Differences Between B.A. Programs and B.S. Programs

Undergraduate courses can be named as B.A. programs or B.S. programs; but what does this mean?

Simply said, B.A. stands for Bachelor of Arts, while B.S. (or B.Sc.) stands for Bachelor of Science. When searching for an undergraduate degree, you may notice that some subjects are offered as B.A., some as B.S. and other are both as B.A. and B.S. programs. Now that’s confusing!!!

This article wants to bring some light in this chaos an help students understand the differences in order to make a better decision.

Some History

Historically, as previously discussed in my article on Liberal Arts degrees, all undergraduate programs were Bachelor of Arts. The ancient Greeks considered a multidisciplinary education the ultimate education for a rounded person. A well educated person should have been capable of showing to be knowledgeable, ethical and highly articulate.

Traditionally the liberal arts were 7: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Therefore including humanities and sciences under the name of “arts”.

As of 1860, the University of London introduced the Bachelor of Science, in opposition to the Bachelor of Arts. Since then, the ancient comprehensive concept of art, was narrowed down to include subjects more specifically linked to the humanities area.

B.A. Degrees

Bachelor of Arts, therefore, are usually associated with subjects within the humanities area, such as philosophy, languages, history, arts etc. 

This kind of degree is oriented towards a more theoretical knowledge and, therefore, ideal for students with an abstract mindset.

B.S. Degrees

Programs with a Bachelor of Science title typically include subjects in the science area, such as engineering, biology, computer science, etc. 

These degrees are, usually, better choices for students who are searching a more technical, specific and/or practical study.

Degrees offered both as B.A. and B.S.

Some subjects, though, can be approached both from a theoretical point of view and a more technical one. For this reason, universities may sometimes offer courses in business, psychology, architecture, etc in the version of a B.A. program or a B.S. program. In this case, the difference between the two is the focus. Students will have to choose what kind of preparation they want to pursue.

How to choose

Whether you go for a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, your degree will be recognized as full undergraduate degree that will allow you to continue your studies towards a Master’s Degree.

It is very important, when choosing between B.A. and B.S., that students really understand what kind of career they are envisioning, what their very own mindset and their learning style is. While some may find humanities easier than sciences, for their more discursive nature, other might find the mathematical and technical nature of sciences their cup of cake. 

At the end of the day it is a very personal choice. 

As usual, it is all about finding the best fit!