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HumBio adds B.S. degree

The program in human biology will offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree option to majors beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year. The degree will exist alongside the current Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in human biology, which has been offered to undergraduates since the founding of the program in 1971.

According to the program’s website, the human biology major is designed to “provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the human being from biological, behavioral, social and cultural perspectives.”

The new degree option will allow students to focus their studies in a technical direction by taking additional classes in the sciences.

“Students in human biology have long sought an option to choose a B.S. degree for academic paths that take on a more science-focused course of study that includes natural sciences, and even mathematics and engineering,” wrote Paul Fisher, program director of human biology and professor of pediatrics, in a press release.

B.S. candidates will be required to take up to 10 units of breadth courses and five or more depth courses in the life and physical sciences. These degree requirements are complementary to those for the B.A., which requires depth courses with an emphasis on social studies and the humanities.

“I think people might be opposed to the change initially because it sounds like [human biology] is turning into bio,” said Vickie Wang ’19, a prospective human biology major.

Depth courses for the B.S. degree will be targeted towards Applied Quantitative Reasoning, Formal Reasoning and Scientific Methods and Analysis Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing (WAYs) requirements. The B.A. degree requirements currently fulfill Aesthetic and Interpretative Inquiry, Creative Expression, Engaging Diversity, Ethical Reasoning and Social Inquiry WAYs.

The major has historically been a popular option for premedical students. According to the press release, the program does not expect that medical schools will be partial to either the B.S. or B.A. degree.

“I think the change will be a good mix for people who aren’t only completely interested in the humanities side of healthcare and want to dabble in both sides,” Wang said.

 

Contact Augustine Chemparathy at agchempa@stanford.edu.

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