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The Difference Between a BA & a BS Psychology Degree

by Linda Emma

Beyond their choice of major, students often must decide early on whether they wish to pursue a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in college. In the field of Psychology, both are available. However, each represents a different focus, philosophy and core curriculum. Before plotting a path to their degree, students should weigh the pros and cons of each avenue based on their own interests, strengths, weakness, and future plans.

Psychology Majors

Students majoring in psychology may opt to gain the postsecondary education required to become psychologists and psychiatrists. Whether in public healthcare or private practice, these professionals work with patients and other healthcare associates evaluating and treating mental health. They may also pursue advanced degrees to work as therapists, counselors and physician assistants. While many students use their degrees as the foundation to further education, even with only an undergraduate psychology degree, they still may find work in healthcare as assistants and researchers. Psychology majors may also use their solid knowledge base of human nature to enter fields beyond healthcare, such as business, marketing, sales, real estate, insurance, law, education, human resources and social work.

Common Courses

Regardless of whether a student chooses to pursue a BA or BS, he’ll find much of the course content common to both designations, if he plans to graduate with a degree in psychology. Although requirements differ between individual colleges and programs, most students can expect to take some general education courses along with a core of psychology-focused content. Typical courses include Introductory and advanced Psychology courses, Psych Neuroscience, Psych Lab, Statistics and Research Methods. Additional research and internships may also be required.

BA in Psychology

According to the University of Massachusetts college system, the Bachelor of Arts in psychology focuses on sociological and environmental areas of the major and emphasizes courses in the humanities. Additionally, there may be a requirement of foreign language credits. Students graduating with a BA might pursue careers in education, counseling, social work, human resources and journalism. Those pursuing postsecondary degrees may be looking to continue on with direct client-patient contact as therapists, guidance counselors or psychologists.

BS in Psychology

The Bachelor of Science degree in psychology focuses on the biochemical aspects of mental health. According to the University of Delaware core curriculum requirements for BS Psychology majors, students will take more courses in biology, chemistry, math and computer science than their BA counterparts. Course requirements for BS students may also include additional lab requirements and more intensive research assignments. Students graduating with their BS in psychology may find employment as psychiatric assistants, case managers and assistant administrators. BS holders continuing on for postsecondary degrees may focus on education, research and public policy.

About the Author

A freelance writer with more than 15 years experience in researching, interviewing and writing for a variety of publications, I am seeking writing opportunities in today's changing marketplace. Whether blogging or contributing online, I look forward to challenging and rewarding writing forums.