Degree titles and majors




What degree will I earn, and what will appear on the diploma and in the transcript?

I am often asked this in relation to the degrees conferred by all of the big three assessment institutions (Excelsior, TESC,  and COSC).


Note that three degree plans are featured in BA in 4 Weeks:


1. A bachelor of science accelerated degree (without major)

2. A bachelor of science degree in Business Administration

3. A second bachelor degree with an example major in Psychology







Excelsior College

In a break with convention as of Jan 1 2003, degrees earned in the Lib Arts program may be conferred with a named major. For instance the former BS degree with a concentration in Physics, is now conferred as a, Bachelor of Science in Physics, and appears as such on the degree diploma and in the graduate’s transcript. No material changes in degree requirements accompanied this reclassification. All that has change is the degree title, and perhaps with that, the degree's utility. Would you prefer a BA with a concentration in Chemistry, or a BS in Chemistry? A resume that presents a


 . . . BS,  with a concentration Political Science


or one that sports a


. . . BS in Political Science



There are many former concentrations that are now major options in the program, to include: Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Mathematics; Economics; Philosophy; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology; Geography, Geology; History; Communication; Criminal Justice; Literature; Music.


Excelsior also offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology. Many specializations are available, but the major is Technology. There is also available a named major in Computer Information Systems (BS CIS). This is a popular degree choice. Unlike other degrees to be featured in the series, it requires prior formal academic training and/or experience in the relevant disciplines, in my opinion, if competencies are to be successfully demonstrated in a reasonable time (within one year or so).



The degrees offered in Business are diverse and come with a named major. The degree is not a BS in Business Administration, with a number of available concentrations, but (for example) a BS in Finance, a BS in Management Information Systems, a BS in Accounting, and on. The Business degree guide in BA in 4 Weeks features the generic major in General Business.







Thomas Edison State College (TESC) offers a bachelor of arts degree program in the lib arts. As previously noted, traditionally, such degrees do not have majors (unless you consider the major, lib arts/Liberal studies), but concentrations, or “areas of focus”, or “areas of study”, or even, confusingly, “areas of major study”. For the sake of clarity we may call them all, “concentrations”.


Usually, the degree diploma awarded makes no reference to any major, and the title of the award appearing on the diploma is “Bachelor of Arts” or  “Bachelor of Science” (in the case of TESC awards in the lib arts, the degree conferred is exclusively the bachelor of arts degree). The graduate’s transcript will note the degree title and (somewhere) the concentration. The usual notation in CVs or resumes would declare a BA degree (or BS as applicable) with a concentration in (say) Computer Science.


The reason for distinguishing a concentration from a major, has to do with the required number, character, and distribution, of the credits comprising a concentration. The requirements of a concentration are traditionally more flexible and not as comprehensive as those of a major. It is certainly the case that the student in a lib arts degree program has the option to so construct their concentration that it approximates or even apes the requirements of a major in the chosen discipline. However, the degree awarded is still a degree in the lib arts with a concentration in the chosen discipline, not a degree with a declared major.


With respect to the TESC Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology, the very title announces the major – that is: a BS degree with a major in Applied Science and Technology.  While the student may within that degree, opt to concentrate a portion of the credit in some specific area of focus, this occurs within the requirements of the Applied Science and Technology major. The degree diploma then, should declare a, “Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology”, and the transcript would, in addition to the foregoing, note a concentration in the area of focus.





  • The TESC BA program in the liberal arts delivers a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration


  • No concentration is noted on the degree diploma but is listed in the transcript


  • All other degree programs offered by TESC deliver degrees with a named major


  • The named major is the bit after “in” in the degree title, as in, BS in Applied Science and Technology


  • The concentration/area of study/area of specialization/focus, comprises a component within the major, is not the major itself.




The possible majors are: Applied Science and Technology (BSAST); Business Administration (BSBA); Health Sciences (BSHS); Human Services (BSHuS); Nursing (BSN)







Charter Oak State College (COSC) only confers degrees in the lib arts, and with a sole major in General Studies. However, there are many concentrations on offer within that construct. The degree diploma notes the award of a Bachelor of Science degree or a Bachelor of Arts Degree. No mention of the General Studies major, or any specialization or concentration appears on the diploma. The transcript lists the degree (BS or BA), the major, and the specialization.







© Lawrie Miller 1997 – 2004

no reproduction without permission