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C'est la Z

BS? - BA - addendum

Over on Facebook, a friend commented on my last post. He commented on the rigor of BA vs BS degrees. The comment mentioned Physics and Math degrees but I thought Id follow up a bit on CS degrees.

I took a quick look at three computer science programs - Cornell, UMich, and Queens College. Cornell because my daughter is there, UMich, my son, and Queens College because it's a CUNY college that offers both a BS and a BA in computer science.


Here's a link to Cornell's CS Major page. Same requirements for a BA through their School of Arts and Sciences as for their BS in the School of Engineering. The differences are limited to the fundamental school differences.

University of Michigan

Info on their program can be found here. They note:

  • Identical Core Computer Science requirements
  • Similar Senior Design experiences
  • Identical Upper Level Elective requirement
  • Slight difference in Flexible Technical Elective hours and list

Again, the difference is fundamentally in the base school requirements.

Queens College

This page has links to degree requirements. THe page states that "The B.S. augments the B.A. with more computer science, mathematics, and experimental laboratory courses" but when you look at the actual BS and BA requirements, they're the same.

In all cases, the differences are the fundamental difference between the extra liberal arts and distribution requirements in an Arts and Sciences school and the extra science and math courses required of an engineering school.

Which is better? It all depends. For me, personally, the liberal arts education is very important. For others, it will be the deep dive into science. Maybe more phyics will better enable a CS major to solve some technical problem but then again, maybe a culteral anthropology course will help a CS major see the world and people differently and also color her work.

To my original point - the important thing is that we do a better job informing guidance counselors, teachers, and high school students as to the possibilities so that they can make informed decisions.

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