Go Beyond Abbreviations - Choose a Suitable Bachelor’s Degree Decide what to study

When figuring out which is the international Bachelor’s degree that’s right for you, it’s essential you understand the differences between the huge diversity of undergraduate programmes. There are many types of Bachelor’s degree names and titles out there. But what do abbreviations such as B.Sc. or B.A. mean? What’s the difference between Bachelor’s degree titles? Which one will you choose?

types of Bachelor degrees.jpg

B.A. Bachelor of Arts degree

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) is the most common among Bachelor degrees. A B.A. is mainly awarded to students following a programme in the liberal arts or in study fields that are covered in the humanities area, such as:

  • languages
  • music
  • communication

A liberal arts programme includes general courses in arts, humanities and sciences as well; for instance, your curriculum can cover English, history, mathematics, philosophy and sociology.


In the UK, for instance, traditional universities such as Cambridge or Oxford, Bachelor of Arts degrees refer to all fields of study, including the scientific ones.

Mainly, a Bachelor’s of Art programme is focused on a curriculum that provides theoretical knowledge.

The study duration of a Bachelor’s of Arts programme is usually three to four years.

B.Sc. Bachelor of Science degree

The Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) is a type of Bachelor degree that focuses on combining theoretical knowledge with research practice.

In the UK, a three-year Bachelor is also referred to as Basic or Minors Bachelor, whereas the four-year Bachelor is referred to as honours Bachelor (or Bachelor (Honours)).

The Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) is mainly awarded to students of universities in the areas of:

  • natural sciences
  • engineering and technology
  • mathematics
  • computer science
  • information technology.

In some cases, B.S. or B. Sc. degrees can be found in study specialisations like:

The study duration of a Bachelor’s of Science programme is also three to four years.

Read more about the difference between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

Browse through 70,671 Bachelor's programmes

B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts degree

Unlike a Bachelor of Arts that is an academic degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts programme is a professional degree. In a BFA, most part of the coursework is dedicated to either visual or performing arts and only around one third of the course work is dedicated to studying liberal arts (history, literature, psychology, etc.).

BAS – Bachelor of Applied Science degree

Depending on the country, a Bachelor of Applied Science can have a different meaning. In many cases, a Bachelor of Applied Science refers to a study course that has extensive practical applications; a clear example would be a degree in nursing.

In Canada and the Netherlands, a BAS is a professional degree and is equivalent to a B.Eng. – Bachelor of Engineering programme.

In colleges and universities from the United States, a BAS is a technical professional degree that is often considered an applied baccalaureate. Students that usually apply to a Bachelor of Applied Science are experienced professional adults that hold professional certifications and are interested in advancing their technical skills for the workplace.

LL.B. Bachelor of Laws degree

The Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is the first academic degree that is achieved at college/university in the area of law. The abbreviation LL.B. stands for Legum Baccalaureus where LL. is the Latin abbreviation for laws. A consecutive Master’s programme in the law sciences is awarded a Master of Laws (LL. M.)accordingly.

Compared to other Bachelor degrees such as the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) or the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Laws is not that widespread, yet. Many countries such as Germany for example, still require an additional state examination in order to be eligible for practising law.

Bachelor of laws.jpg

B.Eng. Bachelor of Engineering degree

The Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng. or BE) is the first academic degree that is achieved after studying one of the engineering sciences. Depending on specialisation, a Bachelor of Engineering can last between three and five years.

A Bachelor of Engineering is academically equal to a Bachelor of Science degree and allows consecutive Master studies. However, it is common practice to award Bachelor of Engineering for rather practical oriented programmes at universities of applied sciences, and engineering programmes at universities can also be awarded the Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.).

Due to the numerous possibilities for specialisations in the area of engineering, there are further degree types such as:

  • the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.Sc. in Eng.)
  • the Bachelor of Business Administration and Engineering (BBAE)
  • the Bachelor of Business Engineering (BBE).
Preparation or foundation degree
Bachelor's degree students writing

A university-preparatory course (usually abbreviated as prep course) also known as a foundation degree aims at preparing students for college or university education. In most European countries, prep schools are a supplement to the general education system and usually run by independent private institutes.

Both pre-Bachelors and pre-Masters are preparation degree courses and are typically designed to increase the chances for a good university placement. There are also foundation courses that lack the required qualification to be admitted to a foreign university.

International preparatory schools often also include language courses, social and cultural activities and guarantee the admission to your chosen university if they are successfully completed.

Find out more about international foundation degrees.

AD Associate degree

The Associate Degree (AD) is an academic degree that is especially common in North America and can be achieved after a 2-year study. Many colleges offer a so-called 2+2 programme where after completing an Associate Degree, with the credits they earned, students can use them for completing a Bachelor’s degree quicker, in just two years.

Similar to the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees, an AD is distinguished according to the field of study:

  • the Associate of Arts Degree for programmes in the area of social sciences
  • the Associate of Science Degree for programmes in the areas of mathematics, technology and natural sciences
  • the Associate of Applied Science for more practical oriented studies.

Except for universities in the UK, Ireland and France, for most Europe, the Associate Degree is usually not considered a higher education degree, but rather a professional certification needed for acquiring specific practical or technical skills.

Joint degree

Also known as dual/combined degree, the joint degree is a collaboration between two universities not necessarily located in the same country. The student may learn, throughout the degree course, in one or even in both institutions. The joint degree has the same duration as a regular programme and, usually, the two degrees are on the same subject. However, there are cases when you will study, in a joint programme two different fields.

Find the programmethat suits your education level, learning and career goals and start your study abroad adventure today!

reg button 2.jpg

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.