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BA vs. BS: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 24, 2023
BA (Bachelor of Arts) emphasizes liberal arts; BS (Bachelor of Science) focuses on science and technical subjects.

Key Differences

A BA, or Bachelor of Arts, is a type of undergraduate degree often centered around the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences. This degree provides a broad-based education, allowing students to explore a variety of subjects. On the other hand, a BS, or Bachelor of Science, is tailored towards science, mathematics, and technical fields, emphasizing a more specialized and in-depth study in those areas.
The curriculum of a BA typically emphasizes critical thinking, communication skills, and a comprehensive understanding of arts and humanities. While a student can major in sciences under a BA, the approach might be more theoretical or interdisciplinary. In contrast, the BS route offers coursework that is more technical and data-driven. It often involves lab work, research, and focused scientific study.
When choosing between a BA and a BS, students might consider their career goals and interests. If they're inclined towards literature, languages, or social sciences, a BA might be more fitting. For those who are keen on in-depth scientific research, engineering, or technical professions, a BS would be more appropriate.
In conclusion, both BA and BS degrees hold significant value and can lead to a variety of career paths. The main distinction lies in the educational approach: BA is broad and versatile, while BS is specialized and technical.

Comparison Chart

Core Focus

Liberal arts and humanities.
Science and technical subjects.

Curriculum Emphasis

Broad-based, interdisciplinary.
Specialized, data-driven.

Typical Majors

Literature, history, languages.
Biology, engineering, computer science.

Educational Approach

Theoretical, critical thinking.
Technical, hands-on.

Career Orientation

Diverse fields including arts and social sciences.
Technical professions and research.

BA and BS Definitions


A degree emphasizing humanities and arts.
She chose a BA program to dive deep into ancient civilizations.


A degree tailored towards in-depth research.
After his BS in Biology, he went on to do a Ph.D.


A foundational tertiary education.
After completing his BA, he decided to travel for a year.


A degree preparing students for technical professions.
His BS in Environmental Science led him to a career in sustainable energy solutions.


A broad-based academic program.
His BA allowed him to study both philosophy and psychology.


A specialized tertiary education.
With her BS in Computer Science, she landed a job at a top tech firm.


A versatile degree offering diverse major options.
In her BA course, she combined studies in music and sociology.


An undergraduate degree emphasizing science and technical subjects.
He received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from MIT.


An undergraduate degree centered around liberal arts.
She earned her BA in English Literature from Harvard.


A focused academic program on scientific disciplines.
Her BS in Chemistry involved rigorous lab work.


(Egyptian mythology) A being's soul or personality, represented as a bird-headed figure, which survives after death but must be sustained with offerings of food.


Plural of b


A bachelor's degree in science


What does BA stand for?

BA stands for Bachelor of Arts.

What does BS represent?

BS represents Bachelor of Science.

Can I study psychology in both BA and BS?

Yes, psychology can be offered under both BA (more theoretical) and BS (more research-focused).

Are BA programs always longer than BS programs?

No, both BA and BS programs typically last around four years, though this can vary.

Do all universities offer both BA and BS options?

Not necessarily; it depends on the institution and its available programs.

Is a BA more versatile than a BS?

A BA often provides a broader education, which some consider more versatile, but both degrees have their merits.

Is a BA always in the arts?

No, a BA refers to the approach and can include subjects outside the traditional arts.

Is lab work common in BS degrees?

Yes, many BS degrees, especially in the sciences, involve lab work.

Which degree is more technical, BA or BS?

The BS degree is generally more technical and specialized.

Are there subjects exclusive to BS?

Some technical subjects might be exclusive to BS, but many subjects can be studied under either framework.

Which degree involves more critical thinking?

Both degrees involve critical thinking, but BA programs often emphasize it across diverse subjects.

Can I study literature in a BS program?

Literature is typically studied under a BA program, but interdisciplinary BS programs might include it.

Are BA degrees only for arts subjects?

No, BA degrees can also include some science subjects but with a broader or interdisciplinary approach.

Can I switch from a BA to a BS during my studies?

This depends on the university's policies, but many institutions allow students to switch with some adjustments.

Can I do a master's after a BA or BS?

Yes, both BA and BS degrees can lead to postgraduate studies.

Can a BS prepare me for medical school?

Yes, many BS programs, especially in biology or chemistry, can prepare students for medical school.

Is hands-on research common in BA?

While BA degrees can involve research, hands-on or lab-based research is more typical of BS degrees.

Do employers prefer a BA or BS?

It depends on the job. Some positions might favor the specialization of a BS, while others may value the broad knowledge of a BA.

Do both BA and BS degrees require a thesis?

Requirements vary by institution, but both BA and BS programs can require or offer thesis options.

Which is better, BA or BS?

Neither is universally "better"; it depends on a student's interests and career goals.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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