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Differences Between B.A. vs B.S. Degree


What is a B.A. Degree?

B.A. stands for Bachelor of Arts. The B.A. degrees generally offer programs with a wider set of coursework, when compared with B.S. degrees.

B.A. students are allowed to take a variety of classes from several disciplines, and required coursework is smaller.

For example, B.A. students may be given several options for courses to fulfill a specific requirement. B.A. students have more flexibility to customize their education, and often are given more lenient options for math and science coursework.

What is a B.S. Degree?

B.S. stands for Bachelor of Science. The B.S. degree is more focused on the specific subject of the degree, and it is usually technical, scientific, or mathematical in nature.

B.S. students are not allowed as many opportunities to explore topics outside their chosen field, and have a larger number of specific courses they need to take, that cannot be substituted for other coursework.

Usually, a B.S. will require more courses from departments in engineering, math, computer science, physics, technology, chemistry, and other hard sciences.

Differences Between B.A. vs B.S. Degrees

The difference between the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Science degree really comes down to the actual classes students take.

The B.A. degree will always start with a foundation of liberal arts, whereas the B.S. degree will always require more courses in math, science, engineering, and technology.

In many cases, students may choose to pursue a B.A. or B.S. in their chosen major. A common case is the psychology degree, where psych majors working towards a B.S. may take more courses in neurobiology and statistics, and psych majors working towards a B.A. degree may take more courses from the social sciences.

Majors That Can Be B.A. or B.S.

Most students in the sciences and technology fields will be given the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree instead of a Bachelor of Science degree. This can include engineering, computer science, and mathematics.

Programs that are typically offered as both B.A. and B.S. include business, psychology, architecture, hospitality, and economics.

Combining the arts and the sciences into one degree dates all the way back to Greek times, where students were able to study liberal arts or sciences, the latter of which were meant for civil service.


What is a Better Degree: B.A. or B.S.?

It used to be that a Bachelor of Arts was considered the premiere degree. But as colleges became more diverse, and with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, science and technology degrees began to be offered at most universities, in addition to the more traditional B.A.

It cannot be said that one is better than the other, or that graduates in one have a certain advantage over the other. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which is the right academic path for you.

How to Choose B.A. or B.S.?

If you are trying to decide between a degree that is either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, there are several things to consider. Ask yourself what you want to do after your degree — do you want to work in a practical field or in the lab? If that’s the case, then a B.S. may be for you.

Alternatively, if you want to master the art of writing and theory, a B.A. could be your best path.

If you are planning on a specialized career after graduation, such as architect or engineer, a B.S. may be more appropriate.

If you aren’t exactly clear yet on your career path, then a B.A. might be better, as you can explore your major with wider breadth of coursework to determine what you want to do.

Also, take a look at what others are doing in your field. If you find that most who are working in similar paths to your desired career have one or the other, there may be a good reason why.

If that is not the case, take a look at the program requirements for graduation, and compare one with the other. Perhaps there is one with coursework that is more aligned with your interests, or that better prepares you for a graduate program you are interested in.

If you are looking to get a graduate degree, make sure that either the B.A. or the B.S. that you are pursuing have coursework that are prerequisites for the graduate degree program.

Finally, think of your strengths, and how hard you want to push yourself. If math doesn’t come easily to you, a B.S. may not be the easiest path for you. But it also may be worthwhile in the end depending on your end goals. It’s all up to you.

Do Employers Prefer B.A or B.S?

University graduate of BA or BS degree sitting with diploma


Take a look at any job board, and you will see that some employers and recruiters request specific degrees, some ask for preferred majors, and others have no preference at all — requiring only that the applicant has a degree. Take some time looking at commonly used job boards, Linkedin profiles for people whose careers you aspire towards, and do your research on which degree seems to get people where they want to be. In many cases, employers will not prefer one over the other.

Where it does matter, however, are for lab-based positions, or positions that are highly technical or mathematical in nature. For specialized positions such as these, a Bachelor of Science is preferred.

The Bottom Line

So, what is a better degree: B.A or B.S.? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. At the end of the day, you need to look at what you want to do with your bachelor’s degree, and how you want to spend your time while you are in college.

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