Most bachelor’s degrees fall into one of two categories: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.). A few programs, such as those related to art or theater, fall in a third category — a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Penn State World Campus has a few programs that are offered with both a B.A. and B.S. version, such as Labor and Human Resources or Psychology.

The difference between a B.A. and a B.S. degree

Prospective students often wonder: what’s the difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science?

Both are bachelor’s degree programs that require the same amount of total credits to meet graduation requirements. One of the main differences that students will notice is in the degree requirements, regarding courses and subject areas.

B.A. degrees have more of a focus on humanities, arts, and social sciences and tend to offer a broader education, while a B.S. degree would be more heavily concentrated around research, data, and life sciences and tend to offer a more focused education in their topic of study and an emphasis on science and math. B.S. degrees also frequently offer a choice of options, allowing students to focus on specific area of study that aligns with a particular professional path.

All B.A. programs at Penn State require students to complete the Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements, which include a 12th credit level of proficiency in a foreign language and nine credits from B.A. areas (humanities, social and behavioral sciences, arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and quantification).

Which is better?

There is no one choice that is better for all students, and in most cases, both degrees are perceived equally. Deciding which option might be the smarter choice for a particular student will depend on their individual career goals and interests. Review the program description pages on our website for the programs you are considering and compare the options for those that have both a B.A. and B.S. version. That should help you identify the choice that is the best fit for you.