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Simultaneous studies

Joint degree in science, humanities and social sciences approved

Teaching and Learning

By Kelly Foss

Students with a strong interest in arts and science no longer have to choose between the two degrees.

Memorial’s Senate recently approved a proposal from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences for a new joint degree program.

Arts and science

Effective immediately, students can complete a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science simultaneously in fewer credit hours than were previously required.

Dr. Shannon Sullivan, senior faculty advisor for the Faculty of Science, says in any given year there are approximately 50 students who are simultaneously pursuing both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees.

“We were a little caught off guard by those numbers, we had figured maybe a dozen,” he said.

“As things previously stood, the requirements for those students were pretty onerous. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for the second degree, students would have also had to do a minimum of 30 extra credit hours. That’s a full extra year of courses and I think for a lot of students, that just wasn’t manageable.”

Students can now complete the minimum requirements for both degrees in 135 credit hours, only 15 credit hours more than required for a single degree, and 15 fewer than previously required for two degrees.

The program follows a precedent set by the joint bachelor of arts/bachelor of commerce degree introduced a few years ago. Those students also get a 15 credit “discount” when completing both degrees.

Versatile program

Dr. Sullivan says the goal is to make the process easier for students by taking advantage of the synergies between the two degrees, but does not limit students to combinations of majors that straddle the two faculties, such as geography, economics and psychology.

“The program is as versatile as it can be, but we can be confident that students coming through it are not getting a cheap version of a B.Sc. or a BA.” — Dr. Shannon Sullivan

“What we’ve wound up with is a great program, fundamentally. We’ve really cut it down to what’s the minimum we can ask students to do, while still maintaining the academic integrity of both majors. I think that’s important,” he said.

“The program is as versatile as it can be, but we can be confident that students coming through it are not getting a cheap version of a B.Sc. or a BA. They’re getting two degrees, but doing it more expeditiously than would otherwise be the case.”

Well-rounded students

Dr. Sullivan notes that students who come to Memorial with high school transfer credits, such as international baccalaureate (IB) or advanced placement (AP) courses, or who pick up intersession or summer courses during their four years of study, can conceivably finish both degrees in four years.

“I think these students will really stand out, as they will have two distinctive degrees and it will show what a well-rounded person that student is,” said Dr. Sullivan.

“It also gives them a lot of avenues, either for taking both degrees and putting them together in some way at the graduate or industry level, or allowing them to focus on one avenue while knowing they have the other avenue to inform whatever they do.”

Future opportunities

The partnership between the two faculties may also open the door to other joint degree programs in the future.

“Certainly, from our perspective in the Faculty of Science, if this joint degree is successful, it would suggest it might be worthwhile for us to look at other faculties at Memorial,” said Dr. Sullivan. “There could be other opportunities for linkages that make sense, such as with business or music.”

Students who are interested in finding out more about the joint degrees of bachelor of arts and bachelor of science are strongly encouraged to consult early and regularly with appropriate academic advisors in both faculties.

For more information about the joint BA/B.Sc. degrees, please visit here.

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