What is a Difference Between a B.S. vs. B.A. Degree?

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

If you've decided to pursue a bachelor's degree, several choices will need to be made. For example, which program will you select? For some bachelor's students, this question may break down to whether a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree is pursued. Both degrees offer equal academic standing as four-year programs and may require the same number of credits, though course credit requirements can differ from institution to institution.

So what is the difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree, and how do you know which one best fits your interests and educational goals? Consider the following information as you research each program:

How Are Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts Degrees Similar?

Both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree are traditionally four-year programs. However, The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2018 that most students at public and private universities no longer complete bachelor's degrees in just four years.1 Depending on the college or university selected, flexible degree programs, such as hybrid or online programs, may be available to help complete your bachelor's degree in less time.

Both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs are designed to provide in-depth training and experience in your selected field and cover introductory general education and elective credits as well as 300 and 400-level courses related to advanced studies in the degree field and/or specialization. One difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree, however, may be seen in core coursework required by each.

What Types of Classes and Experiences Can You Expect in a Bachelor of Arts Program?

A Bachelor of Arts degree may incorporate coursework that is more varied and representative of a liberal arts educational approach. Course requirements may include liberal arts topics such as literature, humanities, mathematics, history or social sciences. This doesn't mean the majority of the courses (especially upper-level courses) in a Bachelor of Arts program neglect the primary field of study. However, the degree requirements may emphasize more humanities and liberal arts-based courses in addition to core field-specific courses. Bachelor of Arts degrees can be earned in fields such as business, English, art, music and communications, among several others.

How Might Classes and Coursework Differ in a Bachelor of Science Program?

A Bachelor of Science degree may involve coursework with a more scientific or technical focus and may offer fewer opportunities to take classes in fields like the arts or history. Bachelor of Science degrees can be offered in technical and scientific fields such as computer science, nursing, mathematics, biochemistry, and physics. Depending on your chosen degree focus, you may also encounter lab-based classes or courses emphasizing hands-on learning and technical skill development.

How Do You Decide Between a Bachelor of Science versus a Bachelor of Arts Degree Program?

It's important to note that the above examples are broad overviews of the typical, traditional differences between Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees, and institutions may structure curriculum and degree requirements differently. Certain institutions may offer a Bachelor of Science in traditionally Bachelor of Arts fields, or the reverse. Schools may even offer a choice to pursue a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in the same field.

Therefore, consider your educational goals and what you need and want from the degree program you choose. Reflect on your earlier years of education and the types of classes you enjoyed, and then ask yourself whether you want to take more technical courses or prefer a variety of liberal arts courses to complement your degree-specific classes. Also, consider your career aspirations and what may help you reach your goals. Finally, research whether a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science is preferred in your field of choice.

Ready to learn more? Explore bachelor's degree programs at AIU.

1. 1. “Graduation Rates.” U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40 (Visited 11/20/18).

American InterContinental University cannot guarantee employment or salary. For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures.
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