A Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB, from the Latin baccalaureus artium or artium baccalaureus) is a bachelor’s degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus (from the Latin bacca, a berry, and laureus, “of the bay laurel”) should not be confused with baccalaureatus (translatable as “gold-plated scepter” by using the Latina bacum and aureatus), which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree (Baccalaureatus in Artibus Cum Honore) in some countries.
What is a Bachelor of Science (B.S. Degree)?
A Bachelor of Science (Latin Baccalaureus Scientiae, B.S., BS, B.Sc., BSc, or B.Sc; or, less commonly, S.B., SB, or Sc.B., from the equivalent Latin Scientiae Baccalaureus) is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.
Whether a student of a particular subject is awarded a Bachelor of Science degree or a Bachelor of Arts degree can vary between universities. For example, an economics degree may be given as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) by one university but as a BS by another, and some universities offer the choice of either. Some liberal arts colleges in the United States offer only the BA, even in the natural sciences, while some universities offer only the BS even in non-science fields. Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service awards Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degrees to all of its undergraduates, although many major in humanities-oriented fields such as international history and culture and politics.
The London School of Economics offers BSc degrees in practically all subject areas, even those normally associated with arts degrees, while the Oxbridge universities almost exclusively award arts qualifications. In both instances, there are historical and traditional reasons. Northwestern University’s School of Communication grants BSc degrees in all of its programs of study, including theater, dance, and radio/television/film. University of California, Berkeley grants BS degree in Environmental Economics and Policy in College of Natural Resources (CNR), BS degree in Business Administration in Haas School of Business and BA degree in Environmental Economics and Policy in College of Letters and Science (L&S). Cornell University offers a BS degree in Computer Science from its College of Engineering and a BA degree in Computer Science from its College of Arts and Sciences.
BA vs BS
There is no formal convention or standardization for awarding the BA versus the BS degree. One occasionally finds BS degrees awarded in English, history, and philosophy—academic disciplines traditionally associated with the BA degree. These BS degrees typically require students to take additional coursework in the natural/physical sciences and mathematics. Different institutions seem to make distinctions between the BA and the BS degrees at the local level. 22.Sage Journals: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0098628315620874×