perfectly. I didn’t particularly care if the awarded degree was in General Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Applied Science, Liberal Arts, or whatever. I just needed an RA transcript with a high enough GPA (2.7 got it done) to pair with my MBA application. 6 years later and EC was the best decision I could’ve made for my academic career, life changing on some level.

    My question, doesn’t a “Bachelor of Science” in “Liberal Arts” sounds like 2 different things? Isn’t a BA Liberal Arts a degree path in one direction and a BAchelor of Science a complete other? It’s never come up or been an issue, but it sounds odd if you think about it.

    Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

    Attached Files:

  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    "Programs resulting in a Bachelor of Science degree are generally more strictly focused on their subject matter, requiring more credits that are directly linked to the major. Students are expected to concentrate their academic energies on mastering the technical and practical facets of their field. They have fewer opportunities to explore topics outside of the subject of their major. Bachelor of Science degrees are usually offered in technical and scientific areas like computer science, nursing, mathematics, biochemistry, and physics.

    A Bachelor of the Arts degree program provides students with a more expansive education, requiring fewer credits that are directly linked to a particular major. Instead, students are expected to earn credits in a variety of liberal arts subjects. Courses in the humanities, English, the social sciences, and a foreign language are typically part of this degree program. Students can pick and choose from a broad array of courses to fulfill these requirements, allowing them greater flexibility to customize their education to match their individual goals and interests. Bachelor of Arts degrees are commonly offered in fields like English, art, music, modern languages and communication."


    Beyond all that however I'd like to stress that no one will care, not even the MBA admissions people, and that you're over-thinking this whole thing. Best of luck in grad school. You'll be fine.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    My thoughts on this, perfectly summarized. :)
  4. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    That’s fair. Thanks for posting the link.
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    For what it's worth, many years ago I briefly toyed with the idea of doing the Heriot-Watt MBA, but decided against it for the same reason you did.
  6. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    HW EBS MBA seems like a decent program, they claim decent ranking:


    I’m not 100% sure of the best way to evaluate an international university, but everything I’ve read over the years indicates that HW EBS is a decent school. I’m comfortable saying that HW EBS isn’t the UoP of the UK.
  7. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    Just curious/ looking for clarification from the community here. During my professional travels I’ve come across people with undergraduate management degrees listed as BS in Management and BA in Management. This was probably when I first wondered about the difference between a BS and a BA.

    Thanks again for the feedback.
  8. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    Were your professional travels limited to the US? I ask because what Kismet wrote about the difference between a BA and a BS (or BSc, as it is generally abbreviated outside the US) is true in the US and a few other countries with a similar higher education system, but there are many countries, especially in Europe (and that includes the UK system), with different higher education systems.

    In the UK, the Open University and a few other (generally younger) universities use a system which is at least roughly similar to the US system, but at most UK universities the title of an undergraduate degree depends completely on the tradition of the specific institution. At some old Scotish universities, the counterpart to a US BA degree even is an undergraduate (!) MA degree.
  9. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    And there is also BBA degree, Bachelor of Business Administration, Not BA or BS just BBA. Some degrees are directly on their discipline such as Bachelor of Engineering - BEng.
    As DL is more and more streamline I think rarely you will be asked today if you lived in Scotland. In general, I think MBA from good US school will serve better with employers in the US especially in the field of accounting etc.
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The difference between a BS and BA is what is different at your school. Different schools have different ways of differentiating between the two.

    At Excelsior, BS programs allow you to use more non-liberal arts credits as electives. The liberal arts are science, social science, humanities, and mathematics.

    At TESU and Harvard, al liberal arts majors are BAs. Both schools consider computer science to be a liberal art, so they offer a BA in CS.

    At some schools, the BA requires a foreign language. At many schools, a BA in a science simply means that fewer lower level science and math courses are required leaving more room for free electives.

    With psychology, the BS usually requires biology courses. However, this is not the case at Excelsior. At Excelsior, a BS in psychology allows you to use more applied credits such as business, healthcare, IT, and emergency management. Applied professional credits are anything that's not a liberal art.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    In the end this is probably the best summary statement and the reason why this whole BA v BS thing is a difference without a distinction. It really is meaningless. It reminds me of how, a few years ago, UNISA renamed their doctoral degrees. Overnight they were switched from the D. Litt. et Phil nomenclature to the more standard PhD. The two terms had always been seen as equivalent (by most) but the school decided to join the rest of the world and made the switch. I think the BA/BS thing is rather individualized by schools and they are essentially saying "Yeah, I know you do yours that way but over here in our school we do ours this way."
  12. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    Yes, the vast majority of my professional time has been spent in the US.

    What is your take on Hariot Watt, higher quality university or more middle of the road?
  13. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    Discipline-specific degrees are not very common in the US. The only common examples are the BBA, the now quite common MBA (of course), and, to a lesser degree, the Master of Engineering degree and the LLM. Even the Bachelor of Engineering isn't that easy to find at American universities.

    The situation in some other English speaking countries is quite different. Universities in Australia and New Zealand, for instance, offer a huge number of different discipline-specific degrees.

    I think you are right, at least in the case of US schools. In some other countries (outside the English-speaking world) there is a true distinction, but that's not what this thread is about.

    By the way, many people with doctorates from outside the English-speaking world even "translate" their (equivalent) foreign degree as "PhD", and that practice is generally accepted in the academic world.

    I'm located in Germany, therefore, I have a European point of view. I'm not sure how relevant the reputation of Hariot Watt here in Europe is to someone in the US.

    On this side of the pond, Hariot Watt is seen as one of the best Scotish universities. In other words, it is a higher quality university. However, EBS is not the most prestigious part of Hariot Watt.
  14. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    And some countries have institutions that offer a Bachelor of Commerce, so if you see a BCom that's what that is.
  15. bceagles

    bceagles Member

  16. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Since the advent of correspondence-based degrees some 50 years ago (pre-online degrees, for lack of a better term), even major colleges and universities titled their undergrad degrees with different designations than they gave resident degrees.

    I wouldn't worry about whether a degree is a BA or BS unless it is neither of them. Designations commonly used by established schools include the BGS (general studies), BIS (independent studies), BPS (professional studies), BLS (liberal studies), and other names that would make the average human resources manager ask, "What the hell is a...." Whether you have a BA or BS, you will never have to worry about such a question. If you have a BGS, BIS, or any others, you will have to be prepared to defend your degree and how you earned it.

    The same goes at the master's level, especially when the same abbreviation is used for more than one degree. Got an MLS? Cool, but is it a Master of Library Science, or is it a Master of Liberal Studies? Even the venerable TESU essentially designed a Master of Science in Management program a few years ago, but they called it an MPS - Master of Professional Studies. And, speaking of the now-common MSM, it was originally designed as an alternative to the MBA, but one that did not have the prerequisites that the MBA had.
  17. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    I generally agree. However, I've never seen a BGS or BIS with a genuine major. It's always a concentration, which requires less discipline-specific credits than a major. That may be irrelevant for the job you're applying for, but my point is that there is an academic reason for that distinction.
    That may be true for the US, but the MSM, in contrast to the MBA, is not a degree of US origin.

    The origin of the MSM is ESCP Europe (École supérieure de commerce de Paris), which happens to be the oldest business school in the world. That school was the model for very most business schools on the European continent.

    The MSM is the traditional European business school degree. Even today, there are countries with more MSM programs than MBAs. (Germany is such a country.) However, the native language of most European countries isn't English, of course. Therefore, the actual title of these degrees often is in the respective language or even in Latin. That is also the reason why some (like the Economist, for instance) call these European-style business school degrees from different countries and with different titles "Master's in Management", but such a degree really is the same like an MSM. And at least programs with English as the language of instruction are very often also called "Master of Science in Management".

    The coursework of a BBA often is more application-orientated, but I do not think that it would make any human resources manager ask, "What the hell is a BBA." That difference really isn't that important.
  18. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I agree, a BBA would most likely not raise too many questions from a resume perspective

    Bachelor of Business Administration, Management - this looks fine on a resume

    Bachelor of Science, Business Management - also looks good on a resume too

    Bachelor of Art, Management- this too should be fine, maybe a pain in the ass hiring manager who thinks they are smarter than they are would bring it up. “My Management degree from XYZ University is a BS, how is yours a BA”. Highly unlikely though.

    I think this is a consideration that might be overlooked in some situations. If I had stopped my education after completing the BSLA at Excelsior, I would’ve had to have a prepare answer for the potential interview questions related to:

    “I’ve never heard of a BS in Liberal Arts....”

    “I’ve never heard of Excelsior College.....”

    Having an MBA on top of EC on my resume from a traditional University makes the EC and BSLA much easier.

    Some of us who entered the work force without a degree are trying to fill in the gaps to remove the education obstacle. Putting ourselves in this position kind of defeats the purpose on some level.

    This conversation, as over thinking as it might be, is helpful for when preparing your approach to an interview.

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