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Undergraduate

What's the Difference: B.A. vs. B.S.

College degrees carry a lot of acronyms—from advanced degrees such as M.D., Ph.D. and D.D.S., to undergraduate degrees, they can start to blend together. So when it comes to four-year degrees, what's the difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science? The differences are often specific and hard to notice, but there are a couple that tend to be associated with these two styles of degree programs.

Here are a few of the main things that set each apart.

Bachelor of Arts

First things first—what is a Bachelor of Arts degree? Based on the title, one can assume it must have something to do with the arts. That's technically a misnomer, though. A Bachelor of Arts, or B.A., is simply a degree that typically requires four years of coursework that will likely include required general education classes, courses that are elective based on the student's interests and classes that are specific to a major or field of study. Generally speaking, a B.A. is positioned as a "liberal arts" degree, in that the elements of the coursework run the gamut of major areas.

Bachelor of Science

So what about a Bachelor of Science? This type of degree, also termed a B.S., has many similarities to a B.A. on paper—it also usually requires a four-year program to earn and includes coursework in a particular major or field of study. The major difference between the two, though, lies in the full roster of courses typically included. While a B.A. focuses on a variety of classes, a B.S. puts more emphasis on coursework aligned with the student's chosen major. Often this style of degree also is associated with more technical fields, such as health, social science and technology fields.

Which Should I Choose?

When all is said and done, though, which is superior? Which type of degree should you choose for your chosen future career? If you've settled into an area of study with a high degree of certainty that you know what you want your career path to be, a focused, more major-intensive program, such as a Bachelor of Science program, might be a great fit for you. If you're less certain of what your future career may entail, or if you simply want to broaden your horizons in a variety of areas, a Bachelor of Arts program might be your best bet. Both styles of degree have many merits—the decision to select one over the other depends on your own personal needs and plans.

What SDSU Offers

South Dakota State University (SDState) happens to offer both styles of bachelor's degrees, with B.A. programs including English, music and political science, and B.S. programs including computer science, microbiology and nutrition and dietetics. Both types of bachelor's programs offer many of the same benefits—consider your options, and choose the field that most interests you. Odds are, whether it's a B.A. or a B.S., the degree will suit you based on your overall enthusiasm for the major.

Check out more of what SDState offers for undergraduate majors.