MC now offering B.S. degree for biology majors

In addition to its bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree, Maryville College is now offering the option of a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree to those students concentrating their studies in biology.

The B.S. degree, which was approved by the College’s Academic Life Council last spring, requires that students complete 65-67 hours in biology, chemistry and physics or mathematics. In comparison, students who choose the B.A. degree in biology must complete 47 hours in biology and chemistry to earn their degree.

The major difference between the B.A. and B.S. degrees now is the addition of four courses (two organic chemistry courses and two physics or mathematics courses) for the B.S. degree.

“We have always believed that our B.A. degree is as rich as a B.S. degree at other institutions after students supplement their coursework. Our biology students do very well in getting in to medical school and other graduate programs, and one requirement of our curriculum that helps them stand out among other applicants is our Senior Study,” explained Dr. Ben Cash, associate professor of biology and chair of the College’s Natural Sciences Division. “Every degree candidate completes a unique Senior Study in the major field under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The two-semester project allows the student to exercise initiative and plan and complete a substantial piece of work.

“But recent graduates have indicated that during their graduate school interviews, they have been questioned about the number and diversity of science classes that they took for their B.A. degree,” he continued. “It is a general perception that a B.A. degree in biology is a less rigorous, less science-rich degree than a bachelor of science degree.”

The professor said a number of biology students have already made the switch to the B.S. degree track.

“For years, we have had Maryville College students who, effectively, have taken all the coursework necessary for the B.S. degree. Now it is formalized,” he explained.

In addition to adding the B.S. degree, the College made a small change to the B.A. degree for biology majors. Dropping one upper-level biology requirement, administrators hope that B.A. candidates will have more time to pursue a program of elective coursework (developed in consultation with their academic advisor) that will support their career plans.

“We also looked at what our peer and model colleges required for the B.A. in biology,” Cash explained. “The average number of biology courses required at those institutions is eight, whereas Maryville was requiring nine. So by dropping one, we are more in alignment with our peer and model colleges, and we’re building in more flexibility for students who would like to take classes that will help them in specific vocations after graduation.”

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