What is the Difference Between a BA and a BS Degree


A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is a classic liberal arts degree that provides students with the flexibility to explore various classes outside their major. To earn a BA, students generally need to complete a minimum of 120 semester credits (or 180 quarter credits), a process typically spanning 4-5 years. Some institutions offer accelerated online programs that allow for quicker completion.

Common majors for BA programs include anthropology, history, sociology, religious studies, and journalism. Some universities also offer interdisciplinary degrees, such as international studies, and some allow students to design their curriculum, leading to a BA in liberal studies.

Irrespective of the major, BA programs focus on developing soft skills like interpersonal communication, creative thinking, cultural awareness, and empathy. Graduates from BA programs often excel in various professional settings due to the highly transferable nature of these skills.

On the other hand, a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree typically takes a similar amount of time to earn as a BA but provides a more specialized education. BS programs are designed to equip students with in-depth knowledge and skills specific to their major, preparing them for entry-level jobs or graduate training in a particular field. Unlike BA programs, BS students have less flexibility in pursuing academic interests outside their major.

BS programs concentrate more on technical and scientific subjects, offering majors such as chemistry, mathematics, electrical engineering, and business administration. Healthcare professionals, including nurses, nutritionists, and kinesiologists, commonly hold a BS degree. BS students often have fewer open electives and focus more on required classes and technical electives. The curriculum often includes a significant amount of laboratory classes and practical training.


Below, we have provided a detailed comparison of the Bachelor of Science Degrees and Bachelor of Arts degrees. If you have been confused about the difference between the two and what the two degrees entail, read this article for clarity.

What is the Difference Between a BA and a BS Degree

Bachelor of Arts (BA): The BA degree emphasizes a broad and liberal arts-based curriculum. Students pursuing a BA are encouraged to explore various disciplines within the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, and languages. This exposure aims to provide a well-rounded education that fosters critical thinking, cultural awareness, and effective communication.

Bachelor of Science (BS): In contrast, the BS degree often centers on scientific, technical, or quantitative subjects. Fields such as mathematics, engineering, natural sciences, and technology find their home in BS programs. The focus here is on providing students with a solid foundation in theoretical knowledge and practical applications within specific scientific domains.

Core Requirements

Bachelor of Arts (BA): BA programs typically have general education requirements that expose students to a diverse range of subjects. Core coursework may include literature, philosophy, history, and social sciences. Furthermore, proficiency in a foreign language may be a requirement, contributing to a more comprehensive and globally oriented education.

Bachelor of Science (BS): The core curriculum of a BS program is more specialized, directly aligning with the chosen field of study. Students engage in coursework that delves deeper into scientific principles, research methodologies, and hands-on applications. The focus is on honing expertise in a specific discipline, with fewer diversions into unrelated subject areas.


Skills Emphasis

Bachelor of Arts (BA): BA degrees aim to develop a broad set of skills that are applicable across various professional settings. Graduates often possess strong communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and cultural competency. Writing and interpersonal skills are emphasized, making BA graduates versatile in roles requiring effective communication and adaptability.

Bachelor of Science (BS): The emphasis in BS degrees is on technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and a profound understanding of quantitative methods. Graduates from BS programs are often well-equipped for careers in research, technology, and scientific analysis. The specialized knowledge acquired during a BS program prepares individuals for roles demanding a deep understanding of specific scientific or technical domains.

Career Prospects

Bachelor of Arts (BA): The versatility of a BA degree is a hallmark of its broad-based education. BA graduates find themselves well-suited for diverse career paths, including roles in education, journalism, marketing, and public relations. The adaptability gained through a BA program allows graduates to navigate through different professional environments with ease.

Bachelor of Science (BS): Conversely, BS graduates often excel in fields requiring specialized knowledge. Careers in engineering, computer science, biology, healthcare, and other technical domains are common for BS degree holders. The technical expertise gained during a BS program positions individuals for roles that demand a deep understanding of specific scientific or technical areas.


Bachelor of Arts (BA): Many BA graduates choose to pursue advanced degrees in fields such as law, social work, or business administration. The broad knowledge base acquired during a BA program provides a solid foundation for further education in various disciplines. The interdisciplinary nature of a BA degree allows for a seamless transition into a diverse range of graduate programs.

Bachelor of Science (BS): BS degree holders often opt for graduate studies in research-oriented fields, engineering, or specialized scientific disciplines. The depth of understanding gained during a BS program prepares individuals for more advanced and focused study, laying the groundwork for research-oriented careers or leadership roles in technical fields.

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