Bachelor of Arts Program
The major in chemistry leading to the BA degree requires the following courses: CHEM 111,* 221, 231, 332, 341, 351 or 361, 496; MATH 224/225 and 226/227; PHYS 131 (or 121) and 132 (or 122); one and one-half additional courses** from among CHEM 335, 422, 445, 455 and 497/498; two additional courses in chemistry; one additional course* within the Division of Science and Mathematics.
BA students must take CHEM 496 and at least six other chemistry courses in the major, including at least four upper-level chemistry courses, while in residence at Binghamton University.
*CHEM 107-108 may be substituted for CHEM 111. If this substitution is made, the additional course in the Division of Science and Mathematics is not required.
**Subject to approval of the department, laboratory courses from other departments may be substituted.
- Differences Between B.A. and B.S. Degrees
One of the most common questions is "Which degree should I get - a BS or a BA?" This is an important question, but also one that does not have a simple answer. Even among the Chemistry Department faculty, there is a difference of opinion. At the same time, the following guidelines may help in your decision.
- The BA degree gives you exposure to the four main areas of Chemistry (Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical) but requires fewer courses than the BS degree. As such, it provides more opportunity to explore other areas and interests. This extra flexibility can be quite useful if your goal is admission to a graduate program or professional school outside of Chemistry (for example, Medical School, Law School, Optometry, etc.). For these career goals, a detailed knowledge of Chemistry is not as critical as the breadth of science knowledge.
- The BS degree, on the other hand, gives you more in depth exposure to the core areas of Chemistry by requiring more courses. This can be of greatest help if you desire to obtain a job in the Chemical industry directly out of college. In such a case, the BS degree does offer some competitive advantage. You might also want to consider the BS degree with ACS certification. There is still sufficient flexibility in the BS degree program to allow you to pursue other interests and also to focus your choice of courses toward the area(s) you find most interesting.
If your goal is admission to graduate school in Chemistry, then either the BS or the BA option is open, although the BS pathway will give you a greater advantage by virture of the fact that you will have greater depth of preparation. Your choice depends entirely on what interests you and how many courses outside (and inside) of Chemistry you wish to take. The single largest factor that tends to help graduate school admissions (besides maintaining decent grades) is whether you have done independent research or not. Independent research is viewed quite favorably for admission to graduate school and will also greatly help you to get started quickly in research in graduate school.
In the final analysis, the choice of BA or BS is yours to make. Consult with your Chemistry major advisor early in your undergraduate career about which pathway would be most beneficial to you. Also, it is worth noting that you can change your mind. If you are initially pursuing a BS degree, then the change to a BA is very simple and usually results in no delays as far as graduation is concerned. Changing from a BA to a BS, on the other hand, can be simple early on, but may result in you having to spend an extra semester or two if you make the change late (junior or senior year). Remember, either the BA or the BS degree in Chemistry opens the doors to a wide range of career opportunities.