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The Orange Peanut

BA v BS and accredited degrees

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How much difference is there between a BS in CS and a BA in CS when trying to get a job after college? I'm a computer science major with an English minor so the highest level math course required is only calculus. I will graduate with a BA in CS, basically, instead of a BS in CS (which is only available if I am a math minor). Is my CS education going to be any worse with a BA in CS? And will it make finding a job more difficult than with a BS? Also, my degree isn't nationally accredited (once again, only the math minor falls under that category). Is that going to pose a problem if I intend to get a graduate degree later on? I'm asking these questions because, like I said, I'm not a math minor and I have no intention of minoring in math. I just don't want to go to school for 4 years and go $30,000 in debt for a useless degree.

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Generally speaking, to my knowledge there's little difference between a BA and a BS in perception.

That said, there might be a difference in focus, and a difference in the education. The actual education differences might effect your job hunt, but [imo] the BS/BA difference won't. Personally, I'd consider only 1 year of advanced math not enough; enough that it will likely bite you in the long run.

And non-accredited degrees will most definately cause you problems later. Again personally, I would be very suspect of even the math version if your school tries to pawn off a 4 year degree in computer science that isn't accredited.

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There is a direct proportionality between the size of an organization and how much they care about things like this. In great big corporations, with extremely bureaucratic procedures, it matters a lot - they have lots of H.R. folks with nothing to do but write procedures manuals and once those are written, its in nobody's interest to rock the boat so if the book says "B.S. Degree" then that's what the book says.

As orgs get smaller, these things matter less and less. Things are more informal and the people interviewing you have fewer and fewer bosses to worry about.

My company is tiny and we don't care about that sort of thing at all. Our evaluation and hiring procedures are completely informal - take the guy to lunch, shoot the breeze for an hour and it becomes clear very quickly if he's full of it or not.

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BA versus BS: utterly meaningless. Some schools offer one, some schools offer the other. It's a reflection of the organization of the school, not of what they taught you.

Non-accredited: big red WARNING flag. You can get a nonaccredited degree on eBay for five bucks. If I were you, on my resume I would strongly emphasize work experience and skills over education.

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I may be wrong, but according to this page only the minor in math is ABET/CAC accredited... that's the same thing, right? http://cs.wku.edu/new/undergrad.html

I mean, that DOES mean that the degree I'm going after (the 'any minor' you see on that page') isn't accredited?

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Er... no, that page says that the CompSci major in S&S is ABET-accredited, and requires you to take a math minor. Looks fine.

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Ahhh, I see. Dude, go ahead and take the math minor (you can, of course, double-minor). It will be extremely useful.

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Education is never useless, as long as you learn something!

What I've learned, from a fairly long time in the industry, is that while I took a large amount of math at University, I should have taken more. It doesn't stop at linear algebra (for your quaternion and 3D modeling needs), or even tensor calculus (for your physical simulation), but goes well beyond into places like fourier transforms (for audio), spherical harmonics (for 3D shading) and even Clifford algebra. Graph theory and logic, which is math in some places, and philosophy in others, are also great tools to have.

So, if you actually intende to be useful in game programming, I would advise you to get all the math training you can lay your hands on. If you find you really can't hack it in math, then you should seriously re-consider a career in game programming (perhaps you'd be better at writing, or directing, or whatever).

If your goal is to have the best possible basis from which to launch yourself into the industry as a programmer, I would suggest getting a MSCS after your BS.

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I find statements such as "no difference between BA and a BS" to be completely untrue. A BA is more or less a "BS Lite", meaning that its much easier to get, you have to take a good amount fewer upper division CS courses, you don't take many higher math courses, and you don't take as many science courses. Instead, you take more general education courses.

Personally, I think a BA is worth as much as an Associates from a Community College.

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Quote:
Original post by MetalRob
I find statements such as "no difference between BA and a BS" to be completely untrue. A BA is more or less a "BS Lite", meaning that its much easier to get, you have to take a good amount fewer upper division CS courses, you don't take many higher math courses, and you don't take as many science courses. Instead, you take more general education courses.

That may indeed be the case at your university. At other universities, BA and BS are identical. So from the point of view of a HR interviewer, who generally has no idea what the distinction is at a particular university, there's no difference.

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In general it woudn't matter. It matters a lot in the small industry if you come in and have no idea of what you are doing. In a bigger industry, if you don't know shit, you may still get in. But after you get in you are pretty much screwed.

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Quote:
Original post by MetalRob
I find statements such as "no difference between BA and a BS" to be completely untrue. A BA is more or less a "BS Lite", meaning that its much easier to get, you have to take a good amount fewer upper division CS courses, you don't take many higher math courses, and you don't take as many science courses. Instead, you take more general education courses.

Personally, I think a BA is worth as much as an Associates from a Community College.


As said, that may be the case at your university, but not everywhere. Some places (like yours) offer a BA for those who just couldn't cut it in a BS program. Others offer both with each having a different focus (e.g. BA focuses on breadth, BS focuses on depth). Some offer only one where "A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet". In particular, small private colleges tend to offer only BA's, but have a program every bit as good as (if not better than) many schools' BS programs.

My own story: I went to a small public college and got a BA in math and physics. I'm now in a materials science graduate program at a significantly larger public university. Talking with others, it does seem that my undergraduate program focused more on breadth than depth. However, after reading an undergraduate text on materials science (Callister), I haven't found my education to be lacking in any way (if anything the broader focus allowed me to pick up the new field more quickly).

To the OP: I wouldn't sweat the BA vs. BS thing, but I would worry about the accreditation thing. Either get the accredited degree or work on a strong portfolio and work experience in your spare time. The important thing about your education is what you learned, but you need some way to show that to potential employers, you need something to back up the degree. An accredited degree has the accrediting organization backing it up. A portfolio and work experience can serve the same purpose (and would be very useful even with an accredited degree).

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