Choosing between the PSYBA and PSYBS degrees

Choosing between the PSYBA and PSYBS degrees

The Department of Psychology at University Park offers two programs leading to a baccalaureate degree. The basic difference between the two programs is that the PSYBS degree has options for specific career areas, while the PSYBA degree represents a more typical degree in the Liberal Arts, which means getting a very broad education in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.This page provides an overview of the two programs; the specific requirements for each are described in more detail on separate pages for the PSYBA requirements and the PSYBS requirements .

All BA programs, including the PSYBA program, require the student to complete what are called the “College Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements.” These College BA requirements include 12 credits (by exam and/or courses) of a foreign language, 9 credits from arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, or quantification, and 3 credits of other cultures. (These credits are beyond the credits required in the University’s General Education requirements for arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and intercultural and international competence that must be completed to earn either the PSYBA or PSYBS degree.)

In contrast, the PSYBS degree requires only that the student had two years of language in high school or at least a C in one language course at Penn State. Instead of the College BA requirements, the PSYBS program requires the student to complete one of the following four options:

  1. Life Sciences Option
  2. Neuroscience Option
  3. Business Option
  4. Quantitative Skills Option

Students who just want a general science background rather than specializing toward health, business, or computers & statistics are advised to take Option 1; those who want to go into medicine or a health field, Option 2; those who want to work with businesses, Option 3; and those who want to specialize in computers and statistics, Option 4. All of these options require the students to take additional supporting courses in arts or humanities, natural sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. The list of approved supporting courses can be found here.

Another small (but important) difference between the programs is the PSYBS program specifically requires English 202A (Writing in the Social Sciences), whereas PSYBA allows any of the English 202s: 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D.

Finally, there is no difference in the total credits required to complete either degree: The PSYBA and the PSYBS degree requires a minimum of 123 credits to graduate.

The Psychology Department has compared the success of students completing both degrees. There doesn’t seem to be a particular advantage for one degree over the other in terms of getting a job or going on to graduate or professional school. What is more important for a successful future is to take the more challenging, higher-level courses when you have a choice and to do well in them. It is also useful to get to know professors, particularly at University Park, by helping them with their research or by completing an internship under their supervision