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Bachelor of Arts Vs. Bachelor of Science Degrees

by Natalie Smith

Selecting a major is one of the most difficult decisions a college student must make. To make matters even more complicated, many college degrees programs offer students a choice between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree program. To determine which degree is right for your needs, you must consider the differences in curriculum, what you plan to do with your degree and your own aptitudes and abilities, among other factors.

Curriculum

When a major offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree plan, the main difference between the two is curriculum. B.A. degrees offer more electives, may require more courses in the humanities as well as more foreign language courses, and may require fewer science and math courses. B.S. degree plans are typically the opposite, offering fewer electives, requiring fewer humanities and foreign language courses, and requiring more math and science classes. B.S. degree programs also often require more advanced math and science courses than those required by Bachelor of Arts programs.

Future Plans

Deciding which degree program is right for you depends, in part, on what you plan to do with the degree. For example, in some programs, such as psychology, a B.A. program is fine for a student who wishes to go into counseling or to pursue a graduate degree in another field. However, students who wish to go into a field within psychology that requires research, such as industrial and organizational psychology, are often encouraged to pursue a B.S. because it provides them with a more technical and focused background in the field.

Aptitudes and Abilities

In some cases, the B.A. degree is considered equally desirable as the B.S. In those cases, it's also useful to consider your own abilities. Students who are weak in math, for example, may not wish to pursue a Bachelor of Science because it may require more math courses or more difficult math courses than what the student is prepared to take. Alternatively, a student who doesn't like language courses or writing-intensive courses may opt for a B.S. because fewer humanities courses or fewer foreign language courses are required.

Other Considerations

Other considerations may also apply to your decision. For example, some colleges and universities require that students maintain a certain grade point average or receive a C or higher to remain in a competitive degree program. In that case, you may be better off choosing the degree plan that will allow you to maintain better grades. Alternatively, the job market may favor one degree over another. For example, a student with a Bachelor of Science may have the edge over a student with a Bachelor of Arts when it comes to getting a job in a chemistry lab.

About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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