How to Choose Between a B.A. and B.S. Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 3, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated February 3, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One choice students entering college can make is to choose between two different types of bachelor degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. Sometimes your chosen major will only be available as either a B.A. or a B.S. degree, but many majors give you the option of choosing either. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the similarities and differences between a B.A. and B.S. degree and how to choose the degree option that is best for you.

What is a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree?

A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is focused more on the theoretical knowledge of the major you are studying and aims to develop communication and writing skills. A B.A. degree allows you to take more courses outside of your chosen major and can help you get a broader level of understanding of your major. A B.A. degree is common for majors that fall into the fields of communication, languages, humanities and social sciences.

What is a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree?

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is focused more on the specialized technical knowledge of the major you are studying and aims to develop analytical and problem-solving skills. A B.S. degree requires you to take more courses focused on your chosen major and can help you get a more in-depth understanding of your major. A B.S. degree is common for majors that fall into the fields of mathematics or science such as engineering, health services and computer science.

Related: Guide: How to Get a Job After College

Are there areas where a B.A. and B.S. degree overlap?

There are several areas in which a B.A. and B.S. degree are similar. To begin with, both degrees are four-year, undergraduate bachelor level degrees. Both degree types will be made up of a combination of courses falling into the categories of general education, electives and major courses. The difference is between how many credits are required within each category.

There are many areas of study that can apply to both a B.A. and a B.S. degree such as psychology, computers, public speaking, accounting and business courses. Both degree types also usually receive an equal level of respect after completion and you can use both degree types to pursue graduate-level degrees such as a master’s or doctorate.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

Is a B.A. degree or B.S. degree better?

Because B.A. and B.S. degrees are valued equally at the academic and professional level, the answer to which degree type is better is personal to the individual getting the degree. One of the easiest ways to choose between the two degree types is to think about both your academic and professional goals and how each type of degree will help you achieve those goals. 

For example, if your goals involve being able to get a broader understanding of your major, explore more courses that aren’t related to your major and follow a career path that benefits more from theoretical knowledge such as teaching, then a B.A. degree would likely be better for you. If your goals involve obtaining a position in a highly technical field such as nursing after you complete your degree, then a BS degree is probably a better fit for you.

Related: Master’s Degree: Definition, Elements and Benefits

How to choose between a B.A. and B.S. degree

Follow these steps to help you determine whether a B.A. or B.S. degree is right for you:

  1. Consider the types of classes you have enjoyed in the past.

  2. Determine what you are interested in majoring in.

  3. Determine which career path you would like to pursue.

1. Consider the types of classes you have enjoyed in the past

Thinking about the classes you have enjoyed throughout your primary education can help you decide whether you would be more successful in getting a B.A. or a B.S. degree. Because this choice will have a strong influence on the courses you take, it is important to consider the types of courses you are interested in, like and have naturally performed well in throughout your educational career. 

If you have always preferred courses such as English, Arts, Languages and Humanities, then a B.A. degree may be right for you. If you have always been a student that preferred courses such as Math and Science, then a B.S. degree may be better for you.

2. Determine what you are interested in majoring in

The major you choose can have a significant impact on the type of degree you can get. Some majors are only available in B.S. degrees because they lead to careers in more technical fields such as nursing and engineering. You should also consider whether you will want to continue to pursue a graduate-level degree, and if so what type of graduate degree, as graduate programs may have specific requirements for the type of undergraduate level degree you need to be considered for the program.

3. Determine which career path you would like to pursue

Some students enter college knowing exactly what career path they want to pursue once they graduate while others enter college not sure which career path they want to pursue or even what they want to major in. 

Students who know exactly what career path they want to pursue may find a B.S. degree to be a better fit because it will allow them to get an in-depth understanding of the technical and practical aspects related to that career. Students who know the type of career they want to pursue or that they are interested in but don’t know exactly what they want to do upon graduation may find a B.A. degree to be a better fit because it will allow them to be more exploratory throughout their studies.

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