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Differences Between a B.S. & B.A. College Degree

by Christine Jax

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree that takes about four years to complete and consists of approximately 126 to 132 credits. There are bachelor’s degrees in specific fields such as a B.B.A. for business administration, B.F.A. for fine arts, or B.Math. for mathematics, but the most common degrees are the Bachelor of Science, or B.S., and Bachelor of Arts, or B.A.

Course of Study

Both the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees are designed to prepare you for a career, and both include general education courses. The number of credits is generally the same for each degree within a particular university, but the B.S. will require more courses within the major. The Bachelor of Science tends to be more specialized and generally is found in science, technology and vocational fields. The Bachelor of Arts is a degree most often found in the humanities and social sciences, such as education and sociology, but it can be found in the sciences and require core courses in the humanities.

Curriculum Specifics

In the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science, you will likely conduct experiments, do lab work and be expected to become proficient in quantitative research, which deals with numbers and measurements. In a Bachelor of Arts program like sociology or anthropology there may also be quantitative or qualitative research requirements based on the observation of humans and society. In a Bachelor of Arts program, there is generally a requirement that you become proficient in a foreign language.

Making a Choice

Most of the time your choice of major will determine if you will be pursuing a B.S. or B.A. If you have not decided on a major then consider your career options, not just what you want to do, but also in what industry. The B.A. will have more opportunities to take electives and is therefore a good choice if you have not chosen a major and want to explore different subjects. It is also the best choice if you want to minor in a subject other than your major.

Your Career

Your academic experience should not be the only thing you consider when making a choice of degree. What happens when you leave college is also important. Preparing for a career you will enjoy matters, so does being paid a salary you find acceptable. According to the U.S. Census, the average full-time year-around salary for people with only a bachelor’s degree working in science, engineering or related fields was $61,442. It was $48,726 in the arts and humanities, and $42,042 in education.

Resources

About the Author

Christine Jax has been a writer since 1991 in the areas of education, parenting and family relationships. Professor Jax has a Ph.D. in education policy and administration, a Master of Arts in public administration and a Bachelor of Arts in child psychology. She has worked in PK-12 and higher education for more than 20 years.

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