Stony Brook University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is expecting to add a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in biology program in time for the Fall 2018 semester, CAS Dean Sacha Kopp announced in an email on Sunday, March 11.
The interdisciplinary program, which has received approval from the New York State Education Department, will allow students to combine a less intensive major curriculum with any one of 40 non-science minors from CAS. While a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree requires about 70 credits in math, chemistry, physics and biology, the BA would forgo a number of advanced biology courses for its minor requirement.
While Kopp described the BS as a “specialist degree,” the BA is being billed as a degree that combines scientific training with helpful skills such as communication, making it advantageous for students wishing to pursue careers in science, business or law.
“Employers have told us that it’s not the acronym (BS, BA) that’s the most important thing about a degree, nor is the choice of major,” Kopp wrote. “Rather, it’s the ability to write and communicate; to work in teams and in diverse cultures; and demonstrate leadership – skills that one might cultivate through an interdisciplinary minor found in the College.”
The program is not currently approved for federal financial aid, but once certification is complete the university said courses taken toward the program’s minor will count toward New York state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
An informational page on the BA program on Stony Brook’s website claims both the BA and BS degrees can be finished in about the same time, though students could potentially complete the BA quicker by taking major and minor courses simultaneously. The BA program would also allow students to avoid piling on multiple science courses at the same time and instead spread them out over multiple semesters.
The university also claims a BA would not put prospective medical school students at a disadvantage when applying for the next level in their education. The page cites data from the Association of American Medical Colleges that showed just 51 percent of students who enrolled in medical school in 2012 majored in biological sciences to support its claim.
Students looking to pursue a BA in biology can speak to undergraduate academic advisors in the undergraduate biology program for more information.