What’s the Difference Between BA vs. BS? [Ultimate Guide]

Interested in earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree? Learn the difference between a BA and a BS degree here.

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What is the difference between a BA vs. BS degree? Is earning a BA in Computer Science the same as getting a BS in Computer Science? Is a BA in Psychology more beneficial than a BS in Psychology?

Let's understand the difference between a B.A. and B.S. degree. Generally, a Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on the humanities and arts while a Bachelor of Science degree emphasizes math and science.

As a college student, it's important to understand the differences between these two types of degrees in order to get the best job, career, life, and make the most of those student loans.

A Quick Comparison of BA vs. BS Degree

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A Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelors of Science (B.S.), Both are four-year college degrees requiring 120 credits for graduation.

Depending on the school, many BA and BS degrees share required courses as well. Beyond that, colleges and universities each identify their own overall requirements and designations for the BA and BS degrees they offer.

The BS degree demands fewer more credit hours than a BA degree. The BS curriculum is purely based on science coursework; however, the BA curriculum comprises liberal arts subjects, including history, public relations, arts, music, and more.

Both share a four-year duration to complete but a BS major typically requires around 54 credits major requirements, which is substantially more than a BA major.

Every university or college has a slightly different course schedule; however, there are several overarching course expectations for BA and BS students.

Understanding the differences between these two types of degrees is simple.

Let's dig in on the differences between BA vs. BS degrees.

What is a BA Degree?

Terms such as BA, Bachelors of Arts, or undergraduate degree all hold similar definitions. As far as the BA degree is concerned, it’s a four-year degree program in which student covers the standard educational requirements (core and subsidiary coursework are included) in this timeframe. These certain credit hours are interlinked to the student's major area of their interest.

Students have the extensive options to study liberal arts courses such as Social Sciences, English, humanities, and foreign languages throughout the program. Students find greater flexibility as they can customize their education and match their interests.

A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is the most common undergraduate degree offered by universities and colleges worldwide. Fields like art, music, English, modern languages and communication are related to the BA program.

What is a BS Degree?

A Bachelors of Science (B.S.) degree is a four-year degree program that differs from the B.A. program in coursework.

The BS program mainly focused on technical and scientific topics like biochemistry, engineering, mathematics, statistics, computer science, nursing, and technology coursework.

It means that the students who want to pursue a BS degree need to earn credit hours in subjects like math, science, technology, and engineering collectively form a BS degree.

The Bachelors of Science (B.S.) degree offers technical and scientific areas, for instance, medical, computer science, biotechnology, and more. College websites outlining the difference between a B.A. and a B.S. often note that the latter is typically centered around technical fields.

BA vs. BS Salary Differences

When the Emolument, a salary comparison tool published its report about B.A. degree vs. B.S. degree earnings, it appeared that in America, people who have B.S. degree earn about 17% more on average than those who attained BA degree.

Why? Since the technical skills in the BS degree are specialized skills and as such, they are high in demand. It can be proved that in the first 10 years in the field, the BS degree wins the edge in paying more than a BA degree.

However, this scale didn’t remain the same and went in another direction after that time period.

After 15 years of experience in the field with a broader education in humanities can earn you more.

After a few years, Emolument said, managers and strategists, deserve much higher salaries. In these positions, seeing and analyzing the big picture is more crucial than technical knowledge.  

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How do Employers See a BA Degree vs. a BS Degree?

Often, employers give greater preference to a BS degree than a BA degree. Since, In the BS program, math and science subjects are the focus, BS degree holders get an advantage for early hiring in technical fields. 

It depends, however, on what job you’re going to apply for. For example, for the teaching job, a BA matches the requirements. Similarly, for an engineer's position, a Bachelor of Science degree will be considered. 

General Differences Between a BA and a BS

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The area of study, nature, and the scope of a BA degree and the BS degree makes a real difference. A B.A. degree offers a wider domain of liberal arts subjects, like history, literature, art, music, philosophy, or foreign languages.

In the course plan of BA degree, math, science, and technology subjects are not added. Meanwhile, this is not the same case in the BS program. A student must earn credit hours in such rigorous subjects as math, science, and technology. Simply put, a BS degree in a science field study while a BA program is a broader education program. 

The career opportunities are also different in both degrees. Students can go on different career tracks depending on their selection of degree programs.

Bachelors Of Science Graduates Are Generally More Employable

As the horizons of technology and science have been widening, there are a greater number of job openings for BS graduates.

However, it doesn’t mean that a BA degree has lost value and life. But it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bachelors of Science graduates are generally more quickly employable and even on handsome salaries than BA degree holders. 

Tips for Deciding Between a BA And BS

About education, prior planning is always better. 

A student should have, or his/her parents must help them to understand the differences between the BA program and BS program.

Throughout the education life, students’ interest is the most considerable thing. That’s why the interests must keep in mind before deciding between a BA degree or a BS degree. However, opting for BA or BS is all about what career a student wants to pursue in the future.

Tip 1: Choose Your Field First 

After weighing down the pros and cons of BA and BS degrees, you should really consider figuring out what career you want to pursue in the future. With some idea, you will get clearer regarding the job or designation where you want to reach. If you have decided on your field, then you can focus on the end goal easily.                  

Tip 2: Choose Your School Based on the Field

This is also equally focal to choose a well-reputed school based on the field that caters to the student's needs and transforms them into productive citizens. Schools have their reputation and prestige. Some are highly ranked on the regional or national level, and some are worldwide famous for offering certain programs. 

You must be done some research before applying to different schools. However, a well-reputed school in that particular field can leave a bigger impact, no matter you’re getting a BA degree or BS degree.  

Tip 3: Compare the Requirements 

You can compare the B.A. and B.S. programs offered in your school. You will need to take a look at the course requirements. As you will compare the requirements, you will get to know which program will affect your education and career as well. For instance, if there is an internship available in a course that can help you land a job, you should definitely opt that course. 

Tip 4: If it's a More Technical Field, Give an Edge to the BS

Bachelors of Science has always been the choice of many students and employers as well. The job opportunities are enormous; similarly, a secure future seems clear after acquiring a Bachelor of Science degree; nevertheless, if you’re on the lookout for a technical field, then consider the BS degree as in the technical field, because the employers are likely to hire you based on BS degree. 

Tip 5: Which Degree is Faster? BA or a BS Degree?

Both of the degrees are four-year graduate programs. You can get a BS degree in 3-years but some of the universities may not accept your degree. So the secure option is opting for the four-year degree program. 

Tip 6: Talk To Your Advisor

If you cannot decide between choosing BA or BS degree, you should probably seek advice from some experienced person. There in schools, students’ career counseling is given. Through career counseling, the student can take maximum benefit. Advisors can guide you thoroughly after asking you about your interests and help you to achieve your goals.

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What Does a BA Degree Stand for?

A BA degree stands for Bachelors in Arts. It is a specialized degree that offers a more expansive education requiring fewer credits linked to a major subject. Students earn more credits by studying liberal arts subjects, i.e., Social sciences and foreign language study. A BA degree is designed for theoretical-based education.

What Does a BS Degree Stand for?

Some of the students during school may wonder what a BS degree stands for. A BS degree stands for Bachelor in Science. Unlike a BA degree, a BS degree is based on a technical and practical educational system. It is typically awarded in 4-years. A BS degree typically requires 120 credits, but some of the programs require more or less. A BS degree is usually awarded in life sciences, computer sciences, and mathematics.

Are BA/BS Degree Programs the Same Thing?

You may think that BA and BS degrees are the same because both of them are awarded as a four-year undergraduate program. But there are differences between both of them; for instance, a BS program has more coursework required for the major subject. The BA programs are less oriented towards the major coursework, and students can earn credit from liberal arts subjects.

As discussed earlier, a program resulting in a BS degree demands more subjects and coursework directly linked to the major. The students are required to invest their energies towards learning technical and practical aspects of their field.

While in a BA degree, students have liberation to choose their courses, i.e., students can take courses of humanities, social sciences, arts, music, or foreign language to fulfill the credit requirement of their degree. BA degree is more flexible, allowing every student to fulfill their interests and goals.

Which is the Right Degree for You?

Both of the degrees provide the same value and recognition. In BA, you would be more likely to develop communication, writing, and analytical skills. While in BS, you will be more interested in the practical, mechanical, and functional perspectives of things. Which degree is best for you depends on your career goals and your personal interests. If you are more interested in the scientific approach of your major, then BS is a good choice for you, especially if you want to attend graduate school.


What does BA stand for?

BA stands for Bachelors of Arts and offers subjects like humanities, social sciences, and public relations.

What does BS stand for?

BS is an abbreviated form of Bachelors of Science, and this degree makes the student liable to study science, math, and technology-related subjects.

How much time does BA or BS take to complete?

BA or BS both require four years of full-time study or 120 semester credit hours.

Is a Business Degree a BA or BS?

It might be confusing for you if a BA or BS is a business degree, but, it is simple to understand. But it also depends on the school or university you are studying as some of the universities award degrees in business as BS and BSBA programs. Usually, a bachelor's degree in business is awarded as BSBA means BS in Business Administration in the USA. Basically, it depends on the college you are studying.

What Is the Difference Between a Computer Science BA vs. BS?

Are you comparing the differences between a computer science BA and a BS program? You may be comparing both of them so you can choose which one of them is best for you. After completing a BS or BA in computer science, the graduates may get the same job or salary. But there is a slight difference between both of them.

A BS program in computer science is designed for students who know what they want to do after graduation. BS in computer science is oriented towards the major. The BA program in computer science is more flexible, and it is for students who have no idea what they want to do after graduation. The BA degree in computer science may be a good option for you if you are not certain about your career. You can choose electives as minor or double major.

What is the Difference Between a Psychology BA vs. BS?

The differences between a BS or BA in Psychology are vast. The BA degree in Psychology is flexible and allows you to study courses in social sciences. The BS degree revolves around courses in science, i.e., chemistry, biology, and calculus.

The primary difference is the coursework between BA and BS in Psychology which is necessary to graduate. Academically both of the degrees are valued and depend upon the career goals of the student. If you want to get a job soon after graduation, then BA in Psychology may be a good choice. But if you are more interested in getting MS in Psychology and love science subjects, then BS is a good choice for you.

What is the Difference Between a Biology BA vs. BS?

BA in Biology is flexible, and a student has more choices to customize their degree by studying different courses in arts. The students who complete their bachelor's in Biology have career opportunities in management and teaching. BS in Biology is not that much flexible and requires credit in science courses. The BS program is a specialized program which is for those who want to pursue their career in a specific field. The BS in Biology has less to do with general education and more to do with scientific studies.

What Is the Difference Between an Economics BA vs. BS?

The key difference between both BA and BS in Economics is that the BS in economics is more oriented towards business science and business mathematics. At the same time, a BA in Economics is The key difference between both BA and BS in Economics is that the BS in economics is more oriented towards business science and business mathematics. At the same time, a BA in Economics is oriented more towards the humanities. In BA, you'll learn the theoretical aspects of the field and a broader overview of the financial world. While in BS economics, you will learn the practical aspects of the field, for instance, calculating annuities, interest rates, returns in the investment, and taxes.

What Is the Difference Between a Mathematics BA vs. BS?

In BS mathematics, you have to study certain areas in-depth, while in BA mathematics, you have a flexible curriculum. Both of the degrees, BA and BS in Mathematics, are four-year graduate programs.

What Is the Difference Between a Chemistry BA vs. BS?

Many universities offer BS and BA in Chemistry. The key difference between BA and BS Chemistry is that the BS offers more substantial research in the subject. At the same time, BA in Chemistry offers a more flexible curriculum.

What Is the Difference Between a Physics BA vs. BS?

If you are looking to pursue your studies after completing your bachelor's in Physics, then BS in Physics is a better choice. Suppose you are just looking for a physics background while studying another field. In that case, Psychology, Mathematics, Patent law, or any other subject, then BA in Physics is a good choice.
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs helps you discover clever ways to pay off student loans, make extra money, save money, be resourceful and stay curious. With over 10 years of experience in the financial industry, Brian has developed a reputation for his in-depth knowledge and practical approach to personal finance. He holds a bachelor's degree in Finance and has been recognized by several industry organizations for his contributions to the field. Brian is passionate about educating people about personal finance and has been featured in several national media outlets, including Insider, AOL, Discover, and Yahoo! Finance. With his unique perspective and proven track record, Brian Meiggs is a trusted voice in the world of personal finance.