If you’re thinking about studying at university, you’re going to come across two types of degrees along the way: arts degrees and science degrees.
When scouring endless course pages for the perfect course, it’s likely that you’ll have noticed the letters BA and BSc. Ring any bells? Well, have you ever wondered what the differences are between these courses? If one’s better than the other? If one will be easier? And which one you’re most suited to?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions – we’ve got you! Understanding these degrees and knowing the difference between them will bring you one step closer to picking the right course, and should make your decision a little less stressful as well. So, if you’re ready to dive in, let’s unravel the complex worlds of BSc and BA degrees…
Bachelor of Arts
Firstly, let’s take a look at BA degrees, also known as arts degrees.
BA stands for Bachelor of Arts, which is the name of the qualification you’ll leave university with if you study – and pass – a BA course. A BA degree is a common type of undergraduate degree, the first degree you’ll complete at university level that comes before a masters or PhD qualification.
A Bachelor of Arts course usually lasts between three to four years. Of course, this all depends on the exact course you pick and the university you attend.
BA degrees are usually humanities or social science courses, so you’re likely to see ‘(BA)’ next to courses like English Literature, Sociology, History, Drama and Music.
A BA degree will typically provide you with a more expansive pathway post-university. Those who study a Bachelor of Arts will develop what’s known as ‘soft’ skills, such as creative thinking and communication. That’s not to say those who don’t study BA courses won’t develop these skills – but BSc students typically sharpen up the ‘hard’ skills.
Bachelor of Science
BSc courses are, in their simplest form, science degrees. BSc degrees will be science and maths heavy, helping you build a specialised and more practical understanding of the subject you choose to study. These courses usually last three to five years, and often include opportunities to complete work placements or internships while studying - a huge win for your CV!
Unlike BA courses, a BSc course will promote more technical and analytical skills. This is why you’ll see ‘(BSc)’ next to courses like Mathematics, IT, Biology and Physics. These are the science-based subjects that appeal more to students wanting to pursue a career in STEM, for example. For this reason, BSc degrees are usually viewed as the more employable of the two options, as they naturally lead on to a specific field of work. A chemist will have studied chemistry, but a journalist won't have necessarily studied journalism. Make sense?
If you study a BSc course, you’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Science qualification, not a Bachelor of Arts.
Now, there are some courses that are offered as both a BSc and a BA, like psychology, geography and business, for example. While a BA and BSc degree in Psychology would explore the same key topics and theories, the BSc pathway would focus on the scientific, mathematical and statistical aspects of the subject, whereas the BA option would lean more towards psychology as a liberal arts discipline. With this in mind, BA Psychology is ideal for students who have a humanities background and wish to pursue a career in counselling, education, social work, journalism and law (where psychological principles would be super helpful), whereas a BSc in Psychology would be ideal for those wanting to pursue a medical or research profession.
So…which is better?
Phew - you’ve taken in a lot of information so far, but now it’s time for the golden question, isn't it? Which degree is better? Although you may be looking for a definitive answer here…there really isn't one (sorry!).
While BA and BSc degrees offer somewhat different university experiences, it’s important to note that both courses offer equal qualifications and are equally valued by a wide range of employers.
The option you go with should solely depend on what you want to do post-university. If you’re aspiring to a career in science, a BSc is likely to better prepare you for the technical responsibilities you’ll have in your career. If you like the sound of working in marketing, BA study is better suited to get you there - it all depends on your individual journey.
Although in today’s world, humanities degrees can sometimes be less favourably viewed in comparison to science degrees, there is only one person you should listen to when deciding whether to take a BA or BSc course: yourself!
Both degrees have their own advantages, so just choose something you know you’ll enjoy and forget about the rest. If you focus on this, it won’t feel like so much hard work in the long run.