To B.A. or Not to B.A.: A Guide to Undergraduate Degrees

Welcome back to your EDGE College Resource Blog! Today’s topic: B.A. and B.S. degrees. Join us as we break down undergraduate degrees for you!

Today’s bloggers are Kelsey MacIlvaine, 2005 EDGE alumni and Humboldt State University graduate, and Danae Griffin, 2013 EDGE alumni and University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) graduate.

What are B.A. and B.S. degrees?

Danae: B.A. stands for Bachelors of Arts and B.S. stands for Bachelors of Science. (There is also B.F.A. which stands for Bachelor’s of Fine Arts). These are the different types of degrees you can pursue at an undergraduate university. The type of degree can influence the type of course load you will take. For example, if you want to obtain a B.S., your course load will be science heavy courses, while if you get a B.A., most of your courses will be arts and humanities related.

Why are B.A. and B.S. degrees important? Why should we learn more about these?

Kelsey: The degree you pursue influences the type of courses you will take in your undergraduate education. One is going to be more focused on the theory/idea whereas the other is more focused on the hard science/research. For example, you can get a B.A. in Psychology or a B.S. in Psychology. The first is more about how we operate, and would set a student on track to become a therapist. The second is more about becoming a psychiatrist or researcher in the topic. There’s also a B.F.A. which is a step above a B.A., meaning that a B.F.A. in Music would generally be considered more reputable than a B.A. in Music. The more prestigious degree is often more difficult and requires more credits to complete.

What’s been your personal experience with this topic?

Kelsey: I have a B.A. in Recreation Administration. With it, I worked with people, places, and non-profits. I currently work in admissions for a Master of Arts in Counseling program and I talk with my students frequently about the different between an M.S. and an M.A. For this field of study (counseling) it is more black and white than undergraduate work, I think. If someone wants to become a therapist, work one-on-one with people, M.S. isn’t the route. But we often assume you have to become a doctor and go the medical/science route but it can actually be done via M.A. and obtaining a license.

Danae: I got my B.A. in Feminist Studies and because it was a Social Science, there is not option for a B.S. However, even if there were somehow, I would not have chosen that because I do not enjoy taking science classes.

Timeline–when should I learn more about these and decide on a certain degree?

Danae: It is good to learn about the difference between the two types of degrees junior and senior year of high school. It is definitely important to know while you are picking your major and before you pick your classes. You should have an idea of what type of degree you want to pursue, as it will dictate which courses you take.

What are some things we should keep in mind about this topic?

Kelsey: One is not better than the other, it’s just dependent on your preferred outcome. If science isn’t your jam, get the B.A. If you want to go into hard sciences, medicine or research, do the B.S. Ask a professor, academic advisor, or someone currently working in the field that interests you which degree they got and which would benefit you more in obtaining that similar career.

Danae: Do your research and choose your degree based on the eventual career you want to pursue. Your classes will be different depending on which you pick. Neither degree is “easier” or “harder” than the other. Pick the one that suits your interests and career field.

Thank you Kelsey and Danae for your words of wisdom about undergraduate degrees! Keep an eye on our College Resources page for a new article every two weeks! Got B.A. and B.S. questions that still need answering? Comment below!

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