As with most degrees, many colleges and universities offer business in two schools: arts and science. And while business and its sub-disciplines, including economics, finance and entrepreneurship, may not seem like either science or art, the distinction between the two degrees is important. Choosing between a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts program will determine how you spend the next four years of your life.
Different Programs at the Same College
Choosing between a B.A. and a B.S. in any discipline is no longer a matter of choosing between two schools. Major universities like the University of Oregon and Rutgers offer business degrees in both an arts and science course of study. Your choice, then, comes down to how you want to study business -- as part of a general arts education or as part of a science education, with more focus on math and other scientific fields. Both degrees will have mandatory classes within the faculty, meaning you’ll have to take more arts classes in a B.A. and more science classes in a B.S.
B.A. in Business
While both degrees focus primarily on business and will ask you to take a majority of your classes in the business school, a B.A. will allow you the freedom to take more electives and possibly carve out a second major. Arts programs may also have language requirements in a second language and will have mandatory classes in writing and philosophy, depending on the school you choose. B.A. programs are noted for their flexibility. Arts students receive a general education that tends to be more theoretical than practice-based.
B.S. in Business
Conversely, B.S. programs tend to be more rigid. You’ll have fewer elective courses as a B.S. student, and your required courses will belong to scientific disciplines. As a business student, you’ll be expected to study economics and finance courses and their prerequisites, including classes in math and stats. You’ll also be expected to take science courses, though you’ll have more choice in this area. All B.S. degrees require a certain amount of science credits to graduate, though the specific requirements vary from school to school.
What’s Right for You?
Choosing between a B.A. and a B.S. is highly subjective. If you enjoy math and have interest in learning more about science, a B.S. program is probably better for you than a B.A.. But if you aren’t sure if business is right for you or simply want the ability to explore other academic fields, a B.A. will allow you to find other interests and potentially major in a second field. Both programs will prepare you for an MBA, if you choose to pursue one, though the University of Pennsylvania at Wharton strongly recommends a B.S. in business, as students learn “to apply business methods and economic theory to real-world problems,” a shortcoming of B.A. programs, says Wharton.
Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.