Arts & Culture

The Great Academic Debate: Honours V/s Programme Courses Debate

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‘Honours or Programme’ is a big part of the course-selection debate. But what does it actually entail? Here’s a brief look at both of the courses; their advantages and opportunities that await you.

One of the biggest debates around the University of Delhi (DU) courses is the dilemma of choosing between an honours and programme course. Certain courses that are in high demand – like Economics or Psychology – have very high cut-offs, more so in the top-ranked colleges. This can turn some to the programme courses without knowing much about them and lead to awkward attempts of collecting information from long-forgotten school seniors/relatives studying in DU. Often, students (especially the ones who have changed streams) are also unsure of picking a singular subject and apprehensive of sticking with it for three years. But despite the programme departments boasting of a large number of students, little is known about them in detail, leading to misconceptions about its content. Often derided for not being as vast as honours courses, let’s investigate whether the argument has merit (excuse the unintentional marks pun).

Course Structure

While honours courses include a bifurcation of the main course (like macroeconomics and maths for economics), a general elective, and a compulsory course initially, programme courses have a different system. Instead of choosing a single subject, students of B.A. Programme have two subjects (called ‘disciplines’) that can be chosen and the available subjects differ across colleges. For B.Com Programme, a set of papers like Financial Accounting or Business Management are pre-chosen by the department. The aforementioned courses also include studying a compulsory language each semester. B.Sc. Programme courses do not include the compulsory language provision but are instead more of foundational courses for a science subject – such as Chemistry – having three core papers.

Hence, programme courses are more of foundational courses that do not have a very in-depth study of a particular subject unlike their honours counterparts. The total credits under programme courses are 120 while an honours degree is equivalent to 140 credits. However, not all colleges offering postgraduate degrees are strict about the undergraduate credit requirements and this distinction. But, that is not to say that programme courses are not comprehensive. They offer some choice and the freedom to explore within a stream rather than studying a subject continuously for three years, which might be monotonous to some who might be unsure about their future careers. Which, given we are talking about DU, is the case for many.

Future Opportunities

As mentioned, honours courses are more about specialisation. As specialisation in a subject undoubtedly leads to greater knowledge about it, it is preferred by recruiters or post-graduate colleges that offer courses related to it. That does not, however, put the programme students at a very big disadvantage, as their multi-subject knowledge also increases work opportunities. “I chose the programme course over honours as I was unsure of the subject I wanted to pursue my post-graduation in. It also allowed me to pursue my love for Political Science and English simultaneously,” says Kashish, a second-year B.A. Programme student. This dilemma between two different fields is a common reason for the preference of programme courses over their honours counterpart. Further, the focus on two disciplines under B.A. Programme also allows for UPSC exam aspirants to get a head start and also study a regional language, whose nuances are forgotten by many of us post the 10th grade. For Social Sciences, institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) take entrance exams for consideration; hence the honours/programme distinction doesn’t have much relevance here.

So, if you’re confused torn between subjects you love, have UPSC aspirations, want to explore more, and are uninterested by the thought of studying one subject for your undergraduate years, go for programme. If not, go do the honourable thing (excuse the unintentional course pun).


Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Rishika Singh

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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