Choosing between a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of science degree may be straightforward for some students, but for others it may require some additional thought. The decision will ultimately rest on the student's major, academic strengths and future career goals.
Both the bachelor of arts (BA) and the bachelor of science (BS) are undergraduate degrees that students can earn at universities in the United States. Both degrees require the same number of credit hours and are roughly equivalent in terms of difficulty.
The primary differences between the BA and the BS are the general requirements for completing the degree. Broadly speaking, students who complete a BA have a stronger academic background in the arts, while students with a BS have greater qualifications in math and science. Also, many majors will only be available to one type of degree, with science majors generally falling under the BS and arts and humanities majors falling under the BA.
To satisfy the general requirements for the BA, a student must usually take a certain number of arts and humanities courses, as well as complete a few years of foreign language (usually two). By contrast, satisfying the general requirements for a BS usually involves a certain number of math and science courses. The exact general requirements for each degree vary depending on the college institution.
If a student knows precisely what field she wants to go into, it may be easy to choose a major and type of degree. If she is not sure of what field she wants to go into once she graduates, having a general idea will point her in the right direction: a BS will better prepare her for careers that require a math or science background, while careers in the liberal arts may be better served by a BA.
Graduate school admissions look at an applicant's complete academic background much more than the type of degree received. Acceptance to a graduate program depends on grades the student received in particular classes, overall GPA, GRE scores and personal statements. However, if you know you want to pursue a graduate program in a specific field, it would be wise to match your undergraduate major to that program as closely as possible. This will ensure that you are a qualified candidate for graduate studies.
Based in Brighton, England, James Elliot has been a freelance writer and travel editor since 2009, covering topics on eHow such as travel, education, fine arts and literature. She holds a Bachelor of Science in philosophy and liberal studies from Portland State University, and is currently completing a Master of Arts in philosophy at the University of Sussex.