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What Are the BS & BA in Marketing?

by Laura Fletcher

Marketers find ways to engage customers in a product -- whether through product placement, advertising and information campaigns -- or direct sales. Positions in marketing are expected to grow between 20 and 40 percent by 2020. Both the Bachelor of Science degree and the Bachelor of Arts degree can lead to great careers in marketing.

The B.S. vs. the B.A.

Both the B.S. and the B.A. are typical four-year degrees that require anywhere from 120 to 180 credit hours to complete, depending on the school. The key difference between the B.S. and the B.A. is that the B.S. requires more courses within the major, while the B.A. requires more courses in general education, including humanities and fine arts. The B.S. will require anywhere from 40 to 90 hours within the major, while the B.A. may require that as much as three-fourths of all learning occur outside the major. Additionally, the B.S. will require that a certain percentage of the courses within the major will be taken at the advanced 300 to 400 level.

Advantages to the B.S.

Because the B.S. requires more advanced knowledge of the subject, it can give marketing students an edge. Currently the growth in marketing is being driven by many cutting-edge trends, including social media, “big data” and Internet advertising. B.S. students are more likely to obtain advanced knowledge of these trends, which will leave them well positioned to move into an entry-level job.

Advantages to the B.A.

The biggest growth area in marketing currently is marketing analysis, which the BLS projects will expand by 40 percent. Marketing analysis requires high-level math skills, and because the B.A. requires more courses outside the major, the B.A. can nicely accommodate a dual major in statistics or some other math complementary to this field. Due to the influence technology has on marketing, a second degree in computer science might also be a good choice. The B.A. is also advantageous in that it gives students a broader education in the humanities and social sciences. These fields, which emphasize the “human touch,” are often desirable in MBA candidates who must manage many different types of people. The B.A. also nicely accommodates a minor in a foreign language, which is considered highly desirable in an increasingly globalized economy.

Mind the Competition

While the BLS cites the 20 to 40 percent growth rate in marketing positions as “much faster than average,” it cautions that finding a position will remain competitive due to the popularity and accessibility of marketing. Business degrees generally have lower academic standards than liberal arts degrees, and students with backgrounds in English, history and a host of other liberal arts disciplines are eligible for entry-level marketing positions. Despite the growth, if you want to go somewhere with your marketing B.A. or B.S., you need to bring your A-game.

About the Author

Laura Holland Fletcher has graduate level training in ESL, linguistics and the teaching of writing. She taught ESL and college writing for more than 10 years in both the US and Asia. She also writes for local and national magazines that cover legal, educational and social justice issues.

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