After deciding to study a Bachelor's degree abroad, there are other questions coming up: Which discipline or specialisation should I choose? In which country do I want to study? Can I afford paying the tuition fees and living in that city?
While these questions are important and you need to answer them, many students are often confused by the B.A. and B.S./B.Sc. abbreviations. What do they stand for? And what impact does it have on the Bachelor's degree you want to study abroad?
In this article, we'll look at the two types of undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. After reading our comparison, you'll know the differences between them and you'll be able to make a more informed decision about your studies abroad.
1. What is a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)?
The B.A. label is typically pinned to undergraduate studies like Languages, Arts & Music, Communication, and most of the disciplines in the Humanities area.
A Bachelor of Arts degree is all about theoretical knowledge on certain subjects and it is the ideal option for students who plan to later follow a Master's or PhD degree in the same field – especially if they are interested in pursuing a career in education or research.
A B.A. can take three to four years to complete, depending on the country and the institution:
- Examples of countries with four-year Bachelors: The US, Japan, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Turkey
- Examples of countries with three years Bachelors: all the EU countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway
To put it simply, it’s an undergraduate degree for abstract thinkers, for those who believe the night is too short to finish talking about concepts and ideas.
You can find numerous Bachelors of Arts in countries like:
2. What is a B.S. or B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science)?
Before Bachelors of Science were invented, all undergraduate programmes were considered Bachelor of Arts, regardless of their specialisation. But because the British always want to be special, the University of London started offering Bachelor of Science degrees in 1860. And now they are everywhere.
The Bachelor of Science is typically the title for degrees in Sciences (Computer Science, Engineering, Health Sciences, you name it). But if you look carefully you might find some B.Sc. degrees even in Business, Nursing, Law, or Architecture. What sets this type of degree apart from a B.A. is the technical orientation, including laboratory work and practical experience or exercises.
Heads up, though! In the US, a B.Sc. means that students will focus more on their major and less on the subjects that are related to their minor.
Like a Bachelor of Arts programme, a Bachelor of Science can take three to five years to complete, depending on the country, the university, and the subject area. In the USA and Canada for instance, most B.S. degrees usually last four years.
You can find various Bachelors of Science in countries like:
3. Study subjects that can be taught as B.A. or B.Sc.
If you’re interested in studying one of the fields that are naturally associated with the Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), in most universities you will have the option to choose either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science programme.
The origin of the mix between the two types of disciplines dates back all the way to… ancient Greece. There and then, Liberal Arts included subjects from both what we now call the arts, as well as the sciences that were thought to be important to participate in civic life (which was a bit snobbish of the Greeks, we think).
Fields like Psychology, Accounting, and Business can also sometimes be offered as both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programmes. In this case, the difference between the two means a greater focus on theory (for a B.A.) or on practical skills (B.Sc.).
4. B.A. or B.Sc. - which one to choose?
Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees provide the same recognition and value after completion and pave the way to a Master’s degree.
However, while a B.A. degree will be more dedicated to developing communication, analytical, and writing skills, a B.Sc. will concentrate more on helping you see things from a functional, mechanical, and practical perspective.
Before you choose a Bachelor's programme, just ask yourself if you prefer to read many books and become a master in essay writing thanks to theory or you would enjoy more to shape your practical skills and get more involved in research and lab work?