Once you complete high school, selecting the right undergraduate degree might seem overwhelming, considering the amount of information available on the World Wide Web. Right from grasping the basics of various types of degrees, to understanding the coverage of each degree program, it is a lot of information to process. But don’t worry. We’re here to help!
Team CollegEnroll has compiled a comprehensive list of similarities and differences, along with factors to consider when choosing between two popular undergraduate degrees – B.A. and B.S.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in and look at the basics of a B.A. degree.
In layman terms, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is an undergraduate degree that you can earn if you complete a program in the arts, humanities, social sciences, or other liberal arts disciplines. Typically, it requires three to four years of study at a college or university.
Also known for its broad and interdisciplinary approach to education, a B.A. degree explores a wide range of subjects and helps you develop skills in communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis. A B.A. also emphasizes the development of intellectual and cultural knowledge, along with the cultivation of creativity and a well-rounded education.
B.A. degrees generally involve a combination of core courses, electives, and usually a major or concentration in a specific discipline. Remember that specific requirements and curriculum may vary depending on the university and your chosen field of study. As a B.A. student, you can choose to study subjects such as literature, psychology, philosophy, history,sociology, political science, languages, and fine arts.
Now, let’s look at what a B.S. degree is.
A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is an academic degree that you can earn upon completion of a program in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, or other technical disciplines. Usually, a B.S degree requires four years of study at a college or university, just like a B.A.
Known for its focus on scientific, technical, and quantitative subjects, a B.S. degree is designed to offer a solid foundation in specialized knowledge, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Usually, B.S. programs have a more structured and rigorous curriculum compared to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs.
In most cases, B.S. degrees involve core courses in the chosen discipline along with a combination of mathematics, natural sciences, computer science, and other technical courses. A B.S. degree can lead to multiple career paths such as engineering, computer science, information technology, healthcare, research, environmental science, data analysis, and a lot more. Also, a B.S. degree can serve as a foundation for further study at the graduate level, including pursuing a Masters or a Ph.D. degree in a specific field.
Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees are undergraduate academic degrees offered by colleges. Some other similarities between the two degrees are:
- Undergraduate Degrees: Both B.A. and B.S. degrees are typically earned after completing a program of study. These degrees take about four years to complete, although the duration may vary depending on the institution and the specific program.
- General Education: Both degrees require you to complete a set of general education requirements that may include courses in subjects such as natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, and communication skills. These general education courses build a broad foundation of knowledge and skills.
- Curriculum: Usually, B.A. and B.S. programs have a core curriculum or major-specific requirements. These requirements specifically focus on the subject area chosen by you. For instance, a B.A. in English might require courses in literature, writing, and literary analysis, while a B.S. in Biology might require courses in biology, chemistry, and genetics.
- Accreditation: Both degrees are awarded by accredited institutions. Accreditation ensures that the educational institution meets certain quality standards and that other educational institutions and potential employers recognize and respect the degree offered.
- Prerequisites for Higher Education: Both degrees serve as a foundation for pursuing higher education, such as graduate studies or professional degrees. Irrespective of the degree chosen by you, you can apply for further education in various fields. It is important to remember that specific prerequisites may vary depending on the program or institution.
While B.A. and B.S. degrees share these similarities, they also have distinct differences, particularly in terms of focus and requirements. The specific requirements and coursework might vary between individual programs and institutions offering these degrees.
Let’s now look at the differences between these two types of college degrees
Before you begin to choose between a B.A. and a B.S., you should consider your interests, career goals, and the specific programs offered by the university or college you aspire to study in.
Let’s break down the main differences between the two:
- Subject Focus: The most significant difference lies in the subject focus. B.A. degrees generally highlight broader liberal arts education, including social sciences, humanities, and fine arts. This degree offers you the flexibility to explore various disciplines like English, history, sociology, or psychology. A B.S. degree, on the other hand, focuses on scientific and technical subjects, such as mathematics, computer science, engineering, or natural sciences.
- Curriculum: Most B.A. programs require more general education courses, allowing you to gain a well-rounded education. As a B.A. student, you have the opportunity to enroll for a wider range of courses in different fields. On the other hand, B.S. programs have a structured curriculum with a specific focus on your major subject. As a result, you might have fewer elective options but an opportunity to dive deeper into your chosen field.
- Skills and Career Path: Typically, a B.A. degree emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills, which are considered valuable in multiple career fields such as teaching, writing, social work, or public relations. B.S. degrees, however, are associated with technical or scientific fields, and are a first choice for students who want to equip themselves with specialized knowledge and skills required for professions like computer programming, data analysis, engineering, or healthcare.
- Graduate Studies: If you plan to take up a graduate or a doctorate degree, choosing between a B.A. and B.S. might influence your options. Remember that certain graduate programs have specific requirements, and specific fields may prefer one degree over the other. For example, a B.S. degree might be more suitable for graduate studies in engineering, while a B.A. degree would be preferable for humanities or social sciences.
Remember that these are just general guidelines, and universities or colleges may have their unique programs and requirements. It is best to research and consider the specific curriculum, career outcomes, and your personal interests when making your decision.
Now that you know how B.A. and B.S. degrees are similar to and different from each other, it’s time to understand how you can make your choice between the two.
When deciding between a B.A. and a B.S., you want to factor in your academic interests, career goals, and the specific requirements of the programs you’re interested in. Let’s dig a little deeper.
A B.A. program broadly emphasizes a foundational liberal arts education, thereby focusing on subjects like humanities, social sciences, languages, and fine arts. It would be a good choice if you enjoy a well-rounded education, have a creative mind, are passionate about subjects such as literature, history, sociology, or if you’re considering careers in fields like journalism, education, or the arts.
Alternatively, suppose you’re interested in areas like engineering, computer science, biology, physics, or other fields with a heavy emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills. In that case, a B.S. is the degree for you. B.S. programs tend to have a stronger focus on scientific, technical, or mathematical subjects.
When making the decision between the two, consider your strengths, interests, and long-term goals. Do you have a strong inclination towards a particular subject? Are you aiming for a career that requires specific scientific or technical knowledge? These are a few of the factors that can guide you towards the appropriate degree.
Remember, this is not a life-or-death decision! Many careers and graduate programs accept both B.A. and B.S. degrees, and your choice of major and relevant experience can often matter more than the specific degree title.
Let’s move on to look at some in-demand B.A and B.S. programs across subjects like Business, Psychology and Healthcare.
If you’re planning to study business, you have a number of options to choose from. While some specializations may be available for both B.A. and B.S., in certain cases, you can major in a business and concentrate on a specific sub-field.
Here is a list of some in-demand B.A. and B.S. courses for you to consider.
|Bachelors of Arts||Bachelor of Science|
|Business Administration: A foundational course that covers various aspects of business management, including marketing, finance, operations, human resources, and strategic planning.|
Note: Some colleges also offer a B.S. in Business Administration, which is a popular choice among students.
|Business Analytics: Focuses on applying data analysis and statistical methods to inform business decision-making. It covers topics such as data visualization, predictive modeling, data mining, and business intelligence.|
|Marketing: Focuses on understanding consumer behavior, market research, advertising, branding, digital marketing, and developing effective marketing strategies.||Financial Analysis: Delves into financial statement analysis, valuation techniques, risk assessment, and investment analysis. This course offers a strong foundation for careers in corporate finance, investment banking, or financial consulting.|
|Entrepreneurship: Covers topics such as identifying business opportunities, creating business plans, securing funding, and managing entrepreneurial ventures. This course is ideal for those interested in starting their own businesses.||Supply Chain Management: Explores the management of the flow of goods and services from suppliers to consumers. It covers topics such as logistics, procurement, inventory management, operations planning, and global supply chain strategies.|
|International Business: Covers topics like international trade, cross-cultural management, global marketing, and multinational business strategies. Basically, you’ll learn all about conducting business in a global context||Risk Management and Insurance: Focuses on identifying, assessing, and managing risks in business operations. It covers topics such as insurance principles, risk analysis, loss prevention, and risk financing strategies|
|Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Explores ethical issues in business and how companies can contribute positively to society. It covers topics such as sustainability, corporate governance, social responsibility, and ethical decision-making.||Information Systems Management: Examines the effective use of information technology in organizations. It covers topics such as database management, enterprise systems, cybersecurity, IT project management, and business process improvement.|
Studying psychology is a great choice and can be a rewarding journey into understanding human behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Again, remember that you can choose to major in psychology and focus on a particular field of study as well. Let’s look at some popular B.A. and B.S. courses in psychology.
|Bachelors of Arts||Bachelors of Science|
|Social Psychology: Examines how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, andbehaviors are influenced by social interactions and group dynamics. Topics covered may include attitudes, social cognition, conformity, prejudice, and interpersonal relationships.||Research Methods in Psychology: Provides a comprehensive understanding of research design, data collection, and statistical analysis in psychological research. It focuses on developing skills in designing experiments, collecting data, and analyzing results.|
|Developmental Psychology: Explores human development across the lifespan, from infancy to old age. It covers physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development and examines factors that influence development, such as genetics, environment, and culture.||Neuroscience: Examines the relationship between the brain, behavior, and psychological processes. It covers topics such as neural anatomy, neurophysiology, brain imaging techniques, and the biological basis of behavior.|
|Cognitive Psychology: Focuses on the study of mental processes, including perception, attention, memory, language, and problem-solving. It explores how humans acquire, store, and use information.||Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Applies psychological principles to workplace settings. It covers topics such as employee selection, motivation, leadership, organizational behavior, and workplace dynamics.|
|Personality Psychology: Delves into the study of individual differences in personality traits, characteristics, and behavior. It covers various theories of personality and explores factors that shape personality, such as genetics, environment, and cultural influences.||Biological Psychology: Focuses on the biological foundations of behavior, exploring topics such as the brain, the nervous system, genetics, and how they influence psychological processes.|
|Health Psychology: Examines the intersection of psychology and physical health. It explores the psychological factors that influence health and well-being, including stress, health behaviors, coping strategies, and the mind-body connection.||Abnormal Psychology: Explores various psychological disorders, their causes, symptoms, and treatments. It covers a wide range of psychological disorders, including mood disorders (such as depression and bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia), personality disorders, substance-related disorders, eating disorders, and more.|
Choosing to study healthcare can lead to a variety of fulfilling and impactful careers in the medical field. Whether you’re interested in becoming a doctor, nurse, healthcare administrator, or pursuing other healthcare professions, there are several steps you can take to make the most of your studies. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular choices of B.A. and B.S. degrees in healthcare.
|Bachelors of Arts||Bachelors of Science|
|Healthcare Ethics: Examines ethical issues and dilemmas in healthcare. It covers topics such as patient rights, end-of-life decision-making, informed consent, healthcare disparities, and ethical considerations in medical research.||Health Sciences: Provides a broad foundation in various aspects of health and healthcare. It covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, public health, epidemiology, healthcare systems, and health policy.|
|Healthcare Communication: Emphasizes effective communication in healthcare settings. It covers topics such as patient-provider communication, interprofessional collaboration, health literacy, and cross-cultural communication in healthcare.||Nursing: Prepares students to become registered nurses (RNs) and provides in-depth knowledge of nursing practice, patient care, healthcare ethics, and evidence-based nursing interventions.|
|Healthcare Law and Policy: Provides an overview of the legal and regulatory aspects of the healthcare industry. It covers topics such as healthcare regulations, patient privacy laws, healthcare reform, and the legal responsibilities of healthcare professionals.||Health Data Analytics: Combines healthcare and data analysis to extract meaningful insights from healthcare data. It covers topics such as statistical analysis, data visualization, healthcare data management, and health outcomes research.|
|Healthcare Marketing: Focuses on marketing strategies specific to the healthcare industry. It covers topics such as healthcare branding, healthcare consumer behavior, healthcare advertising, and healthcare market research.||Biomedical Sciences: Focuses on the scientific aspects of healthcare and medical research. It covers topics such as human biology, biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, and medical laboratory techniques.|
|Public Health: Explores the principles of public health and population health management. It covers topics such as epidemiology, health promotion, disease prevention, community health assessment, and public health policy.||Health Informatics: Combines healthcare and information technology, focusing on the management and analysis of healthcare data. It covers topics such as health information systems, electronic health records, data analytics, and health information security.|
Choosing between a B.S. and a B.A. degree may seem daunting, but with a little research and planning, it doesn’t have to be. When making the choice, remember to keep your interests, long-term goals and career options in mind, and remember, either degree will be a great stepping-stone to a career or further study.
We hope this guide answered some of your questions and helped you find a direction towards your higher education goals. We wish you the best!
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The choice between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree depends on your academic goals, as well as the specific requirements and opportunities offered by the programs and institutions you are considering. Some common factors to think about include the field of study, curriculum, your personal strengths and interests, career goals and any other institution specific factors that you would like to take into consideration.
It would be unfair to say that a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is better than a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree or vice versa. Honestly, the value of a degree depends on several factors, including your individual goals, the field of study, and the specific requirements of graduate programs or potential employers. To make an informed choice between the two, consider your passions, strengths, and long-term aspirations.