A Bachelor of Science degree focuses on coursework related to your chosen major. You'll take few general knowledge or unrelated classes, to earn this type of degree. A Bachelor of Arts degree gives you more general course options. Consider the difference between a B.A. and B.S. when choosing a major.

What’s the Difference Between BS and BA Degrees?

When you study for a four-year undergraduate degree, you earn either a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) or B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) degree. The type of degree you receive depends on the classes you take. A BS isn't relegated to a science major, and a B.A. isn't just for art-related subjects.

Learning the difference between BS and BA. degrees can help you choose the right courses and earn a degree that will help you get hired for the best jobs in your chosen field.

The Bachelor of Arts Degree

A Bachelor of Arts degree includes more courses unrelated to your major. Liberal arts subjects, including English, foreign languages, and the humanities are part of a B.A. degree. This degree gives you more flexibility over the courses you choose and, ultimately, a broader knowledge base.

For a B.A. in Geology, you might take a wide-ranging array of courses including Spanish, history and music appreciation. The BA gives you a general knowledge of several subjects in addition to specialized courses in your major.

A geologist who travels to around the world to work on research projects will benefit from a Bachelor of Arts degree in many ways.

Knowing a foreign language and history of a region and its music can aid the researcher in his or her work. The extra knowledge accumulated from non-geology courses will also make it easier to deal with local researchers and citizens.

A B.A. degree lets employers (and others) know you received a well-rounded education and have a broad knowledge of many subjects. If you intend to work in a creative or business field, you may consider a B.A. for a few reasons:

You'll get to choose additional study subjects you enjoy. You may use the knowledge you gain in a new field if you change your career after graduation, or use what you've learned for hobbies or daily life.

Taking a few classes on topics unrelated to your major will give you a much-needed break from study-overload by allowing you to "switch gears" for a few hours each week.

You never know where your career or life may take you, and studying different subjects may come in handy in ways you would never suspect. Steve Jobs studied calligraphy, and his knowledge of the subject helped give Apple Products their distinctive design.

The Bachelor of Science Degree

Employers may prefer a B.S. degree in fields like accounting or computer science, where mastery of the field is the primary concern. Most accountants and computer techs spend their time balancing ledgers or coding; there is little need for applying psychology or referring to medieval history in these fields.

Students with a defined interest in one field, such as biological sciences, psychology, or creative fields such as music may not want to study many other subjects. If you are considering a major in nursing, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, physics or another technical or medical field, chances are you'll study for a B.S. degree.

Although most medical, science and technical students prefer to earn a B.S., many schools offer a B.A. degree in majors related to these fields.

Consider what job you want after graduation before choosing a B.A. instead of a B.S. A B.A. may work for you if you want to work in an administrative capacity most of the time, hands-on experience required some of the time.

Students who want to focus solely on working with patients may want to earn a B.S. Likewise, if you're devoted to coding or computer security with little desire to work in management, a Bachelor of Science degree is your best option.

Which Degree is More Valuable?

The difference between BS and BA degrees is minimal you look for a job. Employers consider both degrees equally valid, regardless of the major. Your grades, letters of recommendation and how you handle the employment interview process matter more than earning a BS or BA degree.

Of course, all employers and department managers may have their preferences when it comes to hiring people with a BA or BS degree.

If the job requires writing and communication skills, the employer will generally look for people with a B.A. degree. When the job calls for technical or analytical skills, the employer generally prefers applicants with a B.S. degree.

If you have a B.A. degree, you may consider applying for jobs involving public relations, teaching, marketing, law, administration or a similar position in your field. For example, if you have a B.A. in Computer Science, you can work in the marketing department of a computer security firm (or any computer service, design or manufacturing firm). You will have an edge on many other applicants who want to write for or manage a computer business information site like PC or Tech Times.

A student with a B.A. degree in English will have a wider knowledge of subjects other than literature, etymology, creative writing, etc. Their choice of electives may lead them to work at a movie studio, publisher, social service agency or tourism bureau.

A B.S. degree in English is an excellent choice for individuals who want to teach high school or college English, creative writing, English or American literature or related subjects.

You gain expertise in all facets of the English language with this degree so that you won't be limited to teaching. You may also consider working as a web content manager, proofreader or journalist.

Examples in Different Fields

The basic differences between a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree are standard regardless of the major you choose and the school you attend. Here are a few examples:

Environmental Science

The University of California at Santa Barbara offers B.A. and B.S. degrees in Environmental Science. The first and second-year requirements for a B.S. degree include physics, biology, calculus, and chemistry.

The upper division or third and fourth-year level course requirements allow you to take 28 credits in any courses you select.  A B.A. major has the freedom to choose electives from any subject offered at UCSB.

A B.S. major in Environmental Science must select electives from the natural sciences (earth science, geology, etc.) or physical sciences (biology, biopsychology, etc.). The employment prospects for B.S. degree candidates focus mainly on lab and research work.

Environmental Science majors who select elective courses in law, journalism or public speaking are more likely to be considered for administrative or legal positions. B.S. students are limited in their elective choices, but that can be a good thing if you like working in a lab and don't like dealing with academia or the press.

woman holding a book

Chemistry  

Chemistry students usually receive Bachelor of Science degrees. About 90 percent of people studying this subject opt for a B.S.; this is understandable because chemistry is a highly specialized skill. Students who earn a BA degree take electives in physical chemistry.

A B.S. degree in chemistry provides students with real-world experience in organic and inorganic chemistry and other related areas through advanced work.

A B.A. degree has five fewer chemistry courses than a B.S. degree at Carnegie Mellon University. Students choose five courses in any subject instead of interdisciplinary chemistry and science courses.

You may be able to major in a particular subject and earn a B.S. or B.A. degree with a minor in a related subject. For example, at CMU, you can earn a Chemistry B.A. with a Minor in Scientific Computing or Computer Science.

Accounting and Finance

Accounting and finance are related majors. Some students choose a BA in Finance, while others earn a B.S. in Accounting. The core courses for these majors are often the same.

The basic courses for a B.A. in Finance are marketing, microeconomics, business law and basic financial accounting. You can choose electives in math, journalism or other subjects that may be helpful in a work environment.

Students earning a B.S. in Accounting take the same core courses, with accounting basics replacing finance basics. Third and fourth-year courses include income tax accounting and cost accounting. Elective course must also deal with accounting, like information systems accounting.

Check with your college regarding possible minors that coincide with your major. If you find it hard to choose between two related subjects as your main course of study, a minor may help you clarify your goals. You can major in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice, Biology or Business. All three minors relate to psychology in different ways.

Talk to your school counselor about which degree is best for your career plans and personality. One college may have different requirements for B.A. and B.S. degrees in a particular field than another.

The difference between BS and BA degrees is quite simple. If you want to dedicate yourself to one field, be it psychology, law, biology or botany, choose a B.S. degree.

A Bachelor of Arts degree allows you to choose more electives. The subjects you'll choose depends on your major and your college. All schools have slightly different rules regarding electives. Some schools will let you choose any subject, while others have stricter rules, even for B.A's.

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