What is the difference between a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Art (B.A.) degree of the same subject?

Both undergraduate degrees allow students to study towards a particular core subject, such as business administration or criminal justice. However, each degree is defined by specific differences in coursework.

Generally speaking, B.A. degrees are geared toward broad learning, while BS degrees are more focused on a single subject.

B.A. degrees are typically rooted in the liberal arts, letting students focus on a variety of electives in addition to their major, such as English and the humanities. This degree usually has a foreign language component, where students must complete four semesters of study. Since B.A. degrees allow students to explore a wider range of coursework, it is easier for students to double major with a B.A. than a B.S. Students who complete a B.A. may have additional flexibility when entering the workforce.

B.S. degrees lean towards more analytical coursework, with more credit hours required toward the major, with less room for electives than the B.A. Students who pursue a B.S. must often take much more advanced courses within their major, and generally rack up extra courses in science and mathematics. B.S. earners can go straight into a technical career from college.

Both degrees lay sound groundwork for a career or further learning, so choosing between a B.A. and B.S. really comes down to the student’s learning personality, academic strengths and career goals. For someone who wants a well-rounded education but does not prefer subjects like math and science, the B.A. may be the right choice. Students who wish to delve deeper into one subject and who are not geared toward philosophy or the arts would be a better fit for a B.S. degree. B.A. recipients thrive in a career where strong writing and communication skills are needed, whereas B.S. recipients are more focused on analyzing and problem solving in a technical work environment.