Psychology is one of the top choices among students to study at the undergraduate (UG) level. However, during the admission season, what several aspirants might struggle with is understanding the intricate difference between Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology and Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Psychology.
Experts say while the key difference between the two programmes lies in the nomenclature, a BSc degree provides students with more practical training. Although there is no disparity between the syllabus and course components, a BSc in Psychology is more similar to a BA in Applied Psychology.
“BA (Hons) in Psychology is a non-applied field that primarily focuses on theoretical curriculum with limited practical learning. On the other hand, a BSc degree or a BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology involves field exposure, experimental learning thereby giving students a better view of the industry requirements,” says Poonam Phogat, assistant professor of Psychology, Gargi College, University of Delhi.
Agreeing with her, Reya Ajit Balan, head of the department, Psychology, St. Thomas College of Arts and Science, University of Madras, says, “In earlier times, most Psychology courses came under the BA degree. However, with the inclination towards industry requisites, students are preferring to opt for a course that offers practical learning more than theoretical learning, and a BSc programme caters to that.”
BENEFITS OF A SCIENCE COURSE
Psychology is a behavioural science, says Balan, thus understanding Psychology requires a solid knowledge of Biology because both subjects deal with human beings. “In fact, having knowledge of Mathematics also helps because it gets easier to comprehend the complexities of human minds.”
On the other hand, Phogat points out that keeping Psychology under Science, allows universities and colleges to receive more funding from the government for the laboratory experiments. “Whether it is a BA degree or a BSc degree, a certain amount of laboratory teaching comes with both of them. However, with a Science curriculum, institutes get more funding thereby enabling students to get more scopes to apply their theoretical knowledge practically.”
To become a certified psychologist or psychological counsellor or even a clinical psychologist, it is mandatory for students to attain a master’s degree. When candidates reach the postgraduate level, irrespective of their BA or BSc degree, the postgraduate syllabus remains the same. “Students from non-applied (BA) stream apply for PG in Applied Psychology and vice versa,” says Phogat.
There are several branches of Psychology such as cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, organisational psychology, clinical psychology, behavioural psychology, biopsychology, counselling psychology, to name a few. In order to get a suitable job, students need to pick an area of specialisation at the PG level. “When it comes to jobs, the criteria is a postgraduate degree with a preferred area of specialisation. It hardly matters whether a candidate has done a BA or BSc degree,” adds Phogat.