5 Major Concerns All Science Stream Students Have When Thinking of Pursuing an Arts Degree

If you’re a Science stream student considering an Arts, Business or Humanities degree, we address 5 of the most common concerns here.

Updated 29 Oct 2018

Can Science Stream Students Get an Arts Degree? - Feature-Image

If you’re a Science stream student in secondary school, bucking the trend by taking an arts, humanities or business course often means inviting a torrent of scepticism and disdain.

After all, isn’t it a waste given your scientific background? Won’t you struggle since you don’t have the background knowledge from secondary school?

Here’s why you shouldn’t let these common doubts stop you from following your passion.

#1. You have little to no background in the relevant subjects

From Science Stream to Arts Stream-Have Little To No Background Knowledge

Unlike Science degrees, most Arts, Business or Humanities degrees do not need prerequisite subjects from secondary school. This means that if you’re from the Science stream, you do not need to have prior knowledge or an SPM grade to enrol for the degree.

For example, if you want to pursue an Accounting Degree, it’s not necessary for you to have taken Principles of Accounting for SPM. All you need are passes in Mathematics and English and you’re golden!


 Not all university programmes are structured the same! We strongly recommend reading through each university’s entry requirements thoroughly before applying. Alternatively, reach out to us for free counselling services!

#2. You won’t be able to cope in college without prior knowledge in the subjects

From Science Stream to Arts Stream-Unable To Cope In

Pre-university courses are designed to cover the basics of the subject in the first few weeks of class — think of it as a recap of SPM subjects condensed into a short period. Thereafter, you will dive into more complex topics as you progress through the course.

If you’re concerned about being overwhelmed by your course workload, don’t worry! Just like revising for any major exam (cue SPM flashbacks), it is possible for you to catch up and grasp each subject quickly.

For starters, consider seeking help from your peers by forming study groups and sharing resources. Not only will you be able to get help in areas you’re struggling in, but you’ll also make some friends in the process. You could also get advice from your lecturers who may provide you with additional resources.

Finally, practice makes perfect! If you’re struggling to understand a topic, keep revising and reading up on topics that confuse you to better understand it. After all, science experiments rarely work the first time!

#3. You’re not certain if it is suited for you

From Science Stream to Arts Stream-Not Sure If Art Degree Suits You

Background knowledge aside, you may find it hard to envision whether a non-Science degree might suit you, especially since you haven’t been exposed to the subject.

If you’re not quite sure, here are some important questions for you to consider:

  • Have you explored all your options and possible career paths?
  • Do you think the subjects will suit your strengths and abilities?
  • Are you choosing a course based on your interest and passion, and not based on pressure from your parents?
  • Does the course that you want to study fit into your future career plans?
  • Have you spoken to your seniors and professionals in the industry to find out more about the degree and the realities of working in the field?

That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that the decision you make in college or university isn’t forever. In fact, many university degrees equip you with a range of transferable skills that you can apply to different careers, so don’t be surprised if you see an engineering graduate working in a public relations agency!

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#4. Non-science careers are hard to come by

From Science Stream to Arts Stream-Careers Are Hard To Come By

If you’re familiar with hearing questions such as “Can find job with your degree ah?” and “Who wants to hire you with that degree?” during family reunions, then your aunties and uncles are blinded by the myth that careers are scarce in the arts and humanities fields.

Well, here’s what you can tell your “concerned” relatives.

The skills learnt in an Arts, business or Humanities degree, such as communication skills (both oral and written), persuasive writing and critical thinking, can be applied to many industries across sectors that are always desirable by employers.

With a growing number of companies looking for fresh and innovative to grow their businesses, there will always be a high demand for graduates who can display a range of soft skills, regardless of what degree they graduate in.

#5. The careers are not as lucrative as the sciences

From Science Stream to Arts Stream-Not As Lucrative As The Sciences

While it’s true that science-related careers like medicine, pharmacy and dentistry do indeed rake in the big bucks (especially if you’re a specialist), it doesn’t mean that non-science jobs pay pennies!

Your salary will ultimately depend on the industry sector you choose, the scope of your work and the years of experience you have under your belt.

In fact, certain non-science jobs could pay just as well as science jobs. For example, according to the 2018/2019 Salary Guide from Kelly Services, a corporate communications director may earn as much as an engineering manager with the same years of experience — i.e. up to RM20,000 a month with 8 to 10 years of experience.

So a job in the arts field can’t be that bad, right?

We hope that we have helped to dispel some doubts you may have about moving from sciences to the arts. A career in science doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re destined for success; neither does a career in arts mean that you’re doomed for failure. Always make sure you do your research and consider your options carefully. All the best!

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.