Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science. It seems like tough decision right now, but it might not feel so overwhelming once you understand the key differences.
Four-year degrees are popular choices for students of all ages because they offer enough depth of study to prepare students for professional careers without requiring an unrealistic amount of time for completion. In 2019, those with a bachelor’s degree were less likely to experience unemployment than those with an associate degree, and they earned wages more than $300 higher per week.
You’ll spend a bit more time completing a bachelor’s degree than you would an associate degree, but it will likely pay off as you earn more in the future. The big question is whether you should go for the Bachelor of Science or the Bachelor of Arts. We’re about to help you answer that question with a close analysis of both degree options followed some questions to help you explore the best option for your personal interests.
Bachelor of Arts
The Bachelor of Arts degree is intended to deliver a well-rounded education that touches on a variety of career fields, including but not limited to:
English or creative writing
Most degree programs allow students to select a field of specialization. That allows some individualized study as students complete a series of general coursework with some classes focused on their specialization. For instance, a history major would take the same general classes as a psychology major, but they would each take additional classes in their chosen fields of study.
What else differentiates the Bachelor of Arts degree? Keep reading to find out.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor of Arts Degree?
A bachelor’s degree should prepare you for entry-level positions in your field of study. For example, you might choose a Bachelor of Psychology degree if your goal is to become a counselor with the option of advancing your degree to the master’s level at a later date. That would allow you to enter the field and start working after four years of study while advancing your credentials and pay opportunities once you’re financially secure.
Some job titles that people with Bachelor of Arts degrees often hold include:
Human Resource Manager
Park Ranger I
Creative Arts Therapist
OSHA Safety Compliance Officer
Social Media Manager
Mental Health Worker
Notice the variety of fields included in that list, and there are many more that you might consider after earning your bachelor’s degree. Since the degree allows students to explore a wide variety of fields, this is also a great option for those who haven’t yet decided on a specific career path. If you want to start your degree right away and make your decision later, the Bachelor of Arts may fit you perfectly.
There are some other signs that you’re a great candidate for this bachelor’s degree, and we’ll discuss those next.
Signs You’re Well Suited to a Bachelor of Arts Program
How do you know that a Bachelor of Arts is the right career field for you? Maybe you have already decided based on the information provided above, but we have some more signs you should consider:
You want the ability to customize your education. You may have more flexibility to choose the courses you take when you go for a Bachelor of Arts.
You would like to double your major. It’s often easier to double major with an arts degree than a science degree, though that isn’t true for every school.
You’re more of a creative thinker than a technical thinker. While a Bachelor of Science will require technical skill development, a lot of the coursework in an arts program will allow you to develop your creativity. For instance, writers, musicians, and artists are often attracted to the arts degree.
If one or more of these statements apply to you, then considering a Bachelor of Arts is worth your time. If not or you’re not sure, keep reading to learn more about the Bachelor of Science degree.
Bachelor of Science
Instead of touching on a variety of potential career fields, students enrolled in a Bachelor of Science program typically focus heavily on their chosen major. While there are various technical fields of study that you may choose as your major, you’re likely to have a limited range of classes that you’re required to complete in order to finish your degree within four years.
Some students take up to five years to complete a science degree because the classes are more technical and academically demanding. This degree doesn’t typically include as many creative arts courses like photography, creative writing, or dance. Those would fall under the Bachelor of Arts programming.
You may choose a Bachelor’s degree in the field of science if you want to study any of the following career fields, though this list is far from exhaustive:
What Can You Do with a Bachelor of Science Degree?
We just discussed a list of career fields that you may enter with a four-year degree in science. Virtually any technical career field that requires the studying any type of science will fall into this degree programming.
For instance, if you imagine yourself doing research in laboratory, you’re likely suited to a science degree. The same goes if you want to become any of the following:
Physical Therapy Assistant
Environment Policy Analyst
While both bachelor’s degrees are known to give graduates access to entry-level fields with the opportunity to work their way higher, some Bachelor of Science degrees may qualify you for higher paying positions. It depends on the standard for your chosen industry because there are a wide variety of career paths that you may choose after securing a four-year science degree.
Signs You’re Well Suited to a Bachelor of Science Program
You’re likely better suited to a Bachelor of Science than a Bachelor of Arts if you relate to any of the following statements:
Your strengths in high school were more math and science than the creative arts or English. Science degrees require substantially more mathematic coursework than most Bachelor of Arts degree programs.
You have more of a technical brain than a creative brain, or at least you want to explore a career that is more technical than creative. The sciences are known for technical processing while arts majors are often more creative and open in thinking.
You want to maximize potential earnings when you graduate college. Many of the in-demand fields for the future are science and technology related. You can make a lot of money with a Bachelor of Arts degree, but you will have more high-paying options with the Bachelor of Science on your resume. This depends on your choice of major.
Now that you have some idea of the differences between the two bachelor’s degrees, it’s time to discuss how you can determine the best option for your personal needs.
How to Choose Between the Two Bachelor’s Degrees
Do you have a better idea of which bachelor’s degree is a good fit for your career goals? If not, there are some things you should check into a big further to make a final determination. Go through this list and do a little research to see which degree will push you in the right direction for future success.
How important is it for you to earn a lot of money after you graduate? If you dream of making a six-figure salary or more, you may want to explore fields of science that are in high demand for the future. Business Insider has a good list of the top jobs for the future. Look it over to see what direction you may need to take in order to ensure a high-paying position in the future.
What is the standard degree required for your ideal future job? Go to any job search website like Indeed and type in the name of your ideal job without a location designation. Look at job listings for positions you would like to fill one day. What degree is required for applicants? That alone may tell you what you need to study in college.
What were your strongest academic classes in high school, and how did you score on the ACT or SAT? If you know that you’re strong in language arts but really struggle with mathematics, then you may want to go towards the Bachelor of Arts. If you’re a math genius and have a sharp mind for technical details, then your strengths are probably pointing you in the opposite direction.
When you read through the potential job titles included earlier on this page, what gets you excited? Did you read a career title or field and feel a spark of curiosity or interest? Your natural interests and passions can tell you whether to pick the Bachelor of Science or the Bachelor of Arts.
Do you have a better idea of whether you should go for the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science? We’re here to guide you to the best degree program based on your personal career goals. When you’re ready to start searching for the perfect university or online college, everything you need is right here.
Bachelor of Arts versus Bachelor of Science: Which Is Right for You?
It is the norm for many people to pursue a four-year degree program right after high school. This gives students in their late teens to earn a bachelor’s degree at a young age, usually in the early twenties. The problem is that many young students approach an undergraduate degree program as a tradition instead of something that can significantly affect their lives in the near future, particularly their career path.
An undergraduate degree is important, but to get the best out of the program, students need to understand the differences between the available courses to help them choose something they are passionate about or are better suited to study. Some students get stuck half-way into a degree program because they didn’t think about their options before choosing a college degree.
Two of the most common college degrees are Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. While both degrees are perceived equally, they are significantly different. Keep in mind that choosing between Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science degrees is not about which one is better. Instead, it is a matter of the student’s individual strengths and interests.
If you’re considering applying for college, read on to find out the differences, possible career paths, and the earning potentials of these degrees. This guide also shows you how to choose between the two by explaining the strengths and interests that are most suited for each program.
Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is an academic program that leads to the award of an undergraduate degree in a variety of liberal art subjects. These subjects, also known as humanities, include social sciences, philosophy, history, economics, psychology, communications, cultures, foreign languages, and literature.
Students looking to earn a BA degree have the freedom to choose from a wide list of liberal arts courses. This gives them a broader education with fewer restrictions on tailoring their learning process to suit their personal goals and interests, regardless of the chosen major. Typically, a BA degree program offers a more generalized and diverse education and requires fewer credits than a BS degree program.
The available majors under the BA category depend on the school that students choose. A school guide is an essential tool when deciding on the higher institution to apply for a BA degree program. You are likely to have more options in liberal arts universities or colleges than other institutions.
Similar to a BA, a Bachelor of Science (BS) is a post-secondary program leading to the award of a first degree in core science and technical courses. The program is designed to focus more on the chosen major, without much room for customizing the course or allowing students to study many other subjects that are not directly related to their discipline. Students seeking to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this category will need to meet more credits in a specific field of study.
Majors in the BS degree program typically include mathematics, computer science, chemistry, physics, engineering, biochemistry, and more. It is also possible to find institutions that offer BS degree programs in fields that are not strictly science-inclined. For example, a Bachelor of Science degree in music is available in some universities.
It may seem that the distinction between Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science degrees is glaring, but that is not always the case. Some institutions offer the same program under both degrees. A typical example is a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology. This can be confusing for a prospective student who doesn’t know the differences between the two disciplines.
Differences Between a Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science
The most apparent difference between BA and BS degree programs is the course structure. BA degree programs allow students to explore many other subjects apart from their chosen major to broaden their knowledge in more generalized fields. On the other hand, BS degree programs concentrate more on the major, letting the student specialize in a particular field of study.
Generally, a Bachelor of Arts program emphasizes humanities and arts, while a Bachelor of Science centers on math and science. Some other differences include the following:
Full-time students can complete a BA program within three to four years. Part-time students have the option to extend the duration for up to eight years, depending on the school and particular field of study.
A Bachelor of Science program typically lasts between three to five years for full-time students. Like the BA program, it can also be extended for part-time students.
A bachelor’s degree in arts will typically require about 36 units in the main area of study or major, while a BS degree takes about 54 units in the major. The credit requirements for courses available in both categories are generally higher under the Bachelor of Science program.
Using the earlier psychology example, universities generally require fewer statistics and mathematics courses for a BA degree in Psychology and more credits for a BS degree in the same field of study.
Although both degrees are perceived equally and can lead to a world of employment opportunities, the career track for BA and BS options are quite different. For example, students with a psychology major in the Bachelor of Science category often focus on research, while those with BA tend to go into counseling.
Students with BA in computer science might identify as engineers in the computing field, while their BS counterparts will often go into web designing or other general computer engineering aspects.
Similarities Between a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts
Generally, students are required to complete a minimum of 120-semester credits to earn a bachelor’s degree in both categories. Both bachelor’s degrees are excellent foundations for a master’s degree that could even lead to a Ph.D.
Many employers usually don’t split hairs about the type of bachelor’s degree a candidate has. While a BA degree covers a wider area of academics, the BS degree is more focused, making employment opportunities equal, depending on what an employer is looking for.
Classes and Experiences in a Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science
While both bachelor degree types have the same minimum credit requirements for graduation, the classes are quite different. A student studying for any major in a BS program will need to complete about 27 units in their chosen major at the 300 to 400 level.
The topics are concentrated on the student’s major with minimal elective courses. The curriculum aims to produce graduates with highly specialized knowledge in their chosen field of study, similar to what the Associate of Applied Science in the associate degree category is designed to do. The focus on math and science tops lets students in the BS program to sharpen their analytical skills.
The Bachelor of Arts degree curriculum requires students to have about 18 units in their main field of specialization at the 300 to 400 level. Besides giving students room for more elective topics, the classes are designed to hone their language, speaking, and writing skills. This prepares students for a very broad range of career positions.
In the end, students are better equipped to take on challenging but higher-paying jobs, regardless of the bachelor’s degree program. Both curriculums provide solid launching platforms for students that want to pursue their chosen careers or further their education.
However, graduating seniors in both categories are currently experiencing difficult challenges, considering they are graduating during a nearly-unparallel global crisis.
How to Choose Between a BA and a BS
Firstly, students need to realize that education is essentially a way to tell their individual stories about who they are and who they want to become. In other words, the individual needs to look within and ask questions that reveal their goals and interests, keeping in mind that their choices don’t only potentially give them a job but also a life-time career.
It is important to identify what you thoroughly enjoy doing before choosing between a Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science program. Gauge your interests alongside your strengths to help narrow your choice.
For example, no matter how much the prospect of helping sick people appeals to you, it might be difficult to cope with the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in sciences if you don’t have any interest in honing skills such as research, data mining, problem-solving, forecasting, data and metrics interpreting, and more.
When choosing between a BA and BS, it is crucial to approach your decision in the right frame of mind. Instead of thinking of one degree as better than the other, students looking to apply for a degree program should concentrate more on the content and overall quality of the institution’s curriculum.
This is far more important than the type of degree awarded. Indeed, choosing one degree over the other is necessary to hone the individual’s skills, but that doesn’t make one degree superior to the other. If you choose a college based on these more-encompassing criteria, you’ll likely have better education instead of paper qualification.
Here are practical steps you can take to help you figure out the program to pursue between Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Science.
Consider the Classes You Liked Most in the Past
Reflecting on the classes that you enjoyed in high school or your previous education can help you make up your mind about the degree to sign up for. Subjects you have effortlessly performed well in and have a natural liking for might strongly indicate what choice you should make.
If you have always performed better in math and science subjects, a BS degree might be more suitable for you. On the other hand, if you have always excelled in subjects such as arts, English, and languages, you might want to apply for a BA degree program.
What Do You Want to Major In?
A major refers to your main field of specialization. A bachelor’s degree is conferred on you after you have fulfilled all the degree requirements for graduation, but your major is your specific area of study, whether in the arts or science field. For example, you can choose a BA degree with a major in speech communications, psychology, fine arts, or economics.
The field of specialization you choose might play a significant role in determining the type of degree you can get. This is because some majors, such as engineering, are only available in the Bachelor of Science degree program since that is a more science-inclined field.
Factor in the Requirements for a Graduate Degree
If you plan to pursue a graduate degree after your bachelor’s degree program, you might want to tailor your undergraduate degree to meet the requirements of the particular higher degree program. Many graduate programs, including masters and doctorates, might have specific criteria regarding degree types for admitting prospective candidates for the program. It is important to consider these future requirements to avoid impediments to your future educational pursuits.
What Career Are You Passionate About?
What do you see yourself becoming upon graduation? What career would you like to build for yourself? Many young students go on to college without a clear vision of the career path they would like to explore, and that is okay. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do once you graduate, you may want to consider a Bachelor of Arts degree. The program will allow you to explore a broader range of fields, making you more versatile upon graduation.
Students with precise careers in mind may want to toe the path of a Bachelor of Science degree. This will give them the comprehensive technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to succeed in the career.
If you have difficulty picturing yourself in any career or working any job, find out what you thoroughly enjoy doing that you can even pass up a lucrative job interview or miss a business appointment for. It doesn’t matter if it is playing video games; as long as it is something you really want to do, it holds a clue to the type of bachelor program that might be suitable for a future career path that brings out the best in you.
It is not strange to find young graduates going on to become millionaires by developing outstanding video game apps and hardware in today’s world. Opting for a computer science degree program will be more exciting and fulfilling for a student who has a passion for computers and related apps than a student who simply wants to have a degree.
How Much Does a Bachelor of Arts Degree Cost Compared to a Bachelor of Science?
A four-year degree program is not cheap, regardless of the category. The overall cost for a BA or BS program may vary between degree-awarding institutions, but the tuition in colleges in the United States is similar across-the-board.
The tuition fee for both BA and BS degrees can be anywhere from $5,000 to up to $50,000 for one academic year, depending on the institution (public or private college). This translates to an average of $132,860 at the end of the four-year degree program.
In-state students can expect to pay approximately $10,230 each year, and out-of-state students might pay more than double that amount, totaling about $26,290 annually. Private non-profit schools might charge up to $35,830 per year. Keep in mind that this does not cover various fees and expenses.
These costs might be scary at first glance, but students can explore available financial support to cut down costs. There is usually a considerable difference between the amount students actually pay and the program’s advertised cost. A significant percentage of full-time undergraduate students in universities usually seek and get funding opportunities.
Students can also take advantage of other forms of financial aid, such as grants, scholarships, work-study schemes, and assistantships. International students may not be eligible for some of the financial aid, but there are several opportunities for international students, too.
Another excellent way to cut down the cost of running a bachelor’s program is by choosing a school that offers the fastest degree programs. The tuition varies between institutions, but the flexibility that these degree-awarding platforms offer allows for coursework acceleration. With a shorter program completion period also comes reduced overall cost. Note that accelerating a degree program usually means a more rigorous course load, but you will be able to finish the program faster and hopefully enter the workplace more quickly.
You can also decrease the cost of a bachelor’s degree program by first enrolling in a two-year associate degree program at a community college. After completing the coursework, you can transfer to a university or college for a four-year degree program.
The cost of an associate degree is significantly less compared to a BA or BS degree. You can also transfer credits earned from an associate degree program to an undergraduate program to cut down both time and cost.
Career Paths for a Bachelor of Arts Graduate vs a Bachelor of Science Graduate
There are hundreds of career paths for college graduates, regardless of whether the baccalaureate is in sciences or an arts degree. Interestingly, these opportunities continue to grow at a faster rate than all other occupations requiring lesser qualifications. This gives the undergraduate degree holder many job opportunities with a very attractive average starting salary.
It doesn’t really make a difference whether students choose the path of online degrees or attend a brick and mortar institution to earn an undergraduate degree. The important thing is that a completing bachelor’s degree program opens the individual up to a world of opportunities for a successful career and personal fulfillment.
Keep in mind that many jobs require licensure in addition to educational qualifications. You may need to pass a couple of licensing exams and have a clean criminal record. Different states have their regulations and standards, with some requiring that the individual possesses good character in addition to passing the various state professional exams.
Typical Career Path for Bachelor of Arts Graduate
Apart from preparing you for a graduate degree program, where will a Bachelor of Arts degree take you in terms of career? Some careers you can pursue with a BA degree can be in government roles, non-government organization roles, advertising, media, communications organizations, and arts and cultural organizations. More specifically, the jobs include:
- Administrative support, policy development, and advocacy
- Arts administrator
- Athletic trainers
- Business consultant
- Communications officer
- Computer support specialist
- Graphic designer
- High school teacher
- Media adviser
- Project officer
- Recreational therapist
- Research assistant
- Student adviser
- Technical writer
- Training coordinator
- Travel writer
Typical Career Path for Bachelor of Science Graduate
Career paths for graduates of Bachelor of Science degree cut across plenty of fields, with work opportunities in government facilities, research labs, colleges and universities, fieldwork, and even in K-12 classrooms. More specifically, here is a small list of employment opportunities for BS graduates:
- Aerospace engineer
- Automotive engineer
- Clinical data manager
- Crime scene investigator
- Environmental corporate consultant
- Environmental engineer
- Forensic analyst
- Health and wellness coordinator
- Hospital administrators
- K-12 health program specialist
- Manufacturing manager
- Marine biologist
- Nutrition aide
- Product safety specialist
- Registered dietitians
- Registered nurses
- Science policy analyst
- Wildlife biologist
Undergraduate Degree Choice and Its Impact on Future Employment Opportunities
While earning a degree in any bachelor category doesn’t guarantee automatic employment, it is important to choose an undergraduate degree program to help you achieve your career goals. Indeed, several millions of jobs are advertised yearly, but there are still more graduates than jobs in many countries.
However, earning a BA or BS is a huge plus because many employers try to keep the pile of applications down by making an undergraduate degree a requirement for jobs that don’t even require one. A bachelor’s degree program prepares you to become a well-rounded individual, especially in the arts category. You can fit into just about any high-paying job since you studied a wider range of subjects and are very versatile.
It is a misconception to assume that a BA puts you at a disadvantage since there are typically too many people with this qualification. Of course, there is the possibility of becoming an anonymous person if you follow the beaten track.
However, if you have a strong interest and chose a BA based on that, there is a huge chance you will find a fulfilling career. Keep in mind that many employers are looking for well-rounded and people-oriented graduates to fill in management positions. Specialists (BS graduates) may have developed specific skills but usually are not as general-purpose as undergrads in the arts category.
Graduates of Bachelor of Science are by no means handicapped by their choice of degree. Instead, they have the added advantage of working in jobs that require deductive reasoning skills, among other qualifications. They are well suited for high-paying jobs such as environmental consultants, medical practitioners, astrophysicists, chemists, and veterinarians.
Typical Salaries for BA vs BS Degrees
There are plenty of jobs that require only a bachelor’s degree at the entry-level, with varying average salaries, depending on the specific job position.
The average starting salary for a BA degree holder is $64,012 per annum. Some popular positions and average yearly pay include:
- Marketing Manager ($61,000)
- Project Manager ($64,000)
- Graphic Designer ($42,000)
- Paralegal ($47,000)
- Administrative Assistant ($38,000)
- Executive Assistant ($51,000)
- Account Manager ($52,000)
- Marketing Director ($79,000)
- Human Resource Generalist ($53,000)
- Data Analyst ($55,000)
The average starting salary for a BS degree holder is higher than the average salary for someone with a Bachelor of Arts degree. BS degree holders have an average salary of $70,902, with variations depending on the specific position. Here are a few examples:
- Software Developer ($66,000)
- Software Engineer ($78,000)
- Civil Engineer ($64,000)
- Mechanical Engineer ($68,000)
- Process Engineer ($71,000)
- Manufacturing Engineer ($65,000)
Keep in mind that you will spend a significant part of your time daily working on your job. For this reason, it is best to land a job in a field that you enjoy. It would be boring, mind-dulling, and a total waste of your degree to spend your life doing something you don’t have any interest in, no matter how good the salary is.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are up to 174 bachelor’s-level occupations available. This figure is expected to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026. In other words, a degree is well worth it, and if you pursue a course you are passionate about, the chance of finding fulfillment in your career is high.