School of General Studies just announced that starting this term, they will only be offering Bachelor of Arts degrees. In an email to GS students, Dean Peter Awn described the rationale of the change as having to do with GS becoming “a fully integrated liberal arts college.”

The change seems likely because of the amount of work done in liberal arts areas due to the rigorous Core requirements, which are almost the same as CC’s; one of the factors affecting the change is NY Department of Education’s concern because of NY regulations for degree conferral (basically again, the amount of work in liberal arts). The GS degree page has already been updated with the change, but check out the full list of GS majors in which you can now only get a B.A.

 The full email:

Dear Students,

After much thought and consideration, the School of General Studies will offer only the Bachelor of Arts degree starting with the May 2014 graduating class.

At this point in our history, the academic program of GS is fully and completely integrated with that of Columbia College, and the degree GS awards should reflect that evolution. The Bachelor of Science degree has become a vestige of a time when GS was not fully a liberal arts college of the University.

The history of GS is one of dynamic and positive evolution.  To understand our origins, one must go back to the turn of the 20thcentury, when President Nicholas Murray Butler established the University Extension Program to engage the New York City community, especially working men and women.  In 1921, the Trustees agreed to authorize the granting of the B.S. degree through University Extension.

A B.S. degree presumes that the academic program for which the degree is awarded is comprised predominantly of non-liberal arts courses.  In this early period, it was common for University Extension students to pursue mainly pre-professional coursework in accounting, business, stenography, and the like, in addition to some coursework in the liberal arts.  The B.S. degree was, therefore, the appropriate degree to award.

With the formal establishment of the School of General Studies in 1947, however, the academic program began to evolve at a rapid pace.  The increasing emphasis on the liberal arts at GS began to mirror more and more the academic program at Columbia College, where only the B.A. is awarded, regardless of major.  In 1968, the Trustees agreed to allow GS to grant the B.A. degree, in recognition of the changes that had already occurred in the GS academic program.

It is important to note as well, that the New York State Department of Education has raised serious concerns about our granting the B.S. degree.

In order to highlight the reality that GS is now a fully integrated liberal arts college, GS will no longer award the B.S. degree, but only the B.A. degree, thus conforming to what is already the reality at Columbia College and Barnard College.

Once again, the new policy will be in effect beginning with the May 2014 graduates.

Please contact your academic advisor with any questions or concerns.

Best wishes,

Professor Peter J. Awn