A Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) and a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) are both higher education programs that will develop your skills for many different career options. If you are considering going to college, you might be wondering how to decide on a BA vs BS degree.
Both a BA and BS are bachelor’s degrees, and there are many majors that you can earn as either a BA or BS. So how do you choose between a BA or BS degree? In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between a BA vs BS degree to help you make a decision.
What Is a BA?
BA stands for Bachelor of Arts degree. BA degrees offer programs that have a wide range of coursework across many fields. Undergraduate students focus on their chosen major, but they can take different types of classes from many disciplines. A BA generally offers a broad foundation of knowledge and gives students more flexibility to explore a variety of career opportunities.
Types of BA Degrees
- Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing
- Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology
- Bachelor of Arts in History
What Is a BS Degree?
BS stands for a Bachelor of Science degree. A BS degree focuses more on your specific major, and the major options offered are only in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. BS degree students have more specific course requirements, and they do not have as many opportunities to explore topics in other fields.
Types of BS Degrees
- Bachelor of Science in Biology
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
- Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
Is a BA Faster Than a BS?
No, a BA is not faster than a BS. Both BA and BS degree programs require around 120 credit hours, and these types of degrees typically take four years to complete. You can complete either degree at a faster pace if you enroll in an accelerated bachelor’s degree program which is likely to be an online degree program.
Is a BA Easier Than a BS?
No, a BA is not easier to earn than a BS. They require the same amount of time and credit hours, the primary difference is the subject matter. If you think science and math are easy subjects, a BS will feel easier for you. If you love English and history, then a BA might seem easier. Both BA and BS degrees require a lot of hard work and critical thinking.
Is a BA Better Than a BS?
From an academic point of view, a Bachelor of Arts degree is the same level of difficulty as a Bachelor of Science degree, and both degrees prepare you for graduate school. However, each degree type builds a different skillset. A BA sharpens your communication and writing skills, while a BS focuses on analytic and research skills.
5 Key Differences Between a BA and a BS
1. Coursework Flexibility
A Bachelor of Arts degree gives you a broader education than a Bachelor of Science degree. If you choose a BA, you will get the chance to take more elective courses across a wider range of subjects. If you choose a BS degree, you will get a deeper understanding of your specific subject through specialized courses, but you won’t have the flexibility to take as many elective courses.
2. Depth vs Breadth of Knowledge
Because a BA is a more flexible option, most students take a wide variety of classes and get a broad overview of many subjects. On the other hand, a BS is structured to give you a strong foundation in a more specific field, so you gain a deep understanding of your chosen subject.
3. Skill Set
Bachelor of Arts programs focus on writing, communication, and critical thinking. Bachelor of Science degree programs concentrate on quantitative reasoning, analytical skills, and technical skills. Both types of degrees can prepare prospective students for research, but scientific research and research in the humanities require very different skillsets.
4. Student Interests
A key difference between a BA and a BS is the interests of prospective students. A BA is more suitable for students who enjoy and excel in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. For students who prefer the natural sciences, mathematics, and technology and who don’t want to explore beyond these fields, a BS is a better option.
5. Career Path
A BA or BS degree prepares you for a different career after graduation. For example, earning a BA in Biology can get you a role in healthcare management or environmental policy, while a BS in Biology can get you a role as a lab technician or field scientist. Career fields for BS graduates are more technical, while future careers for BA graduates are broader.
Jobs That Require a BA
- Content Writer. A content writer creates content for an organization or business to help it thrive. A content writer plans, writes, and edits web or other content including articles, blog posts, and podcast and video scripts. If you want to become a content writer, you should pursue a BA in Professional Writing, BA in English Literature, or BA in Creative Writing.
- Museum Worker. A museum worker shares historical artifacts with the public by creating displays, leading tours, and answering questions. The average salary for a museum worker is $45,710, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A BA in Art History is the best option for this career path.
- Journalist. A journalist sources information and reports it to the public. You’ll need excellent writing and communication skills, as well as a passion for research and investigation. A BA in Journalism or a BA in Communications are great options for a career in journalism.
Jobs That Require a BS
- Data Analyst. A data analyst uses math and statistics to analyze data and present conclusions. The job outlook for data analysts is expected to grow 25 percent in the next decade, much faster than the national average for all occupations.
- Software Developer. A software developer designs and builds computer programs such as applications for desktop or mobile use. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers have an average annual salary of $110,140.
- Civil Engineer. A civil engineer designs and builds the infrastructure that we use in our daily lives such as bridges, tunnels, and buildings. This field requires careful attention to detail, keeping in mind regulations, safety, and cost. You will likely need to major in civil engineering if you’re interested in this career path.
Should You Get a BA or a BS?
You should choose the degree that best matches your career goals and personality. If you know that you want to work in a specialized STEM field like engineering, then you should get a BS. If you’re still undecided about your career trajectory, a BA is a better option. If you love writing and communication, you should go for a BA. If you prefer math and science, a BS might be the right choice.
BA vs BS FAQ
No, potential employers don’t usually have a strong preference for a BS or BA, they just want a candidate with the right qualifications and skills for the role. However, depending on the specific role a BS or a BA might train you better in the required skills. For instance, if you are applying to be a laboratory technician you will probably get more relevant experience from a BS.
No, a BS is not the same as a BA. While these two types of bachelor’s degrees are similar, a BA is different from a BS because the coursework requirements are different. A BA in Environmental Science will require a larger range of classes, and a BS in Environmental Sciences will require more classes in STEM subjects.
Both a BA and a BS require 120 credit hours. This takes most students four years to complete. During that time you’ll need to attend classes and study hard to stay in good academic standing. If you aren’t ready to commit to a bachelor’s degree, you should consider an associate degree which only takes two years to complete.
Some majors are awarded as both BA and BS degrees to prepare students to achieve different professional goals. For example, a BA in Psychology will prepare students to become counselors or work in human resources, while a BS in Psychology will prepare students to become researchers.
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