BA vs BS: Which is Best for You?

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 may be wondering how to choose a BA vs. BS degree.

Both a BA and a BS are undergraduate degrees, and there are many majors you can get as 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 and a BS degree to help you make up your mind.

What is a BA?

BA stands for Bachelor of Arts degree. BA degrees offer programs with a wide variety of courses in many fields. Undergraduate students focus on their chosen major, but they can take different types of classes from many disciplines. A BA generally provides a broad base of knowledge and gives students greater flexibility to explore a variety of career options.

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 main options offered are in science, technology, engineering, and math only. BS students have more specific course requirements and they don’t have as many opportunities to explore topics in other fields.

Types of BS Degree

  • 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 degrees require about 120 credit hours, and these types of degrees usually take four years to complete. You can complete both degrees at a faster pace if you enroll in an accelerated bachelor’s degree that is likely to be an online degree.

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 main difference being the subject. If you think science and math are easy subjects, a BS will feel easier to you. If you like English and history, a BA may 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 standpoint, 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 skill set. A BA sharpens your communication and writing skills, while a BS focuses on analytical and research skills.

5 main differences between a BA and a BS

1. Course Flexibility

A Bachelor of Arts degree gives you a broader education than a Bachelor of Science degree. Choosing a BA gives you the opportunity to take more electives on a wider range of subjects. Choosing a BS degree will give you a deeper understanding of your particular subject through specialized courses, but you won’t have the flexibility to take so many electives.

2. Depth vs. breadth of knowledge

Because a BA is a more flexible option, most students take a wide variety of classes and gain a broad overview of many subjects. On the other hand, a BS is structured to give you a strong foundation in a more specific area so that you gain a deep understanding of your chosen subject.

3. Skills

Bachelor of Arts programs focus on writing, communication, and critical thinking. Bachelor of Science degree programs focus 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 skills.

4. Student interests

An important difference between a BA and a BS is the interests of prospective students. A BA is more appropriate for students who enjoy and excel in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. For students who prefer science, math, and technology and don’t want to look 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, getting a BA in Biology could land you a role in health care management or environmental policy, while a BS in Biology could land you a role as a laboratory technician or field scientist. Career areas 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 make it thrive. A content writer plans, writes, and edits web or other content, including articles, blog posts, and podcast and video scripts. To become a content writer, you must be pursuing a BA in Professional Writing, a BA in English Literature, or a BA in Creative Writing.
  • Museum employee. A museum employee shares historical artifacts with the public by creating displays, giving tours, and answering questions. The median salary for a museum employee 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 collects information and reports it to the public. You will need excellent writing and communication skills, as well as a passion for research and inquiry. 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 mathematics and statistics to analyze data and present conclusions. Job prospects for data analysts are expected to grow 25 percent over 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 a median 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, considering regulations, safety, and costs. You will likely need to major in civil engineering if you are interested in this career path.

Should you get a BA or a BS?

You should choose the degree that best suits your career goals and personality. If you know you want to work in a specialized STEM field such as engineering, you should get a BS. If you are still unsure about your career path, a BA is a better option. If you like writing and communicating, you should go for a BA. If you prefer math and science, a BS may be the way to go.

BA vs BS FAQ

Do potential employers prefer BS or BA?

No, potential employers usually don’t have a strong preference for a BS or BA, they simply want a candidate with the right qualifications and skills for the position. However, depending on the specific role, a BS or BA can better train you in the required skills. For example, if you’re applying as a lab technician, you’re likely to gain more relevant experience with a BS.

Is BS the same as BA?

No, a BS is not the same as a BA. While these two types of undergraduate degrees are similar, a BA is different from a BS because the course requirements are different. A BA in Environmental Science will require a larger number of classes, and a BS in Environmental Sciences will require more classes in STEM subjects.

What does it take to get a BA or BS?

Both a BA and a BS require 120 credit hours. This takes most students four years to complete. During that time, you need to take classes and study hard to maintain a good academic reputation. If you’re not ready to commit to a bachelor’s degree, you should consider an associate degree that takes just two years to complete.

Why are some majors awarded as both BA and BS?

Some majors are awarded as both BA and BS degrees to prepare students to achieve various professional goals. For example, a BA in psychology prepares students to become counselors or work in human resources, while a BS in psychology prepares students to become researchers.

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