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Psychology B.A. versus B.S.: Which is right for me?

The Department of Psychology offers undergraduate programs leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. The objective of both programs is to provide a broad overview of psychology, and both require extensive exposure to areas other than psychology as a context for study in the major. The B.S. program places relatively more emphasis on the natural sciences and mathematics. Both the B.S. and B.A. programs provide ex­ce­llent preparation for graduate school.

The Psychology major provides students with a background of fundamental subject matter that will equip students for subsequent graduate study in related fields. The major is also beneficial for students seeking careers that involve knowledge about interpersonal relationships such as medicine, education, law, or management. Psychology expertise is also relevant to standard business settings in which a major goal is to adapt products and services to closely reflect human needs and capabilities.

B.A. and B.S. as Preparation for Graduate School

Graduate and professional schools in general are not concerned with the kind of degree you possess but rather with the courses you have taken. Generally speaking, graduate programs check your GPA, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and GRE test scores. If you are more interested in math or the natural sciences, you may prefer the B.S. degree. The B.A. degree may be attractive to students interested in earning a minor or a concentration in another area, or perhaps pursuing a double major, and for students who desire more freedom when choosing their elective courses.

The B.S. and B.A. degrees are equally acceptable for students interested in Psychology graduate school and pre-professional schools (check with the pre-health and pre-law advisors in Academic and Transfer Advising Services, E3310 Melville Library for details). There is a good deal of overlap between the B.S. degree and many health program requirements, so students interested in health fields generally choose the B.S. degree.

The most important aspect of your choice is to determine what courses would best prepare you for the programs to which you may be applying. For guidance, take advantage of campus resources, such as Pre-Health Advising and Pre-Law Advising. There are additionally many external online resources, such as and 

Courses in the Psychology Department:

Both the B.A. and B.S. in Psychology require students to complete a set of three core courses: Introductory Psychology, Statistics, and Research and Writing in Psychology. These courses provide students with an overview of the range of questions psychologists ask, as well as the methods they use to address those questions. Both degrees also require students to sample from the department's survey courses of each of five major areas of psychological inquiry (Biopsychology, Clinical and Abnormal Psychology, Cognition and Perception, Developmental Psychology, and Social Psychology). To complete the psychology component of the major, B.A. students choose five additional courses, four of which must be upper division courses. B.S. students also must choose five courses, but one of them must be an advanced statistics course and one a lab course. All students majoring in Psychology also fulfill a writing requirement that can be met in any upper division Psychology course, including PSY 310.

Courses Outside the Psychology Department: 

B.A. students are required to take a range of courses outside the department that are intended to complement their psychology program. These requirements are in mathematics, philosophy, biology, and other social science disciplines (e.g., anthropology, sociology, and political science). Students in the B.S. program take a series of courses in mathematics, biology, and other sciences.