SA Honours BA=????

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by PMBrooks, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. PMBrooks

    PMBrooks New Member

    I have searched some of the older threads on this topic and have found them somewhat helpful, but not exactly answering my question:

    Would a Honours BA from UNISA (or any other SA university) be roughly equivalent to doing the first year's course work of a masters in the US?

    Thanks for any info folks!
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    My guess is that the answer is "no." In the USA a BA is a BA (honors or not).

    Now, if you want to know if the "Honors" component will give you a leg up in your application to non-US grad programs I'd say "yes, it will." Go figure.
  3. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

  4. streetsmart

    streetsmart New Member

    I have a BA Honors from Canada and it certainly doesn't equal anything more than a BA here. At home the Honors just means it was a 4 year degree and not a general 3 year BA, and since there are no 3 year BAs here in the US (as far as I know) that Honors designation means nothing.

    Did you do an extra year or extra course work for the Honors in SA?
  5. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I know people who have done 3 years degrees in the UK and in SA. The entrance requirements required several 'A' levels (or equivilent education). These qualifications are accepted by US colleges as lower division (some are somewhat like CLEP exams in content).

    The thing about 3 year degrees in the UK is that there is often very little general education component - look at this degree in psychology for example
  6. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    That's true, but the same applies to very most Continental European degrees. The US tradition of general education at college level is limited to the US and a few other developed countries. In Europe and many former European colonies, general education is often considered part of the mission of college-preparatory high schools. BTW, I don't think one of the two traditions is inferior. It just represents a different educational philosophy.

    But I think Kizmet is right, a Honours BA from UNISA is not equivalent to doing the first year's course work of a Master's in the US, mainly because the US system differs to much from the SA education system. There simply is no real US counterpart to such a Honours degree. But there are other countries where that degree probably is seen as equivalent to the first year of a Master's degree. I'm not sure, but this could be the case in other countries of the Commonwealth, for instance.

  7. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    Clarification: There are, of course, countries that are not seen as developed countries and also offer general education at college level.
  8. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    My observation is that the equivalency of the Honours BA with the US Masters degree is dependent on the discipline you're investigating. In general, the coursework seems to straddle the US BA major concentration and the US Masters content. Hence, the Honours BA in a discipline could nearly always be expected to prepare one to enter a US Masters degree program without engaging in leveling.
  9. PMBrooks

    PMBrooks New Member

    What about a master's?

    Thanks everyone for the thought and reflections.

    So, let me ask this...would a SA master's degree (that is a thesis only) be equivalent to a US master's, given that an Honours BA is most equivalent with a US BA?
  10. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I think the answer is yes but I'd also like to point out that this sort of question is the very reason for the existence of the various degree equivalency evaluation services.
  11. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    The Honors Degree in the British Commonwealth often has a research component to it. In Australia, for example, you go from a BA(Honours) to a PHD, not to a Masters. I have often wondered why a Masters Degree here and not a BA (honours).

    I would suggest that you check with the SA University to determine if, after completion of the Bachelor's degree with honors, you can proceed straight to a PHD. If not, then it is not the equivalent of a US Masters Degree. If so, then it is more than the US Bachelors Degree and may enable you to go to a PHD directly after completion. You may need to establish its status with the university you are seeking to enter for the PHD.

    The Bachelors degree is a professional qualification in its own right in the Commonwealth and does not seem to directly correspond with the US Bachelor's degree. Most people do not proceed to Masters Degrees. This is changing for specialist training in certain professional models.

    One might be admitted as a lawyer, for example, then specialize in a certain aspect of law. Alternatively, Medical Practitioners have a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of surgery upon completion of medical training. They may go on to do specialist training in professional bodies and become Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons etc, but university quals usually finish there. Professional bodies are still offering professional training themselves, outside the university structure so dominant in the US.
  12. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    Slightly off topic, but there seems to be an interest. The PHD that I am doing with a B & M University in Australia is thesis only. There is, however, considerable training that goes on informally. You attend courses in writing, researching, and have to meet regularly with supervisors that supervise your reading etc. You must present an overview of your topic area at a conference or academic gathering. The structure is designed individually by the supervisor, not by the completion of coursework. You are also expected to network with other students.

    It is not quite true to say that it is thesis only. It is more correct to say that the thesis is the only marked component. After the first year, you have to produce a comprehensive research proposal that is assessed for value for formal admission to candidacy. In most Universities, you can reasonably expect to defend it in an oral review. You are not marked on it, you are either admitted or not. After that you must complete an 80,000 word thesis for marking to complete the degree.

    The dropout rate is about 50 percent.
  13. Always excellent comments from ebbwvale. Generally, a BA (Hons) in Australia is a standard 3 year pass degree with an extra year added for some specialist subjects in your field of study plus a thesis of 15-20,000 words. If the result for the honours year gives you first class or upper second class honours ( first class only in some cases) you can go straight on to a Ph.D. If you get lower second class honours you can normally be admitted to a research masters. If a student can enter a Ph.D straight from honours, there probably isn't much point doing a research masters.

    It might be worthwhile to see if you can be admitted to an Australian Ph.D. on the strength of a SA Hons.
  14. mattchand

    mattchand Member

    That has to be one of the best, concise overviews I've read of the commonwealth PhD process. Thank you for posting it.


  15. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    My pleasure. Describing it is one thing, completing it is entirely another! I guess all PHD students know that, no matter what the model.

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