BA versus BSc in Psychology

As already noted, the requirements within the major are identical for BA vs. BSc majors; the difference lies in the courses you take outside your major.  Our advice would be that if you really see yourself as an Arts person, i.e., you strongly enjoy and prefer Arts courses, then you should definitely go the BA route.  If you really see yourself as a Science person, i.e., you strongly enjoy and prefer Science courses, then you should definitely go the BSc route.  If you’re uncertain or in between, though, then you could go either way.

Students sometimes ask if one route is “better” than the other, i.e., likely to be viewed more favourably by graduate schools or employers. In general, no. Psychology as a discipline really straddles the boundaries between Arts and Sciences. In some universities, it is housed within the Arts faculty; at others, it is within the Science faculty; if the university is large enough to have a Faculty of Social Sciences, it is housed there.  At many universities, like Acadia, you can take either a BA or a BSc in Psychology.  In general, then, employers and graduate schools tend to pay relatively little attention to what your specific degree is. What matters more is whether you’ve taken relevant courses, and how you did in them.  Of course, if you’re planning on going into medicine, graduate school in neuropsychology, or other heavily science-laden routes, then a BSc degree, with plenty of relevant courses outside of psychology (e.g., biology, organic chemistry) will probably be looked on more favourably. On the other hand, if you’re planning on becoming a social worker, then a BA degree, perhaps with Sociology as a minor or second major, will probably be looked on more favourably.  For most career routes, though, either degree is equally acceptable.

Note that if you’re considering pursuing our Neuroscience Option in later years, then you will need to take a BSc degree, as that Option is only offered within the BSc.  The Applied Psychology Option can be taken within either a BA or a BSc degree.

If you are considering a double major, then the second major can be in any subject, regardless of whether you are taking a BA or BSc, so either route will work fine.

If you’re still uncertain which route you want to take, check out the overview of requirements outside the major for BA versus BSc students.  As you’ll see, the Arts degree lays out quite a number of specific requirements that you must take outside of the major.  You must take certain courses to fulfill the Arts Core, and you must do a 24 h minor (i.e., 8 half-courses in a single subject, or in a multi-disciplinary topic area).  The Science degree is considerably less prescriptive, with very few required courses outside the major, and only a 15 h minor (i.e., only 5 half-courses in a single subject outside of psychology).  Therefore, if you like having concrete guidance as to what courses to select outside your major, and like the idea of pursuing a second subject area in depth, then the BA is a good choice.  If you want more flexibility to tailor your own curriculum, and to take exactly the courses you want outside the major, then the BSc major is a good choice.  Note that you will have to take at least 72 h of Science courses overall for the BSc degree.  However, your psychology courses taken towards your major, and any additional psychology courses taken beyond your major, count towards those Science hours.  If you are doing a double major, then the second major’s courses also count as if they were Science courses, even if it is not a Science subject.  Finally, there are a wide variety of Science electives available.  Therefore, most students do not find meeting the requirement for 72 h of Science courses very difficult.

If you wish, you can switch from BA to BSc or vice versa quite easily, especially in your first or second years.  (If you wait until your 3rd or 4th year, it might be harder to fulfill all your requirements.)  To switch from BA to BSc, or vice versa, before you get to Acadia, you will need to e-mail the Admissions Office with your request. To switch programs once you are at Acadia, come see Heather Turner, the psychology administrative assistant, in Horton Hall, Room 326, or e-mail her at heather.turner@acadiau.ca. She will process the request; it usually takes about a day to process.