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What Is The Difference Between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science?

By Kylie Ora Lobell · August 16, 2021 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Is The Difference Between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science?

When students are getting ready to go to college, they not only have to decide what they’re going to major in, but what degree they’re going to receive as well. They may be confused about whether they’ll get a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science, as well as what each one entails.

By learning the difference between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science, students can figure out what path they want to take in college and how it will affect their future career prospects.

What’s the Difference Between a B.A. and a B.S.?

A bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science are both four-year undergraduate degree programs. Students completing either of these degrees will typically need to take similar general education requirements such as courses in English, mathematics, natural science, writing, history, and social science.

A B.A. focuses on traditional liberal arts subjects like history, literature, art, philosophy, the social sciences, and other topics in humanities. It will provide a student with a more diverse course of study and usually require fewer credits than a B.S. degree.

On the other hand, a B.S. program emphasizes science, engineering, technology, and math and is more focused on one subject. When looking into a B.A. vs. B.S., a student needs to decide what kind of job they want after graduation or what type of graduate program they would like to pursue.

For instance, a student could either earn a B.A. or a B.S. in psychology. If they eventually want to go into one-on-one counseling with patients, then they may go after a B.A. degree.

If they want to earn a Ph.D. and pursue a career in research, then a B.S. may be a better choice. Keep in mind that some colleges offer students the opportunity to earn a B.A. or a B.S. in the same major, while other colleges don’t offer that choice.

Which Degree Is Better?

When looking at a B.A. vs. a B.S., students may be wondering which one is better and more attractive to employers. In reality, it may not make much of a difference which one a student earns, as long as they have a bachelor’s degree in general.

Some employers may want graduates with a broader view of liberal arts topics, while others might prefer candidates who honed in on a particular subject. However, a candidate would probably not lose a job opportunity just because they had the “wrong” type of bachelor’s degree.

When prospective employers and graduate school admissions officers are looking at candidates, they’re going to care much more about factors like a student’s grades, the courses they took, the major they enrolled in, and which school they went to.

They may also care about whether or not a student completed internships and work-study programs related to their major.

Recommended: Return on Education for Bachelor’s Degrees

Finding a Good B.A. or B.S. Program

Instead of getting hung up on the difference between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science, a student should dive into the content and quality of the curriculum they could be studying for the next four years. A student can see if the curriculum sounds interesting to them and if it would be applicable to their future career.

They could also evaluate all the schools they want to apply to or they have gotten into before making a decision.

It’s a good idea to research a school’s reputation through a site like College Board® or Niche to determine how hard it is to get into, who the alumni are, what kinds of opportunities their graduates have pursued, and the strength of their programs.

Of course, it’s critical to investigate the location, enrollment size, and cost as well. It’s helpful for a student to create a shortlist of potential colleges/bachelor’s programs and then rank what’s most important to them.

For example, if they want to go to a competitive grad school, perhaps they will emphasize selectivity for their undergraduate program.

If cost is a huge deal, then they would look into programs that are less expensive or that tend to offer scholarships to students.

They can also research their options for private and federal student loans to pay for school.

If a student can afford it, then it may be worth it to visit a school more than once—or at least take a second virtual tour—and ask 10 to 15 detailed questions so they can learn more about it.

They could inquire about job connections, asking about the career center, job fairs, and on-campus interview opportunities, so they know they will have support and be set up for success after they graduate.

Recommended: How to Pay for College

Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

B.A. and B.S. degrees can be very similar. What matters in most cases is getting a bachelor’s degree. It can open students up to a broader range of professional opportunities, allowing them to fulfill their career goals as well as earn more money.

They can choose to go directly into the workforce following graduation and have an advantage over candidates who only have a high school diploma (or less), or they could choose to go to graduate school to earn an advanced degree.

The employment rate is highest for 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree (or a higher degree), at 87%. The employment rate for people who had not completed high school was only 57%. Those with bachelor’s degrees also earn more.

As of April 2021, the median usual weekly earnings for people with a bachelor’s degree is $1,426, while people with a high school diploma earn $792 per week.

There are a number of personal benefits as well. Many students find college to be very fulfilling because they gain valuable skills like teamwork and time management.

They also learn how to take on challenges, which can improve their self-esteem. People with college degrees are more likely to volunteer, donate to charitable organizations, vote, and overall contribute more to their communities.

The statistics don’t lie: 94% of people who have a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree say they are happy or very happy with their lives overall, while 89% of high school graduates reported the same.

Also, one study showed that adults with less than a high school education are more than twice as likely as people with a bachelor’s to report that they are not happy.

Recommended: 6 Reasons to Go to College

The Takeaway

A B.A. and a B.S. are both four-year undergraduate degrees that often require similar general education requirements, like math, English, and history. Broadly, B.A. degrees are generally more focused on liberal arts subjects (think, history and literature) while B.S. degrees usually emphasize subjects like math and science.

Some schools may offer a B.A. and B.S. in the same subject, but with slightly different degree requirements, such as a B.A. or a B.S. in chemistry or computer science. In general, the B.S. program typically has more required courses than the B.A. program.

You may be excited about going to college now that you know the difference between a B.A. and a B.S., but you aren’t sure how you’re going to pay for your degree.

SoFi’s private student loans could help. When it comes to paying for college, private student loans should be viewed as a last resort, after exhausting other avenues like federal aid and scholarships. Federal student loans offer borrower protections and benefits like deferment or income-driven repayment plans, that private student loans don’t offer. Consider other sources of aid like federal student loans, work-study, and any grants or scholarships before borrowing private student loans.

With SoFi, there are no origination, late, or insufficient funds fees, and borrowers can qualify for a 0.25% discount when they sign up for autopay. SoFi offers flexible repayment options as well, so you can find the loan that fits your budget.

To find out more about our private student loans, visit SoFi today and apply in a matter of minutes.

Photo credit: iStock/mangpor_2004


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