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Choosing between a BA and BS degree?

You are an incoming freshman considering taking up a major which offers both a BA and BS degree. It’s confusing enough to pick a major in college and when you have finally decided on what to take you are faced with the dilemma of choosing between a BA and a BS degree. Is there really a difference?

Both BA and BS degrees aim to provide an in depth preparation for an academic and professional field. They both provide and adequately equip a student a collegiate level of education in mathematics, science, social sciences, humanities, and communication. Both offer electives to suit the student’s needs.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is less specialized and usually humanities based. It provides general education in various fields and focuses on the intellectual skills like reasoning, problem solving skills, analysis and right judgment. Its main thrust is not to train a student for a specific profession but to cultivate the student’s capacity to think and learn. Thus, graduates with a BA degree are flexible and can follow broader career paths.

It needs at least 180 units to earn the degree. Thirty-six units are intended for the core subjects and half of which should be at the upper level. The BA degree is generally awarded to graduates who majored in languages, history, literature and other humanities.

Meanwhile, a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree usually comprises the technical fields. It is narrower and specialized. Its focus is on math and sciences, computers and other technologies. It usually doesn’t include subjects on foreign language but focuses on quantitative work and data analysis. It is advisable for students who are planning to take careers in research.
It also needs 180 units for the degree. However, more units are needed for the major subjects. It is intended to give balance in liberal arts, scientific, and technical education. This is normally given to graduates who have majored in the physical and biological sciences, agriculture, and engineering.

For many majors, there is really no huge difference between a BA and a BS degree. A BA degree is broader and needs less advanced classes. There is more time for electives and it is easier to double-major. On the other hand, a BS degree is more focused and designed for those planning to become professionals like nurses, chemists, etc. It needs higher level courses and gives better research opportunities.

If your major offers two programs leading either to a BA or BS degree. Ask yourself the career you want to pursue in that field. Consult also your school counselor or a college adviser before making the decision.


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