Last week, the faculty voted to move forward with steps to offer a Bachelor of Science degree. The programs will require four extra credits, with at least one coming from a science outside their specialization.
According to Professor of Physics Thomas Moses, who drafted the proposal presented to the faculty, each science department will determine exactly how the four extra credits will break down for their students.
Moses wrote the proposal after meeting with a group of science faculty over winter break and researching programs at other schools.
“We found a lot of variation in B.S. programs,” Moses said.
While many other schools offer a Bachelor of Science degree, the degree is not commonly associated with liberal arts schools. The schools that do offer the degree have varied requirements for it, Moses noted.
Associate Professor of Biology Matthew Jones-Rhoades, who is the chairman of the Curriculum Committee, presented the proposal to the faculty at their meeting.
“The Bachelor of Arts isn’t going away. In the sciences there’s lots of things you can still do,” he said.
The main goal behind offering the degree, according to Moses and Jones-Rhoades, is to better communicate to students the normal requirements for graduate school. Currently, students who plan to go to grad school for sciences are advised to take extra classes than their major requires in order to prepare.
“To my mind, the number one benefit of it is articulated to students when they’re coming here, or considering coming here, what would it take to go on in the sciences,” Jones-Rhoades said.
The title of the degree will also allow students to show their extra work to employers if they do not go to grad school. According to Dean of the College and Vice President of Academic Affairs Laura Behling, two thirds of Knox students who graduate with a science degree already take the extra courses that would be required.
However, in many cases, the title on the degree does not matter as much as the actual transcript.
“No degree that I have says ‘science.’ I have a Bachelors of Arts in Physics, I have a Masters of Arts in Astronomy and a Doctor of Philosophy of Astronomy,” Assistant Professor of Physics Nathalie Haurberg, who supports the move, said.
Before the departments can advertise the B.S. being offered at Knox, the proposal must be approved by two more groups. First, the board of trustees will review the proposal, but Moses believes they will approve it without much trouble.
From there it will go to the Higher Learning Commission, Knox’s accreditors. If they find it to meet their standards, Knox will be able to officially offer a B.S. Behling says the accrediting could take three to six months.
The college used to offer a B.S. in the 1930s. Then, students received either a Bachelor of the Arts or a Bachelor of Science. Arts students took additional courses in languages their junior and senior year, while science students took more science courses.
While she does not expect any large administrative changes, Behling noted that the registrar’s office will have to change some of the language in the catalog and for degree audits. Advising for science majors will also have to change.
“If this gets approved all the way through, they’ll have different conversations with students, trying to help, say a freshman or sophomore student decide is this a Bachelor of Arts, is this a Bachelor of Science,” Behling said.
Junior Muneeb Rehman said he would have likely have chosen to get a Bachelor of Science if he had the chance, but was not worried about not getting one in terms of future employment.
“I don’t think there’s a major difference,” he said.