BS vs. BSA

BS vs. BSA


About The BS Degree

The Bachelor of Sciences degree plan is perfect for anyone who wants to maximize the amount of science and major-specific classes they take. By following the BS degree plan, students are able to take more upper division classes related to their major than what is offered through the BSA program. Because the BS degree provides high exposure to upper division, major-specific classes and lab courses, it is the ideal degree plan for graduate school pursuers who wish to become experts in a specific field. With the BSA, a student learns a little about multiple areas of study, whereas with the BS, a student learns in depth about one subject. “[However], you can still achieve diversity with a BS degree plan by double majoring,” says Swetak Pradhan, a BS Biology junior.


Although the BS degree is geared towards those pursuing graduate school, its benefits can extend to virtually any science major highly passionate about a specific subject or career path, especially if the desire to specialize goes beyond that of a general major. For example, a BS within the Biology major would provide focus on a certain field of Biology, including Neurobiology, Genetics and Genomics, as well as a variety of biology teaching degrees.


BS Course Breakdown:

Course hour requirements vary with major:

30 hours: University Core Curriculum

80-90 hours in science and mathematics


(Full list of CNS majors that offer a BS degree at the bottom of the article.)


About The BSA Degree

The Bachelor of Science and Arts degree is a great option for those interested in including a minor or certificate outside of the College of Natural Sciences to their degree. By pursuing a BSA, students can not only take classes related to their major, but also classes from different colleges, such as McCombs School of Business or the Colleges of Liberal Arts, through a minor or a certificate, which may be more difficult to take with a BS. “The BSA allows students to take advantage of the academic opportunities within other colleges rather than being contained to one college,” says Neuroscience BSA senior Jeff Woods. BSA students still complete the standard 120 hours of coursework that a typical BS degree requires, but a portion of this coursework is devoted to interdisciplinary studies chosen by the student from a wide variety of certificates or minors. This also means fewer hours are devoted to upper division science courses related to the student’s major.


The BSA is often popular amongst those with health profession careers in mind, as it provides a way for students to become well rounded beyond the sciences. “BSA took out all of the labs in the BS that are great for pre-grad people but not helpful for pre-health,” notes Neuroscience BSA senior Summer Walton. Daniel Jeffries, a Biology BSA junior, observes the BSA will make him “a more well-rounded candidate for medical school,” and allow him “to pursue more leadership opportunities,” without the demanding upper level biology labs required in the BS degree plan. Beyond those with a health profession in mind, the BSA provides an avenue for students to take more specialized classes specific to their professional goals through the diverse career-specific certificate programs.


BSA Course Breakdown:

30 hours: University Core Curriculum

12 hours: Language, Arts & Culture

48 hours: Major Coursework in Math & Science

15-18 hours: Minor or Certificate



UT Degrees and Certificates Offered


BSA Degrees Offered:

Astronomy BSA

Biochemistry BSA

Biology BSA

Chemistry BSA

Computer Science BSA

Human Development & Family Sciences BSA

Human Ecology BSA

Mathematics BSA

Medical Laboratory Science BSA

Neuroscience BSA

Nutritional Sciences BSA

Physics BSA


CNS Majors and Corresponding BS Degrees Offered**


         BS Option 1: Astronomy

          BS Option 2: Astronomy, Honors


          BS Option 1: Biochemistry

          BS Option 2: Computation

          BS Option 3: Biochemistry Honors


         BS Option 1: Ecology, Evolution & Behavior

          BS Option 2: Human Biology

          BS Option 3: Marine & Freshwater Science

          BS Option 4: Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

          BS Option 5: Cell & Molecular Biology

          BS Option 6: Neurobiology

          BS Option 7: Plant Biology

          BS Option 8: Teaching, Senior grades/Middle grades/All certifications

          BS Option 9: Biology Honors

          BS Option 10: Computational Biology

          BS Option 11: Biology

          BS Option 12: Genetics and Genomics


         BS Option 1: Chemistry

          BS Option 2: Computation

          BS Option 3: Teaching, Senior grades/Middle grades/All certifications

          BS Option 4: Chemistry Honors

Computer Science

         BS Option 1: Computer Science

          BS Option 2: Turing Scholars Honors

          BS Option 3: Computer Science Honors

          BS Option 4: Integrated Program

          BS Option 5: Teaching (Senior Grades)

Environmental Science Degree

         BS Option 1: Biological Sciences

          BS Option 2: Biological Sciences Honors

Human Development & Family Sciences

         BS Option 1: Early Childhood

          BS Option 2: Human Development

          BS Option 3: Families & Personal Relationships

          BS Option 4: Families & Society

          BS Option 5: General Human Development & Family Sciences

          BS Option 5: General Human Development & Family Sciences Honors

          BS Option 6: Honors in Advanced Human Development & Family Sciences


         BS Option 1: Actuarial Science

          BS Option 2: Applied Mathematics

          BS Option 3: Mathematical Sciences (two specializations)

          BS Option 4: Pure Mathematics

          BS Option 5: Teaching

          BS Option 6: Mathematics Honors

          BS Option 7: Mathematics

Medical Laboratory Science

         BS in Medical Laboratory Science

          BS in Clinical Laboratory Science


         BS Option 1: Cajal Scholars

          BS Option 2: Neuroscience Honors

          BS Option 3: Neuroscience


         BS Option 1: Dietetics

          BS Option 2: Nutritional Sciences

          BS Option 3: Nutrition and Public Health

          BS Option 4: Honors in Advances Nutritional Sciences

          BS Option 5: Nutrition Honors

          BS Option 6: International Nutrition


         BS Option 1: Physics

          BS Option 2: Computation

          BS Option 3: Radiation Physics

          BS Option 4: Space Sciences

          BS Option 5: Teaching, Senior grades/Middle grades/All certifications

          BS Option 6: Physics Honors

          BS Option 7: Biophysics

Public Health

         BS Option 1: Public Health

          BS Option 2: Public Health Honors

          BS Option 3: Advanced Program

Textiles & Apparel

         BS Option 1: Apparel, Functional, and Technical Design

          BS Option 2: Merchandising and Consumer Sciences

          BS Option 3: Textiles and Apparel Honors

          BS Option 4: Textile Conservation and Museum Studies



List of Certificates*

Elements of Computing Program: “Intended to help students understand the sophisticated technologies they use every day as well as gain the computer skills that employers value. The goals of the program are to: Provide students with knowledge of computer science that employers find valuable and support study in other disciplines requiring computational proficiency.”

Evidence and Inquiry Certificate: “Gives undergraduates the opportunity to create, rather than choose, a field of study. Each student is author of her field; each designs her own curriculum.

Food and Society Certificate: An opportunity for students completing the certificate to be able to appreciate the full range of these interdisciplinary ties (health and nutrition, genetics, politics, culture, the environment, economics, and business) and apply new perspectives to their primary academic majors and careers.

Forensic Science Certificate: “Provides an interdisciplinary perspective for students interested in careers in forensic science.”

Marine Science: “Provides a foundation of basic competency in the fundamentals of marine science, along with specialized upper-division coursework in aquatic science.”

Pre-Health Professions Certificate: “To provide an opportunity for College of Natural Sciences majors to augment their science experience with complementary health-related courses. Provide a solid foundation for students interested in pursuing a career in the health professions.”  

Certificate in Scientific Computation:provides undergraduates with an opportunity to enrich their field of study applied computation, ranging from the development of and analysis with algorithm, database, statistical or visualization code. This program is fulfilled with a series of computational classes, and culminated with an individual project that utilizes computation to address a scientific inquiry.  

Textile Conservation and Museum Studies: “Helps undergraduates equip themselves with the fiber science, exhibition planning, textile conservation, and museum management skills necessary to conserve textiles in various settings.”

UTeach Natural Sciences Secondary Teaching Option Certificate: “allows you to complete a rigorous degree in any field and qualify to teach middle or high school in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)."

Communication and Society: This concentration is designed for consumers and creators of messages in public contexts.” `

Computational Science and Engineering: “Offers highly qualified upper-division students an opportunity for in-depth study and research in computational science and engineering, including computational and applied mathematics, numerical simulation, scientific computation, and visualization.”

Applied Statistical Modeling: The certificate in Applied Statistical Modeling equips undergraduate students with the tools necessary to understand how to apply statistics to their primary field of study.”

Business of Healthcare: “Provides students interested in a clinical, academic, or business career in this industry an overview and opportunity to understand the complexities of the US healthcare system as well as the goals and barriers for reform.”

Business and Public Policy Certificate: Understand the impact of the political process on business, and firms' need to manage relationships with their numerous stakeholders. Students earn certification through combining an intense curriculum of political science, business, law, and public relations.”

Business Foundations Program: “Designed to give undergraduate students of any discipline a fundamental background in business. It is one of the largest and widely recognized certificate and minor programs at UT.”

Energy Management Certificate: Designed to train a skilled and knowledgeable pipeline of talent to accommodate the needs of the oil and gas exploration and production industry in the United States and across the world.”

Global Management Certificate: learn about the world’s geopolitical landscape and become familiar with international business structures and processes.  You’ll gain managerial and problem solving skills through experiential learning techniques, including assignments you complete during an experience abroad.”

Real Estate Certificate: the opportunity to vastly expand their skill set with a comprehensive real estate education. Students earn official certification through the exploration of architecture, economics, engineering, geography, law, community planning and urban studies.”

Supply Logistics Optimization: equips students with the technical skills in the industrial and manufacturing side of supply chain logistics and the management skills in product development, process innovation and manufacturing systems engineering.”

Bridging Disciplines Program: “Allow undergraduates to earn an interdisciplinary certificate through a course of study that integrates classroom, research, and internship experiences.”

Certificate In Science Communication: “Prepare students with undergraduate studies in a sciences-related field to effectively communicate science topics to a variety of audiences by utilizing professional communication techniques and tools.”

Sports Media Certificate: Designed to complement a student’s education by developing his or her proficiency and knowledge in the area of sports media.”

Communication and Society: “This concentration is designed for consumers and creators of messages in public contexts.”

African Studies Certificate: allows students to engage with scholarship on African peoples, cultures, and history through the theoretical lens of Black Studies.”

Core Texts and Ideas: “Introduction to the liberal arts through the study of the great books with an integrated sequence of six courses that can also meet UT Austin general education requirements.”

Creative Writing Certificate: Intended for any University student interested in advanced study of creative writing, both as reader and as writer.”

History and Philosophy of Sciences Certificate: Provides students an opportunity to gain a coherent, cross-disciplinary command of the methods and findings that the liberal arts have contributed to our understanding of the sciences.”

Indigenous Studies:The main goal of the indigenous studies certificate program is to encourage active intellectual and community engagement with indigenous peoples and cultures.”

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Sexualities Studies Certificate:

Information Studies: “Recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) scholarship and acknowledges widespread faculty expertise in this field.”

Information Studies: “Aimed at supporting student's information literacy to help meet the needs of employees of the high tech, governmental, and other sectors of our economy.”

Security Studies: “Recognizes students who focus their studies on international and national security affairs.”

Japanese Certificate: “Twenty-four semester credit hours of Japanese language classes including 3 upper-division hours.”



*All certificates listed and descriptions given directly quoted from the official website of the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences, Moody School of Education, College of Liberal Arts, and McCombs School of Business.


**All degree programs obtained from the official website of the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences.


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