Job postings often state they require a “bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.” But which one—BA or BS? Picking a psychology major can feel a lot like picking out an ice cream flavor. They all look good, right? But only a few, or maybe that one special flavor, really hits the spot.

Just like picking your favorite ice cream, it’s all about finding what really satisfies your ‘taste’. Are you a person who’s driven by ideas or by science? Have you mapped out your career path yet, or are you still exploring? By the end of this article, you’ll be able to choose a psychology bachelor degree for yourself. So, keep reading.

Studying psychology is all about getting inside the human mind—a roadmap to understanding why people think, act, and feel the way they do. This kind of knowledge is super handy in day-to-day life. It can help individuals ace social situations, squash conflicts, make smart choices, and ramp up their communication game.

But that’s not all. Majoring in psychology can unlock a treasure trove of career paths. Sure, you could become a psychologist or counselor, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A psychology degree can lead to some high paying roles in fields like business, education, healthcare, and social services, that you’ll come across below as you keep reading.

Above all, psychologists play a significant role in our society. They’re out there doing vital research, shaping policies, and providing services that boost people’s lives and mental health. By getting a degree in psychology, you could be part of making society a better place.

These are some common areas of specialization in psychology:

  • Clinical Psychology: Focuses on diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
  • Community Psychology: Studies the individuals’ contexts within communities and the wider society.
  • Counseling Psychology: Employs various therapeutic techniques to help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to function better in their lives.
  • Developmental Psychology: Studies the psychological changes that occur throughout the human lifespan.
  • Educational Psychology: Examines how people learn in educational settings and how to improve educational effectiveness.
  • Environmental Psychology: Explores the relationship between people and their physical surroundings.
  • Experimental Psychology: Uses scientific methods to study the mind and behavior.
  • Forensic Psychology: Applies psychological principles to legal issues, often used in courts.
  • Health Psychology: Studies how biological, social, and psychological factors influence health and illness.
  • Business or Industrial-Organizational Psychology: Applies psychological principles and research methods to the workplace to improve productivity, health, and the quality of work life.
  • School Psychology: Works within the educational system to help children with emotional, social, and academic issues.
  • Rehab Psychology: Helps individuals with disabilities achieve better functioning and adapt to their new life situations.
  • Social Psychology: Examines how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by others.
  • Sport Psychology: Applies psychology to enhance performance and enjoyment in athletes.

Related: Undergraduate Degree in Psychology: Why Should You Consider It?

Before we dive into the differences, let’s first look at what these psychology degrees have in common. Both degrees share the same length of study, rigorous curriculum, and foundational courses. Plus, they both set you up for grad school in psychology and related fields, and potentially high-paying jobs.

You’ll find that many colleges offer either a BA or a BS in psychology, depending on their overall academic or research focus. So, when you’re picking out a college for your undergrad, be sure to check out the core courses offered by their psychology programs. The courses you take can play a big role in determining your eligibility and career path for further studies. 

Comparing the Psychology BA vs BS: A Quick Glance

BA in PsychologyBS in Psychology
The BA program tends to focus more on the social and theoretical aspects of psychology. It’s often more liberal arts-oriented.The BS program is usually more focused on the scientific and technical aspects of psychology.
The BA program encourages you to think outside the box and come up with well-rounded ideas.The BS program equips you with a more data-driven and rational approach to thinking.
Coursework often includes a broad range of liberal arts subjects, such as humanities and social sciencesCoursework is typically more science-intensive, with classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and statistics.
Graduates might pursue careers in counseling, social work, human resources, or related fields where interpersonal skills are highly valued.Graduates might be more inclined towards careers in research, healthcare, business, or any field that values analytical and quantitative skills.
A BA might be more suitable for students intending to pursue graduate studies in psychology or related fields that require a strong liberal arts background.A BS might be more suitable for students planning to pursue graduate studies in psychology that involve more research and science, or other fields like medicine or data analysis.

A BA typically offers a wider, more interdisciplinary style of education, which might include applying concepts in diverse cultural settings. On the other hand, both BA and BS degrees generally follow similar educational paths. 

Most employers don’t differentiate between the two unless the job is highly specialized, like in data analysis. Even in such specialized roles, a BA might still be in the running if your coursework includes advanced statistics and research subjects.

The two main psychology degrees—BA and BS—lead to pretty much the same career paths when you mix-and-match the core courses with the right electives, but there are a few subtle differences you should be aware of. 

First, both degrees require you to take a bunch of common core courses:

  • Psychology 101
  • General Statistics
  • Introduction to Research & Writing in Psychology

However, if you’re going for a BS, you’ll need to take extra courses in advanced statistics and natural sciences on top of the general ed courses offered by these programs. Also, the specific courses (major courses + minor courses + electives) you take, either in BA or BS degree, will help prep you for the grad program you choose to apply further.

Related: Bachelor’s vs. Master’s Degree: What Is The Difference?

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

A four-year undergrad program, gives you the lowdown on why people think and act the way they do. You’ll be studying a wide range of topics, including basic psychology, how the brain affects behavior, how people develop and change as they get older, and how the body works.

A BA in psychology is designed to set you up for success in psychology-related careers and even fields outside of psychology. What sets this degree apart is its broader elective requirements compared to a typical BS degree. 

The program encourages you to explore subjects beyond just psychology, including arts, humanities, and social sciences. It’s a solid pick for people eyeing jobs in industries like business, human resources, education, marketing, and others.

Related: Sociology vs. Psychology: Differences, Degrees, & Careers

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

A BS in psychology, also a four-year degree program, requires you to take more math and science courses, with less emphasis on electives or specializations—unlike the BA route. The key to a BS degree is its focus on the scientific facets of psychology.

This means more lab work, learning research-based and statistical methods to glean insights from large volumes of factual data, and a greater focus on life science subjects. So, if you’re aiming for a career in academia, research, or therapy, a BS might just be your ticket.

Related: Scholarships for Psychology Majors: Financing Your Degree

Alright, here’s the scoop. A psychology degree opens up a ton of doors, but it doesn’t exactly pin you down to one specific job. 

Take social services, for instance. You can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. But if you’re aiming to be a clinical social worker, you’re going to need some extra credentials, like a master’s degree or licensure.

Now, there are some well-paying jobs that you can pursue with a BA or BS degree in psychology. And guess what? There are also jobs that you can target with either of these degrees. So, go ahead and check them out:

With a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology:

Medical and Health Services Manager

Average salary: $104,830 per year

Job outlook: 54,700 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

They are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations. They ensure smooth operations, compliance with laws and regulations, and quality patient care.

Social and Community Service Manager

Average salary: $74,240 per year

Job outlook: 16,000 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

These are the people making a difference out there. They run social service programs and community organizations, often working with specific groups like kids, the homeless, or veterans.

Market Research Analyst

Average salary: $68,230 per year

Job outlook: 94,600 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

They study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent

Average salary: $67,480 per year

Job outlook: 40,100 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

These are the deal-makers in the financial markets. They’re the ones connecting buyers and sellers, selling securities, advising companies, and making trades happen.

Human Resources Specialist

Average salary: $64,240 per year

Job outlook: 78,700 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

They are responsible for recruiting, screening, interviewing, and placing workers. They may also handle employee relations, payroll, benefits, and training. 

With a Bachelor of Science in Psychology:

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Average salary: $139,280 per year

These individuals apply the concepts of psychology to the workplace. They help companies improve employee productivity and morale, and they’re all about making sure the right people are in the right jobs.

Sales Engineer

Average salary: $108,530 per year

Job outlook: 5,900 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

They are the bridge between the techies and the customers. They understand complex products inside and out, and know how to sell them. They’re part engineer, part salesperson, and all business.

Health Education Specialist

Average salary: $59,990 per year

Job outlook: 6,600 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

These are the people who teach everyone how to stay healthy. They develop programs and materials to help people make better health decisions, and they’re all about prevention over cure.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Average salary: $56,570 per year

Job outlook: 5,900 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

These individuals help families and couples navigate life’s ups and downs. They provide therapy, advice, and support to help people build stronger relationships and overcome personal and relationship challenges. Please note that you require a master’s degree and state-issued license to work as a therapist.

Related: Pastoral Counseling Degrees: Combining Faith and Psychology

Common Careers in Psychology For Both Degrees BA & BS

Training and Development Manager

Average salary: $120,000 per year

Job outlook: 3,500 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

You can call them the coaches of the corporate world. They create and oversee programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their team. They’re all about helping people reach their full potential.


Average salary: $85,330 per year

Job outlook: 12,800 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

They study how we think, feel, and behave, and use that knowledge to help people cope with life’s challenges. 

To become a clinical psychologist, you need a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in psychology. The type of bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) is not crucial. The key is obtaining a PhD or Psy.D and securing a license to practice.

Related: Understanding Doctorate Degrees in Psychology: PsyD vs. PhD in Psychology

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialist

Average salary: $67,780 per year

Job outlook: 7,700 openings projected each year, on average, over the decade

These are the number crunchers of the HR world. They make sure employees are paid fairly, get the benefits they need, and understand their job duties. They’re all about making sure everyone gets a fair shake.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a BA in psychology, you’re looking at a program that’s all about the big picture. You’ll be diving into a bunch of different subjects like history and social sciences, not just psychology. This is perfect if you’re the kind of person who loves to connect the dots between different fields. 

Now, if you’re more into the details and the science behind why people think the way they do, a BS in psychology might be more your speed. You’ll be taking more courses in the hard sciences. This is a great foundation if you’re thinking about going further with your studies in psychology or if you’re interested in fields like healthcare or data analysis.

What is the difference between BA and BS?

A BA, or bachelor of arts, is generally linked to majors in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. It’s like a smorgasbord of knowledge, giving you a taste of a bit of everything. On the flip side, a BS, or bachelor of science, is your go-to for fields related to science, math, and technology. It’s more like a deep-dive into a specific area, equipping you with specialized knowledge and technical skills. Here’s more on this.

Is a psychology degree worth it?

Getting a degree in psychology is quite fruitful. You can work in a counseling role, dive deep into research, manage talent in human resources, strategize in marketing, and so much more.