Frequently Asked Questions for the B.A.&Sc.
- Who should consider the B.A. & Sc. degree?
- Is McGill's B.A. & Sc. degree a liberal arts degree?
- I don't know what I want to study. Should I just select B.A. & Sc. and decide later?
- What sort of graduate programs will I qualify for with a B.A. & Sc.?
- Is the B.A. & Sc. degree suitable for students intending to apply for Medicine?
- I have a definite plan of study which fits the B.A. & Sc. degree well. How should I apply?
- I will be starting in a Freshman program at McGill. If I choose the B.A. & Sc. degree, can I take only Science or only Arts courses in my freshman year?
- I am starting the 90 credits towards the B.A. & Sc. degree. When should I decide on which program to follow?
- What are some things I should think about when selecting my B.A. & Sc. program?
- Is there a student association for B.A. & Sc. Students?
The B.A. & Sc. degree, jointly offered through the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science, is intended for students who have deep and clearly-defined interest in both Arts and Science. The B.A. & Sc. is a 120 credit degree program that includes a 30-credit freshman program covering foundational math, science, and arts courses, followed by a 90-credit main program that includes both Arts and Science. Students entering from CEGEP enter directly into the 90-credit main program.
There are several options for the main program, all of which specify 75-80 of the 90 credits, leaving only 10-15 credits for electives. Since there are relatively few electives, students entering a program in the B.A. & Sc. degree should have a clear idea of their objectives, goals, and intended program of study, so that they can plan their curriculum carefully. The B.A. & Sc. degree is intended for students who want to devote about half their undergraduate program to Arts and about half to Science.
There is considerable flexibility within the B.A. (Faculty of Arts) and B.Sc. (Faculty of Science) programs. Students who are more interested in Arts, but would like to study some Science can do so within the B.A. degree. Similarly, students who are more interested in Science, but would like to study some Arts can do so within the B.Sc. degree. These options are more appropriate for students who do not have significant commitment to both Arts and Sciences and also generally for those who prefer an undergraduate program with more depth rather than breadth of study across disciplines in Arts and Sciences.
There are four ways to complete programs in the B.A. & Sc. degree.
The multi-track program is intended for students who want a program that includes significant components from both Arts and from Science. Students complete 36 credits of Arts, 36-38 credits of Science, and 3 credits of integrative courses. Details for the multi-track program can be found in the e-Calendar .
The multi-track option is suitable for students who have a clear idea of where their interests lie, both in Arts and in Science. In order to plan a coherent program, students must be able to specify their intended program of study, especially on the Science side, at the beginning of their studies. Arts programs generally have a less rigid structure of prerequisites than Science programs, although delaying the choice of Arts Major concentration may result in serious problems with scheduling courses to allow on-time graduation.
2) InterFaculty Programs
Interfaculty programs are interdisciplinary in nature. There are currently three such programs: Environment, Cognitive Science, and Sustainability, Science and Society. Students in these programs complete 54 credits in the interfaculty program, a Minor Concentration of 18 credits, and 3 credits of integrative courses. In order to maintain a balance of Arts and Science in the program, at least 21 credits must be from each of Arts and Science.
In addition to the B.A. & Sc. Environment program, there are also interdisciplinary Environment programs offered through the Faculty of Science (B.Sc.), the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science (B.Sc. Ag.Env.Sc.), and the Faculty of Arts (B.A.). The Environment programs for the B.Sc. degree are theme-based, emphasizing natural and life sciences, and contain some social sciences. The Environment programs for the B.A. degree are also theme-based, but contain a greater emphasis on the social sciences. In contrast, the Environment programs for the B.A. & Sc. degree do not have any pre-defined themes and are intended for students who have a specific goal and want to define their own theme by choosing courses that help them progress towards that goal.
Students are advised to look at the various programs to decide which is most suited to their interests and to consult with the academic advisor for the programs. Further information about all of the Environment options and academic advising can be found at McGill School of Environment
The B.A. & Sc. degree is the only degree at McGill that currently offers an interfaculty program in Cognitive Science. However, the Faculty of Science does offer a Minor in Cognitive Science which can be combined with other Science major areas such as Psychology or Computer Science. More details are available at the Cognitive Science site.
Sustainability, Science and Society
Food security, access to clean water, poverty, climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainable energy production -- a long list of challenges face human societies in the 21st century. In the face of these multiple challenges, the grand imperative of the 21st century is Sustainable Well-being -- in other words, how can we provide for a world population that could stabilize at 9-10 billion, while also maintaining the Earth's life support systems. Find out more about this inter-disciplinary program here.
3) Joint Honours
The Joint Honours program is similar to the multi-track program except that students complete two Honours components, one in Arts and one in Science. The only Science Joint Honours Components are in Mathematics and Psychology, but there are many Arts Joint Honours Components to choose from. Students in a Joint Honours program typically must complete more upper level courses than students completing a Major Concentration, and they need to earn higher marks to graduate with this designation.
There are currently three B.A. & Sc. Honours programs: Environment, Cognitive Science,a nd and Sustainability, Science and Society. The Honours programs are similar to the Interfaculty programs of the same name, but each has additional GPA requirements and an additional 6 credits of required research courses.
No, McGill's B.A. & Sc. degree is intended for students who have very specific interests in both Science and Arts. See "Who should consider the B.A. & Sc. degree?".
No, as outlined in the description of the degree program, the B.A. & Sc. is intended for students with well-defined interdisciplinary interests. Since the B.A. & Sc. program has a large number of program requirements and few elective credits, it is important that from the beginning students in this program have a clear idea of their intended program of study. Students in the 90 credit B.A. & Sc. program have only 12 to 15 elective credits - in some B.A. programs, a student has up to 36 elective credits.
Any choice of undergraduate degree and program constrains options for graduate school. The B.A. & Sc. provides good preparation for graduate degrees in integrated disciplines such as Cognitive or Environmental Science or Health Policy. The B.A. & Sc. may or may not be adequate preparation for an Arts or Science specific graduate program (such as Anthropology, Biology, or Russian Literature). If you intend to pursue an Arts or Science specific program at the graduate level, you should consult academic advisors in that discipline at McGill and at universities where you intend to apply in order to find out whether the B.A. & Sc. will prepare you adequately. If you are considering continuing on in a specific Science graduate program, you should examine the difference between the preparation provided by the 36-credit Major Concentrations in the B.A. & Sc. program versus the significantly more specialized major and honours programs offered in the B.Sc. programs.
A B.A. & Sc. program may be an excellent background if you are thinking of undertaking professional training to enter an occupation or a branch of an occupation, such as scientific journalism, patent law, or occupational or physical therapy, where an understanding of both Arts and Science approaches is very important. A B.A. & Sc. may also be a good background if you plan to enter the business world (although you will have very little room to take courses offered by the Desautels Faculty of Management as part of your undergraduate studies) or the public service.
Students who have well defined interests, who want a well-rounded education, and who also want to leave the option open for applying to Medicine may find the B.A. & Sc. degree suitable for them. However, programs in the B.A. & Sc. degree may not include all of the prerequisite courses necessary for medicine. A student may have to complete those prerequisites as part or all of his/her elective courses, or outside the 120 degree program, for example, by taking summer courses.
Students are reminded that although many Medical schools require prerequisite courses, they do not normally expect students to have completed any specific major program. In general, Medical Schools welcome diversity and students should choose whatever program best matches their interests.
The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada prepares an annual publication summarizing admission requirements; for more information, see AFMC.
Students can apply for the B.A. & Sc. degree through the central admissions process. A good place to start is at http://www.mcgill.ca/prospective/. However, students should be aware that the B.A. & Sc. is a specialized program with limited space. Thus, students are advised to also apply to a B.A. or B.Sc. degree, depending on whether their interests lie more in Arts or more in Science. In the event that students cannot be offered a position in the B.A. & Sc. degree, but they do qualify for their other choice (B.A. or B.Sc.), they can often tailor their B.A. or B.Sc. degree to include several courses, a Minor Concentration, or even a Major Concentration that allow them to construct a program covering their multi-disciplinary interests.
I will be starting in a Freshman program at McGill. If I choose the B.A. & Sc. degree, can I take only Science or only Arts courses in my freshman year?
No, there is a very specific freshman program for the B.A. & Sc. degree which includes foundational Mathematics and Science courses and specific categories of Arts courses: see B.A. & Sc. freshman requirements.
I am starting the 90 credits towards the B.A. & Sc. degree. When should I decide on which program to follow?
You should have a very good idea of which programs for the B.A. & Sc. degree you are planning to follow right at the beginning, and you should declare your intended program. You have a little more flexibility on the Arts than on the Science side of the degree as some 200-level courses may be counted towards the course requirements of several different Major or Minor Concentrations. If you are choosing the multi-track option, or a Joint Honours program, you should consult a departmental advisor for both your Arts and Science Concentrations. If you are choosing either the Cognitive Science or Environment programs, you should consult a program advisor.
In selecting their programs, students should think about:
- Balancing programs that have breadth with those that have depth. Programs with relatively more breadth include those that are cross-disciplinary such as the Arts Major Concentration in Humanistic Studies or International Development Studies. These programs provide an opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects and can potentially provide context for your depth studies. Broad programs do however generally include a smaller proportion of upper level courses (400 and 500 level courses) than programs with more depth. Programs that include several upper level courses are of particular importance to students who would like to continue their studies at the graduate level as these courses provide more in-depth exposure to important issues in a discipline. Upper level courses often have smaller class sizes, and students may have the opportunity to undertake independent work in the form of an extended essay, project, or class presentation. To ensure appropriate depth, students in the Multi-Track option are advised to choose at least one focused Major Concentration.
- Combining programs that either complement each other or offer a strong contrast. For example, the Science Major Concentration in Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences might be combined with the Arts Major Concentration in Geography to provide a science and a social science perspective on the study of the earth. Other pairings of this type could be Biology and Anthropology, or Psychology and History, or Computer Science and Linguistics. An Arts Major Concentration in Economics might be combined with a Science Major Concentration in Mathematics because most theoretical research in Economics draws heavily on Mathematics. Even with an Interfaculty program one could choose a complementary Minor Concentration. For example, the Environment Interfaculty program could be combined with a Minor Concentration in Political Science for better scientific understanding of the reasons why certain policies are adopted and of their probable effects.
- Selecting programs that lead toward future goals. For example, the Interfaculty program in Environment might be combined with a Minor Concentration in Hispanic Studies because a student wants to work for an organization with an Environmental focus in Latin America. A student who is interested in working in an area where policy-makers are faced with decisions related to science may consider combining an Arts Major Concentration in International Development Studies, with a Science Major Concentration in Biology, or a Major Concentration in Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences.
- B.A. & Sc. Students have their own student association, the McGill Bachelor of Arts and Science Integrative Council (BASIC). Their website can be found at: http://www.mcgillbasic.com and their office is in Leacock 114b. BASIC sponsors a number of social and academic activities every year.