Choosing a major is one of key decisions you'll make in college. Once you determine that, you still must decide what type of degree to obtain. If chemistry is your major, you can opt for a Bachelor of Arts, a B.A., or a Bachelor of Science, a B.S. Each type of degree has advantages and disadvantages, so knowing the differences will help you make the right choice for your future career.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts is considered a liberal arts degree, generally with one focus of study, such as English, chemistry, psychology or sociology. Classes for a B.A. encompass a spectrum of chemistry topics without delving into the topic as far as a B.S. program would require. A Bachelor of Arts degree requires fewer courses in the chemistry major and allows students to take more electives in other areas, such as English, foreign language and art.
A B.A. in chemistry would allow you to pursue advanced education in certain medical and science fields. According to the University of Iowa, you could use a B.A. in chemistry as a prelude to dentistry or medical studies. You might also pursue such a degree if you're planning to work in pharmacology or optometry or if you want to teach high school chemistry. A B.A. in chemistry would include the courses necessary to qualify for admission to graduate school as well, according to Eastern Kentucky University.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is a more rigorous course of study that focuses mainly on math and science concepts. This type of degree typically requires a certain number of hours of research study; the exact number depends on the college you attend. A B.S. in chemistry requires courses in physics and calculus. If you pursue a B.S. degree, you can't take as many elective courses in areas other than chemistry, science and math.
If you're planning to go into the biochemistry or organic chemistry fields, a Bachelor of Science degree is the better option. This type of degree might also be necessary if you want to become a doctor, veterinarian or dentist. Research-driven careers in chemistry or medicine also require a B.S. in chemistry. According to the University of Iowa, a B.S. in chemistry is required for careers in certain types of business and industry. A B.S. degree also prepares you for graduate school.
- Eastern Kentucky University: Chemistry BA vs. BS Comparison Table
- University of Iowa: Chemistry
- University Language Services: What Are the Differences Between a BA and a BS?
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Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.