English drops Bachelor of Science degree

The English department is no longer allowing students to get a Bachelor of Science. Instead, students must get a Bachelor of Arts if they want to major in English.

“The faculty thought it was odd to get a Bachelor of Science with a literature degree,” said Kathleen Herndon, professor and English department chair. “When I came here 23 years ago and I saw that you could get a Bachelor of Science in English, I thought, ‘Well, that’s strange.’ It’s like you have a degree that is going in opposite directions from your major.”

The only real difference between a BA and BS degree is that students getting a bachelor’s degree in science must take two extra science classes while students getting a degree in art must take four semesters of foreign language. Herndon said that some students were choosing a Bachelor of Science because they would have to take fewer classes. “Quite frankly, the science courses that most English majors took were not very deep in science,” said Herndon. “These particular courses were selected because they had a reputation for being easy.”

As of July 1, only incoming students are affected by this new decision. The people who have been English majors before fall semester of this year will be able to continue pursuing a Bachelor of Science. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts can pick to either take four semesters of foreign language or two semesters of foreign language and two semesters of language arts.

The Department of English did not have much of a discussion when changing the rule. “There was absolutely no question in the department about offering a Bachelor of Science,” said Herndon. “It was clearly, no, it’s going to be a Bachelor of Arts.” Despite the certainty of the department, not all students agree with the decision.

“You lose some flexibility for your degree,” said Zach Olsen, an English major with a minor in chemistry. Olsen said that his chemistry minor made the science requirements for a Bachelor of Science relevant to him.

Billy Bayles is an undeclared double major of creative writing and psychology and said she picked a Bachelor of Science to go along with her majors. “It makes sense, but it still ticks me off,” she said about the department’s decision.

Even though she is going for a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, Shelby Fotheringham says she understands why other students would choose a BS instead. “Learning a language is hard,” she said. She also feels that having a BS degree in English could make students “more well-rounded.”

The English department is not the only one making this change. The history department also recently dropped the BS option for its students. “Most degrees are BA,” said History Department Chair Susan Matt. “We wanted to be consistent with Harvard and Yale and other big schools who are setting the pace.” The history department made its decision last year and started enforcing it for incoming students this semester.