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Difference Between BA and BS Degree
If you’re an undergraduate student trying to figure out your major, you may be wondering about the difference between a BA and a BS degree. The broad answer is a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree focuses on the humanities and social sciences while a Bachelor of Science (BS) emphasizes science and math. These two types of degree programs vary in terms of coursework, skill development, and the types of careers they can prepare students for. Below we’ll explore the key differences between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.
What’s the difference between a BA and a BS?
The main difference between a BA and a BS is the focus of the coursework each type of degree requires. Colleges grant BAs to students who majored in the humanities and social sciences, while BS degrees are granted to students majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects. General education requirements differ for each degree type. Students pursuing a BA are generally required to take a liberal arts curriculum that involves an array of humanities and social science courses. Alternatively, BS majors follow a curriculum that emphasizes science and math courses.
Because BA and BS students study different material, they tend to develop different skill sets. BA degrees are designed to strengthen students’ critical thinking, writing, and research skills through a liberal arts curriculum. Meanwhile, BS majors develop their problem-solving and analytical reasoning abilities by studying the technical and practical facets of their field.
Since each degree program fosters the development of different skills, BA and BS earners have different career options. Students who graduate with a BA often develop skills that are transferable to a variety of fields. For instance, English majors can get jobs as teachers, news reporters, freelance writers, public relations specialists, and more. While BS degree holders also have many career paths, oftentimes their major is more directly related to a specific field. For example, computer science majors often get jobs such as web developers and software testers.
What is a Bachelor of Arts?
Bachelor of Arts degree programs emphasize a liberal arts curriculum that covers a broad array of subjects. As a result, students in BA programs take fewer credits that are directly related to their major. Instead, students earn credits through a broad array of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and foreign languages. Below are just a few examples of BA majors:
- International Studies
- Political Science
- Religious Studies
What is a Bachelor of Science?
Bachelor of Science degree programs usually focus more strictly on subject matter directly related to the student’s specific field of study. As a result, BS students are required to take more credits directly associated with their major in order to master the technical and practical facets of their field. This means they have less opportunities to explore topics outside of their major. Below are just a few examples of BS majors:
- Sport/exercise Science
- Computer Science
Read more: How to pick a college major
Is there any overlap?
Not all majors are specific to one degree program or the other. Some subjects such as psychology, accounting, and business are regularly offered in both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs. This gives students the option of taking the broader sweep of the BA track or the more tightly focused approach of the BS track.
Also read: How to choose a college
Which degree is better?
Because BA and BS degrees serve different purposes, neither one is better than the other. Each degree holds the same academic weight, but the ways they are utilized varies greatly. As we’ve discussed, BA and BS degrees tend to hone different skills and prepare students for varying career paths. The main thing to consider when deciding between a BA and a BS is to think about how each degree program could impact your future.
See also: Scholarships for college students
Other types of bachelor’s degrees
BA and BS degrees aren’t the only bachelor’s degrees that undergraduate students can earn. Below are a few of the other common bachelor’s degree types:
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
BFA programs train students in visual and performing arts. Common BFA majors include dance, painting, film, theater, sculpture, and animation. BFA programs typically require different generation education courses than BA and BS programs. Instead of humanities, social science, and natural science courses, BFA majors usually take additional art courses.
Related: Top art scholarships
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
BBA programs train students in core business areas such as business communications, management, economics, and finance. BBA students take fewer liberal arts classes, more business courses, and typically choose a concentration such as accounting, marketing, human resource management, or strategic management.
Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
BAS programs often build on the skills and knowledge gained in an Associate of Applied Science program. BAS students acquire advanced technical knowledge related to specific fields such as engineering, construction management, and information technology.
Frequently asked questions
Is a BS harder than a BA?
BS degrees typically have stricter requirements in regard to their major, whereas BA degrees typically allow students to take a more diverse courseload. That being said, it’s difficult to say which type of degree is harder to earn, as this can vary based on major, school, and a variety of other factors. While a BA might have easier requirements to fulfill, a BS might be easier to earn in some situations.
Is political science a BA or a BS?
The political science major can go towards a BA or a BS degree, depending on the school you’re at and the classes you take. Typically, you’ll take a more technical approach to the discipline if you’re earning a BS, and a more holistic one if earning a BA.
Is psychology a BA or a BS?
The psychology major can count as a BA or BS degree, depending on the policy of your university and the classes you take. Typically, BS programs take a more technical approach and might teach you more of the medical and scientific angle of the discipline. BA students might take more sociological and social science courses.
Do BS holders earn more money than BA holders?
The answer to this question can vary widely on the major you choose, the school you attend, and the career you pursue after graduation. However, as BS holders are more likely to go into profitable STEM fields, whereas BA holders are more likely to opt for humanities and social sciences, which typically pay less, BS holders do tend to earn more money. But it’s important to remember that the type of degree you earn is only one part of a big web of factors that will determine your salary.
Related: Top college majors for the future