Psychology BSc or BA. What’s the Difference?

Posted by Megan on October 16, 2014

Journey to the Centre of York

As a current Psychology student at York, I love to share my thoughts on my program. Today I thought I’d provide some information on a common dilemma future Psychology students face –  choosing a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). York’s psychology program has many perks. Our Psychology Department is the largest of it’s kind with more than 80 professors and 50 courses offered each year: the variety of which is astounding (Cultural Psychology, Evolution of Behaviour in Animals, Psychology and Law and of course Abnormal Psychology are just some of the options that are available).

When I first transferred to York, I applied to the BSc program because I foolishly thought that it meant I was studying Psychology as a ‘real’ science. I thought that a Bachelor of Science added more validity to my degree, but I was misinformed! Below you can find a comparison of the two programs.

What does first year look like in BSc vs BA?

How your first year will look can change based on what course load you decide to take. Many first year students find they have an easier transition if they take less than a 30 credit course load; you will need at least 9 credits in each semester (for a total of 18 credits) to be considered a full time student. Others want a full course load or take courses during the summer.  If you anticipate taking a lower course load I recommend making sure that PSYC 1010 is one of the courses you take as you will not be able to progress in your program without it.

A chart demonstrating the first year requirements in psychology. The information can also be accessed at the links below.

*General Education

If you would like a better idea of what courses you might be able to choose from to fulfill your 18 credits of general education, make sure to check out the approved list. You can go to the following page and scroll to the bottom to see which courses are considered humanities, natural science or social science.


BSc students also need to complete a basic science requirement which is a minimum of 15 credits in the following:

  • 6 credits out of MATH 1505 6.00, MATH 1010 3.00, MATH 1014 3.00 or MATH 1025 3.00
  • 3 credits out of of EECS 1520 3.00, EECS 1540 3.00 or EECS 1570 3.00 where EECS 1570 is recommended
  • 6 credits out of BIOL 1000 3.00, BIOL 1001 3.00, CHEM 1000 3.00, CHEM 1001 3.00, PHYS 1010 6.00, PHYS 1410 6.00 or PHYS 1420 6.00

What can I expect after first year?

The BSc program is more structured (has more specific requirements) than the BA and continues to feature physical science requirements (9 additional credits with at least 3 of those from 2000 level or higher) such as biology, chemistry or physics. York’s BA is a lot more fluid, allowing for a great amount of electives. In the BSc, electives are used more or less to hit 120 credits so that you can graduate. In BA, a minimum of 18 credits outside of the major are required and can be used to fulfill upper-level credit requirements.

You can find degree requirements for all Psychology degree types (including regular, Honours, and Specialized Honours) in the academic calendar.

How do the Career Paths Differ?

The Career Centre has a great resource entitled What Can I Do With My Degree? If you are interested in Psychology but aren’t yet sure what path you want to take, I encourage you to take a look at the many different options that are available.

I have noticed a trend amongst Psychology students in that many BSc students tend to pursue a career in research, or as a practicing psychologist (which requires a PhD) or psychiatrist (which requires med school and specialization) which is more supported by the BSc’s focus on the physical sciences (although some psychology courses do include elements of biology, chemistry and the like). Alternatively, I’ve noticed a trend in BA students pursuing differing careers such as counselling or writing which may be supported by the extra electives in the program (which give students the opportunity to discover additional interests).

If you still aren’t sure what program to apply to, I recommend using a site such as Career Cruising (which York has a login for) to see which career paths might best suit your interests and skills. If you ever decide to change your mind about BSc or BA, like I did, you can always use York’s Program Change Request.

Final Notes

  • Both programs allow for the addition of a major or minor (with the exception of the Specialized Honours program).
  • Psychology is available both at the Keele campus and the Glendon campus.
  • Some of York’s Psychology professors are leading researchers who hold esteemed Canada Research Chairs, which makes sense considering York has 27 research centres, at least three of which are connected with the Psychology field (meaning you just might be lucky enough to have a chance to gain research experience).

I have personally experienced changing my degree type from BSc to BA and I’ve also reconsidered my future career path a few different times. If you happen to have any questions about York’s Psychology program please feel free to leave them below. I’d be more than happy to help and point you to the



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan