Please don’t delete my major

On April 19, Vanden Bout, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, approved the deletion of the Bachelor of Science and Arts in biochemistry degree plan, which would go into effect for incoming students in Fall 2022. This came after the recommendation of the College of Natural Sciences Course and Curriculum Committee. 

Simply put, this is a bad idea. 

Unlike a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, a BSA allows students to take fewer STEM classes and have more time to pursue a minor or certificate.

Developing skills outside of STEM helps students obtain a more well-rounded education and view life from multiple perspectives. Thus, the University should not take away students’ opportunity to pursue a BSA in biochemistry.

Sophomore Nneoma Okea, who is pursuing a BSA in biochemistry with a minor in business, believes that having time to study other subjects outside of STEM benefits students who are unsure about their post-graduate plans.

“I feel like there’s a lot of benefit in being able to have a built-in minor in your degree plan,” Okea said. “Especially, I feel like it is really helpful for people who aren’t sure what they’re going to do with their degree because it allows them to explore a different interest.”

However, not everyone holds that same sentiment. Molecular biosciences professor Karen Browning said in an email that deleting the BSA in biochemistry degree plan would better prepare students for careers in that field. 

“Faculty periodically redesigns degree plans to ensure curriculum aligns with what the field — from graduate school to employers — demands,” Browning said. “For biochemistry, several areas in need of improvement were noted, including developing skills for future careers as biochemists, as well as deepening the knowledge of chemistry, biology and biochemistry. To address these needs, the number of hours in science courses added to the BS in biochemistry exceeded what is allowed in the BSA.” 

However, if students want to deepen their knowledge in biochemistry, they can pursue a BS instead of a BSA to begin with. Many students who are not sure if they want a future in biochemistry enjoy being able to pursue other subjects. 

Additionally, deleting the BSA in biochemistry degree plan would discourage students from taking courses that broaden their areas of knowledge, like arts and humanities courses. 

“I would probably be discouraged from taking other (non-STEM) classes,” Okea said. “A Bachelor of Science means more science classes and they take up more time and are usually a bit more challenging. … It would be more of a struggle to fit those other classes in, so they probably would not make my schedule.”

The statement by the Faculty Council states, “The Biochemistry BS and BSA degrees are very similar and as such both degrees are not needed. Any student that wants to pursue a BSA degree may matriculate in the biology BSA and may take biochemistry courses within that plan.”

However, it is not as simple as just taking biochemistry courses when these may cost time and money on top of a biology degree plan. Furthermore, biology and biochemistry are different subjects, and a diploma won’t show that you took those biochemistry courses. 

One of the major things that attracted me to UT was the ability to study both sciences and humanities in one degree plan. Deleting the BSA in biochemistry degree plan would discourage many talented students from attending the University. I know I would have rethought attending UT. 

If the University can comfortably delete a valuable degree plan then, who knows, maybe your degree could be next. 

Purchatzke is a biochemistry freshman from Boerne, Texas.